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OBAMA KARMA. The Use Of Role Models To Enhance Psychological Flexibility Dr Russell Razzaque. The Hexaflex Challenge. Grounding The Hexaflex. The Value of Role Models… “A way in” Less abstract More tangible Grounded in experience

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obama karma


The Use Of Role Models To Enhance Psychological Flexibility

Dr Russell Razzaque

grounding the hexaflex
Grounding The Hexaflex

The Value of Role Models…

  • “A way in”
  • Less abstract
  • More tangible
  • Grounded in experience
  • Facilitates a more fluid and spontaneous incorporation into the therapeutic process
obama as a role model
Obama As A Role Model
  • Acute psychiatric patients (PICU)
  • Difficult to access psychologically
  • Mixed race & ethnic identity issues
  • Deprived socioeconomic backgrounds
  • Drug use ++
  • Significant criminal history (including violence)
  • Looked up to Obama and felt some resonance with his life story
  • Obama proved to be a good illustration of several aspects of the Hexaflex...

New Hampshire - Jan ’08,

  • “The news was as stunning as it was dismal. The polls were wildly wrong and so was their strategy. There was no tidal wave. Iowa’s momentum had rippled and faded…” Richard Wolffe
  • An anxious team went to break the news to Obama with trepidation, “They waited for a little data to confirm their worse fears, then Axelrod, David Plouffe and Robert Gibbs took the long walk to the elevator and to Obama’s suite.... Obama’s closest aides walked down the hotel hallway dreading every step, but they wanted to deliver the news themselves. “

Obama’s response:

“I actually think this is for the best... Sure if we had won New

Hampshire, we’d be in the driver’s seat. But I’d be like a comet

streaking across the sky. White hot. And comets eventually burn

up. Now people can see how I deal with adversity, whether we

can bounce back… They want me to earn this. They don’t want it

to be easy for someone like me and it probably shouldn’t be.”

...his team were both stunned and reassured.


Nobel prize acceptance speech December 10th 2009;

“War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At

the dawn of history… We must begin by acknowledging the hard

truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes.”

…this acceptance itself must be the starting point of change


“I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this

same ceremony years ago: ‘Violence never brings permanent peace. It

solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.’

As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life work, I

am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there's

nothing weak - nothing passive - nothing naïve - in the creed and lives of

Gandhi and King… no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy.”

…we are, therefore, never absolved of the responsibility to continually work

towards these ideals; acceptance is the pre-requisite of change

…a valuable lesson in how to deal with our own anger & compulsions

values based action
Values Based Action
  • The year was 1998. Mary Anderson was a 31 year-old newlywed, queuing excitedly in line at a check-in counter in Miami airport…
  • It was supposed to be the beginning of a new life – but her plans came shuddering to a halt.
  • “Tears were pouring down my face and I had no idea what to do… Then I heard a gentle and friendly voice behind me saying, 'That's OK, I'll pay for her.'”

…opportunities to put our values into action occur all the time

values based action1
Values Based Action

Laura Klitzka (Green Bay healthcare meeting):

“Laura had undergone eight rounds of chemotherapy and thirty-three rounds of radiation as well as a double mastectomy. That treatment failed to stop the cancer from spreading to her bones. Even with her husband’s insurance, Laura faced more than $12,000 in unpaid medical bills, and resorted to paying her mortgage with a credit card. She said she didn’t want to waste the little time she had with her children in worrying about her unpaid medical bills”

David Axelrod (Oval Office):

“This is going to be costly.” He warned his boss, “You need to know that.”


“I’m sure you’re right.” Obama responded after hearing him out patiently. “But I just got back from Green Bay where I met a woman. She’s thirty-five years old and has two children, and she’s got breast cancer. They’re going broke because the insurance won’t cover most of her treatment. She’s terrified that she’s going to die and leave her family bankrupt. So you know, the fight is worth it.” He walked Axelrod to the door, “we have to keep going.”

psychological flexibility
Psychological Flexibility

Within weeks of his inauguration, Obama uttered 3 words none of us

has ever heard a President utter before…

“I screwed up!

“I’ve got to own up to my mistake. I'm frustrated with myself, with our team. ... I'm here on television saying I screwed up”

…acting from values, not status or protocol. Openly admits his own

fallibility .

psychological flexibility1
Psychological Flexibility

Later that day…

“You know, when I think about Abraham Lincoln, what I'm struck by is the fact that he constantly learned on the job. He got better. You know, he wasn't defensive. He wasn't arrogant about his tasks. He was very systematic in saying, 'I'm going to master the job, and I understand it's going to take some time.' "

…being in the moment & open to change based on what ever

the situation affords. Demonstrates self compassion and the desire

to continually grow

obama karma1
Obama Karma
  • Obama Karma; Lessons on Living Inspired By The 44th President
  • Release date; July 24th 2012
  • Contains 8 lessons:
    • Be Flexible Like Water (eg. OBL)
    • Relax Into Uncertainty (eg. religion & doubt)
    • Embrace Imperfection (eg. Nobel prize)
    • Make Space For Shadows (eg. past drug use)
    • Connect To A Core (eg. compassion)
    • Mirror Respect (eg. relationship with team)
    • Gain strength from pain (eg. father’s life & mother’s death)
    • Stay In The Tension (eg. healthcare bill)
using role models in act
Using Role Models In ACT
  • Pre-existing knowledge/relationship
  • Resonates with the individual
  • Demonstrably high EQ
  • An awareness of own imperfection

(to avoid learning of negative traits)

  • Easily accessible examples of core processes