Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 00:04
We are in a rapidly changing world, we’re rapidly changing, you know, pandemic was a rapid change. And I think the things that we’ve talked about today I’m convinced are very, very important.
Adam Baruh 00:29
Welcome to The Change, where we share stories and inspiration from business leaders and people making positive work, life changes. I’m your host, Adam Baruh. We all know that in our adult lives, the majority of our time historically, has been spent at work. A few weeks ago, one of my guests on the show spoke about the difference between the idea of a work life balance versus work life harmony, and one of her key points emphasized the importance of finding meaning within our professional lives. Perhaps this is one of the most fundamental aspects of this great resignation trend that people are leaving to find new work for a company or a career where they find meaning, where they find purpose, and where they feel valued as a person, rather than just a number measured strictly against productivity. Here today to talk with us about finding meaning in this time of the great resignation is Dr. Hayden center, Jr, the core faculty member in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at the University of Phoenix. Dr. Center. Welcome to the change. And thank you for being here.
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 01:30
Well, thank you, Adam. It’s a privilege to come talk about such an important subject. I look forward to our interaction today.
Adam Baruh 01:37
Yeah, thank you. So before we get into the work you’re doing today at the University of Phoenix, tell us if you will, about your professional background, and how you got into the work that you focus on today.
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 01:49
Well, I started out as a counselor in the addictions field about 35 years ago. And as part of that, then continued my education so that I could train counselors how to be effective with people that are suffering from all kinds of life, challenging issues. And so I’ve really kind of dedicated most of my work, to being able to impact the lives of people, as an individual counselor, or family, or a counselor, educator, as well as a consultant to businesses and the government. You know, how do we make our communities more healthy? How do we make our families more healthy? How do we help individuals thrive? So that’s a lot of the societal problems that we struggle with such as addictions, which is kind of my main area, what can we do to improve the lives of those? And so that’s been my major thrust over the, over the last 30-35 years of my career.
Adam Baruh 02:58
Okay. Yeah. And I I’m sure that over the course of those 35 years, um, you know, especially given the opioid epidemic that we’ve seen over the last several years, you know, I’m sure it’s the landscape is quite different from when you started versus today.
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 03:14
Yes, quite different, would be an understatement. And I do work in the opioid use disorder, opioid overdose area, providing presentations in that area training and those kinds of things. So, you know, those types of issues really point out, in my mind, a lot of the stress and challenges that people deal with in modern society, and kind of their search for some sort of relief from that stress, and, you know, some of those, some of those behaviors, some of those tendencies are not very healthy. And so, you know, again, kind of looking at this from a perspective of how do we create environments where people feel like they’re connected, where they feel like they can handle the stresses, and actually enjoy life and find meaning in that life. And that’s, again, been most of my guiding work over the past 35 years.
Adam Baruh 04:19
Yeah. And, you know, for me, is kind of an outsider looking in it’s, it’s, you know, looking, you know, at the opioid issue, if you will, so it’s kind of a reflection of our society, right. It’s a reflection of, you know, the issues that people are facing today. It’s a reflection of how we look at people that have addiction issues, right. And a lot, you know, again, from the outside looking in a lot of what we see in terms of treatment is specifically chemical treatment, or, you know, putting somebody in an environment where they don’t have access as to, to the drugs that they’ve been using. But it really it sounds like your work is more, you know, focused around the causation. And the larger solution, which is providing or, you know, having that focus on the connectedness. And you know, what, what really drove that person towards that addiction in the first place. And seems like that’s probably more of a sustainable approach.
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 05:31
Well, and you know, all of those evidence based approaches need to be considered, but it’s been my experience, Adam, that people that, for example, enter into treatment and go into recovery, which I have high respect for the effort that that takes, they need some sort of deeper meaning, a deeper reason for engaging in that in that process. And I think a lot of times, in my work with people, they’ve kind of lost that.
Adam Baruh 05:58
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 05:59
And, and there’s the ways that they’ve searched for regaining that sense of purpose and meaning have not been, have not been very helpful. And as we’ve learned more about neurobiology, and if we, as we’ve learned more about kind of how opioids just as an example, work in the system, we see that a lot of times people are actually getting that sense of connection, fulfilled by artificial means, such as opioids, because we have a natural endogenous opioid system. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but when we have positive interactions with other people, they have a small opioid release in our brain. And it gives us a sense of connectedness, a sense of, you know, feeling like everything’s okay. It doesn’t mean that everything that we don’t have challenges, but that sense of connection, that feeling supported, seems, in my mind to be vital for people. And that’s not only how we get through hard times, that’s how people thrive. I think then, you know, another thing that’s really important to me, Adam is to take what we know in psychology, take what we know, in counseling, and use it really to help people thrive, not just survive, which I think speaks to the workplace speaks to, you know, where I work, dealing with students that when we provide that connectedness, and that sense of meaning, people are just much more likely to get satisfaction out of life.
