Solving the Problems of Groupthink in Health Care Facilities through the Application of Practical Originality

Dr. Michael J Snell, D.B.A., M.B.A.

School of Health Sciences

Kaplan University

33422 192nd Ave SE, Unit 37, Auburn, WA 98092

USA

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to analyze the problem of groupthink in hospitals and examine the application of individual and group practical originality skills to reduce the effects of groupthink in the facility. Since the nursing shortage has been reaching an epidemic level nationwide, and the safety of hospitals has been a concern for patients and regulators, this article concerns the areas that need improvement for both the nurse’s well-being and effectiveness and for improving patient safety. Practical originality is a skill that the individual and the group can employ to creatively examine the problems and goals associated with group interaction.

Key words

Groupthink, Practical Originality, Health Care, Nursing, Creativity, Mental Imagery.

1. Introduction

In the United States, registered nurses (RN) comprise the largest group of health-care professionals. In 2002, 2,000,000 registered nurses were employed in health-care organizations. The current nursing shortage in the United States has been estimated to reach over one million nurses by 2010 (Buerhaus, Staiger & Auerbach, 2000). Registered nurses must meet standards that are established by individual state boards of nursing to practice as a nurse (National Quality Forum, 2006).

Aiken (2003) postulated that better educated nurses demonstrate better clinical judgment and professional behavior improves the frame of reference in perception of quality and better patient outcomes, through education, exposure, and practice. Other researchers (Goode & Williams, 2004) hypothesized that variables such as length of experience, skill mix, tenure in a particular setting and/or position, and clinical practicum exposure, foster the transfer of knowledge into practice and are stronger drivers of perception of quality. Still others (Tourangeau, 2002) postulated that selection bias and the work environment, such as staffing levels, confounds the relationship between perception of quality and educational level.

Understanding how the nurse perceives quality care and the working environment may help better predict the best response toward creating the delivery of quality care. Factors such as perceived job stress, job conflict, job ambiguity may affect the response of the employee in critical situations. By identifying how and why the well-being of employees is influenced by the above factors, the health-care leadership team may be better prepared to react to future employee performance (Hanson & Miller, 2002).

Leadership which can understand employee perception may be able to obtain the rewards of competitive advantage and financial strength. Child and Rodrigues (2003) explored “how the identities that people internalize as members of social groups can impact on the organizational learning process, and how in turn that process can contribute to the evolution of an organization’s identity” (p. 535).  Each employee has a personal experience within the organization that gives the employee clues on how to respond to the culture of the organization. The managers of the organization have a perception of personal managerial style and this perception will help drive the necessary managerial style to increase employee effectiveness. Managers who understand the state of the organizational culture and the training needed by the employee may be able to design new strategies that will create the optimal culture for that particular organization.

Culture refers to the organization’s mores, values and beliefs (Schein, 1985). Organizational culture provides a salient system of meaning, which creates specific cognitive role perceptions as to what is expected in the workplace (Marinova, 2005). Cognitive role perceptions are among the proximal factors leading to behaviors (Hofman, Morgeson, & Gerras, 2003). The actions of leadership strongly influence culture. Culture is created and transmitted mainly through employees shared view of events that occur in the work environment. The views become the culture when employees talk to other employees about views of leadership. Based on the statistical analysis presented in Monsen and Boss (2004), there are multiple distinct subcultures among 2,000 employees in an organization of 4,000 employees, with distinct subcultures representing as few as 200 employees. Note that this lower size limit is influenced by the practical limits of the statistical method applied (for example, structural equation modeling requires sample sizes of several hundred), and there may be distinct subcultures in smaller-size organizational units. An innovative business culture is impossible to achieve without the employees attributing that value to the culture (Schneider, Gunnarson, & Niles-Jolly, 1994).

