About Shannon Polly, MAPP

Shannon M. Polly is a corporate communications trainer, facilitator and speaker and founder of Shannon Polly & Associates, a leadership development company in downtown D.C. Shannon works with executives, managers and employees of Fortune 500 companies in two areas: executive presence/presentation skills (based on over a decade of experience as a professional actor/singer in New York) and positive psychology. Shannon is one the first 100 people in the world who have received her Master in Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) degree from the University of Pennsylvania under Dr. Martin Seligman. She also holds a graduate degree from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in classical acting and a B.A. with honors from Yale University. She also holds a coaching certificate from the Georgetown Leadership Coaching Program.

Social Support Makes Challenges Easier by Pete Berridge

  Is it surprising that a hill seems less steep when we are rested, in shape, or younger?  Or, that a hill appears steeper and distances appear greater when we are tired and depleted? Research has shown that our physical resources such as fitness, age, and feeling  refreshed influence our visual perception.[i], [ii] How does social support affect visual perception?  Researchers, Schnall, Harber, Stefanucci & Profitt[iii] set out to answer that question and here is what they discovered: Participants accompanied by a friend, when standing in front of a hill, estimated the hill to be 10 to 20% less steep than participants who were alone (even though that friend was standing three feet away, facing the other way, and not talking). Having people simply think of a “supportive person” led participants to see a hill as 10 to 20% less steep. Further, the relationship quality…

RECORDING – Shift Positive 360 Webinar

Miss the webinar today?  No problem! Here is the link to the recording that shares more insight on: 1) How to convince leaders to engage with the shift positive 2) Why a systems approach is the most successful for change 3) How using the Shift Positive 360 actually nets you more clients! And don’t forget the to get a 10% discount on the certification (February 23-24 in DC) go to:  www.bitly.com/Pos360PBDC before January 31st.

Shift Positive 360 – Certification for Coaches

Certification Training: February 23-24, 2017 Are you interested in being certified in the Shift Positive 360? The Shift Positive 360 is a narrative 360 approach used by executive and leadership coaches and HR leaders. This approach is grounded in positive psychology and focuses on engaging the client’s “people system” throughout the change process to ensure sustainable positive change. Join the two-day certification training and become well versed in positive psychology, social systems, the method and methodology behind the Shift Positive 360, and experience your own shift throughout the training. Register Here to take advantage of the special Positive DC Early Bird Special (Register by January 31, 2017) and save $250 In the certification process you will: Get grounded in key Positive Psychology concepts Feel confident in using the shift+ 360 Be capable in garnering allies for your client Challenge the traditional…

Leading from Someone Else’s Shoes by Yashi Srivastava

The job of a leader is complex as it is, and it gets even more so during difficult times. After the results of the recent presidential elections in the US exposed a deep political divide in the country, numerous educational and professional institutions have been attempting to reconcile various perspectives so as to move forward in their respective pursuits. Many of these institutions prioritize and celebrate diversity, and one of the questions that faces their leaders today is about what they can do to effectively manage people from diverse ethnic and political backgrounds. While this US election presents a recent and salient example of troubled times, it isn’t the only one. Organizational life is often marked by conflicts between different groups of people, and leaders are required to handle these conflicts. What can leaders do to manage such situations effectively?…

Shift Positive 360 – free webinar

Webinar: January 18, 2017 12-1pm ET Join us to learn how positive psychology and social systems can transform feedback from its current broken state into the constructive, energizing experience is was intended to be. Pete Berridge, MAPP & PCC and Jen Ostrich, PCC, co-founders of the Shift Positive 360, will talk about why feedback and 360s are not as effective as they can be. Learn how positive psychology and social support systems can make all the difference in your client’s success in creating sustainable change. In this webinar you will learn: The benefits of a solution-focused vs problem focused approach to feedback To challenge the notion of confidentiality with feedback and why it’s less effective How to set your clients up for successful change by creating their own “people system”   Pete Berridge and Jen Ostrich are both Hudson Institute…

Danny Torrence – Chris Peterson Fellowship Award Winner: an Update

After spending a year studying well-being and human flourishing in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at Penn, I am more convinced that living a good life is like writing a good story. New chapters bring new possibilities, ideas, challenges, conflict, and resolution. Through experiencing each of these elements, I’ve learned and grown a lot since graduating in August 2015 and am excited to see what lies ahead. Two exciting and unexpected things happened in the first six months following graduation: I was welcomed back to the MAPP program as an assistant instructor for the Capstone and Positive Psychology and Individuals courses and I was promoted to a new role at work that provides me the freedom and flexibility to use positive psychology to increase staff engagement. Prior to this role, I worked as a case manager to…