Adam Baruh 07:35
Yeah, absolutely. And so today, as I mentioned, you’re with the University of Phoenix. But I understand you didn’t get your start there. So tell us a little bit about your professional background, and, you know, the universities that you’ve been associated to?
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 07:52
Okay. Well, I started out as a master’s level psychologist, and then went to get a doctoral degree at Auburn University. And as part of that, that was in the late 80s, when there was a lot of attention that was focused on substance misuse. And so we actually received a grant. And I was a, a doctoral student, who was then hired to be the director of that grant. And that’s where I became intrigued about, why do people choose behaviors that ultimately are going to be punishing? And such as you know, misusing substances? What can we do about it, and at that point in time, there wasn’t a lot known about effective strategies, as I investigated those strategies. And I’ve actually spent now 30, some odd years, you know, working with government agencies and working within communities and states to try to impact this, what we see is that we can’t just provide education and people will change their behavior. They need to feel bonded, they need to feel as if people care about them, and they need that supportive environment. And a lot of the programs that are successful and preventing substance misuse, really kind of focus on that bonding, that protective factor, that protective approach. So, you know, that’s also what we do in counseling, you know, is that we provide that safe environment for people, you know, to explore who they are and to deal with their issues, but most basically to feel supported. They’re not alone. Because humans need to bond in my opinion, and humans need to feel that support. So whatever environment that humans are in, I think, finding that support and then having a meaning and a purpose really kind of drives successful behaviors and successful outcomes. So it’s been my you know, that’s been my experience, you know, I’ve just dedicated myself to learning as much about that and using as many opportunities as I can to be able to influence systems to be able to influence, you know, students to be able to influence really general public and get the ball getting here, you know, that these are things we really need to focus on, if we’re going to, you know, have people thrive.
Adam Baruh 10:34
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 10:35
The more we learn about how the brain works, the more we learn about, you know, what really motivates people. And I just find this as just about most importance.
Adam Baruh 10:45
Yeah. Now, where, you know, for yourself, Where do you think a lot of this drive and passion has come from, for you personally, for me, personally?
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 10:57
Well, you know, I guess everybody has a story, my adolescence wasn’t as pleasant, probably, as I would have liked. And, you know, I made many times, you know, I had some challenges, and I actually had severe social anxiety disorder, and hated speaking in public, which I did public presentations all the time now. But part of that was actually being in counseling and getting help for that issue, and finding that people cared, and that people could support you, and that you could make change. Yeah. And so, you know, that’s why I’m very passionate about what I do. Because if I can train counselors to be effective, then they can impact the same kind of change, because my life would be so much different today, I wouldn’t be able to reach, I wouldn’t be able to do public speaking, I wouldn’t be able to do most of it without that intervention, which changed the trajectory of my life. So, you know, that kind of what drives me here is that I know that change is possible. And I feel that support and my connections in my social network, and I just feel like it’s vital for people. So that’s been kind of the driving force. And I think a lot of people that go into counseling, are going into it, because they’ve had life experiences. Or, you know, it’s been challenging, and many times they have been helped, formally or informally, and they know the value of that process.
