Monday, September 26, 2016

Bernie's Blog Week 5: Fordham Futures: Awareness

     A man found an eagle's egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard he. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air. Years pasted and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in a cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings. The old eagle looked up in awe. "Who's that ? he asked. "That's the eagle, the king of the birds," said his neighbor. "He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth - we're chickens." So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that's what he thought he was.

      Thus begins Anthony de Mello S.J.'s spiritual classic, Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality, this is his call to waking people up to the reality of their greatness. At the heart of Father de Mello's spiritual message is awareness, an awareness that challenges you to wake up to every aspect of your lives, challenge yourself from an attitude of openness, not from an attitude of stubbornness. Father de Mello recalls the powerful challenging words of the Buddha when he said: "Monks and scholars must not accept my words out of respect, but must analyze them the way a goldsmith analyzes gold - by cutting, scraping, melting." When you do that, you're listening, you've moved closer toward awakening.
      Over the next four years, your career awareness and your career development will be a spiritual journey that begins with an understanding of your self and the choices you make. In a very real sense, your career decisions will serve as a manifestation of your attempts to make sense out of your life experiences. Your career experiences will emerge and be integrated by your continual participation in life in and outside the classroom.
As you explore and describe how to narrate your career story,[ first to your self, then to others] awareness needs to be at the epicenter of your approach. Stories that are best told through the perceptive prism of your values, interests, aptitudes, skills, and abilities. Our mission at Career Services is to assist Fordham students in telling your stories filling the space that exists between your performance and the description of your performance. In other words, our work involves encouraging you to enhance and expand your career awareness, preparation, and presentation.
      In his writings, presentations, and retreats Father DeMello captures the essence of being alive, and connects you to your innermost being and reality as you discover'bliss' in your every moment: "There's only one reason why you're not experiencing what in India we call Anand - bliss, bliss. There's only one reason why you're not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it's because your thinking or focusing on what you don't have. But right now you have everything you need to be in bliss."
      What keeps you from this ever present 'bliss' are your illusions about yourselves and life itself. What you need to do is to drop something, to lose something - your greed, your ambitions, your cravings. You don't need to add something in order to find bliss. What you need to do is to stop identifying with society's labels and seek through the wisdom of your experience a path defined by awareness.
      Virginia Satir is a legendary pioneer in the art and awareness of family therapy. Her understanding, skill, and humor earned her the warm respect of people all over the world. She worked at helping people feel more connected to their personal resources and rhythms. Her philosophy was centered in her belief that every human being is a miracle fully capable of continued growth and change and understanding.
      Virginia Satir's celebration of awareness were alive in her Five Freedoms, a philosophy richly vested in the belief that every person can learn and grow:

  1. The freedom to see and hear what is here instead of what should be, was, and/or will be.
  2. The freedom to say what one feels and thinks instead of what one should.
  3. The freedom to feel what one feels instead of what one ought to feel.
  4. The freedom to ask for what one wants instead of waiting for permission.
  5. The freedom to take risks in one's behalf instead of wanting only to be secure.
      Satir's goal of therapy was to enhance individuals' potential for becoming more fully evolved as human beings. In her family therapy practice her goal and art was to integrate the needs of each family member for independent growth within the integrity of the family system. Virginia's goal as a therapist was to enable the family to gain new hope and to help reawaken old dreams or develop new ones.
      Virginia Satir was a master of awareness as she lived a life that understood the importance of the spiritual dimensions of the human experience. She also understood that people do not pay attention to the treasure that they and need help finding it. Sometimes these treasures are deeply buried and hard to access and you need a strong belief in your uniqueness in order to tap into your richness. Satir had a keen understanding of the presence and power of this life force:
      "As I have been evolving, I have had experiences which tell me that their exists something which could be called the life force or universal mind. I know that there are many dimensions in this force that are powerful shapers in human behavior. It seems a little to me like the presence of electricity. It has always been there, yet it waited for someone to identify it, then learn ways to use it for beneficial purposes."

