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Entries from February 2008

Studies Reveal Differences in Artists & Engineers, Republicans & Democrats

My first career was in engineering (environmental), so I was particularly interested in a recent study published in The Career Development Quarterly that described thinking style differences of artists and engineers. Now, while you might immediately react with a "Duh! Of course artists and engineers are different!," look a little more closely at these differences and notice how one could have difficulties if they ended up in the wrong field.

First, artists and engineers have high visual-spatial abilities in common, so it could be easy to translate that skill into a more lucrative field (e.g. a variety of engineering jobs...not to mention that the U.S.A. needs more scientists and engineers). But this is where the commonality stops.

Engineers, as the study confirmed, think linearly and hierarchically and prefer a highly prioritized thinking style. Engineers also do extraordinarily well in carrying out the plans of others. (task-driven, follow the rules...in order).

Artists, on the other hand, did better without rules and input from others. They also displayed more emotionality, introspection, and had higher aesthetic interests.

What are the potential dangers if one thinking style ended up in a different thinking-style field? If an engineer style were in an art field, they could be branded as "in of the box" (uncreative) and could flounder if not given a strict set of rules to follow. The artist style in an engineering field could be perceived as difficult to work with and too emotional. Over time, the employee's confidence and self worth could decline if the labels are introjected (accepted and reinforced through negative self-talk). Ideally, organizations could grow to embrace both styles and value the differences of each—which could lead to improved products and output, but generally one style dominates organizational culture and flow.

EEGs of Democrats & Republicans
Interestingly, artists and engineers weren't the only group to be found with differences. A study published in Nature Neuroscience revealed neural activity differences in Republicans and Democrats. Electroencephalographs (EEGs) were performed while study participants engaged in a Go/No-Go decision task in an effort to measure their "conflict monitoring." EEGs revealed that liberals had a higher tolerance for ambiguity (able to shift gears/adapt to quick changes) while conservatives displayed more structure and consistency (persistence).

Grandma is Still Teaching Me...Thank You

An amazing woman passed last night. She was my hero. My Grandma. I say "passed" because, like many, I believe energy does not die. It transforms. This belief was reinforced when I looked at a book that had belonged to my Grandma: "Life After Life" by Raymond Moody, Jr., M.D.

It was comforting to pick it up and read after I heard she passed...and after crying...okay, it was more like crying and then trying to read to calm down. It worked. I calmed down and smiled with hope and happiness as I read accounts of near death experiences that were all similar. They floated above the room and could see their body below. There was a light. There was an ethereal spirit that met them. They were overcome with feelings of contentment and peace. They saw their loved ones. Then, for various reasons, the person was told or realized it was not yet their time to go. Perhaps a lesson or two still needed to be learned. Or maybe they needed to be instrumental in someone else's life. Interestingly, Moody pointed out the parallels of these accounts with The Bible (Old & New Testament), Plato's writings, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and Emanuel Swedenborg's writings. All of them have similar descriptions of life after death.

What is even more meaningful for me is that one of my favorite movies--Somewhere in Time--depicts the same scene. Richard (played by Christopher Reeve) dies of a broken heart, floats up, looks down at the doctor trying to resuscitate him, then sees the white light (cue the most hauntingly beautiful music) and then reunites with his love (played by Jane Seymour). So, reading my Grandmother's book and imagining her reuniting with my Grandfather (her husband of 60+ years that passed 21 years ago) made me smile. Here is to you Arthur & Leona. Thank you for making my life so special with your loving care and for being role models of love, empathy, strength, compassion, conviction, values, and for always being available. I hope you are in a wonderful place.