On top of the world, Down Under

Midway through last year, a colleague and friend was developing a short quiz intended to give visitors to the website he co-founded insight into their inclusive leadership acumen. Knowing that I’m pursuing my PhD in Psychology, specifically Organizational Leadership, he asked me about what I’d seen in the diversity and inclusion (D&I) literature. The answer was not much.

Curious about the dearth of research, I kept searching the major databases, looking for peer-reviewed scholarship describing an instrument (i.e., survey or questionnaire) shown to be both valid and reliable for measuring inclusive behavior in organizations. I wasn’t turning up many, and the ones I did find were all over the board in terms of their construction. Seemingly, there was no “gold standard” for measuring inclusive behaviors in an organization supported by empirical data.

My interest piqued, I decided to pursue the investigation on my own, conducting a narrative literature review aimed at systematically identifying and analyzing the relevant scholarship. The outcome of my work was a synthesis of the current literature along with recommendations for future research. Outside of my school papers and the (very) rough draft of my thesis proposal (sorry, Dr. Leahy!), this project was the first independent research I’d done since college.

In late September, an email in my grad school inbox caught my attention. The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Business School, in Brisbane, Australia, has a research center dedicated to evidenced-based behavioral research aimed at transforming society and the economy. The Centre for Behavioural Economics, Society, and Technology (BEST) has an annual conference (“The BEST Conference”) which brings together scholars and practitioners from around Australia, and the world, to examine human behavior and decision making. There couldn’t be a more perfect topic for me. The email advertised an open call for abstracts. I applied the day before the deadline, with no expectations.

At the time, I was still on three medications, sliding further into darkness by the day. It wasn’t modesty or false humility telling me I wouldn’t get selected. Jerk Brain kept repeating in my head that I wasn’t good enough. Sending in that proposal was an act of defiance on my part, a strike back at Jerk Brain. Still, I was convinced my rejection was a foregone conclusion.

When I got word that my proposal had been accepted, I was exhilarated, but apprehensive. Could I really do this? What would people think? Had I just gotten the opportunity I’d been longing for only to have Jerk Brain steal it?

And there is only one thing we say to Jerk Brain: ‘not today’.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been working on the presentation and going back over my work, again and again. This opportunity is coming at exactly the right time for me. I’m stable in my recovery and looking to do things that feed my soul and help me reconnect to myself and the world. My slot on the agenda is Thursday afternoon, so this blog post is coming to you from about 40,000 feet somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

It’s glow time.

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