Check out Jeff Jernigan's Books

Co-Authored with Rex Miller

Click on the book above to buy.

Digital and Print versions available 

 

​​We inspire understanding and clarity to improve 

health, healing and restoration in your life and relationships

~

Everyone is unique in some way, possessing hidden value waiting to be unlocked.  

We focus on mental wellness - Thinking, feeling, and acting in ways that create healthy physical and

social well-being. Your mind is in order and functioning in your best interest

​    

The Hidden Value Group is a networked organization consisting of a group of faith-based non-profit and for-profit companies who together provide aid, education, healthcare, Christian materials, church and faith-based non-profit organizational consulting and funding for short term projects designed to bring healing, health, and hope to those who care for others.​  

       See HVG "Member page" for our group members and explanation of consulting services. 

Jeff Jernigan, PhD has been appointed a Fellow with The American Institute of Stress for his influence and accomplishments in behavior health, research,

and practical application in the field.

Return to Work: A Leaders Guide to Avoiding The Mental Health Crisis by Rex Miller & Jeff Jernigan
Return to Work: A Leaders Guide to Avoiding The Mental Health Crisis by Rex Miller & Jeff Jernigan

We inspire and release hidden value in

people and groups

   Health, Healing & Restoration ​

NEW BOOK RELEASE -

by Jeff & Nancy Jernigan

The Emmaus School in Omuto, Uganda 

To help support this school give at www.olivebranchintl.com

​Hidden Value Group, LLC

Teaching 

on 

The Armor of God in Your Marriage

For Nancy's LEADERSHIP BLOG -

Go To 

www.nancyjernigan.com

​Nancy's website focuses on building leaders young and not so young live sold-out lives for God. 


Announcing the Book Release - Purchase at Amazon & more

Thin Spaces: 
Hearing from God and noticing when he breaks through in our life is not a sub-point to life but a supreme purpose of our life and faith walk with God.  This book is full of stories illustrating how God breaks through in our lives and the role this plays in our relationship and restoration with God.
​​

Jeff & Nancy

COACHING LEADERS

 

May 13, 2024 -  The Shadow Side


We all have a shadow in the workplace. Sometimes this is simply standing in front of a window looking at our shadow on the floor. Sometimes it is more simply an aspect of our personality we do not see very often. Most of the time my workplace shadow is invisible. While I cannot see it, others see it at times. Most often, this is when I am under enough pressure that my shadow comes to life. Like me, most people rarely see their shadow and when other people do, we often still do not look down and become aware of it.


Our shadow represents an expression of ego that can be self-limiting in life and work. An unconscious response to a pattern in our lives without recourse to our conscious mind. In other words, we respond reflexively to a situation without paying attention to our own frame of mind at the moment. Here is a simple illustration.

                Ego In Action 

Self-Directed 

*  When I have done something wrong I accept responsibility and make amends. 

*  Failure motivates me to try again and do better next time

*  Anger signals for me something going on below the water line that I need to pay attention to. 


Self-Serving - 

*  When I have done something wrong I try to hide it from discovery. 

​*  I find guilt very helpful in getting others to do what I want.

*  Anger is the quickest and often only emotion I feel or express. 


​If you identify in yourself or others more statements on the right column rather than the left, you may recognize a shadow side that might show up under pressure. Relax, this is just an illustration using three characteristics out of twenty-two and is not definitive. For leaders in organizations, this is a tip: be self-aware so that when you are tempted to not be self-directed you can choose to keep your shadow in the shadows, so to speak.

​Dr. Jeff


April 16, 2024 - Neurodiversity?  by Jeff Jernigan, PhD

     Okay, I was in a recent conversation that caught my attention. It was both entertaining and disconcerting. The topic was neurodiversity, and they were playing with the word like it was new and needed some breaking in. One person thought it was a DEI term (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), and another thought it had something to do with ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance). These intelligent people tried to assign labels or explanations to their business environment. 


     DEI describes policies and programs that promote the representation and participation of individuals of different ages, races, ethnicities, abilities, disabilities, genders, religions, cultures, and sexual orientations. ESG is a framework for evaluating business practices and performance concerning sustainability and ethical issues. 


     Neurodiversity is a healthcare term describing a framework for understanding human brain function and mental illness. It states that diversity in human cognition is normal and that some conditions classified as mental disorders are differences, not disorders. People experience and interact with the world differently, according to how their brains develop. There is no one correct way of thinking, learning, and behaving. Neurodiversity is not a business term.

     Back to cognition and how people think differently from one another. This reality is essential to the workplace. Some people are creators, while others are builders. People react differently under pressure. We can be naturally strong in situational awareness and less intense in strategic perspective or vice versa. Our thinking patterns may differ significantly from how others process information, conclude, or make decisions. This is neurodiversity in action. 


    We offer several leadership advisory services that help employers capitalize on neurodiversity in the workforce. These services apply to hiring, team building, project management, sales and marketing, problem-solving, and any task that requires great minds to come together.   

     The range of differences in thinking and behavioral traits can benefit any employer willing to put the right people in the right places to make a difference. For more information email Jeff at jjernigan@hiddenvaluegroup.com


November 21, 2023 -  Virtual Workplace Myths


A digital workplace is not a reference to a location like an office or home. It is descriptive of the digital tools employees use in their work. These tools can be used from anywhere with a desktop or laptop connection to the internet. What makes the employee-employer discussion difficult at times is the antiquated idea that a digital workplace is an exclusive description of the modern office. Therefore, moving away from the pandemic means moving back into the office. Many employers have updated their thinking and are implementing hybrid or fully virtual office environments. Many are not moving in that direction and have concerns about doing so.


These employer concerns include the impact on employee productivity in virtual working environments. What happens when this virtual form of work is no longer needed to mitigate the impact of the pandemic? How can employees work effectively in an environment of constant interruptions? Interestingly, constant interruptions have always occurred in office environments as well. However, there are other concerns that we should be aware of regardless of office, hybrid, or remote working environment.


