Psychology’s five revelations for finding your true calling:

Look. You can’t plan out your life. What you have to do is first discover your passion – what you really care about.

Barack Obama

If, like many, you are searching for your calling in life – perhaps you are still unsure which profession aligns with what you most care about – here are five recent research findings worth taking into consideration. 

First, there’s a difference between having a harmonious passion and an obsessive passion. If you can find a career path or occupational goal that fires you up, you are more likely to succeed and find happiness through your work – that much we know from the deep research literature. But beware – since a seminal paper published in 2003 by the Canadian psychologist Robert Vallerand and colleagues, researchers have made an important distinction between having a harmonious passion and an obsessive one. If you feel that your passion or calling is out of control, and that your mood and self-esteem depend on it, then this is the obsessive variety, and such passions, while they are energising, are also associated with negative outcomes such as burnout and anxiety. In contrast, if your passion feels in control, reflects qualities that you like about yourself, and complements other important activities in your life, then this is the harmonious version, which is associated with positive outcomes, such as vitality, better work performance, experiencing flow, and positive mood.

Secondly, having an unanswered calling in life is worse than having no calling at all. If you already have a burning ambition or purpose, do not leave it to languish. A few years ago, researchers at the University of South Florida surveyed hundreds of people and grouped them according to whether they felt like they had no calling in life, that they had a calling they’d answered, or they had a calling but had never done anything about it. In terms of their work engagement, career commitment, life satisfaction, health and stress, the stand-out finding was that the participants who had a calling they hadn’t answered scored the worst across all these measures. The researchers said that this puts a different spin on the presumed benefits of having a calling in life. They concluded: ‘having a calling is only a benefit if it is met, but can be a detriment when it is not as compared to having no calling at all’.

The third finding to bear in mind is that, without passion, grit is ‘merely a grind’. The idea that ‘grit’ is vital for career success was advanced by the psychologist Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania, who argued that highly successful, ‘gritty’ people have impressive persistence. ‘To be gritty,’ Duckworth writes in her 2016 book on the subject, ‘is to fall down seven times, and rise eight.’ Many studies certainly show that being more conscientious – more self-disciplined and industrious – is associated with more career success. But is that all that being gritty means? Duckworth has always emphasised that it has another vital component that brings us back to passion again – alongside persistence, she says that gritty people also have an ‘ultimate concern’ (another way of describing having a passion or calling). 

However, according to a paper published last year, the standard measure of grit has failed to assess passion (or more specifically, ‘passion attainment’) – and Jon Jachimowicz at Columbia Business School in New York and colleagues believe this could explain why the research on grit has been so inconsistent (leading to claims that it is an overhyped concept and simply conscientiousness repackaged). Jachimowicz’s team found that when they explicitly measured passion attainment (how much people feel they have adequate passion for their work) and combined this with a measure of perseverance (a consistency of interests and the ability to overcome setbacks), then the two together did predict superior performance among tech-company employees and university students. ‘Our findings suggest that perseverance without passion attainment is mere drudgery, but perseverance with passion attainment propels individuals forward,’ they said.

Another finding is that, when you invest enough effort, you might find that your work becomes your passion. It’s all very well reading about the benefits of having a passion or calling in life but, if you haven’t got one, where to find it? Duckworth says it’s a mistake to think that in a moment of revelation one will land in your lap, or simply occur to you through quiet contemplation – rather, you need to explore different activities and pursuits, and expose yourself to the different challenges and needs confronting society.

Yes!

If you still draw a blank, then perhaps it’s worth heeding the advice of others who say that it is not always the case that energy and determination flow from finding your passion – sometimes it can be the other way around and, if you put enough energy into your work, then passion will follow. Consider, for instance, an eight-week repeated survey of German entrepreneurs published in 2014 that found a clear pattern – their passion for their ventures increased after they’d invested more effort into them the week before. A follow-up study qualified this, suggesting that the energising effect of investing effort arises only when the project is freely chosen and there is a sense of progress. ‘Entrepreneurs increase their passion when they make significant progress in their venture and when they invest effort out of their own free choice,’ the researchers said.

There is the concept of the craftsman approach put forth by Cal Newport and others, to which I subscribe.

