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  • Writer's pictureAnand Mahadevan

Post-traumatic Growth as an intentional practice

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

For many of us in schools, COVID-19 was a traumatic experience, taking away from us our familiar habits and routines. Physical distancing and Zoom sessions led to a lack of physical comfort and the small joys of sharing space with adults and children. Add to that the fear of contracting the disease, or having a loved one suffer from it, the past few months have not been easy!.

While many are familiar with term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), fewer people know about the work of Dr. Richard Tedeschi on post-traumatic growth (listen to this HBR IdeaCast). Post-traumatic growth is the idea that positive outcomes and good can come out of intentional and reflective learning following trauma. As educators in schools, we can facilitate growth by actively listening, offering compassionate feedback and encouraging introspection and curiosity: what Dr. Tedeschi calls being an expert companion for others.

Reflecting and developing a positive narrative of authentic growth from the traumatic experience can help us change and lead to better ways of thinking, feeling, and become stronger as individuals and members in teams. Research on the practice of authentic leadership shows that insights people gain from critical life events that shape them help them develop and articulate attributes like a strong sense of purpose, understand the values that drive their work, develop meaningful and compassionate relationships with others and be self-disciplined and sensitive (see Bill George's work on Authentic Leadership).

We may not be able to do much about COVID-19 itself, but we can with self-compassion and reflection come out with new strengths and a new outlook on our life. Let's stay positive and grow!

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