Learned helplessness

They are able because they think they are able. Virgil

In Learned Optimism, Marty Seligman describes how depressed people are their own worst enemy. They imagine the walls of the non-existent cell that holds them in.

Put a dog in a box with a transparent cover. The dog bumps his nose on the glass every time he tries to leap out of the box. He learns the box is inescapable. Remove the cover, and the dog remains trapped. He has learned that he can’t jump out of the box. Giving it a try will only bend his nose out of shape.

Organizations live within the confines of their own self-imposed limits. “We can’t…” should always be questioned. People in one area of an organization refuse to consider no approaches, using the excuse of “We don’t do that here.” Others in the same organization don’t have recognize the invisible boundaries. They grab opportunity where they can find it. They become what Jack Welsh calls a boundary-less organization.

The beliefs of the boxed dog and the organization that can’t help itself rest on the assumption that things don’t change.

The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will undermine everything they do, and are their own fault.

Learned helplessness is the giving up reaction, the quitting response that follows from the belief that whatever you do doesn’t matter. Explanatory style is the manner in which you habitually explain to yourself why events happen.

Inescapable events produced giving up. Clearly, animals can learn their actions are futile, and when they do, they no longer initiate action….

People who give up easily believe the causes of the bad events that happen to them are permanent: The bad events will persist, will always be there to affect their lives. People who make universal explanations for their failures give up on everything when a failure strikes in one area.

Depression is pessimism writ large. Normal depression is extremely common . .it’s the common cold of mental illness. (The belief that your actions are futile is the cause of depression.)

Pessimists’ explanations for bad events are personal, permanent, and pervasive.

The belief in self .improvement is a prophecy just as self-fulfilling as the old belief that character could not be changed.

A = Adversity B = Belief C = Consequence D = Disputation . .argue with yourself (Evidence? Alternatives?) E = Energizer


Use optimism/pessimism scale in choosing sales people.