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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 18/05/2006

I'm currently in Ann Arbor, Michigan as I'm on a course on Leading the Positive Organisation run by the Positive Organisational Scholarship Department at the University of Michigan. They are the main university department in the US who are applying the learning from positive psychology to organisations. Most of the participants are from US businesses but there are also people here from India, South Africa and Malaysia.

It is proving to be an exceedingly interesting and useful course. So far we have been presented not only with a number of useful tools but also substantial research to support the importance of positive psychology to business success. I plan to present a lot of what I've learned at the Centre's Vanguard sessions.

I particularly enjoyed this afternoon's session presented by Professor Wayne Baker. He mentioned in passing that he's just written a book about the American value system. His argument is that the U.S. is very united in values and not as divided politically as people often make out. I had a chat with him at the break and told him that one of the books which had a big impression on me was a book by the political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset. It is called American Exceptionalism and it shows convincingly how there is a huge difference in the way Americans and Europeans see the world. It turns out that Wayne Baker's book really builds on Lipset's work by utilising recent data from the World Values survey. Really look forward to getting a copy.

Given the differences in culture, I've been very conscious through this course of material which could be easily adapted for our purposes and other material which is just too American in feel. I'm undecided currently about whether we could use one of the videos we were shown. It has been made by a photographer with National Geographic. The theme of the film is how we should be much more appreciative about what is right with the world than what is wrong. There were beautiful scenes from countries all round the world but then, much to my surprise, towards the end of the film he singled out one person he'd met on his travels who had particularly impressed him. It was an elderly woman weaver from the Hebrides. It was her particular qualities of kindness and authenticity which had made such an indelible mark. The video is beautifully shot and poetic in parts and makes a great case for how we need to seek out more what is positive in our lives. But it is uncomprisingly American in feel and, for want of a better word, a bit schmaltzy as well. I still think it may be worth tracking down and showing at one of our events but I'm pretty certain that it would cause a few toes to curl.

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