A recent Employee Sentiment study conducted by BCG Henderson Institute as well as the annual Gallup Employee Engagement Survey reveal that the problems of any form of virtual workplace are the same as the problems experienced in an office environment when it comes to collaboration and communication. Both are crucial to productivity. The problem is social connectivity involving work.


When US employees are satisfied with their social connectivity, productivity is three times higher than when they are not satisfied regardless of working environment. The infographic below demonstrates how a virtual work environment actually improves social connectivity and productivity compared to pre-pandemic levels. Across the board, the shift to greater satisfaction is up into the green. This shift occurred during the pandemic. So, how do we mitigate this disparity? ​​​


The first thing to evaluate is the technology and associated training the employees are provided related to communication and collaboration. The next is to evaluate obstacles to communication and collaboration including poor facilitation, linear versus iterative communication, reducing complexity of collaboration, adjusting spans of control, and minimizing the number of steps to a decision. These are just the basics. Our Leadership Advisory Services can help you improve these attributes. For more information, visit scla.services.


When the proper tools are in place and common obstacles to communication and collaboration are removed, the virtual workplace wins out over the office workspace. This seems counterintuitive but will not be true for every employer. The nature of some jobs requires a physical presence in a psychical office or workspace. Other jobs can be done using a hybrid work environment suitable to the work to be accomplished. Remote work will suffice in other instances. All forms will require guidelines which support productivity. The key is to make decisions regarding your workplace based on new realities and not assumptions arising from old paradigms.


October 5, 2023 - Hopefulness Amidst Helplessness 

Fifty-million people in the country, forty-nine percent of them living below the poverty line. Two and one-half million living in slums in the capital city of Nairobi, Kenya, representing nearly sixty percent of the city’s population. This is one of the biggest slums in the world.[i]

Seventeen of us were there to provide healthcare sponsored by Mission of Hope International. They serve more than twenty-five thousand K-12 students in their schools across thirty-three communities providing education, medical treatment, and meals.  We were also there to research the status of mental wellness resources for these children and their families as well as teach pastors, teachers, and social workers the basics of mental wellness and counseling. Uniquely for me, I wanted to explore the source of their hope. Kenyans are amongst most optimistic, welcoming, friendly people seemingly regardless of their circumstances.[ii] We split into two teams, one rural and one urban covering Turkana in the northwest of Kenya and Nairobi, the capital. 


What we observed was an undergirding expectation of improvement in their condition born out of complacent optimism. This does not mean they are complacent about life, but rather have an expectation of the future we would call hope. This, in a land where the government owns all the land, is fighting organized terrorists along its northern border; and plagued by Cholera, Malaria, Tuberculosis, and AIDS throughout the country. Kenya averages one physician per million population. Average annual household income is just over two-thousand dollars US. It would seem hope would have difficulty surviving amidst this hopelessness. 

One clue we found was their concept of traffic. It moves anywhere it wants on or off road. Regardless of lane markings: cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles and even pedestrians flood the roads and highways moving in their own peculiar direction all at the same time. There are no stop signs or stoplights, just a lot of speed bumps. Yet, everyone is polite, waving and signally to others to wait or come ahead. Everyone looks out for the pedestrian running through moving traffic to leap into the open door of a moving bus two lanes over. They watch out for each other, are polite and patient. Watching out for one another including strangers is a cultural value.

 

Empathy is a sociological value as well. This is a neurological phenomenon involving mirroring (responding to others in the manner they respond to us) which enables us to share the emotional state of others, and cognitive processing which allows us to fully understand the circumstances of others.[i] This enables compassion, or the ability to hold in your heart a bit of the pain someone else is experiencing. Empathy is a cultural value from the perspective of acknowledging we are all in this together. 

In many cultures distressing experiences during the commute hour increases our anxiety and anger, often producing road rage. How does empathy and looking out for one another help us keep our cool in such stretching life experiences? Well, the first spark of anger triggers the Amygdala which triggers the Hypothalamus which in turn sets off the Pituitary Gland and releases all sorts of stress hormones from the Adrenal Glands.[ii] Unfortunately, this also decreases the hormone Serotonin which makes you feel happy. Now we are distinctly unhappy and more focused on our own situation. 

In a very social culture, our sense of “me” is defined by our sense of “we.” If “we” are all in the same situation, be it a commute home on a crowded highway or all of us living together in a slum, we can empathize. We can share some of your pain in our hearts and be hopeful all of us together are headed for better things. A popular Kenyan quote is “Only the disciplined ones in life are free. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods and your passions. Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven't done a thing.”[iii] This reflects the discipline, stoicism, and patience looking forward as a group, as “us.” “Hakuna Matata” from the movie Lion King is Swahili spoken throughout East Africa including Kenya which translates to “No trouble,” or “No worries.” “Harambee,” the official motto of Kenya means “all pull together.”

Taking the long view of circumstances in the sense of all pulling together is a cultural value that allows people to have hope for the future despite the situational helplessness they may find themselves in now. This is especially hard in cultures where it can be more about me than about us most of the time. This humility is amplified by religion in Kenya. Eighty five percent of the population is Christian and are fanatical about attending church together. It is a social event not to be missed. It is where the songs of all pulling together toward a more hopeful future find a voice and attention is effectively drawn to community projects.

