Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful

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Part of WiFi (What I Find Interesting) Wednesday. Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful

Read Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful by Tara Haelle, from, August 16, 2020.

I don’t know if others have felt unfamiliar, unnamed emotions in the past few weeks. Obviously I know that they are related to the ongoing pandemic, but I couldn’t put my finger on what to call them. Then this article came across my screen and I felt like I could finally name what I was feeling.

I was feeling depleted.

Not depressed. Not anxious. Just empty, like I had used up the well of positivity I could use to combat my other emotions. The ambiguity of decision making – and the unending ambiguity at that – had taken an emotional toll. The author Tara Haelle describes these feelings as an ambiguous loss.

It’s not surprising that, as a lifelong overachiever, I’ve felt particularly despondent and adrift as the months have dragged on, says Pauline Boss, PhD, a family therapist and professor emeritus of social sciences at the University of Minnesota who specializes in “ambiguous loss.”

“It’s harder for high achievers,” she says. “The more accustomed you are to solving problems, to getting things done, to having a routine, the harder it will be on you because none of that is possible right now. You get feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and those aren’t good.”

That means reckoning with what’s called ambiguous loss: any loss that’s unclear and lacks a resolution. It can be physical, such as a missing person or the loss of a limb or organ, or psychological, such as a family member with dementia or a serious addiction.

“In this case, it is a loss of a way of life, of the ability to meet up with your friends and extended family,” Boss says. “It is perhaps a loss of trust in our government. It’s the loss of our freedom to move about in our daily life as we used to.” It’s also the loss of high-quality education, or the overall educational experience we’re used to, given school closures, modified openings and virtual schooling. It’s the loss of rituals, such weddings, graduations, and funerals, and even lesser “rituals,” such as going to gym. One of the toughest losses for me to adapt to is no longer doing my research and writing in coffee shops as I’ve done for most of my life, dating back to junior high.

Tara Haelle, from, August 16, 2020.

Ok, say now it’s named. And as a high-achiever, who likes to solve problems, how do we fix it? The author offers seven tips, covered in-depth in the article.

  • Accept that life is different right now
  • Expect less from yourself
  • Recognize the different aspects of grief
  • Experiment with “both-and” thinking
  • Look for activities, new and old, that continue to fulfill you
  • Focus on maintaining and strengthening important relationships
  • Begin slowly building your resilience bank account

The author brings up a good response at the end of the piece – knowing something and acting on it aren’t the same. And have the grace to accept this isn’t life as we know it, so we don’t have to use the old ways to cope. Learning new ways to do anything takes time – so be patient and find a way that makes sense to you.

Continue reading Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful by Tara Haelle, from, August 16, 2020.

Inside Higher Ed: How to Overcome Classroom Zoom Fatigue

Read How to Overcome Classroom Zoom Fatigue by Elizabeth Stone, from Inside Higher Ed, August 19, 2020.

The spring semester move to online instruction worked for many instructors and people who trained others because there were existing relationships to build upon. This fall, instructors won’t have the same benefit of the community to jump-start conversations. Elizabeth Stone from Fordham University shares tips on how she addressed these issues during a summer intensive course she taught this summer.

All the tips were useful – even for people who are unaccustomed to teaching. As a life-long trainer who hasn’t hopped into Zoom-leading a course, I found these tips useful for me. I hope they are as useful to you.

The Week Before the Class Begins

  • Invite students to meet with you informally in small groups. 
  • Take notes on what they tell you about themselves.
  • Share more about yourself than usual.
  • Draw on your students’ online experience. 
  • Explicitly ask students to consider talking in class more than they might. 

Once Class Begins

  • Regularly use the breakout rooms.
  • Build in brief student presentations.
  • Assign and draw on students’ “reader-response” blogs daily.
  • Require conferences.
  • Make Zoom technology into your ally in building connection.

Continue reading How to Overcome Classroom Zoom Fatigue by Elizabeth Stone, from Inside Higher Ed, August 19, 2020.

Harvard Business Review: Are Your D&I Efforts Helping Employees Feel Like They Belong?

Read Are Your D&I Efforts Helping Employees Feel Like They Belong? by Michael Slepian, from Harvard Business Review, August 19, 2020.

Can we make this into a banner, when colleagues talk about diversity on a college campus:

An organization with a diverse workforce is not necessarily an inclusive one

While under-represented people may be part of an organization, that doesn’t always mean that they are understood or included by others in the organization. I have personally felt this in many institutions where I have worked across the country.

Employees may feel they don’t belong for any number of reasons, but in each case, the result is the same: what researchers term an “identity threat.” Defined as any situation that makes salient that one is different from others, identity threats can range from trivial to troubling. Consider the manager who talks to her low-wage employees about upcoming international travel plans, or the co-worker who expresses surprise that a Black colleague doesn’t conform to a stereotype.

by Michael Slepian, from Harvard Business Review, August 19, 2020

Researchers Michael Slepian and Drew Jacoby-Senghor interviewed 1500 people had multiple and intersecting identities, including women working in male-dominated fields, people from multiple racial groups, LGBTQ-identifying individuals, as well as people with a range of ideologies, cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, education levels, family environments, and current hardships. Typically, studies on diversity and inclusion focus on one identity – but the reality is that these studies can ignore our intersecting identities in the workplace.

Below are findings from the study done by Slepian and Jacoby-Senghor.

“What can managers do? First, recognize but don’t overemphasize differences. It is now clear that a colorblind approach does not effectively manage diversity in the workplace. Colorblind policies can leave employees feeling ignored.

“Second, managers should focus on the creation of identity-safe environments. Addressing underrepresentation at different leadership levels takes time, but managers today can focus on creating environments that demonstrate a value for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds and demographics.

“Third, feelings of support and being valued are critical. Our study found that employees regarded organizational inclusion efforts as more surface level than real when they did not feel respected, valued, or supported by the organization.

“Finally, the framing of inclusion attempts influences perceptions of sincerity. When it comes to the organization as a whole, inclusion should absolutely focus on different social groups and increasing representation. But when it comes to the day-to-day, inclusion efforts should be focused more on the individual than the social group they represent.”

As we are making those banners, we should also make this one too:

People want their social group to be included and their individual self to belong. These are two different things.

I am both/and in my professional work. As we continue to work on intentional inclusion, let’s forget that the people we have on our staff are impacted at the group and individual level. Once we remember this, we can and will do better.

Read Are Your D&I Efforts Helping Employees Feel Like They Belong? by Michael Slepian, from Harvard Business Review, August 19, 2020.

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About Post Author

Joseph Rios, EdD

I am Joseph Rios and I believe that leadership is an expression of our values
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