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bernie's Blog Week 4: Fordham Futures: Jesuit Education

"Jesuit education unfolds against the backdrop of what Jesuits call cura personalis - a care for the individual person and are for the whole person. Within this context of reverential love and concern, students are challenged. Challenged, they awaken to their real potential. Awakened, they are transformed. Transformed they are empowered. Empowered, they emerge from the experience on campus as recognizable Jesuit graduates: they are men and women of competence, conscience, compassion, and commitment to the cause of the human family."
President Joseph J. McShane S.J.
Inaugural Address October 2003

      Father McShane knows that at the heart of your awakening and transformation is what you find in your studies and the care that you receive from your teachers. You learn with your hearts and minds that life is a gift filled with meaning and value that needs to be both cherished and protected.
      Experience lives at the epicenter of a Jesuit education, where students are encouraged to embrace the world with a restless curiosity, which values the importance that experience play in the life of the heart and mind. As a Jesuit university, Fordham believes that education is equal parts action and reflection, theory and practice, where students are challenged to balance their subjective experience with the ever-changing objective realities of the world around them. Students are encourages to balance their careers through a lifelong pursuit for spiritual, cognitive, emotional, and physical well-being.
      Jesuit education is focused on the kind of thinking and feeling that inspires critical analysis, cognitive curiosity, and eloquent presentation. An educational approach that brings together academic learning and professional life where every student's experience is celebrated in the convergence of ideas and practices from a wide-range of social and physical sciences. Jesuit education seeks to construct an academic framework which allows students to develop intellectual passions, probing questions, and personal interests that will last them a lifetime.
      Fordham students are reminded that the wisdom in the core curriculum that they study is in search of a difference that leads to a diversity of thought, time, and place. The core is designed to create new intellectual vistas and new ways of 'knowing' within the academic disciplines, as well as, the many connections that exist between and among the disciplines.
      Jesuit education creates a learning context designed to nurture a love of learning that better prepares students for the uncertainties and ambiguities that their futures hold. As students enhance and expand their academic horizons they identify, analyze, synthesize, and bring together the wisdom and practice of the ancient arts of listening, thinking, speaking, writing, reading, reflecting, measuring, calculating, estimating, and dreaming.
      The heart and genesis of Jesuit education finds its place in The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola, that describes his personal journey toward personal and spiritual awareness. Ignatius took note not only of what he learned, he also recorded the reflective practices that led him to those insights. He distilled the most effective of these practices into what might be called the first self-awareness book. Self-awareness not by reading how someone else achieved it but through focused reflection on one's own experience.
      The Exercises were designed to help individuals choose or confirm a life direction. Loyola called them Spiritual Exercises for a reason - they were to be done, not rules to be read or studied: "For as just as taking a walk, traveling on foot, and running are physical exercises, so is the name of spiritual exercises given to any means of preparation and disposing our soul to rid itself of all its disordered affections."
      Ironically, a former Jesuit, Chris Lowney provides Fordham students with a twenty-first view and application of Ignatius' wisdom in his 2003 text, Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company that Changed the World. Lowney believes that Jesuit education's enduring success rests upon four core leadership principles: Self-Awareness, Ingenuity, Love, and Heroism. These four unique values serve as both form and function of a life-long journey into the essence of leadership in the 21st century:

  • Self-Awareness: Leaders thrive by understanding who they are and what they value, by becoming aware of unhealthy blind spots or weaknesses that can derail them, and by cultivating the habit of continuous self-reflection and learning.
  • Ingenuity: Leaders make themselves and others comfortable in a changing world. They eagerly explore new ideas, approaches,and cultures rather than shrink defensively from what lurks around life's next corner.
  • Love: Leaders face the world with a confident, healthy sense of themselves as endowed with talent, dignity, and potential to lead. They find exactly these same attributes in others and passionately commit to honoring and unlocking the potential they find in themselves and in others. They create environments bound and energized by loyalty, affection, and mutual support.
  • Heroism: Leaders imagine an inspiring future and strive to shape it rather than passively watching the future happen around them. Heroes extract gold from the opportunities at hand rather than waiting for the golden opportunities to be hand to them.