This is where looking out for others, empathy, all pulling together with expectant hope intersects with contentment. Contentment is both an emotion and a choice. It is both biological and psychological. It is a neurological response to stimuli in the Limbic region of our brain which we experience as one of our most fundamental emotions, and at the same time a volitional choice we make to be content, or not, despite circumstances.[iv] We can have hopefulness amidst helplessness when we can envision together a future and a hope.[v]   
Dr. Jeff 
 
[i] Jankowiak-Siuda, K., Rymarczk, K., How we emphasize with others: a neurobiological perspective: Med Sci Monit, 2011; 17(1): RA18-24, 2011
[ii] How Anger Affects Your Brain and Body: The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM), 2011
[iii] https://www.brainyquote.com/nationality/quotes-by-kenyan-authors
[iv] Jernigan, J., Contentment, Contentment Magazine: American Institute of Stress Fall 2021
[v] Jeremiah 29.11: English Standard Bible

[i] https://www.kibera.org.uk/facts-info
[ii] Barsby, J., Kenya: The essential guide to customs and culture: Kuperard 2007

 

September 3, 2023 - Keeping Up With Changing Work Environments

The implied social contract between employer and employee is changing. This is not a new idea, simply a reality that has been accelerated by the advent of COVID, which is still making the rounds in the workplace. At first it seemed that in-person return to the workplace, a continuation of virtual work, and hybrid versions would be the only major changes in the workforce employers faced. However, that is just the beginning of change.

Employees are looking for more work environment changes than just how, where, and when to work. At issue is the degree of stability and control the employee has over the work performed and the environment in which it is accomplished. What they work on and who they work with has traditionally been dictated by the employer. Now, employees want to negotiate those things to some degree. More specifically, employees are looking for respect, teamwork, and training to be part of the employer’s equation for success. 

In order to deliver on these expectations, employers are evaluating some traditional measures of productivity including spans of control, constraints to timely decision making, and how to eliminate turnover. The intent is to improve productivity by focusing on the people who do the work.  

Ideal spans of control vary by industry and are useful in determining when too large a span of control for a manager or supervisor becomes a constraint to productivity. Timely decisions can be degraded simply by the number of decision makers getting involved. Eliminating turnover is often seen as a means of insulating the employer from lost time due to orientation and training for needed skill sets. 

Here are some fast facts about these key indicators: 

There is a tried and true formula for determining ideal span of control for any manager or supervisor for any kind of work.  Appropriate spans of control result in more fluid workflow.
When it comes to approvals, there should be no more than three degrees of separation between a request and a decision unless you want a timely response only fifty-percent of the time. 
For every industry, there is a minimum amount of turnover you cannot drive lower without exponential increase in cost. Keeping turnover just below this breakpoint maximizes productivity. 

The role of middle management is changing away from a top-down hierarchy toward a more relational work environment for employees, partners, and customers. This is where negotiation regarding the work environment is emerging.  

These are just a few of the human capital measurements involved in maximizing performance in the workplace. Our leadership Advisory Services professionals can help you assess what may need to change in the alignment of workforce culture with workplace strategy. 

Dr. Jeff 

 

August 10, 2022 -  Why All the Fuss about Self-Care? 

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12: 2&3

The other day I was having a conversation with a healthcare provider who works hard and long hours. She was sharing with me that over the weekend she didn’t have time for fun, exercise, or much rest because she had to get more work done before her work week starts again so it doesn’t overwhelm her.  

She was complaining her boss had taken too many weeks off this summer. Most likely the doctor who she was referring to was taking a much-needed break and vacation so she can be a better doctor to her patients when she returns. 

The author of Hebrews uses two important concepts in this scripture; to grow weary and to lose heart. The word weary refers to our physical body and to lose heart refers to giving up in our mind. Holding tightly to Jesus while giving attention to our physical, emotional, and mental stability is critical to our health. 

Self-care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health; an active role in protecting your well-being and happiness in particular during periods of stress.” (Oxford English Dictionary)  Self- care is a multi-faceted process of purposeful engagement in strategies that promote healthy functioning and enhance well-being. (Patricia Rupert & Katherine Dorociak )  The bottom line is self-care is vital for our spiritual well-being, building resilience, shedding stress and being able to handle the daily stresses in life.  We need to be equipped to handle stress and protect against burnout.  

The goal of self-care is to develop strength, resilience, and reduce the effects of anxiety, and stress on our minds and bodies. Living a fulfilling life with purpose and loving relationships reduces stress.  

Consider developing a 5 Step Self-Care Plan.  Put together a personal plan that helps you build resilience and guard again burnout. Here are some elements to consider in your 5-step self-care plan. 

5 Steps to Self-Care Plan -  Each area can have an element of creativity.

Physical – Move, sleep 8 hours, eat nutritious meals, and develop an exercise plan. Understand the importance of moving and shedding stress. Work out with a friend or walk with someone regularly. 
Social – Enjoy relationships that bring you joy, challenge you, make you laugh and intentionally develop your overall health. Stay connected; don’t put it off.  Stay after church to talk and meet new friends. Start a new hobby with someone. 
Mental – Learn, expand your abilities at work, develop positive mental thoughts, stop negative thoughts as soon as possible, set goals, enjoy learning something new, and study scripture more in depth.
Spiritual – Reflect, journal, read scripture daily, to increase peace and give you hope. This can be creative as well. Nurturing your spirit develops a calm spirit. When we focus on our Christian beliefs, we strengthen our resilience. 
Emotional - Do something calming; enjoy worship music. Nourishing situations promotes health, increases energy, lifts your mood, and fosters contentment. Draw out your thoughts in your journal by including scripture, flowers, or hearts. 

Assess your current self-care level, develop your own self care plan, monitor your progress, practice, and have a friend or peer coach to discuss challenges and road blocks.  Be honest.


Who do you know is over stressed who you can share this information?  

What shifts in your routines need to take place? 
Cheering you on!!  
Nancy

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”        Matthew 28:-30 (The Message-MSG)


 

June 22, 2023

Assessing and Improving Productivity

Productivity in any industry is sensitive to changes in their marketplace. New technology, competition, cost of doing business, new processes, financing, regulatory compliance, and virtually anything that interrupts work flow and therefore the outputs from that work. What used to be a fine-tuned effective effort suddenly becomes restricted, stalled, or shut down due to obstacles that have risen to the level of actually constraining results previously experienced as easy, timely, and correct. 