Adam Baruh 12:31
Well, I appreciate you sharing that. So thank you so much for sharing a bit about your your personal story that that informs the work that you did today, I think it’s very important to kind of understand, you know what people’s backgrounds, you know, what in people’s backgrounds have shaped their futures, right. And so, you know, getting now doing a little bit of a fast forward and bringing bringing us back here to the University of Phoenix. How do you think the University of Phoenix is different from the other universities that you’ve been involved with? Well, you know, I think all the universities I’ve been involved with are obviously concerned about, you know, creating professionals that will be able to go out into the workplace and be effective. At the University of Phoenix, it’s been my experience that we create a very supportive environment for students, you know, it’s our distance education students. So it’s an online environment, they need to feel connected, they need to feel supported, we have to balance out the fact that we, you know, have expectations, we have standards, we want to make sure that we’re creating students that will move into the workforce, and they will be very effective. But there’s a way to do that where you can also provide that support for them and do everything possible, to make sure that they can be successful. And so there’s lots of supports that are provided to students to make sure that they’re are getting the help that they need. Because our students many times are, have very busy lives happen to the majority of students, Adam that I deal with. Many of them are changing careers. And they’re changing careers because they’ve had this sense of needing to do something to really make an impact. And what as he is that, you know, they many times have very busy lives, still working jobs, sometimes family responsibilities, but they have this strong urge to help others. And if we can get that passion, combined with effort and we can create, again, people who will move into the workplace and they will be passionate about what they do. And so I actually saw, you know, as we had the pandemic, for example, a lot of people that I informally talked to, were considering career change, and a lot of the students that I’ve seen early in the program now are saying, you know, I really, really had to reevaluate things, because, you know, life was so different, and I’ve decided, I’m gonna spend the rest of my life doing something that I not only will enjoy, but that I think, is purposeful, that I think it’s gonna, you know, make a contribution. And I’ve had, you know, people that I know, in my friend network who have moved, you know, and gone to different cities, because, you know, they’ve just decided they need to kind of reevaluate their life and make sure that what they’re doing is what they really need to be doing what they want to be doing, what’s going to ultimately fulfill. Yeah, and so I want to cite a couple of statistics, you know, that, that describe the demographic of the population of your students, so 83% of students maintain employment while going to school and 65% of your students have dependents. So, you know, it’s definitely a different experience, it’s not your, your standard college experience, you know, where people are, you know, getting kind of like that social, you know, youth youthful kind of experiences, you know, with with the University of Phoenix. So, you know, describe some other differences you see in these students compared to some other universities that you’ve been involved with?
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 16:38
Well, I think the adult learner, which is the person you’re describing, in those demographics, learner wants to have a teaching method where they can apply what they’re learning in a meaningful way. Yeah, and so the adult learner really wants to see the connection between, okay, what am I doing, I’m not just checking things off a box, or I’m not just doing any kind of busy, or what I’m doing, I can ultimately see how I’m going to be able to use that to really impact people. And if once a student gets that spark, I call it a spark, Adam, it’s going for 35 years, once you get that spark of you have made a positive contribution to somebody else’s life. For me, not in a selfish way. But you know, that keeps me going, that fires me up that makes that really a cool day. Because I’ve done that, I think some of us that if not all of us are built that way, you know, that when we can actually positively contribute, there’s something that happens that makes you, you know, feel like you can purpose here. So I’ve watched students, you know, go through the process, and then in their field experiences, they start to see that, you know, the methods we’re teaching them, you know, it I’ve actually seen people change, and, you know, it gets them really excited.
Adam Baruh 18:16
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 18:17
So it’s kind of like, when you have that sense of meaning, you’ll do a lot of things that you normally wouldn’t do. Because you see a reason to do, it’s kind of like what the philosopher Nietzsche said a long time ago, is, oh, the y, you can accomplish anyhow. Which means if you’re doing some driving force, you’ll do a lot of things that, you know, maybe inconvenient, and maybe difficult, but you have a reason for doing them. And for me, that reason, again, is ultimately to contribute positively to other people’s lives. And I think that’s really what drives a lot of our students coming back to they want to make a positive contribution. And it doesn’t mean that they haven’t done that in their present careers. But they feel like they need to do it in a in a much more direct way. A lot of times life experiences have shown them lifestyle, lifestyle, life’s complex, want to help people through that. And then people need help through certain times in their life. Or I know I have and I know, you know that most of us go through those times where we can, you know, have that supportive person, that person who can believe in us even at times when we’ve kind of given up and can help show us how change is still possible.
Adam Baruh 19:46
Yeah, that’s a perfect segue for where I wanted to go to next which is how a sense of meaning and connection helps us in times of stress and change.