Leaders within an organization can have an important impact on organizational dynamics, including levels of employee satisfaction, as well as how well the organization performs overall (Wright, Gardner, Moynihan, & Allen, 2005). If leadership wishes to advance new ideas, innovation, or increase productivity or efficiency, employees are critical to success. Understanding the perception of the company culture is one of the most important priorities for leadership effectiveness. Self-perception and the understanding of nurse perceptions will give a clearer picture of the organization.

2. Problem Formulation

A study performed by Arnetz in 1999 showed how staff perceived quality of care. A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was used in the study. A convenience sample (70% response rate) of nurses was used in the study. The purpose of the study was to establish quality of care perception. The nurses in the study perceived that in their own department the quality of care had deteriorated. Over 60% of participants perceived that quality of health care in general at all levels within health-care organizations had declined. The study concluded that additional research is needed to understand nurses’ experiences in providing quality (Arnetz, 1999).

Hayhurst, Saylor and Stuenkel (2005) sought out the differences in the perception of the work environment between nurses who left their jobs in a hospital and those who remained. The researchers used compared the factors which caused the nurse decisions to stay or leave the work setting. The findings from the hospital suggested that a supportive work environment enables nurses to provide quality of care to patients. The study concluded that many questions remained unanswered regarding (a) factors that influence nurse job satisfaction in providing quality of care, and (b) perception of quality by nurses (Hayhurst et al., 2005).

Hogston (1995) reported that a useful framework for defining nurse perception of quality lies in processes, quality indicators, and outcomes, primarily because nurses controlled these (as cited in Currie et al., 2005). Other researchers (Attree, 2001; Bassett, 2002) provided a different viewpoint in eliciting nurse perceptions of quality. These researchers asserted that nurse perceptions of quality must include meaningful interpersonal elements. The theoretical framework used must elicit participant viewpoint of the concept of quality (Currie et al., 2005).

The positive organizational outcomes from a beneficial culture include better relations between employee and employer, higher level and number of qualified job applicants, lower turnover, reduced health care costs, higher customer satisfaction and loyalty, higher employee actions related to innovation and creativity, willingness of employees to take appropriate risks, and better overall productivity (Great Place to Work Institute, 2007). Independent research has also provided evidence of higher profitability (Ballou, Godwin, & Shortridge, 2003), performance advantages over the broad market (Fulmer, Gerhant, & Scott, 2003), and a higher quality of work environment (May & Lau, 1999).

Leadership trends have changed across time. According to Ciulla (2003), for example, in the 1940s, leaders tended to “persuade” followers, in the 1960s leaders “influenced,” and in the 1990s, leaders and followers influenced each other. While these differences may have been subtle, the variances are important as a backdrop for understanding leadership today (Ciulla, 2003). For Ciulla, the reason for studying leadership is to determine good leadership. Ciulla suggests that use of the word good has two senses: morally good and technically good or effective. In leadership individuals are often tempted to put what is effective before what is ethical.

Role stress results from difficult and often conflicting roles that must be met (Hardy & Conway, 1988). Stress in the nursing profession is widely acknowledged to be the major cause of attrition and turnover (Wheeler, 1998). Specifically, role stress, job conflict, job ambiguity and the multiple varied complex situations nurses face have all been implicated in the stress of the nursing role.

In groupthink, employees engage in sensemaking to determine appropriate response (Janis, 1971). The nature of groupthink is complex and none of the answers have been widely accepted. Esser (1998) posited that while stress and anxiety are produced internally, the group can either enhance insight or cause more internal anxiety and stress.

The concept of groupthink was first defined by Janis (1972). While a highly cohesive group is a primary condition for groupthink to occur, additional structural features of the group that increase the likelihood of groupthink includes insulation of the group from outsiders and the a leader with an agenda and not listening to other opinions (Moorhead, 1982). The emergence of an active leader is not an assured situational factor. Promotional leadership practices by one or more individuals within the cohort may or may not occur.

Defective decision making manifests itself in the lack of exploring suitable alternatives and the existence of selective bias in response to new information. The essence of Janis’ theory of groupthink is “that a high degree of cohesiveness is conducive to a high frequency of the symptoms of groupthink, which leads to a high frequency of defects in decision making” (Moorhead, 1982, p. 437).