      Jesuit education brings together the elements of a leader's life as you figure out what you are good at, what you stand for, and what you want in life. When you selected Fordham you accepted the challenge to lead, a leader that understands that her or his values and style of work must form an integrated, self-reinforcing whole. Your work and life values of self-awareness, ingenuity, love, and heroism reinforce one another in a virtuous circle: better self-awareness made for greater ingenuity. Ingenuity driven Jesuits embraced change, and they would have drifted aimlessly without anchoring self-awareness.
      Chris Lowney's vision of Jesuit leadership examines leadership from four leadership distinctions:

  •  We're all leaders, and we're leading all the time.
  •  Leadership springs from within.
  • Leadership is not an act. It is a way of living.
  • We never complete the task of becoming a leader. It's an ongoing process.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Bernie's Blog Week 3: Fordham Futures: Career Balance and Integration

     For over three decades, it has been a professional honor, and a personal privilege to have thousands of Fordham students share their life stories with me. Stories that include their anxieties, fears, frustrations, talents, accomplishments, and joys as they seek to discover, balance, and integrate their experiences into their unique career narratives. Fordham Futures is an outcome oriented approach to career awareness and education that reflects a holistic way of looking at and understanding your career growth and development.
      Fordham Futures is a healing approach that encourages students to search for a balance between their internal experience and the external realities of the world around them. Career Services counselors challenge Fordham students to create an effective relationship with the sources and power of your uniqueness. Students' careers are always greater than the sum of your experiences, and you need to allow your awareness the opportunity to guide your creative intelligence. In the chaotic realities of our 21st century idea, concept, knowledge economy, the most employable individuals are those people who can move easily from one function to another, continually integrating diverse disciplines and perspectives.

     Below you will find a series of principles designed to assist you in Balancing and Integrating your abilities to describe and understand your unique career experience:

* Life is formed by what we do with what happens to us - you operate out of your internal template and not out of your sensory experience. Fordham Futures' career counselors encourage you to expand and elaborate your existing internal map to provide you with new possibilities and opportunities.

* Everyone is doing the best they can with what they have - accepting this belief requires an openness to ideas, concepts, and opportunities that may be beyond the realm of your previous experiences. Patience, awareness, and understanding serve as valued allies as you accept your limitations as potential opportunities, and your perceptions as cognitive possibilities.

* You are defined by your thoughts and actions - you need to be flexible enough to invent a new theory and unique approaches for yourself and others. You need to use your memory to retrieve resources rather than explanations. You need to solve problems in new ways that speak directly to who you are.

* Respect all messages - all of your senses are operating all of the time, and to maintain a healthy perspective, you need to delete, distort, and generalize the incoming information to make sense of your experience. You need to attend to your verbal and non-verbal activities, that are more attuned to the subtle elements of communication: voice, tone, gestures, expressions, breathing, and imagery.

* Teach choice - always expands your frame of reference to include behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that previously may not have been available to you. As you expand your horizons, more choices are made available to you. Spend your time teaching choices and connections, continually enhancing and expanding.

* Answers are found in the questions - all the resources that you need lie within your personal history. You can access these resources through the telling of common stories about your growth and development. These personal and professional tales capture personal meaning and significance for you as you celebrate your unique experience.

* Meet people at their model of the world - the true meaning of your communication is the response it elicits. You need to adapt your senses and experiences in an effort to develop rapport and empathy with others.

* Flexibility as a controlling resource - in a 21st century economy vested in uncertainty and ambiguity, you need to build flexibility into your work. Because the individual with the most flexibility or choice will most likely be the controlling element, you need an evolving approach to the people you engage and encounter.

