Inner Strength Tools for Information Professionals

By Bruce Rosenstein, Managing Editor, Leader to Leader


Information professionals of today and tomorrow must cultivate our inner resources in order to meet the unprecedented challenges and expectations of 21st century productivity. If our work is not going to be outsourced, eliminated or done by robots, we must go levels beyond a single-minded focus on skills and linear thinking.

I contend that the future is a mindset. In my book Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way, I identified a number of “inner strength tools” for cultivating forward-focused thinking; including mindfulness, the relaxation response and self-efficacy. Employing these tools recognizes the fact that brains and talent are not enough; they are the price of admission and our task is to use these precious resources wisely to encourage growth, in every sense of the word.

sandMindfulness. This has been a hot topic in recent years, as we search for answers in our stressed-out, always-on 24/7 society. Last year Mindful magazine made its debut, and the current cover story features Arianna Huffington, who also writes about the subject in her new best-seller Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. The mindfulness connection to the Drucker world featured in my book is Jeremy Hunter, an assistant professor at the Drucker School, who teaches mindfulness to MBA students. Jeremy also wrote an article in the first issue of Mindful about mindfulness in the workplace.

The Relaxation Response. Mindfulness meditation is one of many techniques that can elicit this response, which was identified in the 1975 surprise best-selling book The Relaxation Response, by Herbert Benson, who at the time was a Harvard Medical School cardiologist. Relaxation for these purposes does not mean engagement in relaxing activities, but rather the body’s response to techniques that, among other things, decrease heart rate, breath rate, and blood pressure, and thus provide an alternative to the “fight or flight” response. Besides various forms of meditation, the response can be elicited through yoga, repetitive prayer, and even activities like knitting and crocheting. Though it is not necessary, there can be a religious or spiritual component to the response.

Self-efficacy. This powerful concept, first identified by Stanford University psychology professor emeritus Albert Bandura, draws on inner strength, courage and a degree of confidence. Bandura is one of the most cited social scientists of all time in the scholarly literature and remains highly influential in psychology, education, and related fields. Self-efficacy is part of Bandura’s construct called social cognitive theory. In the Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology, he writes about self-efficacy in these terms: “Perceived self-efficacy is concerned with people’s beliefs in their ability to influence events that affect their lives. This core belief is the foundation of human motivation, performance accomplishments, and emotional well-being.”

There are many books, articles and online resources that go into depth about all these subjects. The good news for information professionals is that we can find and access these resources better than anyone else. How can we use this to our advantage, now and in the future?

 

Bruce Rosenstein is Managing Editor of Leader to Leader, a publication of The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute (formerly the Leader to Leader Institute and earlier the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management), and Jossey-Bass.

He is the author of Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way, published by McGraw-Hill in November, 2013 and Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker's Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life (Berrett-Koehler, 2009). He worked for USA TODAY newspaper for 21 years, until late 2008, as a librarian and during the final 12 years, also as a writer about business and management books for the Money section.

He also served as the first-ever embedded librarian in the News department. Since 1996, he has taught the Special Libraries/Information Centers course at The Catholic University of America.

Bruce can be found online at www.brucerosenstein.com. He will be joining us at METRO for a special members-only event in late June.