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 20:00
Well, I think we can all agree, Adam that, as a society, most of us have been through a lot of stress over the last couple of years. And stress is not necessarily always a bad thing, set appropriate levels drives us to actually go into action. So, you know, for example, if you have a test coming up as a student, I hope that you experience at least some level of stress, right? Because you so that you study, you know, to reduce that stress and you’re more successful under test. But stress can at times when it gets to such a level, and it may not be it may be that you have multiple sources of stress, it becomes overwhelming. Yeah, it impacts even how the brain functions at that point in time makes it harder to concentrate, it makes it harder to problem solve harder to see the future harder to set goals, those kinds of things. And so I really think that, that what helps in those times of stress is, is twofold as we’ve been talking about, first of all, feeling connected to others. And we know that social support systems, for example, have an impact on physical and emotional and mental health. Feeling like you’re not all alone, as you go through whatever struggle it is, in being and being okay, reaching out and realizing, you know, you need some help. But just again, as I mentioned before, having that sense of, I may be suffering at the moment, but there’s a reason for me to continue going, there’s a higher purpose here to, for my students, for example, to get that degree. And then to get the supervision and become competent, professional counselor, they want to get to the top of that mountain. But a lot of times the road, or the trails quite quite windy as they go. And there’s challenges, there’s, you know, trees that have fallen across the path and rocks and those kinds of things. But when you have that driving force, and when you feel like you’re connected to others, it makes it it makes the journey worthwhile. And in reality in I think we all have to face this, things that are worth doing many times have difficulties. But it’s easy to get overwhelmed in modern society. And so again, being able to step back at times and reflect on why am I doing what I’m what I’m doing. What do I ultimately want to accomplish? I mean, there’s a really famous developmental theorist named Erik Erikson, it’s eight developmental stages in life. The last stage is integrity versus despair. And that’s what into as an older adult, looking back at your life and feeling good or feeling, boy, I missed opportunities. You know, I really didn’t live life as I wanted to. Well, when I teach students of all ages, how do you determine whether you get to the end, and you’re looking back with integrity, it’s the things you do right now. And so, you know, having that perspective that this is about ultimately doing, doing those things that are important. And getting to that last stage of life where you feel like you’ve, you’ve made a meaningful contribution. And, you know, when you’re so stressed out, it’s hard to remember that you almost have a mode.
Adam Baruh 23:42
Yeah. And I think we often easily forget that, and you touched on it. I mean, we need stress. It’s, if we can gain the perspective that it’s there for a reason that it’s, it’s our body trying to teach us something, so that we gain a sense of self awareness to like, you know, what, what is the universe trying to teach me in this moment? I mean, you know, I’m not perfect. I’m definitely one that sometimes I succumb to the stress. But, you know, and other times I’ve actually, you know, used it to recognize when, you know, there’s a change needed or, you know, there’s a lesson learned there. One previous guest I had, her name is Samantha J, she talked about, you know, this attitude, this kind of victim mentality. And she, in describing her own story, spoke about how when she realized that life is working for her and not against her. Those weren’t her exact words, but it was something that, you know, events are not happening to her, they’re happening for her and just having that mindset really gave her that perspective to look at stress as you know, those times when the universe is present hitting us with a lesson. And, you know, it’s really, you know, it can just be a perspective thing, when you look at it that way.
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 25:07
I think I think that’s a really important point, Adam, you know that stress can be an indicator. And I think that gets back to some of the career, the midlife career changes that we see, you know, if they’re so stressed in a certain environment, maybe a signal, you know, that, that your time for contributing in that environment is done. And you need to find another, another place another way to contribute. So I didn’t want that point to get lost, because that’s that stress should be seen as an indicator. And it may also be an indicator that you have too much on your plate.
Adam Baruh 25:45
Right. Yeah, I mean, imagine if we didn’t have that. And we just kept going without the awareness that, you know, perhaps we weren’t, perhaps there’s a better journey ahead of us or a different purpose for us. Right. So thank you for that. Thanks for, for pausing there. So we can, you know, reflect on that. But I want to shift gears back to the pandemic, because I, you know, you touched on it. And, you know, this, this was a time where we lost that connection, it was really a traumatic experience. For most of us, I mean, we were, you know, most of us who are nonessential workers were forced to go remote. And we lost all of our social connections. I mean, you know, I reflect back on, you know, something as simple as just me walking from my office, through, you know, where other people were sitting in our, in our office space here, and just having a quick little chat about, you know, the last night’s baseball game, I mean, you don’t realize how, in those little moments, it’s, it’s providing, you know, that that connection that does, under the surface, you know, relieve that stress and anxiety that, that sometimes we feel, and, you know, all of that was taken away in March of 2020. Like, overnight, I felt, and now things are, you know, kind of coming back to normal, but what do you think the lesson is there with the pandemic?