Connecting for Success – Upcoming Webinar

Connecting for success: This webinar will shift your perspective on relationships, well-being, and success. It is relevant to people’s lives, not just their work. Led by Robert Rosales, EMBA, MAPP. What is the greatest source of energy, creativity, and new business at work? People, provided they are fully engaged and supported by great leaders. In today’s workplace nothing of significance can be achieved alone. People are at the core of organizations because business, essentially, is about relationships. This really should come as no surprise. Relationships are central to well-being and a key feature of very happy people is the fact that they have good  interactions. Human beings are naturally social creatures and our interactions with others are just as vital as food and water. Over time, we have developed an innate ability to empathize and think socially in order to be able to cooperate with others.…

Update with Penn Scholarship Winner – Dwayne Thomas

What have I been doing since I graduated from Penn’s Master of Applied Positive Psychology program a few months ago? NOTHING! Okay, that’s not entirely true. I took a break to let my brain process everything I learned this year. Especially the glut of information clogging my brain after the capstone research process. Rest is a useful habit. Our waking brains constantly seek out clues and make connections. Sleep helps our brains consolidate memories. Writing my capstone, like the bar exam I took three years ago, wore me out. In both cases, I felt like I was carrying a 10-pound brick on my shoulders. Putting aside intellectual work for a few months while my brain did its work in the background helped clear the fog. However, I haven’t been idle – I’ve been training to work as a public speaker…

The Little Scholarship That Could

In 2006, a group of dedicated Master of Applied Positive Psychology alums decided to start a scholarship for the program.  And they donated and they donated, but they had a large mountain to climb of logistics at the University of Pennsylvania.  They built up the scholarship even though none of the money had been given away yet.  (‘I think I can, I think I can.’) Then when Chris Peterson passed away in 2012, more students came together and wanted to honor him with a scholarship and decided to combine with the earlier efforts to give back to students.  That little scholarship that could didn’t know that it would take a year to get over the ‘mountain’ of red tape at Penn in order to rename the ‘fellowship’.  (‘I think I can.’)  There was some treacherous weather on the mountain of…

Shift Positive 360

The Shift Positive 360 continues to take off. Pete Berridge (our colleague) had another tremendous experience certifying coaches and HR practitioners in the Shift Positive 360 in Austin Texas in September. Our next certification is set for October 13 – 14 in Minneapolis for those interested in experiencing how narrative 360’s grounded in positive psychology and engaging the client’s “people system” leads to deeper, lasting change for clients and employees. View the 7-minute presentation and find out more about registration here.

Positive Interventions: Bulking Up on Self-Regulation, Self-Efficacy and Emotional Intelligence

While environment can assist in creating a positive intervention, it must begin on the level of self with belief, attention, (volition) and effort. In our first reading, Baumeister, Gailliot, DeWall and Oaten (2006) discuss two major points about self-regulation.  First, that self-regulation is a limited resource and like a muscle it can be depleted and it can be strengthened as well.  And second, while everyone has a capacity for self-regulation and an ability to increase that capacity, there are individual differences.  In regards to the first point, ego depletion was not caused by fatigue in their studies and, surprisingly, it wans’t caused by diminished self-efficacy.  Positive feedback did not reduce the effect of ego depletion.  Self-regulation can be improved by habit formation, increasing knowledge and understanding, increasing liking from familiarity and automatization.  The ‘bulking up’ of the muscle did not…

How the MBTI compares to the VIA-IS

What Do Strengths Have To Do With It? After thirty years of research the Gallup organization has discovered that “individuals gain more when they build on their talents, than when they make comparable efforts to improve their areas of weakness” (Clifton and Harter, p. 112, 2003).  Building on that statement, Clifton and Harter define a strength as refining a talent with skill and knowledge (p. 111, 2003).  In recent years, there has been a groundswell of support in the business community for a strengths-based approach. But now the question is how to measure and capitalize on those strengths?  If given with certain caveats, assessments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the StrengthsFinder 2.0 and the Value in Action Inventory of Strengths (VIA-IS) provide pertinent information for assessing aspects of character depending on the desired outcomes. Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers…

Grant Me The Serenity

  God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.                                                                                     (Niebuhr, 1987, p. 251)             The Serenity Prayer is the common name for an originally untitled prayer, most commonly attributed to the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.  This prayer has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs.  There are three strengths mentioned in this prayer, two of which qualify as virtues as well.   The VIA-IS Classification of Strengths acknowledges courage as a virtue with its subsequent strengths of bravery, persistence, honesty and zest.  It also delineates wisdom and knowledge as a virtue with the subset of strengths that include:  creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning and wisdom or perspective.  It would follow, then, that serenity (or tranquility/peacefulness) would qualify as the twenty-fifth strength.…

Kill ‘Em with Kindness

Kindness is a top strength of mine and I enjoy doing things for others.  In fact I would say I need to do kind things for others to keep from being unhappy.  Because I frequently adapt to doing things for others, I have a tendency to do more things and give more frequent gifts in order to keep my ‘kindness’ identity consistent.  This makes me wonder:  can you bolster a strength that is already ranked 2nd of 24?  Is it easier to increase a strength that you already have rather than a lesser strength or weakness?  Will it make you appreciably happier to work on something that is already a strength?  I was sure before beginning this experiment that I knew the answers to these questions.  I found my answers changing and becoming more nuanced as the exercise drew to…

