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This week’s tip will arrive in your inbox days prior to Thanksgiving, which makes it a particularly good time to talk about the next two Executive Functions in our series.
As a refresher, here is a formal definition of Executive Functioning:
The executive functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation.
Experts Joyce Cooper-Kahn and Laurie Dietzel give us a couple of more basics:
- The executive functions all serve a “command and control” function; they can be viewed as the “conductor” of all cognitive skills.
- Executive functions help us manage life tasks of all types. For example, executive functions let us organize a trip, deliver on a work project, or even regularly get to work on time.
- Disorganization is usually what comes to mind when we think of problems with executive functioning, however, the ability to organize yourself and your materials is only one part of these important skills.
Ever heard the saying “sometimes the hardest part of any job is getting started?” That’s where our next Executive Function comes into play.
Initiation – The ability to begin a task or activity when needed. When a situation requires, you can independently generate ideas, problem-solving strategies, and appropriate responses.
On the flip side of initiation, we have:
Inhibition – The ability to stop one’s own behavior at the appropriate time, including stopping actions and thoughts. The flip side of inhibition is impulsivity; if you have weak ability to stop yourself from acting on your impulses, then you are called “impulsive.”
I know we can all think of times we wished we had initiated something – a paper during school, a work project, even an important conversation earlier than we did. And I know we can certainly think of a time we wished we had exercised more inhibition than we did! I encourage you to take a deeper look at your examples and consider, “What can I learn from these?”
If you lead a team, or are part of a team, a regular and important discussion is asking your team members, “Where do we need more initiation,” and “What behaviors or patterns need to become inhibited?”
To bring this back around to the holidays I’ll leave you with 2 suggestions:
- Initiate some plans to spend time with people that lift your spirits and feed your soul.
- Exercise inhibition with your political discourse around the Thanksgiving table!
You’ll be glad you did.
As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts
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