Staying focused in the face of obstacles

Photo by Michael Rosner-Hyman on Unsplash

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

Brett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA

Brett DiNovi & Associates

Maintaining focus in our increasingly connected world can be difficult. Success comes only as the result of continued progress, day-to-day, despite challenges. In a recent video by Brett DiNovi & Associates, Brett provides advice on how to overcome the wide variety of challenges today’s leaders face.

Brett recommends using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)-based practices to remain flexible and goal-oriented in the face of challenges. In particular, he recommends actively perceiving challenges as ‘opportunities to learn’ and as a necessary part of achieving success. Such alterations of perspective, allow Brett to use the properties of verbal behavior to transform the stimulus functions of challenges he encounters day-to-day.

This practice of altering how you are relating to your own experience is consistent with the properties of verbal behavior described in Relational Frame Theory (RFT). Relational Frame Theory or “RFT” is the underlying framework on which Acceptance and Commitment Therapy “ACT” is based. As Brett describes, seeing challenges as a part of success allows one to experience some reinforcement even while going through the ‘negative’ experiences in daily life like failures, set-backs, or distractions.

In the quest to achieve, Brett further endorses ACT-based practices as a way to reduce the natural tendency to struggle with unpleasant personal experiences. As a result of the dynamics of verbal behavior, people tend to try to avoid, prevent, or reduce the distress inherent in everyday experience. Research on anxiety, dysphoria, and stress show that our well-intentioned efforts to rid ourselves of the anxiety and stress inherent in life tends to paradoxically increase duration and intensity of our negative experiences.

Small tweaks to one’s behavior, like that described above, allow one to maintain a flexible stance in the face of stressors and reorient you to accomplishing goals – without amplifying the difficult experiences in life. Developing a practice of using such methods and not over-engaging in counter-productive struggle can improve a leader’s ability to achieve while experiencing stressors.

In addition, Brett also recommends simple tweaks to your environment to stay oriented. For example, keeping a two-to-three item list of the most important tasks to be completed each day. This simple orienting activity can keep you reorienting towards achieving your most important goals. Today’s leaders face a world of challenges and must continually flexibly reorient their attention to what matters most.

Be sure to check out the full video, and to subscribe to Brett DiNovi’s YouTube channel and let him know what you would like to see in future videos. Also, be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world,  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at [email protected]

Brett DinoviBrett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA has the unique and distinguished experience of studying the principles of applied behavior analysis under the rigorous scrutiny of both Dr. Julie S. Vargas (formerly Skinner) and Dr. E.A. Vargas at West Virginia University’s internationally recognized program. For the past 26 years, Brett has used behavior analytic principles to create large scale change across school districts, Fortune 500 companies using principles of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), and across individual learners. Brett has been a OBM consultant in Morgantown WV, an instructor at West Virginia University, a guest lecturer at numerous universities, a speaker on multiple Comcast Newsmakers TV programs, an expert witness in due process hearings, has publications in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and has been in in executive leadership positions across schools and residential programs nationwide. In addition to an award from South Jersey Biz Magazine for “Best Places to Work,” an award for “Best of Families” in Suburban Magazine, and the distinguished “Top Ranked U.S. Executives” award, Brett’s proudest accomplishment is being a role model and father for his daughter and two stepchildren (one of which has autism). Brett can be reached at [email protected]



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