Join me and Kim Toth tonight (Thursday, 2/25/10) for a teleworkshop (and drawing for a fellowship to our coach training program.)
In the 90's, I read a book on the psychology of time.  As I did, I realized how much I struggled with imagining positive future outcomes for my life--especially big, ambitious possibilities.  I became fascinated with the research on the psychology of time and was excited recently to interview one of the world's leading experts, Phil Zimbardo.  Below you'll find a partial transcript of that wonderful interview and a link to the full recording.
In This Issue:
1. Coaching Teleworkshop with Ben Dean and Kim Kirmmse Toth--Tonight!
2. My Struggles with Future Time--Ben Dean
3. Main: Phil Zimbardo On Time and Life  (includes transcript and recording)
4. MentorCoach Upcoming Coach Training Programs
1. Coaching Teleworkshop with Ben Dean and Kim Kirmmse Toth--Tonight!
Kim Kirmmse Toth and I are giving a 2-hour, no-charge  coaching teleworkshop tonight, Thursday, February 25th from 7:00 to 8:59 pm Eastern.  It will include a live coaching session and a virtual drawing for a $2000 tuition fellowship to the 31-week Foundations Coach Training Program.  Please come and bring all questions.
WHAT: Coaching Teleworkshop with Ben Dean and Kim Kirmmse Toth
DATE: Thursday, February 25, 2010
TIME: 7:00 pm to 8:59 pm Eastern (New York time)
TO REGISTER, Click Here!
2.  My Struggles with Future Time--Ben Dean
In the early '90's, I stumbled across a book by Herbert Rappaport called Marking Time. As I recall, Rappaport, a Temple University psychology professor, argued that people should develop the facility to live in the three domains of time--the past, present, and future.
That made great sense to me.  I felt I was reasonably proficient in living in the present--partly due to my experience with gestalt therapy.  I also felt very comfortable in remembering and thinking about my past.
However, I realized I was tremendously blocked in thinking about the future.  While there are many aspects of living in the future--one was to be able to imagine multiple, positive future realities. 
And I could not do it.  Despite having had a good amount of success in life, the minute I allowed myself to imagine some wonderful future possibility, I immediately canceled it out as I flashed on all the reasons I would not be able to achieve that desired future outcome.

It was as if I tried to imagine making a crucial hit in a baseball game.  But instantly I'd let the idea go.  What if I got hit by the pitch?  I can't hit curve balls anyway.  I could easily strike out.  What if I got to first base--I could still get thrown out.  And what if I could get a hit, but not at the crucial time when I'd strike out instead.  I probably wouldn't enjoy playing baseball anyway.
I had not even been aware of my almost automatic process of knocking down possible future goals.
Well, over time, I worked very hard on this.  And I got to where I could imagine many possible future outcomes.  They could be outlandishly big, even inconsistent with each other.  By imagining them, I learned, I was not wedded to them.  I was just playing with the future.
I also learned ways to create very big goals and to hold on to them as I worked toward realizing them.
So the thinking that Rappaport's book prompted became part of a very valuable, larger enterprise.
Since then, I've been fascinated with the concept of time. 
So I was excited to be able to have an interview with one of the world's leading experts, legendary Stanford psychologist, Phil Zimbardo.  He was bright and funny and unpretentious and wise.  And the hour just flew by. 
What follows is a partial transcript of the interview (that included questions from listeners all over the world).  It then includes a link to the full recording.  I hope you like it. 
3. Phil Zimbardo On Time and Life

