From the "Guest" Director

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On occasion, the Pulse will be featuring special program highlights written by UCP directors. This month's highlight is written by Dr. John Ristvey, SciEd Director.

Perseverance in Times of Change and Always

You’re not obligated to win. You’re obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day.  –Marian Wright Edelman

In recent months, UCAR and UCP have experienced a great deal of change in leadership in a short period of time. How do we respond in the midst of such changes?

In their book Values and Principles that can Change the World, John and Charlene Potts (2010) define perseverance as steady persistence in a course of action. They go on to share a story from the book The Long Walk about a Polish officer Skavomin Rawicz who was sent to prison in Yakutz in the Siberian arctic by the Russian military after World War II.

He and others were able to escape in the middle of winter with only a weeks’ worth of food, and thus began a long walk that took them through the Siberian Arctic, the Gobi desert, Tibet and over the Himalayas to India , a walk of over 5000 km. Not all of them made it but Skavomin Rawicz did. He simply put one foot in front of another and never gave up until he was in India, safe from his pursuers. This is a heroic example of what the word perseverance means.

What does the “one foot in front of the other” concept mean for you as you contribute to the important work we do at UCP in “providing innovative resources, tools, and services in support of the research and education goals of the atmospheric and Earth system sciences community”?

In education, Carol Dweck (Stanford University) contrasts a fixed versus a growth mindset. “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work” (Dweck, 2006). Growth mindsets contribute to academic success, resilience, and persistence (Blackwell et al., 2007; Dweck and Leggett, 1988). People with a growth mindset believe that their ability and competence will grow with their effort, in contrast to those with a fixed mindset who believe that ability is a static quantity that you either possess or do not.

When applying this to providing feedback and praise, it is better to focus on recognition of hard work and perseverance rather than on how smart or skilled someone might appear to be.

How can you apply the principle of perseverance as you respond to recent changes in leadership at UCAR and UCP? How can you apply a growth mindset to working with sponsors, colleagues, and others in the community in which we serve?

References:

Blackwell, L., Trzesniewski, K., & Dweck, C.s. (2007). Implicit theories of intelligence predict achievement across an adolescent transition: A longitudinal study and an intervention. Child Development, 78, 246–263.

Dweck, C. S., & Leggett, E.L. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review, 95, 256–273.

Dweck, C.S. (2006) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York, NY: Random House. Available online at http://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/

Potts, J., & Potts, C. (2010). Values and Principles that can Change the World. Longmont, CO: Steuben Press.

 

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The UCAR Community Programs provide innovative resources, tools, and services in support of the research and education goals of the atmospheric and Earth system sciences community.

A major focus for UCP is making sure the science from NCAR and UCAR institutions is translated in novel ways to a variety of audiences and stakeholders.

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