Anxiety produces an anticipation of an imminent danger or threat. Carlson and Hatfield (1992) posited that there is no one set definition for anxiety. The condition is often seen as a symptom of a condition that could develop (English & English, 1958). The effect of emotion and reason has been studied by researchers (Sinclair & Ashkanasy, 2005). Emotions that are negative have shown to correlate with a disruptive effect on decision making.

People process information from a systematic and strategic perspective (Mittal & Ross, 1998). When a person is in an uncertain environmental state stress and anxiety can be produced (Garling et al., 1998). Stress negatively impacts functioning but we have not come to understand why thisoccurs. The demands of the environment are perceived to be greater than the individual’s ability to cope with the environment.

Janis and Mann’s (1977) decision conflict theory proposed that people under stress will be hypervigilent in trying to find solutions and in the process fail to consider all the alternatives. Baradell and Klein (1993) support the theory based on investigation of the same phenomenon. The remedies appear to be to recognize these emotions in ourselves and others and try to process information that will relieve the condition. Managers need special techniques to constructively deal with this condition. To recognize the onset of stress and anxiety will be of value to the manager.

Gower (2004) contended that fear is a complex phenomenon common to all humans through sensations, feelings, cognitions, and behaviors. Characteristic sensations consist of somatic and autonomic responses such as shaking, trembling, weakness of the hands or feet, dry mouth and difficulty swallowing, as well as shallow respiration, chills, sweating, dizziness and increased blood pressure. Feeling level responses include a sense of foreboding, apprehension and negative expectations. Cognitive level manifestations involve high vigilance, continuous scanning of the environment for danger signals, narrowed perceptual field, impaired concentration, and limited capacity to consider alternatives (Gower, 2004).

Hiding one’s voice out of fear (Learner, 1985) causes people to disconnect (Miller & Stiver, 1997) and limits their creativity (Ray & Myers, 1986), but little research exists on how this occurs. Janis and other researchers, Vaughn (1996), Griffin (1998), and Porteus (2004), have tied groupthink to some the most costly political fiascos in American history. These illustrations are examples of how talented, prepared and well-intentioned people continue to misunderstand the emotional life of small group decision making. The predictable result is: a) An incomplete consideration of alternatives b) Incomplete consideration of objectives c) Not examining the risks associated with the preferred choice d) A failure to rethink rejected alternatives e) Not performing an adequate information search f) Only processing the information at hand g) A failure to work out other alternative plans.

Employee turnover can be costly to an organization. The cost of replacing the person and the cost of lost productivity must be included in that cost (Rust et al., 1996; Mosley & Hurley, 1999; Michaud, 2000). The person will need to be replaced immediately or the other workers will have to make up for lost work of the leaving employee (Hannay & Northam, 2000; Sigler, 1999). The employees, having to make the difference of the lost employee, will experience increased stress. This could result in more lost employees. Losing employees impacts the morale of the remaining employees (Hannay & Northam).

The loss of a long-term employee can have even more devastating results to the firm. This loss of money could have the damaging effect that could result in downsizing and the further lowering of employee morale. In the case of long-term employees knowledge of tasks and history may be permanently lost. The perception and actions of leadership if different from the employees may financially impact the situation. Leadership should see the employees as an important stakeholder and react to employee concerns (Rust et al., 1996; Michaud, 2000). Daley (1997) conducted a study which concluded that employee’s level of job satisfaction is related to how the employee will judge the supervisor.