Constraint is the operative word here. What if you could remove the constraint by exploiting or getting rid of it? The science of doing this is called the Theory of Constraints (TOC) and has been improving and increasing productivity worldwide for more than seventy years. 

Every process has a constraint (bottleneck, obstacle, limit) that can be eliminated using a methodology for identifying the most important limiting factor and improving it until it is no longer the limiting factor. Complex processes have multiple linked activities. One of these activities ultimately limits the entire system.  This is true in manufacturing, marketing, sales, education, human resources, finance, research, healthcare, aerospace and anything which depends upon systems. Even decision making practices can have constraints that are unnecessary.

Three keys to the effectiveness of TOC are five important focusing steps used to identify the constraint, a set of tools for analyzing and removing problems, and a method of measuring performance and guiding management decisions. Once a constraint is removed another constraint can appear that needs to be maximized. The size of the challenge is not an issue. This is true for both micro project management and macro organizational change. The goal of TOC is to iteratively address all of the constraints until there are no more limitations to improved productivity.

Systems which once ran well must inevitably be updated to meet today’s pressing requirements for answers, solutions, and improvement. Restrictions, limitations, and even personal constraints tend to be static and will be challenged by the constant evolution of the changing world around us.

Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt conceived the Theory of Constraints (TOC), and introduced it to a wide audience through his bestselling 1984 novel, “The Goal.” Since then, TOC has continued to evolve and develop, and today it is a significant factor within the world of management best practices. If you would like to know more about the Theory of Constraints and how it can be applied to improving productivity in your workplace, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Dr. Jeff 

 

April 4, 2023 - Nutrition and Brain Health 

Our brain is the organ that controls everything in our body. The neurotransmitters facilitating communication between the various structures of our brain, the myelin insulating neural pathways, the daily replacement of brain cells and neural pathways are all formed out of the food we eat, the sleep we get, and the exercise we engage in. Our biology affects how our body functions as well as our mind and how we think. If our brain isn’t healthy, it is likely our thinking will not be healthy either.

The key to brain health is nutrition: 28% of the energy our body needs each day is used by the brain. In fact, thirty-eight of the forty-five nutrients our body needs are used exclusively by the brain. Nine of the amino acids needed for brain health are only found in our food and not manufactured in our body. This why nutrition is so important! 

Fast foods, over the counter fountain drinks in excess, non Omega-3 fats, not enough vegetables, too much protein, and plain old junk food will slow down our thinking, add to foggy-headedness, bring on depression and anxiety easier, and interfere with good decision making. What we eat affects our biology and also affects our cognition, our ability to think clearly. 

This may not seem like a big deal. You may think you are getting along well enough in life. A litmus test regarding whether or not this is true is our relationships and our work. A healthy brain is a social brain. We need meaningful relationships in our life as well as a positive sense of purpose in our work. Our brain actually replaces and repairs brain cells and neural pathways in response to experiences we have in our relationships and our work. The general term for this is plasticity: the ability of the nervous system to change its activity in response to intrinsic or extrinsic stimuli by reorganizing its structure, functions, or connections.

If our relationships are suffering and our attitudes toward work are going downhill fast it may be because your brain is starved for energy and all the things missing in your diet. These usually are the first signs of trouble and an incentive to review your eating habits. Are you getting regular meals? Are you eating healthy, or just grabbing what you can and fill-up in between with comfort food and drink? Foggy headed? Low mood? Easily frustrated?

A foundational key to experiencing wholeness in life, or a restoration to wholeness in life is our nutrition. A healthy brain leads to a healthy mind. Next time we will unpack exercise and its impact on wholeness in life.
~ Jeff Jernigan, PhD

 

February 1, 2023 -  Wholeness in Life


Wholeness is a quality and not a state. Fruit of an ongoing process, wholeness in life comes out of continuous movement toward holistic health physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Wholeness does not mean we are unbroken, undamaged, or complete in any way.  It is the result of sustaining a healthy body, mind, and spirit including thinking, feeling, and acting in ways that create healthy physical, social, and spiritual well-being.

The enemy of wholeness is stress when it erodes resilience and produces burnout. Burnout is primarily psychological in its impact, resulting in complete emotional and physical collapse. It is a moral injury resulting from the persistent transgression of deeply held values. Moral injury was first associated with the moral injuries of war producing post-traumatic stress injury we now call PTSD. Today we understand stress disorders including PTSD to have a much broader spectrum than trauma-related injury. Stress is primarily physiological in impact and may lead to physical collapse with psychological components, but does not constitute a moral injury. 


So, how do we create and sustain resilience that promotes wholeness in life and equips us to handle stress while still not being unbroken or undamaged? What is the perfect solution for imperfect people?

Nutrition, exercise, sleep, meaningful relationships, and purposeful work are the keys to creating and sustaining resilience. Each has a significant impact biologically and neurologically on the status of our wholeness in life. All are required, you cannot leave anything out. We will explore the surprising secrets to wholeness in each of these factors in a series of following blogs.

 

Check out next month for the next blog in this series. 
Jeff Jernigan, PhD

October 17, 2022 - Leadership and Moral Distress - 

     Moral distress is a psychological phenomenon quite different from ethical dilemmas or emotional distress. Moral distress occurs in a work environment when one knows the right thing to do, but institutional constraints make it nearly impossible to pursue the right course of action. This can occur in any industry where leadership decisions, or indecision, are constrained by institutional requirements or overruled by more senior leaders.  This can lead to actual moral injury.  