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 27:15
Well, I think you you’ve hit on experiences that a lot of people had, and I would even say myself, you know, as I went, it was quite an adjustment. For me, I actually flew out to San Diego on March 19 2020, having done a seminar that day, and that was the last time I’ve been on a plane for business. So having those, I used to have a lot of face to face interactions, you know, doing seminars and workshops, but when I do those, now, they’re done through zoom or some, you know, electronic technology, and it is different. And it’s been quite an adjustment. For sure, I mean, all I was able to do was go to the grocery store, basically, every couple of days. And that was my, my human interaction besides the electronic technology, I think what we have to learn, you know, is that human connection is important. And I think technology like we’re experiencing today is a way that we can communicate, and I think, making sure that, you know, for example, that we actually can see the other person and can see their reactions and kind of laugh, you know, and have those moments of connection. It is important, but I also think it’s important that we find safe ways to have those interactions. Face manner. And, you know, that was a real challenge, for sure. And I, you know, what we see, for example, statistically, you know, is that, for example, the opioid use, overdoses, they are drug overdoses in general, according to the Centers for Disease Control, top 200,000 in a calendar year, during the pandemic 28.8% increase, wow, we look at suicidal ideation among young adults, that that has risen. You know, we have a number of issues, mental health issues, substance misuse issues, relationship issues, you know, they have come out of the pandemic, and it wasn’t all caused by isolation. But I think that was a contributing factor. You know, a number of people that needed to go to their support groups no longer able to go to their support groups, right. People said they’re doing them on Zoom, you know, on some sort of electronic technology, but some didn’t have access. You know, there weren’t ways to do that. So it has been challenging. I think we do have to remember how humans are put together. We are social, for the most part, that’s part of our long, long history is cooperating with each other having that connection that you talked about. I mean, we talk about those small moments, but those can be big moments. You know, having a five minute conversation about something that’s happened in your life with somebody else that you’re familiar with, that can be soothing. Yeah, hearing about their experience can be seen, it builds that connectedness. And we lost that in a lot of instances. And I think as we continue, hopefully, to move towards, you know, being able to have more of those interactions, I think we need to intentionally have them. And yes, it is easier. Now we’ve learned to do some things over technology. It’s easier, for example, for someone for somebody to have me do my presentation. And everybody be in, you know, their own offices across the country. As I do that. I’m hoping, though, that I’ll get opportunities to actually be face to face with people because that’s, there’s a different interaction. Both are helpful. And I don’t see us going back, you know, from that standpoint, because there are times in purpose that electronic technology is helping us out. But I hope we also make sure that we are reminded the importance of that connection.
Adam Baruh 31:42
Yeah, it’s, you know, the the electronic technology, it’s it’s fundamental. I mean, we, you know, we need it here in 2022. But, at the same time, like the, the thing that I think is hard to get across is that, that feedback loop, right, when you’re face to face with somebody, it’s a much different feedback loop, then, you know, what we experience over online technologies.
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 32:07
It is now I think you can do a lot with the technology, have, you know, have led groups of students where we meet each week, and we’re doing that through technology, I think we have to be intentional in doing that, to make sure that we are having depth communications, and making sure that as we do that, everybody has their camera on, and everybody is attending to what we’re doing, and paying attention to giving those those signals like, I can see you now and you’re nodding your head, and you’re tracking with what I’m saying, you know, that’s a connection that needs to happen when you use electronic technology, because it needs to, in my mind be as close as possible to an actual face to face interaction. So I think there are ways that we can improve in this area, you know, by again, paying attention to communications and how they’re done effectively. But I do think balancing out your life with being able to have those face to face interactions is also is also important. And so, you know, I think the pandemic has also taught us that, you know, life can be difficult, and that can happen in just a moment. And that we need to be able to have a way to deal with that type of stress. And so I think we, I think a lot of us kind of live our lives at 120 miles an hour, trying to balance everything that we’re doing. Without sometimes realizing it’s important to step off of what I call step off the merry go round for a while. And just be
Adam Baruh 34:03
Yeah, you know, I think it’s resiliency. Yeah, it’s like resiliency is kind of the the word that’s coming to mind. And, you know, I know, some of the work that you do is centered around trauma and the nervous system. And, you know, just when you’re when you were talking just a moment ago, I was, you know, that word resiliency came to mind. And it’s like, you know, in nature, the reason why you don’t see like antelope, like having mental health issues after you know, a cheetahs coming to attack them is, you know, resiliency in nature, it’s like, but we’ve lost that, I think, you know, maybe the one reflection that the pandemic is showing me is a need for more resiliency in our own lives.