3. Problem Solution

If the problem is groupthink in the health care facility what is needed to help deal with that problem is the unleashing of group thinking processes through practical originality. I view practical originality as a skill that the individual and the group can employ to creatively examine the problems and goals associated with the group

interaction. Darley, Glucksberg, and Kinchla (1986) saw creativity as a general skill or trait has been defined in many ways: habits of thoughts, attitudes, personality traits, or skills in the use of problem solving techniques. The most interesting one of these general creativity theories is the theory of divergent thinking. Divergent thinking skills are easily transferable from one task to another. Weisberg (1995) claimed that one must have knowledge of a field if one hopes to produce something novel within it, but sometimes too much knowledge will let one get in ruts and cannot go beyond stereotyped solutions. Weisberg considered the relationship between knowledge and creativity as a U shape, so the maximum creativity occurs with some middle range of knowledge.

When a problem is presented people will usually fall into the habit of presenting the obstacles and why this problem is a problem in the first place. Ask first what need does it serve to identify this problem as a problem? The problem could actually be a natural condition that will help the general state of something else. The problem may keep the steady state of the situation in place. For example, we have a nursing shortage in this country. Ask what need this serves to identify this as a problem. One of the needs it serves is to try to explain the quality of care problems in hospitals. Another need it serves is to explain why hospitals need to charge a great deal of money for services. What then should be identified as the problem in this situation? Under some circumstances people do not want to solve problems because other problems would become more clearly illuminated. By asking what need the problem serves can give you a clearer picture of the situation.

What of the characteristics of the environment and its relation to the individual? In tackling this tough question, Rhodes (1987) specifically isolated two elements of the environment which he believed were vital for the creativity to occur. Van Gundy (1987) lists some of these institutional barriers that the individual must break free of in the environment to pursue true creative thinking. The first is status hierarchy. Those who are in an inferior position to one of authority are less likely to offer, brainstorm, or create suggestions for improvement due to insecurities about compromising the authority of those in charge and the fear of being criticized or even terminated. Van Gundy describes the formalization of society as an inhibitor to creative thought. In addressing this, Davis (1999) stated that the greatest cultural barrier to creativity is culture.

What in the culture could stifle such a seemingly important tool for advancement? Specifically, cultural blocks take the form of social influence, expectations, conformity pressures, rules, traditions, and any other established pattern of thinking or behavior that leads the individual to fear being different. Acting together, these features form a destructive sphere of influence that can have a national, regional, or global effect on creativity, innovation, and ideation depending on the severity of circumstances, time, and place. How can this be combated? To create an original product individuals should embrace openness to experience that prevents rigidity. This is the opposite of the defensiveness that occurs when people unconsciously protect themselves from potential criticism.

To further shield from this criticism, the original person should have the ability to evaluate situations according to his/her own personal standards. This is important because the value of one’s original work is established not by others’ feedback but ultimately by one’s own opinion. The ability to experiment with and engage in unstable situations is key to overcoming environmental, social, or cultural barriers. Original people are able to explore possibilities and to toy with concepts, which allow them to generate hypotheses, express the ridiculous, translate from one form to another, and transform concepts. From these explorations arise hunches that often lead to creative ways to seeing life. Life is creation to the original person and ultimately that creation manifests itself through the original product.

If you can take your mind to any location or any situation, you can invigorate your mind to change your life. Training your imagination to include creative visualization you become the creator and master of much of your life experiences. Imagination is the first step that can help design a mental ideal state or ideal activity or life. Using your imagination can set you on a path toward practical originality that will help your life.

To increase your capacity to think originally you need to examine all sides to the question. Expose yourself to people who think differently than you. If you’re a liberal thinker, spend a day reading the conservative opinions on a subject, or go over to visit a person you consider your opposite. Practice asking questions and getting all the facts and opinions available. Do not get attached to your opinions. Try answering everything with a question. See if you can find out what is at the bottom of this person’s values you will probably find out you have a lot more in common with that person than not. This is where original thinking takes us, beyond judgment, out beyond blame and negativity to a place where we can think clearly find our great creative force within.

One of the reasons for people to try to use original thinking in their everyday is to escape their everyday life. They seek something different from the day-to-day experiences of their normal life routine. The mental state sought is something simple yet pleasing that takes the person away from what they are experiencing now. This is a place where you find your personal paradise. If you are successful the original idea waits to be discovered. This new relationship between yourself and the idea or solution you find will energize and excite you into a euphoric state that will make you proud of the result and effort.