 

A moral injury can occur in response to acting or witnessing behaviors that go against an individual's values and moral beliefs which erode self-esteem and confidence, breaking down long and strongly held beliefs about themselves and the world they live in. The result is disillusionment, despair, and eventual physiological and psychological burnout. It is like an iceberg which can sink anyone’s boat and is not getting much attention.

Sources of moral distress and injury can vary widely. For example, care providers taking care of children or aging adults in their homes or institutions can develop compassion fatigue because of unending pressure to be engaged in caregiving without appropriate relief.  We feel responsible, committed, and guilty or ashamed when it gets hard enough to quit.  Our personal values and inability to hold up under pressure physically and emotionally are in constant conflict and we burnout.  Or requirements to return to the office conflict with realities of living with a pandemic and your employer doesn’t provide remote working options. Or corners are cut, safety is ignored, and quality control is no longer enforced on the production line to the point you know if you speak up you will be out of a job.

     More practically, supervisors, managers, and senior leaders are confronted with a need to change how things get done while at the same time there is pressure to provide more mental wellness resources to the workforce. There is only so much money in the budget, probably not enough to consider wholesale changes in the workplace or for the workforce. Even though the need is recognized. Moral distress can lead to moral injury.


     Most employers are unaware that employees can bring legal action against an employer for burnout and other stress-induced disorders based upon the employer’s responsibility to prevent work-related hazards.  Mental wellness is not going away as a workplace issue, putting focus on prevention. How are you managing your stress these days? Have you noticed a lessoning of your ability to bounce back following tough times, or a negative shift in your perspective?  Is motivation sagging and your outlook shaded by frustration and disappointment, surprising yourself with uncharacteristic attitudes or behaviors? Are you a candidate for burnout? Mental wellness in the workload is an issue you can do something about. Consider being an advocate for mental wellness planning in your workplace.

Dr. Jeff

1 Epstein, E. Delgado, S., Understanding and Addressing Moral Distress: Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 15(3), 2010. McCarthy, J., Montverde, S., The Standard Account of moral Distress and Why We Should Keep It: HEC Forum 30(4), 2018
2 Hertelendy, A., Gutberg, J., et al, Mitigating MoralDistress in Leaders of Healthcare Organizations: A Scoping Review: Journal of Healthcare Management, American College of Healthcare Executives Journal, 67(5), October 2022

 

March 2, 2022 - Mental Health Comes Out of the Shadows 

 

COVID-19 is transforming behavioral healthcare.  More and more employers are openly championing mental health resources in the workplace.  Increasing interest in behavioral care is tied to growing trends.  Suicide rates have increased 33%. Depression continues to contribute greatly to the overall global burden of disease.  Life expectancy in this country has decreased in relationship to suicide and the opioid epidemic. A growing focus on treating all needs, coordinating treatment, and providing innovative treatment is an emerging response.


    Examples of this intentional focus on mental health include the Hoag Hospital network in southern California which has gone after this with state-of-the-art emergency services and a holistic array of mental heath services in their expanded Hoag Mental Health Center.  Broader efforts are illustrated by the work the  OC Be Well Coalition is doing in Orange County, California.  The Coalition has brought a large number of public and private mental health stakeholders together to build three first-of-a-kind mental health facilities in the county.  This collaboration is unprecedented, bringing together state, county, and municipal governance, area hospitals, public insurance programs, CalOptima, and the faith-based community. 

    Mental healthcare and addiction treatment is envisioned as holistically integrated into all aspects of care.  More pediatric resources will be provided to address the under-met needs of children as well as the increasing rate of suicide in ages 15-24, the second leading cause of death among Americans.  The difficulty of access to mental health resources due to stigma experienced by children, adults, and senior citizens is being addressed.  Studies are underway to improve use of medications through evidence-based medicine.  Patient trials are underway to discover through analysis of brain activity how to better match patients to the medication they need.  

    The goal of these efforts is to improve access, integrate resources for more and better care, eliminate guesswork, and increase cost-effectiveness of care when it comes to treating mental illness.  Eliminating stigma is necessary for success in each of these domains.  I have worked in this arena in this country and on three continents and can say with surety: stigma is a universal impediment to gaining access to and benefiting from good mental healthcare.  

    Not so long ago we used to speak about medical illness publicly only in whispers.  Advances in medicine have taken us a long way since then to where there is not only a private dialogue about illness, but a very public one as well.  But mental health is still something very much “in the closet” that needs to find fresh air.  With mental health now a workplace concern, we can hopefully expect more open conversation and less stigma will follow.  We have made progress, yet there is still much to do.

​Dr. Jeff 

 

November 2021 - Advances in Leadership 


Last week I attended a CEO Forum in Colorado.  This was a private engagement involving well known leaders from across the country representing a number of industries including healthcare.  What made this gathering unique was the topic: how is the pandemic changing our understanding of leadership?  The backdrop to this inquiry is the continuing wrestling between employees and employers regarding returning to work; full return, remaining virtual, or hybrid environments with some sharp division of opinions between the workforce and leadership. 

Major global disasters have always had a permanent influence on life and work in terms of how we travel, how we guard our health, how we work and how we socialize.  Bubonic Plague, Spanish Flu, Ebola are just a few examples stretched across the centuries.  Now it is COVID.  The impetus for social and cultural change comes not so much from the disaster, but how we respond to the disaster.  Here is an example.

In the five years preceding the pandemic just over 100 air travelers were band for life on certain carriers due to acting out in a manner jeopardizing passenger safety and aircraft operations.  In just over eighteen months through the pandemic this number has risen to over 5,000.  Worn down beyond reasonable measure, travelers with little resilience left and no margin of self-control at all act out in predictable manner.  It is a personal crisis characterized by thinking that goes from reasonable, logical and abstract to concrete, illogical, and unfocused in the blink of an eye.  So, what does this have to do with the workplace?


The effects of the pandemic will be with us for many years.  No country will be entirely open until the world is open.  Just as, in a global economy, no business will be entirely unaffected until all business is unaffected, so-to-speak.  Here are some quotes from our time together and their implications for the workplace.