Phil Zimbardo, Ph.D.
is, perhaps, the world's most distinguished psychologist, co-author of The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life, and a charming and articulate interview subject.  His "time" website is here.  His homepage and professional website is here.  He joined us for a one hour conversation in November.  Here for the first time is a transcript of the beginning of our call followed by the link to the full recording.  Note: To also hear Phil give a 1:14 talk with power points on The Time Paradox to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, click here.  (It's a great talk.)
I began by saying, "So that we all can visualize you, where are you right now?":
PHIL: I'm sitting in my study in San Francisco.  Although I taught at Stanford, I live in San Francisco.  My wife teaches at Berkeley and we split the commute.  And also I grew up in New York so I'm a city person.  Palo Alto where Stanford is is too clean, too quiet, too safe.  It makes me nervous.
I'm looking at a view of the San Francisco Bay which is gorgeous.  And I'm looking forward to a wonderful exchange.
BEN:   OK, and are you sitting there in a smoking jacket and pipe or a polo shirt and cut offs?
PHIL:  I'm actually all in blue.  And, just to jump ahead, I discovered recently I have -- ciliac disease, which is an allergy to gluten.  The symptoms are that you gain weight, you're lethargic, you have gas - and it can be serious.  And when it's diagnosed, all you do is cut out eating wheat.  And I've lost 20 pounds, my energy is back, and I look younger than my 76 years of age -- and so there's a cookoff tonight with 10 San Francisco chefs and 10 doctors preparing gluten-free, amazing dinners and I am one of the judges.  And Alice --, the woman who started the Ciliac Foundation, is coming at 11:00 -- so we have until then to share our thoughts.
BEN:  That must have been one of the biggest joys of your life, to find that cure. 
PHIL: Well, it does mean that you have to give up a lot of things you love, like pizza and pastas and pastries.  What the Ciliac Foundation is trying to do is to get companies to start making gluten-free breads and pastries and pizzas and so forth -- and some are doing it.  You substitute corn, rice, spelt or quinoa . . . but if it means you're really healthy, you'll make some sacrifices.
BEN:  Absolutely.  Now, when I read your book, I imagined that in the dictionary, your picture should be next to "future time perspective."  You sound like one of the extreme people on that dimension.  Is that true?
PHIL: Yeah, I would say so.  Essentially, one of the reasons I began to study time perspective -- and I should say, my definition of time perspective is -- there's chronological time, there's objective time that we measure with various devices like wristwatches. 
And there's psychological time, the time that we create in our minds,  Time perspective is a psychological way that each of us categorizes our personal experience into time zones. Obviously, the big three are past, present and future.  But what we've found is two things.  That within each of those, they get dichotomized.  For example, you could focus on the negatives or the positives of the past. 
You could be present hedonistic--to focus on pleasure.  Or present-fatalistic,--It doesn't pay to plan, my life as fated. 
You could be future oriented, the way I am.  Always planning for the future.  Making to do lists.  Being highly conscientious.   Or you could be high in what we call a transcendental future, that is in many religions, life really begins after the death of the mortal body,so they live their life very differently.
So we developed a scale which is online ( that you can take and get a score on these different dimensions. 
The biggest problem is that people develop a different time perspective.  You don't adjust to what your needs are and what the situation is.  Some people are always future oriented.  Some are always present hedonistic.  Some are always past positive or past negative. 
And what we show with lots of examples and lots of research over 30 years is any of those in excess is bad. 
So you need a balance of moderately future oriented--not extreme,   Moderate on past positive.  And a dash of selected hedonism--to reward yourself when you get things done. 
Ben: So would you say you, yourself, have that balance or has being so future oriented had some down sides for you?
Phil: No, no.  Yes it has had lots of down sides.  In my book, I say that I'm consciously working every day to add more past positive and more present hedonism into my life. 
For example, when you said I've written over 400 articles and 50 books.  When you are writing, you are alone.  It's an asocial activity. 
Anybody who writes a lot, can't have lots of friends, can't give as much time to family. 
So if you're extremely future oriented, you get the job done.  You're extremely conscientious.  You live up to your word.  You know, people can count on you.  You're going to be successful in school and in business. don't have time for the three important things:  family, friends, and fun.   
So in the long run, you get isolated.  People don't really like you as much as they could. 
So just by adding some present hedonism--namely, when you get something done, you take time out for a massage or a hot tub or hooking up with your friends or having a beer or going to a coffee shop. 
And at the same time, always remembering family.  Family is the past positive.  Remembering the good old times.  Taking time to call you mother, your grandmother, your kids. 
But you have to conscientiously work at this because these time biases stem from our earliest age.  They're influenced by our culture, our religion, genetics, social class, where we live. 
So the idea is once you become aware of this concept of time perspective and you find out where you fit.  Then you have to ask, "How do I break this habit of being excessively focused on the past or excessively focused on the present or excessively focused on the future.  Because the evidence is you live longer, you're happier.  And, in the long run, you become more productive. 
BEN:  You know, I had the impression that in addition to future time orientation, that you are also very comfortable in the present.  I went to graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin.  And there was this urban legend I heard from the social psych students about a time when you had flown into Austin to meet Elliot Aronson and his students.  They were there to throw you a curve, so they met the plane dressed as a band but--never to be one upped--you came down the stairs to the tarmac wearing a cape, throwing garlands to the left and right.  (Note--all this except the garlands is true.  More on the recording.)
PHIL:  I can be dramatic.  I can dip into the present.  Obviously I enjoy music and I enjoy dancing.  But it's the pull.  See, the other thing is I come from a poor Sicilian background.  And everybody in my family lives in the past or the present.  No one plans for the future.  In Sicilian dialect, there is no verb for the future. 
Ben:  Really!
PHIL:  It's astounding!  That's why nothing gets done.  There's no verb to help you plan. And I go to Sicily every year now.  I discovered the village called Camerata where my grandparents came from.  I started an educational foundation there to send kids to college and to set up computer labs.
But it's amazing.  Nothing ever gets done.  Nothing is ever on time.  And I just discovered this last year.  I was talking to them about time perspective and someone told me there is a verb for the past, for the present.  But there is no verb for the future.  There's no verb for "will be." 
Ben:  How is time perspective determined.  I'm sure there is an environmental piece but wouldn't there be a strong genetic component? 
PHIL: No, no.  It's not genetic.  As I say, my family genes were not from future-oriented people.  I don't think it is genetic.  I think it's all socially learned, culturally learned.  That if anything, survival means living in the present.  You have to get food.  You have to avoid pain.  You have to avoid danger.  So as children, we're all present hedonists. 
But over time, the major contribution of education is to take little present-hedonistic beasts that we all were and make us more future oriented, teaching us to delay gratification--one of the most important attributes a person can have.  And also to build in an appreciation of the past -- of your family over time; your identity over time. 
So the more educated you are, the more future oriented you are.  The less educated you are, the more likely you are to be present- or past-oriented. 
But again, if you come from a climate near the equator where things don't change, where seasons don't change, you're more likely to be present oriented than future oriented.  Because future orientation is always about planning for difference, planning for change.
Ben:  I was wondering if one of the typical changes in time orientation across the life span would be--Everybody always starts out in the present, say during the first five years of their lives.  And then toward the end of life, we tend to return to a present orientation.  Is there any truth to that?
PHIL:  Yes, in one way there is.  That's really very insightful of you, Ben.  We start off present oriented.  Then again, if you are in a culture that indulges youth, the culture allows you to play.  On the other hand, if you grow up in poverty or in an undeveloped country where kids have to start working as little kids.  And you work all the time so you never really develop that present hedonism. 
But over time, certainly in America, more people develop a future perspective.  More people focus on the good things about the past. 
But when we get old, research by Laura Carstensen, my colleague at Stanford says when you get old, what you want is "selective optimization."  You want closer contacts but with fewer people.  (You can see Dr. Carstensen talking about this at 37:40 of this video).