Finally, if you think that passion comes from doing a job you enjoy, you’re likely to be disappointed. Consider where you think passion comes from. In a preprint paper released at PsyArXiv, Jachimowicz and his team draw a distinction between people who believe that passion comes from doing what you enjoy (which they say is encapsulated by Oprah Winfrey’s commencement address in 2008 in which she said passions ‘bloom when we’re doing what we love’), and those who see it as arising from doing what you believe in or value in life (as reflected in the words of former Mexican president Felipe Calderón who in his own commencement address in 2011 said ‘you have to embrace with passion the things that you believe in, and that you are fighting for’).

The researchers found that people who believe that passion comes from pleasurable work were less likely to feel that they had found their passion (and were more likely to want to leave their job) as compared with people who believe that passion comes from doing what you feel matters. Perhaps this is because there is a superficiality and ephemerality to working for sheer pleasure – what fits the bill one month or year might not do so for long – whereas working towards what you care about is a timeless endeavour that is likely to stretch and sustain you indefinitely. The researchers conclude that their results show ‘the extent to which individuals attain their desired level of work passion may have less to do with their actual jobs and more to do with their beliefs about how work passion is pursued’.

This is an adaptation of an article originally published by The British Psychological Society’s Research Digest.

(Via Aeon)

Sen. Tester pushes new VA CIO James Gfrerer for priorities by Billy Mitchell:

James Gfrerer hasn’t been CIO of the Department of Veteran Affairs long, but he’s already under the close watch of Congress.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., penned a letter Jan. 11 asking Gfrerer to “provide a comprehensive and prioritized list of VA IT projects” along with any “metrics or explanations of processes that are used to prioritize these projects.”
“There is no doubt that insufficient resources, a chronic lack of transparency, and an inability to effectively prioritize countless competing objectives have led to serious questions about VA’s ability to meet the standard of technology necessary to serve our nation’s veterans,” Tester wrote.
Within that letter, Tester lists the myriad problems VA’s Office of Information and Technology has struggled recently: the ongoing work to modernize the department’s electronic health record and make it interoperable with the Pentagon’s; the recent debacle surrounding a software issue that has left many veterans without housing stipends under the GI Bill; and others.
“I am eager to work with you to solve the litany of problems we have seen from OI&T, and I genuinely believe that we can do so,” wrote Tester, the top Democrat on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “However, any progress towards achieving this goal is dependent on transparency from VA about the Department’s true IT needs and the challenges you face in funding and execution.”
Tester is likely relieved there’s finally a permanent CIO in place at the VA, as so are many of his colleagues on Capitol Hill. The department has been without an official IT chief since the change in administration in Jan. 2017, when LaVerne Council resigned. She was followed, on an acting basis by Rob Foster and then Scott Blackburn, who resigned in April. At that point, Camilo Sandoval, who had been a controversial staffer on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, stepped in to fill the spot.
The president appointed Gfrerer to the CIO position in July. He was confirmed Jan. 3 on the final day of the 115th Congress.

I’ve long opined that real support of the U.S. military isn’t in displays, kneeling or standing, or words. It is in what we as a Nation do. First and foremost has to be the VA and health care.

The Pentagon and the VA still have incompatible systems AFAIK. There is still a massive amount of paperwork that is still on actual paper AFAIK. And there is still a woeful budget for military and veteran health care including PTSD support.

IT should be in front of fixing some of these major problems, but without adequate funding there is only so much that can be done.

This is a chord, this is another by :


“I just learned ‘Imagine’ on the piano,” tweeted @acupoftea yesterday, “and I would like to officially rescind any energy I’ve spent being impressed with people who can play ‘Imagine’ on the piano.” I chuckled, and then she followed up with, “If you want to demystify pop music, learn, like, four chords and just play them in a different order & rhythm each time.”
That immediately made me think of the famous zine graphic above, included in the book Oh So Pretty: Punk in Print 1976-1980_. Toby Mott explains:
> [It’s] an illustration from a fanzine called _Sideburn #1
, which was a drawing made by Tony Moon just to fill the space. It’s a drawing of three guitar chords and it says, ‘now form a band’. That fanzine is extremely rare, but the drawing is often quoted by lots of musicians as the impetus to do something, and it’s seen as a key message of punk,” says Toby. “You didn’t need to have been to music school or be particularly proficient or skilled. It was much more about the energy and drive to do something. It’s a rallying call to the troops.
Nice to know the story behind a drawing that always puzzled me. Why are the markings on the frets and not in between them? And why A-E-G? What songs can you even play with those chords? (Answer: AC/DC’s “TNT” and T-Rex’s “Bang A Gong.”)