“If you project the past into the future you will always live in fear.”  An expression of this axiom is seen in the demands employees are making regarding an employer’s presumed responsibility to guard their physical and psychological safety in the workplace.  This is central to the argument over returning to work which will not be resolved by token interventions.  The culture of work is changing underneath our desks all across the world.

“As culture shifts for each generation, there is a constant dismantling of some things and creation of new things.”  Disasters accelerate this process.  After all, culture is an expression of how we address the constantly changing realities of our lives.  My children and grandchildren grew up in a world very different from mine, and their social paradigms illustrate this culture shift.  Nothing stays the same, leading to the question regarding leadership: how will it be changing and what will be normal expectations of our leaders moving forward?

There is a growing focus on emotional intelligence for leaders as a job requirement.  Flexible, adroit, relational leaders who are just as focused on people as they are strategy, goals, and the numbers.  We don’t need more people trying to sell us a product or process to remedy this need.  We need people who will come forward with solutions.  That is what we do.  We provide people with solutions.

Dr. Jeff

 

September 2021 - Con * tent * ment - a state of happiness and satisfaction


*This is an excerpted from Jeff's article in Contentment Magazine.

By Jeff Jernigan, PhD

Interesting that the definition carries with it the sense of a claim, something to be paid, as if contentment were owed to us. It certainly is something sought after, and once found, difficult to hold on to! Disconcerting circumstances, disappointed expectations, and frustrated desires all seem to somehow steal our joy at the most inopportune times, evaporating contentment like mist in the dry heat of the desert. Is it us, or the capricious nature of life in this world that seems to conspire against our claim upon happiness and satisfaction? Actually, it is us.

Contentment is both an emotion and a choice. It is both biological and psychological. It is a neurological response to stimuli in the limbic region of our brain which we experience as one of our most fundamental emotions,2 and at the same time, a volitional choice we make to be content, or not, in spite of circumstances.3 This is more than a little confusing for me since I grew up learning from experience that happiness and satisfaction, and therefore contentment, were a result, not a choice. Boy was I wrong! It is actually the other way around; psychologically contentment is also a choice and not a result. Here is why this is true.​

 

Emotions, in the sense of mental health, are not just tied to our psychology, but to our biology as well.  It is a two-way street with body impacting mind and mind impacting body. This is why experts tell us a healthy brain means healthy body and mind. At the same time, we can make decisions that enable us to regulate our emotions. Take anger, for example. It is one of the strongest fundamental emotions we can experience. Yet anger is also a feeling we can choose to manage. There is a well-developed professional specialty, Anger Management, built around this concept of exercising volitional choice in order to manage our anger.  In fact, we can manage all of our emotions in a manner that does not allow them to manage us.

 

Continue the article click below:

https://www.stress.org/contentment-magazine-summer-2021-2

 

July 2021 ~ Moving Forward When What May Be Wrong is a Mystery 

 

​Jeff attended a global summit conference recently when the US Department of Commerce projected that "globalization will continue to disrupt economies around the world for the next seven years and perhaps longer due to COVID-19.1".  “No country will be out of the woods until the world is out of the woods.” (Vyas, N - The Impact of COVID-19).

 

Jeff writes, "For employers right down to employees, this means living with uncertainty, varying degrees of health risk, and prolonged stress that will still be with us for some time."  Yes, in order to help employers and employees we need to understand the effects of stress on us, our society and much more.  

 

Jeff wrote an article for The American Institute of Stress (AIS) - click on the below link to read the full article and hear more about what he says about dealing with stress today and even how some of our psychological challenges can become medical conditions through somatization.  What can we rule out and what must not be ruled out. 

 

Helpful Answers: Article by Jeff Jernigan, PhD

https://www.stress.org/contentment-magazine-summer-2021-2

 

~ Nancy

 

April 5, 2021 - Check out Nancy's Leadership Blog 

On Leadership Development, Being Taught By God and A Spiritual Crux - with special guest Lauren Franco. 

 

at:  www.Nancyjernigan.com

 

March 23, 2021 - Emotional Intelligence 

 

Emotional intelligence, also called simply “EQ,” is something everyone has to different degrees.  Some come by it more naturally than others, but anyone can learn to act and speak with EQ.  In a time when everyone is stressed and many are concerned about keeping their jobs, their homes, and their health we need to choose emotional regulation over acting out.  

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Our natural behaviors in leadership, communication, problem solving, and style under duress reflect our emotional intelligence. 

Emotional intelligence is crucial to working relationships that depend upon collaboration, team work, and good interpersonal communication. It is a function of learned behavior and can be taught and practiced in order to facilitate organizational change coming out of a crisis like we are experiencing.  Emotional intelligence is a necessary leadership quality and if someone minimizes the important of EI they may be  making their role more about themselves and not about others or the organization.

Think about it: self-awareness, self-regulation, the ability to motivate others positively, empathy, and social skills all enhance one’s leadership effectiveness.  These also happen to be the basic ingredients of high EQ, of leaders who help us do more than survive, but thrive in adversity.  
Dr. Jeff

 

March 15, 2021 - Empathy 

 

Empathy is the ability to imagine the feelings of others.  Empathy helps us understand others and at the same time helps others experience being listened to, understood, and taken seriously.  Some believe empathy is a soft skill that has only marginal value in the workplace.  This is not true.  Empathy is hard skill excellent leaders have mastered.  

Empathy is a key component of emotional intelligence, another crucial leadership capacity we will visit in the next blog.  Empathy enables us to connect with others, and they with us, and is foundational in all good relationships in work and life.  Empathy enables us to read body  language, intuit someone else’s disposition, be above average in resolving conflicts, and stand by our values without giving offense.

