plishment at work might not have a lasting im pact on ones sense of self

Plishment at work might not have a lasting im pact on

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plishment at work might not have a lasting im- pact on one’s sense of self. External factors, es- pecially the timing of the jolt, might also interfere with RBS revision. For example, a per- son who is not psychologically ready for a change can ignore the jolt, dismiss it as irrele- vant, or deny its validity (Ibarra, 2003). Also, a person may not have the space or a “window of opportunity” for a revision to the RBS. As Ibarra suggests: Reinvention . . . requires a stepping back to ob- tain a new way of seeing what is. The full emo- tional and cognitive complexity of the change process can only be digested with moments of detachment and time for reflective observation. In the same way, time away from the everyday grind creates the “break frame” that allows peo- ple to transition (2003: 148). If a person is overloaded (cognitively, emotion- ally, or physically), it will be difficult for him or her to transcend the current situation to create the space for a RBS revision. Furthermore, a person’s life stage may also influence the extent to which he or she responds to a jolt. Research on adult development sug- gests that at certain points in life, like midlife (Levinson, 1985), individuals are highly recep- tive to major changes, whereas at other periods of life, individuals meet even small changes with resistance. For these reasons, many exter- nal triggers fail to propel a person to change self-knowledge structures, including the RBS. Finally, individuals must make sense of jolts in a constructive manner in order to trigger RBS revision. Often, challenging and appreciative jolts are met with a sense of fear, threat, and cynicism, rather than with a sense of possibility for envisioning oneself in a more positive man- ner. Individuals who focus on the negative, po- tentially punishing effects of jolts are less likely to revise their RBS portraits than individuals who focus on the positive, potentially rewarding effects of such experiences. For example, indi- viduals might interpret challenging jolts as sig- nificant threats to their organizational status and focus on potential failure in new job assign- ments, rather than the possibility of success. Individuals might also question the accuracy of affirmative feedback they receive from others, as well as their ability to live up to others’ pos- itive expectations. In both scenarios individuals will likely resist revising their RBS portrait, even after experiencing challenging or appreciative jolts, because their sensemaking leads them to focus on personal limitations rather than per- sonal strengths and contributions. Our goal in this paper is to present a theoret- ical framework that captures how work experi- ences enhance one’s sense of self and result in revisions to the clarity and content of the RBS portrait. Thus, we focus our theoretical attention away from the inhibitors and toward the key resources that can positively shape the way in- dividuals appraise or make sense of a jolt. We posit that certain socially embedded resources
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