Category Archives: Psychology

Any time test scores come back, some test takers invariably underperform relative to expectations just as sure as some NFL teams underperform during the first official week of football (I’m looking at you, Bills!) Often, the reasons driving these regrettable outcomes are very similar despite the dramatically different nature of the challenges. Sometimes, the problem lies in inadequate preparation. Sometimes, the problem comes down to insufficient commitment. The problem may be a sign of lack of persistence or a call for more coaching and practice. Bad outcomes may even be the result of factors outside of your control. No matter why a team loses or a test score comes back lower than expected or desired, the answer is always the same. press on. President Calvin Coolidge eloquently explained the necessity of tenacity and resolve: Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more…

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When Frank Herbert wrote “Fear is the mind-killer” in the sci-fi epic Dune, he might have been thinking of academic performance. Research suggests that stress is so powerful that it can actually shrink the brain. Of course, outstanding test preparation instills massive confidence on test day, but if anxiety strikes, the solution may be a simple power pose. Researchers Dana R. Carney, Amy J.C. Cuddy, and Andy J. Yap wondered if a person could fake it ’til she makes it, whether nonverbal displays govern how we think and feel about ourselves? They predicted that posing in high-power nonverbal displays would cause neuroendocrine and behavioral changes that would trigger elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk. Their findings in Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect NeuroendocrineLevels and Risk Tolerance confirmed their hypothesis: By simply changing physical posture, an individual prepares his or her…

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Happy Labor Day! This holiday deserves a special place in our hearts, and not just because it marks the point at which all New York state students return to school. On Labor Day, we honor the contributions that workers have made–and continue to make–to society. We are all, in a very real sense, workers. Where our labors take us depends entirely on our sense of purpose and the clarity of our goals. Once you’ve fixed your eyes on a worthy prize, be smart about your efforts and try to have some fun, but, more than anything else, commit to doing the work.

Success in the face of great challenges and competition does not come easy. No less an authority than Napoleon Hill asserts that effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit. The theme of persistence as an essential ingredient of true accomplishment is central to his famous works, particularly Think and Grow Rich, one of the best-selling self-help books of all time. What happens, in Hill’s perspective, when persistence is lacking? One thing we all know, if one does not possess persistence, one does not achieve noteworthy success in any calling. When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal. The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail. Persistence played such a fundamental…

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Where does success come from? To paraphrase Will Durant paraphrasing Aristotle, we are what we repeatedly do. Success, then is not an act but a habit. Too many imagine the accomplishment of their most ambitious goals as a deviation from their normal routines, when such achievement is actually the culmination of what a person does day after day. Do you want to be successful? The surest way to improve the quality of your life and work is to emulate the example of other successful people: Read a lot Practice deliberately Work every day Minimize distractions Take care of your mind and body Obviously, successful types also follow more specialized strategies based on their fields; Olympic athletes train differently than, say, world leaders. But regardless of the scope of your ambitions, you will go much farther by heeding Michael E. Angier’s advice: If you develop the habits of success, you will…

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No matter what else is happening in the world, the Olympics have always commanded attention. If you ever doubt the burning will to exceed all limits inherent in all of us, just look at the dedication these indomitable athletes exemplify. No spectacle captures the world’s imagination on such a grand scale. But we’re not tuning in to catch up on air rifle or luge or any of the other hundreds of sometimes obscure events (race walking… really?) we somehow ignore every other week of the year. No, we thrill to the competition, the effort, and the unquenchable commitment to win. Everyone on the path to their best test scores and grades can learn what being the best really requires from those who have paid the costs and reaped the rewards–including Gold Medals and enshrinement on boxes of Wheaties–of enduring excellence… “We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams…

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