In this mental state the person will feel happy and contented, ready for the task at hand. If you create the right state of mind, originality will flourish. There in this mental state of intense concentration on one area will help original people to roam freely. The new idea may come without even thinking about it. When you are there in your calm and peaceful state of mind you may not know where the idea came from in the first place. When this happens the idea comes straight from the heart. These conditions are similar to what is needed to create intuition. Other worries must be turned off and the  mind must be free to roam. Intuition may happen when you are not even thinking about the issue in the intuition.

Most of us learned our reading, writing and arithmetic in school. This kind of learning stimulated the left side of our brains. Stimulating the right side of the brain is done with art and sports and music. The mind is asked to solve spatial reasoning, patterns and puzzles. The right is where our insights, intuition and originality will come from in solving our problems. Opening the right side of the brain to more knowledge and to learn how to use that side of brain will give a new look on life. Inspiration will be found in our originality thinking abilities and give us nothing akin to child seeing something great for the first time.

Constantly seeking originality can create a universe of meaning. This need to find something new could be based on a childhood of feeling of being isolated and unhappy. This could explain why so many people find the act of creating something original to be difficult. Creating a world of solutions or transcending ideas will be frustrating to find the right words or course. However, despite all the pressures and frustrations many people have found great satisfaction in the quest for a new way to solve problems or to do things in different ways. The positive aspects include finding out more about you. The search provides an escape from life, offering a place to go where you are in control.

In undertaking the quest for originality you will make new intellectual and emotional connections, feeling your ideas have real purpose. Feeling a real purpose, you will feel the need to communicate to others and sharing your reactions when you have found some underlying truth about how to proceed with your life.  Originality can come from your self-definition, and if you believe in that definition, you can find a way to make originality happen.

From this perspective one can appreciate a sense of perfectness and beauty we feel in looking at a beautiful painting, a perfect formula or the greatest car ever made. Inspiration depends entirely on the eye of the beholder. It is the result of our interaction with order and structure of the world around us. If it were not for our own creativity blocks our inspiration could be found in more and things in the world that we encounter. Confusion exists when the mind cannot solve a problem. When the mind is trying to escape the awareness of conflict the mind creates a reflex into dullness in trying to find the solution. This is the normal state of mind and need to inspire ourselves not to think in that manner.

One of the blocks to inspiration is simple confusion. When we cannot understand the answer to a problem, confusion will take the place of potential inspiration. We will need to not fall into in the reflex of confusion or the single concentration of one path of action to solve the problem. We need to unleash our whole mind experience and find more meaning and more options in the pursuit of finding the solution to that problem. Inspiration then is more than an accident. Inspiration can be planned and the consequences of inspiration can be greater than we imagined.

Everything in the world is influenced by the law of attraction. This law teaches us that whenever we concentrate, we move ourselves closer to becoming a reality. If we focus on goodness our lives will be happier. We are two people, the one we assume ourselves to be and the one we are in reality. Only if we really look at ourselves objectivity do we see that part of us is the observer and the other is being observed. If we don’t have both parts in us, if the observer is repressed than we will be living in the world of our imaginary self. If we observe ourselves and our imaginary self of what we can be than can become an authentic self-worth being, one who sees oneself closely the same as others do.

Most of the time we take the long route to fulfilling the dreams of what we want to become. We focus on working toward our goals without seeing the vision of when it is achieved. If we use the law of attraction we can focus of what we want and desire in our lives. The more we focus on our goals and learn from our mistakes the stronger the goal becomes and our likelihood increases on achieving that goal.