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 34:47
Yeah, I think that’s really important, you know, and again, I think some of that resiliency comes back when we look at the resiliency literature. What we see you is that those children, for example, that are more resilient, usually have one important adult in their life that they’re bonded with, that believes in them. And it seems like we need that, to build that, to have that resiliency. And then as you then bind to that person, then you take on the commitments and the beliefs of that person, and it kind of molds you into knowing that there’s a reason, there’s a purpose that you have. And then, again, attaching that back to what how we started the conversation. But yeah, resiliency, we talk a lot about risk factors, but resiliency is really, really important. You know, how can you basically build your life in a way that when hard times happen, you’re going to be able to deal with that because it Life is life difficult, is complex. And we have to accept that. I mean, part of the type of therapy approach that I practice for him, it’s called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, the commitment part is that you commit to those things that are meaningful, and you do what you need to do to make those happen. But the acceptance part is we can’t change everything. We couldn’t change the pandemic, we somehow can’t change the circumstances of our life. So how do we through that resiliency? How do we accept that and then make our life as meaningful as possible, really difficult. In some situations, Adam, I’ve worked, for example, with clients that have had, for example, an automobile accident, where now they’re functioning is quite different. And, you know, my heart goes out to them and the struggle and, you know, the resilience that I’ve seen has just amazingly, at times, but they can’t change what happened, but how can they find a meaningful life with what their circumstances gives them right now. And that’s the challenge, I think we all have, you know, in life can be very, very difficult for some people. I mean, when I get up every day, I spend just a few moments at them, just kind of being grateful for the life I have. Some people I’ve dealt with have just tremendous struggles. But many times Adam, I have seen a strength in humans, that is just, you know, it, I don’t know, I use the word amazing, but I’m going to use it again, it’s just, it’s amazing to see how some people deal with, you know, what life gives them, and they make some meaning out of that, and they, they survive, and they not only survived, they find a way, you know, to make their life meaningful and, and to thrive. So that resiliency, that’s, that’s a, that’s, I’m glad you use that word, because that’s an important and important concept and important word. And it’s, we’ve just seen so many examples of that of people who, you know, they survive, no matter what life throws at them. Yeah. And I think there are ways again, that you can build that in your life. And I’m just gonna go back to having supportive support systems. I think, and we haven’t talked a lot about this, but I think a workplace environment can help the employees and the staff be more resilient. You know, because they have that supportive system and emphasizing purpose and the reason that you do whatever job you do, I think that helps with resiliency in the workforce. So I mean, I think that that word, we need to use that word more. Yeah, we need to look at that. You know, from a perspective of what does that tell us about the capacity, the capabilities of humans, and how do we, how do we encourage more of that? How do we facilitate more of that in all of our relationships?
Adam Baruh 39:51
When we come back, Dr. Center and I will discuss how businesses can help employee resiliency through a reimagining of leadership. Stay with us. I’m Adam Baruh, and you’re listening to The Change from EIQ Media. On the topic of amazing personal resiliency, check out Kristin Taylor’s interview with former major league pitcher David Dravecky, whose career ended when cancer returned to his pitching arm. After he lost his arm, Dave found the resiliency to find his true purpose.
Kristin Taylor 40:31
It’s not what you do that matters. It’s who you are. These words come directly from our guest today, Dave Dravecky. We are truly blessed to have Dave with us today, upon sharing our good fortune with my brothers and my husband, all huge diehard baseball fans and of the generation that marveled at Dave and his playing days, they could not believe that it was I and not Vai, who got to meet him. Sure, I may not live and breathe baseball, but my life’s work. And the foundation of How I Made It Through is to elevate extraordinary stories of courage and perseverance, and to normalize the very human experience of living in the darkness, sometimes in despair, and finding one’s way back to the light. These are the stories that feed our souls. These other survival guides that nurture hope, resilience and connection for all of us because at one time or another, we are all fighting some sort of personal battle. And it is often in that fight, while in the making it through part, that we connect to a greater mission and truth. And that our lives and our souls become more deeply and finely carved and etched in the direction of our purpose.
Adam Baruh 42:13
Welcome back to The Change. I’m Adam Baruh. We were discussing the importance of resiliency, and how it helps us persevere extreme challenges. Well, I’m glad you brought us back there because I actually wanted to talk a little bit more about how companies can can help with, you know, resiliency and stress management and providing that sense of meaning and purpose. Many companies like mine, you know, we’re forced to go remote, like I mentioned before, during the pandemic, but, you know, after, you know, things started to ease up a little bit like my company, we decided to stay permanent, permanently remote. Everybody seems to like it. But it definitely makes things a little bit different from a management perspective and being able to provide that mental health support. You know, one thing that you touched on that I think is just a very subtle, but important way in which you know, in a remote work environment, you could still gain that sense of connection is the simple act of having your video on in a zoom conference call, I try to stress that to my team all the time, you know, with internal meetings, and also customer meetings, how important that just showing the face the feedback with the you know, just the nodding of the head or whatever. So what are some other things that that you might think of that, or things that the University of Phoenix does, to help, you know, I guess establish meaning purpose, that social connection in a remote model, when you know, your students are remote, my employees are remote. So what types of what types of support mechanisms are important in these environments to overcome that sense of isolation and detachment?
