The ‘Great Days’ Framework

My background is corporate training and development (see inset at end). Even with my credentials and experience it is still an unlikely scenario that I would be able to “rock up” and deliver the positive psychology intervention “three good things”, however well researched and then “waltz out” collecting payment along the way. As awareness of the benefits of positive psychology interventions are increasing, perhaps the time is getting close for this more easily to happen. However the good news is that it is still possible to create an environment in business where positive psychology tools and interventions can be employed.

Many people in business expect a framework or a context for any “intervention”, and I would like to share one of the frameworks that I’ve developed and used successfully. The Great Days Framework © is designed to start a conversation around positive psychology as well as acting as a framework for training or coaching. I have found the “house look and feel” is familiar to business people, particularly those in marketing or IT and therefore immediately makes it more acceptable. 

I have constructed the above visual framework in the time honoured fashion of “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

The foundation layer is Dweck’s (2006) work on Mindset – I’m sure by now you will have come across it, if not I highly recommend finding out more. The basic premise of her work is that people can change, that they can learn new skills.

The second foundation layer is the Circle of Control by Stephen Covey (1989). I recognise that in itself the circle of control is not an intervention nor is it supported by research, but having used Covey’s model for many years in business I’ve found it an effective way of encouraging people to make active changes to operate within their circle of control.

The third foundation element is Focus and Choice. Look at the picture, what do you see?  

A white vase or two faces looking at each other? Both are there. In life we can notice the good and / or the bad, it is a choice. For many people their emotions, and the way events are remembered may not feel like a choice. Additionally, there’s a certain amount of error in the way events are typically recorded in our memories. Some people have found the selective attention test (http://wn.com/selective_attention_test) an introduction to the brain’s ability to focus and re-focus.  

Knowing that we have choice over how we focus our attention and energy which is of great importance to our quality of life and ultimately our health. Focus and choice gives us the ability to be the director rather than an actor in someone else’s movie. (Chabris, 2010, The invisible gorilla : and other ways our intuitions deceive us) For more information on how our memory can play tricks, you may wish to look at Chabris and Simons (2010). 

The first four pillars are adapted from the work around time perspectives (Zimbardo & Boyd, 2008) which provide the actual framework for delivering positive psychology interventions.    

  1. Develop holistic present
  2. Reduce past negative
  3. Increase past positive
  4. Set goals (future)

The fifth pillar is embedding new habits.  

The icing on the cake, or the roof of the house is having a “Buddy” for the interventions, as the effect of sharing successes seems to have a huge amplification effect, and the importance of social support has been cited in many studies.

Unusually in terms of adult training, positive psychology interventions are experiential, the context is often implied “do ‘this’, and you’ll be happier”. Some learning theory (McCarthy & O’Neill-Blackwell, 2007) suggests that often people need a more comprehensive framework to learn. The ‘Great Days’ Framework provides a context for a more demanding audience than undergraduates who participate in research to gain credits for their course. Stanovich (2010) describes the “College Sophomore” problem in more detail. I guess sometimes apathy wins over specific actions to be more happy … the framework is designed to overcome that initial apathy, and kick start the learning process for people who want to have “great days”.

References

Chabris, C. F., & Simons, D. J. (2010). The invisible gorilla : and other ways our intuitions deceive us (1st ed. ed.). New York: Crown.

Covey, S. R. (1989). The seven habits of highly effective people : restoring the character ethic. London: Simon & Schuster, 1992.

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset : the new psychology of success. New York: New York : Random House.

Hefferon, K., & Boniwell, I. (2011). Positive psychology : theory, research and applications. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

McCarthy, B., & O’Neill-Blackwell, J. (2007). Hold on, you lost me! : use learning styles to create training that sticks. Alexandria, Va.: ASTD Press.

Stanovich, K. E. (2010). How to think straight about psychology (9th ed. ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Zimbardo, P. G., & Boyd, J. (2008). The time paradox : the new psychology of time. London: Rider.

Copyright © 2011 Suzanne Hazelton

Author’s Bio

Suzanne is a specialist in developing people – for seven years at IBM she specialised in designing and delivering professional development training courses.  She has trained both within the UK and internationally and often ran electives at IBM conferences, e.g. in July 2010, at the IBM Managers’ Institute she co-delivered an elective entitled “guiding individuals to peak performance”.  Suzanne is a practitioner in a number of approaches such as:   Transactional Analysis (a humanistic psychotherapeutic approach), NLP, Firo-B, Myers-Briggs and is currently on MAPP 5. 

Suzanne now runs a consultancy, in addition to training, she offers high end coaching where she’s passionate about working with people to help them find their passion – a powerhouse of motivation and energy, and thus working with individuals to thrive.

Suzanne will soon publish her book called ‘Great Days at Work’, a popular psychology book that applies the research around happiness in a guide for professionals, benefiting both the employee and employer.

Suzanne blogs for personal interest at: http://suzannehazelton.wordpress.com/

Find her consultancy at: http://www.thebusinessofchange.co.uk/

On Twitter: @SuzanneHazelton http://twitter.com/SuzanneHazelton

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