The relationship between creativity and opportunity identification was established as the ability to identifying novel associations or by utilizing available resources in a novel way (Lumpkin et al., 2004). Opportunity recognition employs a recursive process that is akin to the recursive nature of creativity. Given that the ability to make unusual connections is deemed to be part of the creative process it is relevant to understand how these connections are made and may be able to be enhanced. Pattern identification, signal detection theory and regulatory focus theory are posited as relevant perceptual and cognitive factors in opportunity recognition. Baron (2006) suggested that pattern recognition was a learned skill that could be used to increase alertness to opportunities (Gaglio & Katz, 2001) or could be used to discover opportunities through purposeful search (Fiet, 2002).

Research has suggested that people identify opportunities by employing mental frameworks acquired through experience. It is the patterns they perceive that suggest ideas for solving problems. Pattern recognition is defined as the process through which individuals perceive complex and seemingly unrelated events and place them in identifiable patterns (Matlin, 2002). Through this process we can create practical originality and try to solve our everyday problems.

If you want to become fluent in originality you need to become a fountain of ideas. That means unleashing your mind to thoughts like may sound stupid or that one just has no chance of success. You must think of everything and anything that is relevant to your problem and write down all of these ideas for consideration. When a problem is presented people will usually fall into the habit of presenting the obstacles and why this problem is a problem in the first place. Ask first what need does it serve to identify this problem as a problem? The problem could actually be a natural condition that will help the general state of something else. The problem may keep the steady state of the situation in place.

Creative individuals must possess two key traits. The first of those identifiable traits is an openness to experience that prevents rigidity. This is the opposite of the defensiveness that occurs when people unconsciously protect themselves from potential criticism.  This openness must be occupied by a tolerance for ambiguity, as well as the ability to receive conflicting information without closing one’s mind to the situation. This is important because the value of one’s original work is established not by others’ feedback but ultimately by one’s own opinion.

Original people are able to explore possibilities and to toy with concepts, which allow them to generate hypotheses, express the ridiculous, translate from one form to another, and transform concepts. From these explorations arise hunches that often lead to creative ways to seeing life. Life is creation to the original person and ultimately that creation manifests itself through the original product. Each person has a way to find their own originality. Thinking in practical terms that path will be the one that is most relevant to the particular person. By asking yourself what it is that gives you the most joy to pursue or the area that you have asked the most questions about my help you in that pursuit. Perhaps the decision of how to pursue your originality will arise from practical considerations that demand your immediate attention. Then employing certain techniques to find your originality should be followed to lead you to the answer you seek.

Researchers have found that successful creators are persevering in the face of frustration and against obstacles that might ordinarily be thought overwhelming. This ability to march on in the face of imminent, notable, and frustrating failure is what sets the creative individual apart from the ambitious achiever.

The mind has the ability to create an image that is not felt by the senses. This image can be of anything the mind chooses and relate to anything encountered in life. Through memory and noticing everything there to experience the mind can store a tremendous amount of information that can be retrieved to reenact or reconstruct what had or could have happened. If your mind is open, any point of view can be analyzed and you can look at the past and future and make of it what you will. If you can take your mind to any location or any situation, you can invigorate your mind to change your life. Training your imagination to include creative visualization you become the creator and master of much of your life experiences. Imagination is the first step that can help design a mental ideal state or ideal activity or life. Using your imagination can set you on a path toward practical originality that will help your life.

To increase your capacity to think originally you need to examine all sides to the question. Expose yourself to people who think differently than you. If you’re a liberal thinker, spend a day reading the conservative opinions on a subject, or go over to visit a person you consider your opposite. Practice asking questions and getting all the facts and opinions available. Do not get attached to your opinions. Try answering everything with a question.

One of the reasons for people to try to use original thinking in their everyday is to escape their everyday life. They seek something different from the day-to-day experiences of their normal life routine. The mental state sought is something simple yet pleasing that takes the person away from what they are experiencing now. This is a place where you find your personal paradise. If you are successful the original idea waits to be discovered. This new relationship between yourself and the idea or solution you find will energize and excite you into a euphoric state that will make you proud of the result and effort. In this mental state the person will feel happy and contented, ready for the task at hand. If you create the right state of mind, originality will flourish. There in this mental state of intense concentration on one area will help original people to roam freely. The new idea may come without even thinking about it. When you are there in your calm and peaceful state of mind you may not know where the idea came from in the first place. When this happens the idea comes straight from the heart. These conditions are similar to what is needed to create intuition. Other worries must be turned off and the mind must be free to roam. Intuition may happen when you are not even thinking about the issue in the intuition.