Efficacy and Effectiveness

          In articles containing psychological research, one frequently comes across the notion of efficacy.  Researchers conduct laboratory studies in order to demonstrate how much a certain treatment (i.e. a drug or psychotherapy) works.  While testing for efficacy in this way can be beneficial, Martin Seligman (1995), in The effectiveness of psychotherapy, illustrates how absolute dependence on this kind of research can be flawed.  While it is essential to gather research for various kinds of therapeutic treatment, there are drawbacks to ‘efficacy studies’.  As defined by Martin Seligman (1995), an efficacy study “contrasts some kind of therapy to a comparison group under well-controlled conditions” (p. 965).  The rigorous nature of the efficacy study might make it appear to demonstrate that a specific therapy is effective, but one must be careful about equating laboratory results with what can…

Positive Interventions Part 3: Hope and Goals Intertwined

A successful positive intervention requires a merging of the essential principles of goal theory and hope theory.  A positive intervention is an intervention intended to increase well-being in either or both of the following ways: increasing well-being away from zero and/or increasing well-being by cultivating pleasant affect, strengths, and/or meaning (Pawelski, personal communication, September 7, 2008).  A positive intervention is, inherently, a goal.  Goal theory states that action is caused by an intention (Locke, 1996).  Similarly, a positive intervention is action caused by an intention.  Essential elements of hope theory are also present in a positive intervention.  According to hope theory, hope reflects people’s perceptions of their abilities to conceptualize goals, develop strategies (pathways thinking) and initiate and sustain motivation (agency thinking). (Lopez, S. J., Snyder, C. R., Magyar-Moe, J. L., Edwards, L., Pedrotti, J. T. Janowski, et al., 2004,…

Positive Interventions Part 2: The Body and Positive Psychology

“I must admit that when I began my investigation, I, in common with most people, conceived of ‘body’ and ‘mind’ as separate parts of the same organism, and consequently believed that human ills, difficulties and shortcomings could be classified as either ‘mental’ or ‘physical’ and dealt with on specifically ‘mental’ or specifically ‘physical’ lines. My practical experiences, however, led me to abandon this point of view and readers of my books will be aware the technique described in them is based on the opposite conception, namely, that it is impossible to separate ‘mental’ and ‘physical’ processes in any form of human activity.”                                                                                     F.M. Alexander   For F.M. Alexander there was no separating the body from the mind, just as there is no separating the body from the mind in positive interventions.  Our readings support this view.  Shusterman (2006) argues…

The Positive Psychology of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Part 1: How are you thinking?

Don’t listen to the critics. Sheryl Sandberg’s book is well-researched and very compelling.  I won’t go into debateing the details of the book because I’ve discovered that most people have already formed their own opinions – whether or not they have read the book.  And, as one blog has argued, that this proves Sheryl Sandberg’s point assertion that we hold women up to a higher standard than men and we tear them down when instead we should be celebrateing their accomplishments. (Not sure why opening graph is underlined.) Her Sandberg’s goal, as I read it, was to raise awareness.  And Considering the number of talk shows she landed on, she Sandberg has definitely restarted reignited the conversation.  But now we need to shift the discussion the to ‘how,’ a topic of the book that she doesn’t get to.  She Sandberg…

What is a Positive Intervention?

What is the ‘good life’ and how can human beings achieve it?  Scholars since Aristotle have been trying to answer that question.  Melchert tells us Aristotle believed virtue to be more than simple emotion.  Happiness results from virtuous actions (2002).  William James postulated that happiness results from the cultivating of proper habits through conscious attention and effort.  Furthermore, attention and effort are “two names for the same psychic fact”  (1892, p. 137).  Csikszentmihalyi focuses on the mechanics of consciousness and controlling the conscious mind in pursuit of happiness (1990).  Lastly, Pawelski integrates the philosophy of William James and current positive psychology research to explore how humans flourish and generate well-being (2003).  Based on these authors, I will argue that a positive intervention is a direct result of conscious control of attention. Aristotle argued that happiness is not possible without excellence…

Do You Have Executive Presence? by Michelle McQuaid

Do You Have Executive Presence? When you walk into a room at work are people naturally drawn to you? When you sit at a meeting table do others ask to hear your thoughts? When there’s a decision to be made do people seek our your ideas? If you’re wavering in your responses chances are you’re missing what researchers have found is an essential component to getting ahead at work … executive presence. Reported to account, on average, for 25 percent of what it takes to get promoted, understanding how to project confidence, stay poised under pressure and be authentic are clearly skills worth having. But if you’re not quite there yet, what can you do to cultivate a more positive presence at work? What Is Executive Presence? “Studies have found that in the first seven seconds of meeting you people make 11 judgements about you,” explains Shannon…