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 44:03
Well, I think again, for in my environment, accessibility is important that students have access to me. And they know that I care about their progress. And they pick that up hopefully, in how I treat the classroom, how I provide them access. But part of that, you know, with the distance per atom is we pick up so many cues by how expressive people are. And, you know, just as you mentioned, the head nods, but also, you know, just how you express your ideas, you know, do you is there an energy behind that is it much like that interaction? That would be the other thing that’s important to me, is, you know, we’re students obviously we have a main purpose, but understanding who they are as people, you know, and having some company passion for who they are as people and being curious about variances curious about, you know, how their life is beyond, you know, just grading papers or great profession posts, you know, and the first question I always ask students is, why do you want to be a counselor. And as some of them have forgotten, because they’ve, you know, been grinding out. But when they start to talk about why they want to do this, many of them get that spark, again, minded why they’re doing this really hard thing. So I think it’s really important to kind of keep the mission of whatever the organization or the effort is in front of people, remind them why why are we doing this? What’s important about this? How important are you in this? You know, in this process, I think that helps people feel connected, when they know that they’re cared about. And when they know that they have a real reason for what they’re doing. And I think you can do that through technology. Does it take more effort? You know, so maybe the meetings not 100%? About all the task? Maybe the meetings has someone, you know, how are things going, or what I do with students, you know, a lot of times did it last night, one to 10, what’s your stress level? You know, we’re halfway through, you know, this is, you’re doing a lot of work, tell me how you’re dealing with stress? Well, you have about a six, you know, but you know, I got this going on, also that’s making it difficult. And so we all connect on a human level. And again, when when we appropriately within boundaries, talk about, you know, based on the setting where we are and what’s going on, we have connection, and I don’t I believe we connect through struggle. Your your most depth relationships are when you connect with the back that we are struggling human beings. That’s really what counseling is about, is you go to someone, you reveal your struggles. And you make that connection that somebody cares about that. So I think you know, you need to find that balance between task, and I’ll use this word, I want to be real careful with it, but task and intimacy, how well, you know, intimacy basically means to know. And how well do you know, and feel comfortable with working with the others that are around you. And I think, you know, that’s where leaders can create an environment. You know, it’s been my experience with leaders, when I know that they really do care, I’m willing to really go the extra mile to do what’s needed to be done. Yeah. But I think all of us probably had been in situations where we didn’t really feel like anybody cared. And it’s really hard to get motivated. Yeah, those in those situations, we spend so much of our lives in the workplace. And so much of our energy in the workplace, that I think by creating these environments of connection, these environments of purpose, actually impacts the mental health. of the people that work there. I always talk with about my students is, you know, not only do I want you to learn, I want you to learn how to practice self care. As we go through this process, I want you to take care of yourself and realize, you know, that without taking care of yourself, you’re not going to be very helpful as a counselor.
Adam Baruh 48:52
Yeah, and that’s, that’s an important point. I know, there’s been plenty of times throughout my career where, just if, if one of my supervisors would have just reached out, and you know, Hey, how are you doing? I know, this is a large project. Yeah, and, you know, hopefully, more and more leaders, you know, recognize that and just have those check ins like, have have one on ones and maybe you don’t even talk about the project or the task, but you just, it’s it’s more of a human connection. One on one.
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 49:25
Yeah. See, and, you know, the, the title of your podcast really intrigued me – The Change. Because I think what we’re talking about is so vital, because we are in a rapidly changing world. We’re rapidly changing, you know, pandemic was a rapid change. And I think the things that we’ve talked about today, I’m convinced are very, very important for being able to handle that change. And I think it’s really important to get that message out from the standpoint that there are things that we can do to connect, and to help people thrive. And I, you know, I know we’re always going to have issues, and we’re always going to have problems, but it’s just part of my, how I’m built to believe we can do better. And the more again, that we do better with I think, I think companies will do better. I mean, there’s a lot of literature that supports, you know, that when you have that human connection that people, you know, are many times more productive. Well, also, if they don’t have, you know, the same physical issues, the same mental health issues, they’re going to be able to work more, they’re going to be able, you know, to engage. So if we look at it from a whole, I think the things that we’ve talked about today, you know, really have to do there are so important, because one thing we know that it’s constant is change.