You don't want on Linkdin or to have a facebook page,  What you want is really the best of present hedonism.  To have a small number of friends or family that you see regularly, that you share emotions with.  So--assuming that they have good health and are not obsessed with just surviving--the elderly go back to seeking out and trying to maintain close emotional contacts with friends and family.
Hear the Recording of the Full Zimbardo Interview
The full interview runs sixty minutes and received a huge amount of positive comments from listeners all over the world.  To download the interview, click here.
4. MentorCoach Upcoming Foundations Coach Training Programs
[Note: All MCP Foundations Programs are identical in content.]

MCP 140 Mondays
31 Mondays
8:00 pm - 8:59 pm Eastern (New York Time)
International Time (UTC/GMT) add five hours
Starts Monday, February 22, 2010
For more information, click here
MCP 141 Tuesdays
31 Tuesdays
1:00 pm - 1:59 pm Eastern (New York Time)
International Time (UTC/GMT) add five hours
Starts Tuesday, March 23, 2010
For more information, click here
MCP 142 Tuesdays
31 Tuesdays
8:00 pm - 8:59 pm Eastern (New York Time)
International Time (UTC/GMT) add five hours
Starts Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Faculty: Jan Hill
For more information, click here
MCP 143 Fridays
31 Fridays
12:00 noon - 12:59 pm Eastern (New York Time)
International Time (UTC/GMT) add five hours
Starts Friday, May 21, 2010
For more information, click here
5. Upcoming Advanced Coaching Classes

Appreciative Inquiry Coaching MasterClass
12 Thursdays
8:00 - 9:00 pm Eastern
Starts Thursday, March 25, 2010
For more information, click here

Ethics & Risk Management MasterClass
8 Mondays
6:00 - 7:00 pm Eastern
Starts Monday, April 12, 2010
Faculty: Eric Harris
For more information, click here.

Executive Coaching MasterClass
24 Tuesdays
12:00 - 1:00 pm Eastern
Starts Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Faculty: Anne Durand
For more information, click here.


Blue Sky Visioning MasterClass
12 Tuesdays
1:00 - 2:00 pm Eastern
Starts Tuesday, April 20,2010
For more information, click here.

Intensive Group Coaching MasterClass
12 Thursdays
8:00 - 9:00 pm Eastern
Starts Thursday, April 22, 2010
Faculty: Christine Martin
For more information, click here

Positive Psychology and Strategic Career Design MasterClass
12 1-Hour Classes for 12 Weeks
Start Date: June 2010
Faculty: Kim Kirmmse Toth
For more information, click here.

6. Ben's Upcoming Speaking Engagements
Psychotherapy Networker Symposium 2010
"Whither Coaching?: Where It Came From and Where It's Going"
When: Sunday, March 28, 2010 (All day workshop)
Where Omni Shoreham, Washington, DC.
For more information, click here.








About Ben Dean -- Ben, Editor of Coaching Toward Happiness, is a coach,  psychologist, founder of MentorCoach, and... MORE.
Copyright 2006-2010. Coaching Toward Happiness.  All rights reserved.

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