Your mind needs to freely roam over all the possibilities. Past trauma and stress must be suppressed through some form of relaxation. Ideas need to flow freely and be considered without constraints. You must seek to find your sense of wonder and optimal mental state and ideas will surface that you never thought possible before. Once you have achieved this optimal state of mind, use sensemaking strategies to make the right choices.

The individual is seen to face three types of challenges presented by the stressful life event (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 2004). One challenge involves the management of emotional distress, which can initially be overwhelming, and at times debilitating. Emotion regulation is paramount to the individual’s ability to continue daily function, so in the beginning this challenge takes precedence. Tedeschi and Calhoun (2004) pointed out that while the immediate challenge is to contain and manage the intense emotional distress experienced soon after the event, ongoing emotional distress is typical and paradoxically appears to serve as a key motivator for the individual’s continued ability to address the remaining challenges. Another major challenge is to the individual’s deep seated schemas, beliefs, and goals. More specifically, this challenge highlights discrepancies between the individual’s pre-event sense of identity, beliefs about stability and safety in the world, relationships, and goals to those following the event. In this challenge to the individual’s meaning structure and sense of identity, the individual must determine “who am I now?” in the wake of the upheaval.

The process of reconciling these discrepancies leads the individual to a third, more global, challenge to incorporate these changes into the life narrative, an individualized “story” of the person’s life that incorporates important life experiences and the summation of beliefs, assumptions, schemas and goals that anchor the individual’s sense of identity and meaning across time (McAdams, 1993). The life narrative thereby serves as a structure through which the individual is able to bridge life as it was “before” the event to life as it is “after,” providing a coherent account of the individual’s experience and revised sense of self in the world, so that the crisis becomes a marker of change within the life story (Harvey, 2000).

The more frequently one encounters a fearful situation, the easier it becomes for an individual to perform in the situation. Philosophers have long noted that courageous behavior becomes easier with repeated exposure. Aristotle (350 B.C./1976) wrote, “It is by habituating ourselves to make light of alarming situations and to face them that we become brave, and it is when we have become brave that we shall be most able to face an alarming situation”.  It is possible that repeated exposure to situations requiring courageous behavior leads to a decline in fear rather than an increase in courage.

To offer the gift of listening, our minds and bodies must work together. What is required is the ability to see, hear, and feel with our whole being (Shafir, 2000). When we receive sounds into our ears, and the sounds are transmitted into electrochemical impulses and transmitted to the brain, then a decision is made to either pay attention to the sounds or ignore them. Listening begins as a physiological phenomenon and quickly becomes psychological (Adler, Rosenfeld & Towne, 1986). Listening is a crucial need for each person. Our well-being is influenced by a many factors–physical health, spiritual health, and emotional health. These factors are intertwined, with one affecting the other. If the need to be heard is not met, all aspects of one’s health could be compromised. The mind and body must work together if intentional listening is to happen (Shafir, 2000).

Isolated people with no one to listen to them experience chronic stress, depression, and decreased immunity. When they have a listening presence in their lives, they often find that life is not so overwhelming. Listening helps lessen the number of self-inflicted injuries and suicide attempts. Patients and caregivers who participate in support groups also have better survival rates and are less depressed. They find that the listening which occurs in the groups helps them feel more positive, willing to contribute to others, and more patient with strangers (Shafir, 2000).