By the way, the lyrics to ‘Imagine’ aren’t world beaters either. I believe that if anyone other than a former Beatle put that song out, it would have sunk under the sea of much better stuff that itself never surfaced.

I’m frustrated that many iOS apps still don’t support landscape mode on iPhones, including Apple’s own. Settings, Music, FaceID, and a whole host of apps can’t handle an iPhone on its side, even when a keyboard is attached.

True Action by Tina Roth Eisenberg:

> “True action, good and radiant action, my friends, does not spring from activity, from busy bustling, it does not spring from industrious hammering. It grows in the solitude of the mountains, it grows on the summits where silence and danger dwell.”
Hermann Hesse

I cannot find the source of this quote. Maybe it’s his 1946 anthology If the War Goes On… (public library).

Apple Launches Smart Battery Cases for iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR by Ryan Christoffel:


Apple today updated its online store with the addition of three new products: Smart Battery Cases for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. Every version of the case costs $129, regardless of iPhone size. Each new case is available in both Black and White, and the designs resemble that of the previous Apple Smart Battery Cases, with a silicone exterior and a large bulge on the back to accommodate the battery.
The Smart Battery Case is compatible with Qi chargers, so you can still take advantage of wireless charging while using the case. These are the quoted charge estimates for each case:
* XS: 33 hours talk time, 21 hours Internet use, and 25 hours video playback
* XS Max: 37 hours talk time, 20 hours Internet use, and 25 hours video playback
* XR: 39 hours talk time, 22 hours Internet use, and 27 hours video playback
In the past, Apple hasn’t made Smart Battery Cases available for Plus-sized phones, so it’s great to see that now, regardless of your iPhone size, you can get a case that raises battery life to meet the needs of heavy use.

This is swell and all, but there is significant space at the top where Apple could put … oh, I don’t know … a 3.5mm headphone jack. How great would that be?

It’s not a new idea, but is one that should be restated.

CISOs Find Collaboration Improves Resiliency:

The Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC) has published its first annual report, Leveraging Board Governance for Cybersecurity, the CISO / CIO Perspective, the results of which highlight the need for boards to be active governance partners in collaborative cyber defense.

Recognizing the shared value of collaboration across organizational functions and between and among organizations when talking about cyber defense, the ACSC report calls upon boards to adopt a holistic and dynamic understanding of their organization’s cybersecurity responsibilities. In addition, boards are encouraged to maintain continuous direct access to CISOs and risk officers as well as with CIOs and other executives.

The report found, “For the most part, boards are not in a position to provide strategic guidance on cyber risk,” said Michael Figueroa, executive director of the ACSC in a press release. “In particular, the ACSC report has identified a need for a risk standard, much like those frameworks that financial and audit risk functions have refined over decades, that would help guide decision making and operations as they relate to cyber risk management.”

As part of the study, 20 ACSC member CISOs and CIOs from a wide range of organizations across multiple sectors worked in conjunction with four outside experts. Collectively, the focus group shared perspectives which revealed common themes and perceptions about board engagement as it relates to board-management relationship.

““I can’t help but agree with the observations, in that all but the smallest organizations should have the CISO role defined as the go-to person for security,” said Mukul Kumar, chief information security officer and VP of cyber practice at Cavirin.

“He or she manages up to others in the C-suite and the board, and ties together strategy across DevOps, SecOps, risk and compliance.  The best example of a failure to clearly establish roles, responsibilities and lines of reporting is clearly outlined in the House committee report on the Equifax breach.”

According to the report findings, the board-management relationships are only in the nascent or maturing stages, which indicates that in most cases the boards are not effectively guiding management in making strategic risk-based decisions.

In addition, most boards are bereft of individuals with any real cyber expertise. The report recommended that they should make efforts to recruit members who can augment the board’s ability to build strategic partnerships that provide guidance specifically related to cyber risk.

“Boards should prioritize and support senior management’s development of a new generation of outcome-based cyber risk management frameworks, and in the meantime, executives should use only a few operational metrics with boards,” the report stated.

(Via Infosecurity)

I see articles like this one, reporting on reports like this one, and only in specific circumstances do we see the kind of collaboration prescribed.