* People can not not communicate - when you are not communicating verbally you are still communicating non-verbally. You always have internal responses, you search across your internal experience in an attempt to find meaning for the incoming words,
sounds, images, or representations.

* If it's hard work, reduce it down - in an idea, concept, knowledge economy you need to break information down into smaller components in order to effectively connect the various moving parts of your career. In an age of 'big data', analytics, and algorithms you need to manage complex tasks one step at a time, as you treat component pieces effectively.

* Outcomes are determined at a psychological level - you need to utilize cognitive feedback and imagery as you communicate on a psychological level. Additionally, you can use personal stories, metaphors, and direct and indirect suggestions to gain rapport and retrieve resources, as you connect those resources to your experience. You live in a time when 
all your communications both social and psychological  are transmitted and received on multiple levels. 

Adapted from: Dr. Milton Erickson's Principles of Therapeutic Intervention & Balance

Monday, September 5, 2016

Bernie's Blog Week 2: Fordham Futures: Aware Prepare Present

     Fordham Futures is an introspective, non-linear, career therapy approach focused on career awareness, career preparation, and career presentation that sits at the crossroads of academic learning and professional life, and is centered in and around the convergence of ideas and practices from a wide range of social and physical sciences. Fordham Futures looks to create an atmosphere and environment where individuals listen to themselves, sense the treasures within themselves, empower their imaginations, and inspire their call to action.
      Fordham Futures effectively utilizes a liberal arts perspective to Awareness, Preparation, and Presentation that expands horizons, enhances focus, and assesses alternatives through the perceptive prism of student intelligences, aptitudes, talents, values, interests, and skills and abilities. Unlike most career services centers, all members of our Career Services team are required to counsel students, even the members of our Employer Relations staff, we do this in an effort to stay in touch with the 'career voices' of our students as we prepare them to tell their stories. Additionally, all counselors are trained in a career therapy approach that uses the ancient liberal arts of listening, thinking, speaking, writing, reading, reflecting, measuring, calculating, estimating, and dreaming as tools of inquiry in facilitating these healing conversations. We understand that this list of liberal arts is limited, and not exhaustive, consequently, counselors are encouraged to use their creativity in expanding their career counseling conversations.
      Fordham Futures, from a career education approach, rests on five critical fundamental learning objectives:

  1. Students will be empowered and instructed on how to enhance their experiential descriptions necessary for effective career diagnosis, richer understandings, and expanded conversations.
  2. Students will be exposed to an environment of exploration grounded in self-awareness, self-reflection, and self-understanding that encourages creativity, empowerment, and action.
  3. Students will participate in an approach that begins with, and is centered around, an awareness, appreciation, and understanding of a 'core experience' that provides individuals with a continuous developmental context that enables them to blend their academics with the intricate realities of a highly competitive world of work.
  4. Students will recognize that in a concept, idea, knowledge economy; where employers are seeking creative, analytic, strategic, flexible, 'big picture' thinkers, individuals need to balance their careers through a life-long pursuit for cognitive, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
  5. Students will leave behind the 20th century career counseling models that are centered and realized through retrospection and projection, while, at the same time, moving to a 21st century career therapy model vested in introspection, self-awareness, and connectivity.

      On March 2, 2011, Steve Jobs introduced Apple's iPad to the world: "Technology alone is not enough. It is technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing". In the iPad, Apple created a product that is more intuitive than a PC because it lives at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts.
      Career futurist and technology writer, Daniel Pink, like Jobs, understands the power, the promise, and the future of the list bernal arts. Pink realizes that we are moving and merging an economy and a society built on the logical, non-linear, digital realities of an Information Age blessed with the inventive and empathic capabilities to detect ideas, concepts, patterns, and opportunities in a concept, idea, knowledge economy. Pink dramatically states: "The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind - creators and empathizers, pattern recognizes, and meaning makers. These people - artists,inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, counselors, big picture thinkers - will now reap society's richest rewards and share its greatest joys."