Adam Baruh 50:55
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 50:56
That’s going to have we don’t know how it’s going to change. We’ve we’ve been given the illustration of how fast and rapid change can be through the pandemic, just as, but we’re going to continue to have change and challenges. And sometimes that’s personal. Sometimes it’s family, sometimes it’s more at a societal level as this has been. But I think what you’re doing by, you know, looking at how do people survive and thrive in chat, I think this is a really needed vehicle to be able to get this message out. Because I think, as I said, the title of the podcast is right, where we are today. Well, thank you so much for saying that. I appreciate that. I want to bring us back to the University of Phoenix a little bit, I understand that. The University of Phoenix created the life Resource Center to provide confidential wellness services that support students and navigating life’s challenges at no additional cost to students. So can you tell us a little bit more about this program and the type of results you guys are seeing? Well, again, that gets back to Adam, the general philosophy at the University of Phoenix, is to make sure that students get all the support that they can, and there will be life challenges, as people go through a program like that. But we really see this is me personally, but this is, you know, corporately, how we see this is, we’re going to mentor you, support you through the program, as well as beyond. So once you even graduate from the University of Phoenix, there are supports that will be afforded to you as you go as you go into the workplace. And as you continue throughout your life. It is a very, very important as students, for example, have crises in their life, that there’s a way for them to get some help through that. That’s what those wellness types of initiatives actually do is help people through those difficult times. And they know that they’re supported, you know, and they also, ultimately, hopefully, can be successful can finish their program and can make that positive contribution. So it’s really about looking at students from a wholeness perspective.
Adam Baruh 53:35
Yeah, that’s great.
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 53:36
And looking at, you know, while I’m teaching this particular course, yeah.
Adam Baruh 53:42
And as companies, it’s like we, we should be focused on providing the same tools, it’s like, you know, often it’s, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of just looking at productivity and looking at what your day to day is in relation to the projects you have in front of you, without, or I guess just, you know, forgetting sometimes that these are people that are giving a large chunk of their lives to either, you know, studying and earning a degree at the University of Phoenix or, you know, working at a company like SuiteCentric, so thank you for that. So as we wrap up today, I’d love you to hear any closing remarks around meaningfulness or purpose or otherwise that you’d like to leave with our audience as we close?
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 54:28
Well, I again, as you’ve heard throughout this conversation, believe that purpose and meaning can really drive our motivations. And there was a very famous therapist named Viktor Frankl who survived the Holocaust and wrote a book Man’s Search for Meaning and what happened to Frankl in that prisoner of war camp was he saw two types of people. He saw people in the conditions were awful and terrible. He saw people that had a reason, an extremely important reason to make it through the experience somehow survived. He saw those that lost hope, die. And that he developed what he called logotherapy. And logo is Greek for meaning, meaning therapy. And out of that experience, you know, he learned and promoted the fact that when you search for meaning, and when you have meaning in your life, you can you can survive terrible, awful circumstances. And, again, I certainly in my life could say that I can never say that I’ve experienced anything as dramatic as that. But I can say that through the tough times in my life, meaning many times can be through. Knowing that there, I think there’s a reason that I’m doing what I’m doing. And I need to continue to do it as long as I can.
Adam Baruh 56:17
Well, thank you for the work that you are doing. And hopefully, you will be around for a long time to continue to help, you know, with your with the work that you do giving that meaning to your students and our audience here today. So it’s been an honor to speak with you today. So thank you so much for sharing your story with us and the work that you do.
Dr. Hayden D. Center Jr. 56:40
Well, thank you, Adam, for what you’re doing. You’re getting these messages out, greatly appreciated.
Adam Baruh 56:45
Thank you. Dr. Hayden D. Center, Jr. is a core faculty member of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at the University of Phoenix. He was previously on faculty at Auburn University at Montgomery in the department of psychology where he taught for 10 years. He’s taught at several universities over the past 30 years. He’s been a licensed professional counselor specializing in addiction issues for over 35 years. Most recently, Dr. Center has conducted trainings and webinars on implementation science, the psychopharmacology of marijuana, opioid use disorder, the opioid epidemic and preventing opioid overdose death. He’s also working on the development of an education module for a national project on what prevention professionals need to know about cannabis. You can read more about Dr. Center on our website, www.eiqmediallc.com/thechange. Our theme song and sound engineering was provided by Shane Suffriti, you can listen to more of Shane’s music at www.shanesuffriti.com. If you have a story to share about finding meaning in your professional career, or if you want to tell us what you think about our podcast, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you all for listening. We’ll see you next time on The Change.
EIQ Media, LLC 58:05
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