Just talking to each other in person, over the phone, and in meetings that minimize the use of technology when those conversations are possible cultivates empathy.  Out of these personal connections grows respect, openness, listening conversations, and understanding of other people’s perspectives.  Personal bias we may be unaware of diminishes in the face of empathy in a way no use of communications technology can accomplish.


In these days of social distancing, masks, and very limited personal contact we need to go the extra mile and spend the time necessary when we connect virtually to take a few minutes to connect personally.  Call it a coffee chat, the prelude to the meeting where we have a few minutes to catch up with one another.  

Dr. Jeff

     P.S.  Please check out Jeff's new book by clicking on "Return to Work" - A Leader's Guide to Avoiding Mental Health Crisis. (To the right of this Blog)

 

February 15, 2021 - Lessons Learned 

 

Well, it certainly has been months since we posted a blog!  This time last year I was racing out of Eastern Europe just ahead of travel lockdowns due to the pandemic.  As healthcare professionals, Nancy and I were quickly caught up in the whirlwind of COVID-19!  In the next four blogs you will find important lessons learned during this time that will sustain you through the weeks and months ahead as we pull out of this terrible time shared together.

As time drew long and expectations for a quick resolution ebbed away, we all settled in to a sort of involuntary confinement committed to doing our part to win through difficult times.  We also began to experience the effects of prolonged stress and uncertainty.  Prolonged stress over time is actually a form of trauma that, give enough time, can have the same impact as a car accident, or the loss of a loved one, or some other traumatic event.  

What is needed during these times is someone to process your experience with that is a trustworthy, non-judgmental friend who will listen well without a critical spirit.  This is actually a form of therapy, letting people express themselves in ways that takes what may be hidden and brings it into the open where it can be acknowledged and dealt with.  

If you are the listener in this formula, you need to be flexible and be available for unhurried conversations with people who may reach out to you.  Empathy is an antidote in these situations.  Empathy in conversations is what deescalates and detoxifies stress.
Dr. Jeff

 

October 23, 2020  -  A Leader's Guide to Avoiding the Mental Health Crisis ~ 

 

In observation of Mental Health Month we are offering a new resource from Rex Miller and Jeff Jernigan.  We hope you will find this manual helpful, transformational and inspiring. 

Click on the book on the RIGHT for more information and purchase. 

 

September 22, 2020  - Leadership Legacy in the Workplace ~ 

 

     Building strong leadership qualities in your executive team takes intentionality, time and a deep conviction. I have talked to many CEO and C-Suite leaders who say they want to develop a strong leadership development process yet the urgency of the moment and board financial pressures seem to take precedence. Developing a process in your organization in order to multiply strong leaders is no easy task. Leadership development processes and departments have risen in importance and visibility the last 10 years.

 

     As CEO’s and senior leaders I am sure you have put much thought into how you plan to build your leadership team. If you are a big NFL fan you may be familiar with the term used in football called “the coaching tree”.  If you are not a huge fan, let me briefly describe the concept of having a “coaching tree”. Some NFL coaches are known for developing and multiplying other effective coaches, thus developing an impressive coaching tree legacy.  Coaches who have a so called “coaching tree” are known for how they have influenced other successful coaches. In other words, their legacy extends farther than the teams they have lead. Have you thought about your need to develop a “corporate coaching tree”? Some leading owners of organizations have already done this by multiplying other great corporate leaders. Entrepreneurial CEO’s and leaders in particular are posed to multiply these type of leaders.

 

     The pressure of leading a corporate team in today’s pandemic culture may not afford you the luxury of a lot of extra time, yet the most effective leaders are indeed taking their high-priced time to strategically develop leaders in their C-suite that will some day be considered a part of their “coaching tree”.

 

     CEO’s who take the time needed to multiply leaders by training their next line of authority usually concentrate on a handful of reproducible skills and abilities. These skills include, inspiring strong character, sharing knowledge, igniting innovative thinking, providing tools and resources for excellence, integrating corporate values and encouraging personal and professional growth.

 

     As you intentionally take the time to build your leadership team you may also see that your line of authority follows suit and equips their teams with these same abilities. This coaching concept of equipping leaders to lead others is not something all business leaders grasp or have the innate ability to reproduce. It takes concentrative effort.

 

     Just like well-worn lighthouses’ have saved and navigated many ships, it would be a profound legacy if you were to multiply leaders who save companies, navigate leaders and equip others to build strong and successful companies. Building, training and developing top leaders whether in person or virtually will bring significant added value to your business and will pay off in the long run. So think about playing the long game and develop your executive team in ways that reproduce other strong leaders in your organization. It is imperative to put into place a strong leadership development process now that includes developing the leaders in your coaching tree. Just like the leading NFL coaches, wouldn’t it be quite a world class legacy if you were to reproduce leaders in this way.

 

Who is in your Corporate Coaching Tree?

 

Dr. Nancy​

July 27, 2020 -  Leadership Can be Lonely, Part 2


    Here are four contemporary causes for feeling lonely, isolated, or shut out as a leader:

 

1) Instead of using performance objectives as tools for progress, they are used to criticize performance or, worse, as weapons. 

 

2) The leadership team environment provides insufficient psychological safety to support team effectiveness, innovation, or collaboration. 

 

3) A lack of understanding multi-cultural barriers to communication and collaboration (when 20% of the executive workforce, and growing, is foreign-born). 

 

4) When gender or racial bias sneaks into your thinking in a manner that excludes others and robs them of equitable treatment.  These are the obstacles the new generation of leaders face today.  This also contributes to deteriorating health for those who find themselves constantly in a largely punitive environment that hides behind smiles and complements.  

    Leadership can lonely, but it doesn’t have to be.  Live and work with authenticity that enables others around you to experience respect and dignity, acceptance of who they are, and your willingness to make sure they are included.  Your leadership will break down barriers and build trust. 

