1. Beeson, Virginia MSN, BSN, Captain, USN (Ret)

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High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out (Ripley, 2021)


We're living in a very polarized time; conflict is all around us. Americans are at each other's throats in our workplaces, homes, schools, and communities-bickering, yelling, name-calling, arguing, trying to prove each other wrong. It's a time of high conflict.


High conflict is different than healthy conflict, which is vital. In healthy conflict, we come together, share ideas, and listen to and try to understand each other. We may not agree with one another, but we stay engaged with respect and dignity as we try to understand one other and solve problems. High conflict is different. "Our brains behave differently," Ripley says. Our conversations devolve into us versus them, right versus wrong, good versus bad. We become convinced of our own superiority and are unable or unwilling to see another side. We use "grenade" words, words that are charged with emotion and make the situation worse. Often our differences of opinion become secondary, and the conflict becomes its own reality.


Ripley does a masterful job of describing high conflict using three case studies. In each, people were drawn into high conflict but ultimately found ways to transform that conflict into something good, something that made them all better people. Each stand-alone case study includes lessons and practices that will help the reader navigate their own areas of conflict and become a better person at work, at home, and in their community.


The Power of Vulnerability (TEDxHouston, Brene Brown, June 2010:


In this engaging and fun Ted Talk, Brene Brown shares her research on connection-our ability to empathize, belong, and love. What keeps us from experiencing these emotions fully, Brown says, is our fear that we're not "worthy" enough-not good enough, smart enough, successful enough, thin enough, and so on.


To understand these feelings, Brown studied people who did feel a sense of "worthiness" to find out what differentiated their thought patterns. She found that at the core of worthiness is vulnerability-the courage to "show up and let ourselves be seen," to share feelings and experiences, to lean in to the discomfort of uncertainty and emotional exposure, and to take risks. Because this is hard, we "numb" ourselves with negative self-talk, food, medication, and alcohol. But when you numb the bad stuff, you also numb the good stuff, such as joy, creativity, belonging, and love. Brown encourages us to stop searching for the perfect and to accept ourselves the way we are, which will lead us to more love, joy, and worthiness.


Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't (Collins, 2001)


"Good is the enemy of great," is the first line of this book. Collins says, "Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life." But there are companies that do transform from good to great and become extremely successful. How does this happen, and what are the distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?


Although Collins studies business and financial organizations, much of the information is applicable to nursing teams, units, and organizations. Like Covey's "7 Habits," Collins has seven principles: 1) Great leadership: Choose leaders with personal humility, professional expertise, and ambition-not individual ambition, but ambition for the organization. 2) The right people: Focus on core values and purpose more than skills and knowledge. 3) Honesty and courage: Confront the brutal facts of your current reality with unwavering faith that you can make things better. 4) Strengths and passion: Identify what people do best and are most passionate about and assign accordingly. 5) Discipline: Create a culture where people have freedom and responsibility and where those who don't share the values and standards of the organization are removed. 6) Technology: Select only the technology that helps you achieve your goals. 7) Persistence: Recognize that great work is a cumulative process-step by step, decision by decision, action by action. Though written in 2001, these principles are as relevant today as they were 20 years ago, perhaps more so.