To listen intentionally is to allow speakers to talk without feeling the need to top their story. One can always think of an experience or problem that is similar, and most people have the inclination to want to “share.” Again, this sharing is usually done because of the belief that the speaker can in some way be “helped” by knowing that the listener has had the same exact experience (Shafir, 2000). When listeners begin talking about their problems, suddenly the conversation has shifted and is no longer about the persons who are speaking (Stone, 1991). This kind of “sharing” is also done to make a connection with the speaker, but rarely is that goal achieved. When the listeners begin sharing, they have, in effect, taken “the ball” out of the hands of the speaker and have kept it for themselves.

Intentional listening is hard work, and many never try because of the fear of being a “bad listener.” Often feelings of fear prevent people from listening with empathy. If listeners can learn not to be so hard on themselves, and if they can learn to relax, discovering the parts of themselves which prevent them from effectively listening to others is possible (Nichols, 1995).  Encouraging listeners to keep on trying is important, because intentional listening is such a precious gift, and it nourishes one’s sense of self-worth (Nichols, 1995).

The mind has the ability to create an image that is not felt by the senses. This image can be of anything the mind chooses and relate to anything encountered in life. Through memory and noticing everything there to experience the mind can store a tremendous amount of information that can be retrieved to reenact or reconstruct what had or could have happened. If your mind is open, any point of view can be analyzed and you can look at the past and future and make of it what you will. If you can take your mind to any location or any situation, you can invigorate your mind to change your life. Training your imagination to include creative visualization you become the creator and master of much of your life experiences. Imagination is the first step that can help design a mental ideal state or ideal activity or life. Using your imagination can set you on a path toward practical originality that will help your life.

For you to make the right decisions in your everyday life where many factors that need to be in place. Your mind needs to freely roam over all the possibilities. Past trauma and stress must be suppressed through some form of relaxation. Ideas need to flow freely and be considered without constraints. You must seek to find your sense of wonder and optimal mental state and ideas will surface that you never thought possible before. Once you have achieved this optimal state of mind, use sense making strategies to make the right choices.

4. Conclusion

As each person in the organization uses practical originality to try to solve problems, generate productive paths, and create new ideas and innovation the organization will benefit. If the supervisors, management and stakeholders understand to the need to fully engage their workforce the use of practical originality may tumble down the walls of groupthink in the organization.

To increase the uses of practical originality in your life take these steps.

1) Analyze why the problems exists and what need does it serves to viewed as a problem. 2) Determine your individual and cultural blocks that hinder your use of practical originality to help you find direction.

3) Evaluate situations from the point of view or your own personal standards.

4) Take your mind to any location or any situation where you can invigorate your mind to change your life.

5) Train your imagination to include creative visualization where you become the creator and master of much of your life experiences. To increase your capacity to think originally you need to examine all sides to the question.

6) Take time in your day to create a mental state that is something simple yet pleasing that takes you away from what you are experiencing now. This is a place where you find your personal paradise. If you are successful the original idea waits to be discovered.

7) Expose yourself to people who think differently than you.

8) Try to confront your fears instead of turning away. The more frequently one encounters a fearful situation, the easier it becomes for an individual to perform in the situation.

9) Create a life narrative, an individualized story of your life that incorporates important life experiences and the summation of beliefs, assumptions, schemas and goals that anchor your sense of identity and meaning across time (McAdams, 1993).

10) Past trauma and stress must be suppressed through some form of relaxation. Ideas need to flow freely and be considered without constraints.

11) Offer the gift of listening, our minds and bodies must work together. What is required is the ability to see, hear, and feel with our whole being (Shafir, 2000).

The strength of our minds is one of our greatest strengths. It is what separates us from animals and gives our lives special meaning. Freeing time to develop your thinking and giving the mind a chance to work without encumbering it with too many distractions can help your mind work at optimum capacity. The power of using your mind to try to see the light at the end of the cave and move toward it can make the problems you are trying to solve seem easier. Our minds are our greatest asset to solve the problems we face in our daily lives. We need to identify anything that can and will get in the way of us moving toward that light of knowledge on the outside of the cave of our existence.

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