How we learned to love failure

A week of celebration in a Melbourne school helped mistake-wary students understand the power of getting things wrong.

“While playing soccer, I scored a goal for the opposition team!”

“When working at a vineyard, I accidentally cut off an entire vine, while the vineyard owner looked on in horror!”

“I was kicked out of ballet school!”

This was how Failure Week was launched at Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School in Melbourne. Without warning, during a weekly assembly, students bore witness to teachers declaring their personal failures. This sharing of stories started a week in which students were encouraged to follow their teachers’ lead by accepting, grappling with, and using their failures as a means to learn and build resilience.

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The art of mindful parenting

Bringing mindfulness to the challenges of children can help parents to better enjoy the precious early years.

Parents can struggle to enjoy the present. Children fill parental minds with lists of things to do and challenges to overcome. Many mums and dads struggle to enjoy the moment they are in, even as they know this stage won’t last forever.

Mindful parenting brings the concept of mindfulness to our experience as parents.

When we practice mindfulness, we tune our thoughts into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than living in the past or imagining the future. This simple-sounding approach has been shown to have many benefits. Psychological research suggesting it can relieve stress, anxiety and depression.

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Why remote work makes business sense

Flexible work should not be a perk or a privilege. Implemented correctly, it benefits both company and employee.

Thanks to advances in technology, office work no longer needs to be done only in the office. As employers strive for a more productive workforce and employees demand flexible working conditions to better balance work and life, remote work – or telecommuting, which is performed by about one-quarter of Australian workers – offers a win-win solution for both groups.

Indeed, all senior executive jobs in the NSW public service will be open to employees choosing flexible working arrangements by 2019. Plus, major infrastructure works in Sydney and Melbourne will increase traffic congestion and commuting times, making remote work a more practical option for many employees.

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How to find your flow and boost your psychological health

Moments of pure absorption in your work provide powerful insights that help to boost your wellbeing and performance.

Have you ever gone with the flow? It might seem a shallow question, but psychologists have linked the concept to wellbeing and achievement.

Flow refers to those times when we experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement in life. The term was coined by renowned psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, and will be familiar to any athlete who has achieved the feeling of being totally “in the zone”.

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Strengths-based leadership: Create a thriving workplace culture

A strengths-based approach to leadership is more effective than the traditional method of focussing on performance weaknesses. To help organisations grow and thrive we need to tap into people’s strengths.

Strengths-based leadership is an approach to leading others that builds on what’s strong, rather than what’s wrong. Research and evidence-based best practice shows that strengths-based leadership empowers leaders, and the people who follow them, and fosters healthy and positive workplace cultures.

In a constantly changing work environment employees now face increasing levels of stress, change and uncertainty. Disengagement, absenteeism, interpersonal conflict, lowered productivity and turnover are a consequence. Under these conditions, it is not enough for leaders to simply be task focused, delegating, running effective meetings, and monitoring performance. Today, leaders also need to think about how they engage, inspire and develop their people to be resilient and to flourish – despite the day-to-day challenges they might face.

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What you can learn from elite athletes

Elite athletes use a lot more than natural born talent to achieve personal bests. The best part is many of the strategies they rely on for success are just as useful for amateur athletes.

Even though elite athletes may make winning performances look easy, there’s a lot more to success on the field, track or court than pure talent. From strict training regimes to controlled diets and an obsession with statistics, elite athletes use a heap of scientific strategies to help them improve performance. You may not aspire to win an Olympic gold medal, but many of the practices that aid elite athletes can also help amateurs do better at the gym, on the field or during a fun run.

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The time is right for critical thinking

Our fast-changing world will require new responses. Critical thinking will be important to ensure we can navigate the complexities of modern times. But what is it?

Organisations of all kinds now proclaim they value critical thinking. But this approach to assessing information and acting on it does not develop by chance.

The psychologist Diane Halpern, author of Thought and Knowledge: An Introduction to Critical Thinking, says universities and even workplaces need to school people in specific skills that will equip them to think carefully and well.

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How leadership networks can benefit your workplace

Developing connections outside traditional hierarchies can help organisations and employees to become more efficient, creative and better able to deal with complex problems.

The modern workplace is an increasingly complex and interconnected beast and as such traditional leadership hierarchies – which can morph into troublesome ‘silos’ that discourage information sharing across departments – are no longer viewed as the most effective way to manage an organisation.

That’s not to say formal authority isn’t an important source of influence, but an emerging body of research is beginning to show the benefits of informal leadership networks to both organisations and employees. It turns out that building informal connections across organisations aids efficiency, knowledge sharing and the capacity to deal with complex problems.

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A holistic approach to student wellbeing

Positive education strategies provide Australian students with skills, behaviours and resources to thrive during the school years and beyond.

A key challenge for schools is how to best educate young people for the rigours of adulthood. The 21st century workplace increasingly requires flexibility, creativity, social intelligence and other soft skills. Unfortunately, by young adulthood many struggle, with one in four young Australians diagnosed with a mental health condition by the age of 25.

Educators are increasingly focused on how they can proactively equip students with thoughts, behaviours and skills to successfully ride the waves of life. ‘Positive education’ is an approach that aims to do just that.

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Why contemplating death can help you live a happier life

How do you feel about the idea of dying? Is it something you think about often? Or does it make you feel anxious? These are questions many of us have pondered in recent times. The pandemic has reminded us that death is always close by and is an event we will all face at some point.

Generally, though, death is a taboo subject. We’re taught that death is something we should shy away from and try to forget about. If we start contemplating our own mortality – so this traditional wisdom goes – we’ll become anxious and depressed.

Whereas our ancestors would have regularly watched people die and seen dead bodies, we’re shielded from death by modern medical practices. People usually die in hospitals rather than at home and soon after death, their bodies are taken to funeral homes, where we usually have to make an appointment to see them.

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Playing football can improve mental health – new research

Playing football is a good way to get physically fit. But our new study shows that a regular kick about can also lead to improved mental health, social confidence and a sense of purpose.

As we explored the impact of the beautiful game on people with mental health challenges, many of the players we spoke to said their weekly games improved stress and anxiety levels. One commented:

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