 

They will experience less isolation, and you will experience less loneliness at the top.
Dr. Jeff

 

June 30, 2020 - Leadership Can be Lonely, Part 1 
    The expression, “It can be lonely at the top” comes out of a social paradigm from a more traditional generation.  The risks of leadership in my father’s generation sometimes encouraged choosing your words and actions based upon how you wanted others to react rather than being based upon what you really think.  In my own generation the risks of leadership often gave rise to a choice to be made, depending on the situation, which was more important: helping the team or advancing your career?  These things still happen, but not as a culturally acceptable style of leadership.  

    If you do experience loneliness often in your role as a leader, keep this in mind: each generation develops a social paradigm all its own.  This is a result of  two dynamics.  First, they grow up responding to the previous generation’s social paradigm, determining what works for them and what doesn’t.  Social change produces this struggle quite naturally.  There are things in their new world the previous generation was not faced with in the same way that the present generation will need to navigate differently.  Second, they are faced with challenges that are altogether different from previous generations.  Each generation goes through this cycle of adaptation and invention.

    Take the time to reach across social boundaries in the workplace.  Those who come before and those who come after you share in common this shaping of their own generation.  Don’t get locked into chromo-centric thinking where you view the social paradigm of your generation as the best of all times.  Embrace change and differences.  You will find your self engaged with far more people across all ages, and not so much likely any more.
Dr. Jeff

 

May 27, 2020 - Mental Health Comes Out of the Shadows - Jeff Jernigan, PhD

​​

     COVID-19 is transforming behavioral healthcare.  More and more employers are openly championing mental health resources in the workplace.  Increasing interest in behavioral care is tied to growing trends.  Suicide rates have increased 33%. Depression continues to contribute greatly to the overall global burden of disease.  Life expectancy in this country has decreased in relationship to suicide and the opioid epidemic. A growing focus on treating all needs, coordinating treatment, and providing innovative treatment is an emerging response.

     Examples of this intentional focus on mental health include the Hoag Hospital network in southern California which has gone after this with state-of-the-art emergency services and a holistic array of mental heath services in their expanded Hoag Mental Health Center.  Broader efforts are illustrated by the work the  OC Be Well Coalition is doing in Orange County, California.  The Coalition has brought a large number of public and private mental health stakeholders together to build three first-of-a-kind mental health facilities in the county.  This collaboration is unprecedented, bringing together state, county, and municipal governance, area hospitals, public insurance programs, CalOptima, and the faith-based community. 

     Mental healthcare and addiction treatment is envisioned as holistically integrated into all aspects of care.  More pediatric resources will be provided to address the under-met needs of children as well as the increasing rate of suicide in ages 15-24, the second leading cause of death among Americans.  The difficulty of access to mental health resources due to stigma experienced by children, adults, and senior citizens is being addressed.  Studies are underway to improve use of medications through evidence-based medicine.  Patient trials are underway to discover through analysis of brain activity how to better match patients to the medication they need. 

 

     The goal of these efforts is to improve access, integrate resources for more and better care, eliminate guesswork, and increase cost-effectiveness of care when it comes to treating mental illness.  Eliminating stigma is necessary for success in each of these domains.  I have worked in this arena in this country and on three continents and can say with surety: stigma is a universal impediment to gaining access to and benefiting from good mental healthcare.  

 

     Not so long ago we used to speak about medical illness publicly only in whispers.  Advances in medicine have taken us a long way since then to where there is not only a private dialogue about illness, but a very public one as well.  But mental health is still something very much “in the closet” that needs to find fresh air.  With mental health now a workplace concern, we can hopefully expect more open conversation and less stigma will follow.  We have made progress, yet there is still much to do.

Dr. Jeff 

 

May 19, 2020 - Why Taking Care of Your Employees is Essential to Company Success
By: John Boyens & Nancy Jernigan, PhD


     The pressure of leading a team in the workplace may seem challenging. Yet a critical part of leadership is caring for people as well as accomplishing the needed business goals. In fact, the best leaders are those who put the needs of their people as a priority. You may feel the most pressure to meet your goals at work, but in order to promote a healthy work environment and accomplish the needed goals, it is imperative to be aware of the physical and emotional needs of your employees.

Research shows employees will balance three organizational themes — the three “Rs” — in their decision to remain with a particular company:

Rewards: Salary, commission, benefits, incentives, continuing education, vacation time, retirement plans, etc.
Respect: How they’re treated, work environment, personal and professional growth opportunities, recognition, etc.
Requirements: Clearly defined job duties, realistic goals and expectations, dress code, etc.

Regularly addressing the three “Rs” create a healthy culture where employees can thrive. Studies on workplace effectiveness show that the healthier each individual is on the team, the more productive they will be in accomplishing their work. A healthy, productive team will actually accomplish more.

If you are looking for ways to improve the culture of your business, follow these guidelines:

Get to know your employees as people before getting to know them as employees. That knowledge will help you know how to get the absolute best out of each of them while at the same time recognizing and rewarding their individuality.
Inspire a positive and upbeat culture at work. Be aware of well-being resources and make it a priority to communicate effectively about the services that will enhance the resilience of your team. Train employees to notice their own levels of stress and how to take note of stress in others.


Provide a safe environment to maximize communication and collaboration among the workplace relationships. A psychologically safe environment is a shared belief that a team is safe for interpersonal risk taking. It can be defined as "being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career."2
Create a positive workspace. Clean facilities, comfortable furniture, ample workspace, proper equipment, collaborative break rooms/kitchens, and ample parking.


Ensure a high level of employee involvement. Give employees responsibility for helping to direct a change in culture.
Identify possible resistance in advance and develop strategies to overcome it. People react to change in different ways. Some embrace it while others need to be brought along kicking and screaming.
Celebrate success. Make sure that you recognize and celebrate successes (no matter how small) along the way.

~ Nancy