What I've Been Reading: Research

1.     A Diversified Portfolio Model of Adaptability

This article speaks my language. For me, it highlights the importance of social networks, experiences, travel, culture, sports, school, and work all in one piece. It basically applies portfolio theory to people and discusses the benefits of having multiple roles and how this can act as a buffer to stress and “risk.” In short, it argues that diversification in roles may increase adaptability, resilience, and well-being. Now, this may sound backwards to some people. One line of thought promotes the idea that if you really want to succeed, you have to be all in, with a narrow focus. Maybe this is true. But, this article proposes that having a rich diversification of roles helps you adapt to life’s challenges, which can ultimately increase success. In my life, I have found that I am more successful when I have multiple roles that I am invested in. The year I tried to fully commit to professional running (i.e., not working, not going to school, JUST running), was my worst year ever. This was probably because I was unhappy and confused and struggling with my identity. I was supposed to be a runner, and when that didn't go well, I felt totally unsuccessful. I learned that I thrive when I can draw on other roles, and this article provides a good theory on why this may be the case.  Not everyone is like this, but if you are, and you sometimes worry that you aren’t committed enough to one pursuit, read this article, it may explain why you need other important identities in your life.

2.     Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

This article appeared in HBR in 2007. It is still extremely relevant and perhaps even more important to implement today that it was 10 years ago. On one hand, I worry that this research is 10 years old and we are still seeing these problems.  On the other hand, the conversation around creating a more fulfilling and satisfying work environment is happening more frequently now. Also, this article may feel particularly important to me as I am finding myself busier balancing working, running, and my social roles. This article highlights how the individual is at the center of structuring their environment and it suggests ways to take control of our work life so we can have the energy to perform our best and enjoy life more. A couple of my favorite quotes from the article are below.

“To recharge themselves, individuals need to recognize the costs of energy-depleting behaviors and then take responsibility for changing them, regardless of the circumstances they’re facing.”

“It’s been a revelation for many of the people we work with to discover they have a choice about how to view a given event and to recognize how powerfully the story they tell influences the emotions they feel.”

3.     Music of the Night: Performance Practitioner Considerations for Enhancement Work in Music

I am not musically talented. Some may even go as far to say that I’m tone deaf. Nevertheless, I have learned that the musical world and the athletics world have a lot of performance elements in common, and I have enjoyed exploring this topic. Dealing with anxiety, comparing yourself to others, dissecting the Instagram posts of fellow athletes / musicians, coping with the bumps in the road to the ultimate goal, navigating setbacks and failures, and training with the hope that your breakthrough performance will come soon—these are topics experienced by musicians and athletes.  I got excited when I saw this article because it puts a research spin on a lot of topics I have discussed for fun over dinner with friends.

Sport Psychology is the oldest and perhaps most established field in the performance enhancement. More and more people are taking skills from sports and applying them to other domains, like business or music. Also, more domains are actively seeking out the use of performance specialists (yay for me!).  This article highlights the overlap between the music and sports. It also does a great job of bringing to light the differences and areas of caution. Although there is a lot of overlap in the performance domain, there are cultural differences that must be taken into consideration. You can’t take a sport performance program and plop it down in a music program. That definitely won’t work. I am always an advocate of learning more about the environment of the client before developing a performance plan.  If you are thinking about working in the music industry, I suggest this a starting point to get to “know your audience.”



Chandra, S. & Leong, T.L.F. (2016). A diversified portfolio model of adaptability. American Psychologist, 71, 847-862. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0040367

Pecen, E., Collins, D., & MacNamara, A. (2016). Music of the night: performance practitioner considerations for enhancement work in music. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 5, 377-395. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/spy0000067

Schwartz, T. & McCarthy, C. (2007, October). Manage your energy, not your time. Harvard Business Review.