Posts Tagged ‘others matter’

Putting others first is a strength, but using that strength casually and even irresponsibly can lead to procrastinating on your dissertation.

If one of your top strengths is the ability to love and be loved, you can be assured that you won’t be lonely in your old age.  Probably you won’t be lonely before you ever reach old age.

Since the ability to love and be loved is one of the five strengths that most likely will lead to happiness or satisfaction with your life, how could that strength ever get you into trouble?

Clearly, you could love the wrong person too much, but what if you have a supportive family?  Only a crabby, mean-spirited dissertation coach would ever suggest that you could show too much love to your family.

Here’s a case in point:  I send my clients a welcome packet when they begin coaching with me, and one question I ask is “What usually motivates you?”

Often the answer is “others motivate me,” as in:
•  Grandma is lonely, and it’s been a long time since we went to see her, even if this is a busy time for me, or
•  Of course, I’ll head up the drive for membership for our ______ (fill in the blank:  church, community pool, Habitat for Humanity group).

Others matter, and for some people, others come first, even when it’s a detriment to your meeting your dissertation deadlines.

If this sounds like you, try looking at your ability to love and be loved through a different lens:

1.  Excuse to dawdle?  How happy could you make your immediate family/significant other if you were to meet your dissertation deadline and actually get ever closer to the finish line?  What is your family giving up in order for you to dawdle on your dissertation?

2.  Family as human shield?  Impossible?  Are you at least sometimes using your family as an excuse to avoid your work?

3.  Leverage your ability to love and be loved.  Is perseverance not a top strength? Instead of organizing trips, dinners, and family Facebook pages, consider leveraging your ability to love others in order to persevere with your dissertation.

4. Promise to celebrate a milestone in your work with your family later on. Have you asked your family what they want?  Does your mother or your extended family in Ohio really require you to come to the various family reunions/weddings/birthday gatherings and thereby eat up the last precious weeks of August?

5.  Show your love by saying no to 3 requests this week.  Use the time gained to work on your dissertation.

All the best,


P.S.  What deadlines have you set for yourself over the next four weeks?  Want some suggestions?  Go to www.nancywhichard.com or www.usingyourstrengths.com.

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach


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By now, you’ve probably heard that Randy Pausch died Friday at the age of 47.

Though known in the field of computer science, he had gained world-wide fame from his wise, clever “last lecture” at Carnegie Mellon in the fall of 2007.  At that time he had been told that because of aggressive pancreatic cancer, he had only months to live.

I remember being moved six months ago when I first listened to a recording of the lecture, but as I listened to it again today, I was struck by the character strengths he exhibited and also by what a model he was and is for academics– professors and students.

His work in virtual reality gave him the opportunity to use what must have been his signature strengths: creativity, love of learning, curiosity, and humor and playfulness.  And his funny and insightful lecture showed him using those strengths to the fullest.

As important as the strengths of creativity and curiosity are, he also valued and used his strengths of perseverance, loyalty, gratitude, and love.  He wanted his students and his children to remember how hard he worked and how he persevered to try new things.

He preached loyalty, and his own life was exemplary in loyalty, gratitude, and love. His family mattered, his students mattered, and his friends and colleagues mattered.

He had learned from a football coach that the way to show interest and caring is to stick with a student, giving constructive criticism and advice, and asking the student to work harder.  He was grateful for those who had helped him as a youth and as a junior academic, and that gratitude gave him the desire to be loyal and generous with help to his own students.

Chris Peterson, who first brought Randy Pausch’s lecture to many people, recently wrote in his blog “The Good Life” that Pausch gave us a compelling example of an actual person who lived life well: “I watched his last lecture wearing many hats. As a teacher, I was inspired. As a lecturer, I was filled with admiration. As a human being, I was proud.”

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