The “Sputnik Moment”

In 1957 when America was convinced to have the primacy in science and technology, the Soviet Union launched the first earth-orbiting satellite: the Sputnik 1!

After a while the Soviet Union launched the second earth-orbiting satellite, the Sputnik 2, with a living being on board: Laika, a dog.

It was a moment of deep crisis for America and the Americans. The Americans came to know they were a step back in science and technology and this, for a culture that values results, caused a perception of insecurity and fear. Many were the doubts: Was the Soviet Union superior? Was their social model, their school system, their ability to reach goals better than the American? Was it possible that Americans had always believed to be what they were not ?

It was a real moment of crisis.

Then, something unexpected happened. Instead of blaming one another or blaming the government, Americans reacted promptly. It was mainly a psychological reaction but the consequences were tangible. NASA was founded and, together with it, the governative agency DARPA was created to develop new technologies such as ARPAnet (the first Internet prototype) and the first browsing system. New innovations and programs were introduced in schools and in the society.

This reaction is today known as ‘Sputnik Moment’.

Positive Psychology and Resilience

Some years after the ‘‘Sputnik moment’, Martin Seligman (University of Pennsylvania) started some researches which led in 1990 to the first publications of the Learning Optimism, a study on the psychological attitude that could be determinant for life, especially in moments of crisis.

This will lead to the Positive Psychology science which is different from the classical psychology because Positive Psychology is mainly focused on the enabling factors and strengths which make people particularly solid to resist adversities of life (Resilience) rather than focusing on the pathological factors and weaknesses of human being.

ACT and Psychological Flexibility

Some decades after, a new era of cognitive-behavioral science started: the so-called third generation. One of the main exponents is S. Hayes (professor at the Department of Psychology- University of Nevada) who systematized decades of research in the behavioral and cognitive environment and promoted the ACT methodology (Acceptance and Commitment Training).

Developed within a coherent theoretical and philosophical framework, ACT is a unique empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behavior changing strategies, to increase Psychological Flexibility. Psychological Flexibility means contacting the present moment fully as a conscious human being, and based on what the situation affords, changing or persisting in behavior in the service of chosen values.

Psychological Flexibility is based on 6 basic processes that are represented on each corner of a hexagon-shaped graph called Exaflex, . The ACT application has had a scientifically relevancy for 20 years and recently it has been extended to the organizational and business contexts.

Learning Resilience and Flexibility

Our model is based on Positive Psychology, developed mainly by M. Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania, and on ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Training), founded mainly by S. Hayes at the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science.

Positive Psychology’s Science is based on a psychological construct named Resilience while ACT’s Science is based on a psychological construct called Flexibility: these constructs are causally related to the best managerial behaviors: leadership, assertiveness, charisma, stress management, effective communication, assertiveness, engagement, creativity, concentration.

Resilience and Flexibility are skills that can be learned and trained to improve leadership, efficient communication, creativity, assertiveness, negotiation, etc. Our training mixes psychological skills and technical skills (project management, time management, change management, etc.) to provide the best resources for managers and professionals.

The main characteristic of our training is that it is not theoretical but can be immediately applied.