In 1957 when the USA was convinced to have the supremacy in science and technology, the Soviet Union launched the first earth-orbiting satellite, the Sputnik 1, that was followed by a second earth-orbiting satellite, the Sputnik 2, with a living being on board: Laika, a dog.
It was a moment of profound crisis for America. The Americans realised they were a step back in science and technology. For a culture that reckons results and achievement as primary values, this situation induced the perception of insecurity and fear. Was the Soviet Union superior? Was their social model, their school system, their ability to achieve goals simply better than the American’s ones?
Then, something unexpected happened. Instead of playing the blaming game, the Americans reacted promptly. It was mainly a psychological reaction, but the consequences were tangible. As a result of the space race between the USA and the Soviet Union, NASA was created in 1958 merging NACA and other related organisations. The agency DARPA was established to develop new technologies such as ARPAnet (the first Internet network) and the first browsing system. Innovations and programs were introduced in schools and into social institutions. This reaction is known as ‘Sputnik Moment’.
Some years after the ‘‘Sputnik moment’, Martin Seligman (University of Pennsylvania) started to research on Learned helplessness which led, in 1990, to the first publications of “Learning Optimism”, a study on the psychological attitude, resilience, that could be determinant for life, especially in moments of crisis.
Building upon this perspective, Positive Psychology is mainly focused on the enabling factors and strengths which make people particularly solid to resist adversities of life (resilience) rather than focusing on the pathological factors and weaknesses of the human being.
Some decades after, a new era of cognitive-behavioural science rose: the third generation. One of the leading exponents of this era, S. Hayes (professor at the Department of Psychology, University of Nevada) systematized decades of research in the behavioural and cognitive environment and promoted the ACT methodology (Acceptance and Commitment Training).
Developed within a coherent theoretical and philosophical framework, the ACT is an empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness, together with commitment and behaviour change, to increase a human construct called Psychological Flexibility.
Psychological Flexibility is composed of six fundamental processes that are represented on each corner of a hexagon-shaped graph termed Exaflex. The ACT application has been scientifically relevant for 20 years and has been extended to the organisations.
Deriving from these theories, our model integrates the resilence of the Positive Psychology and the psychological flexibility of the ACT in an innovative and effective training approach.
In fact, resilience and flexibility are skills that can be taught to improve leadership, efficient communication, creativity, assertiveness, negotiation, and other psychological and sociological abilities.
Furthermore, by combining psychological skills and technical skills (i.e. project management, time management, change management, etc.) our training and coach can be considered as one of the best evidence-based empowering tools for managers and professionals.