Dr. Mark Zajack, professor of psychology, gave the 2018 fall Invited Faculty Lecture in the French Memorial Chapel in front of a large audience of students and faculty. Zajack’s lecture ‘Sometimes Less is More’ gave many intriguing thoughts on why one does on a daily basis, as well as how one can improve their life by doing less.
“I chose the ‘less is more’ theme for the lecture because modern life presents us with so many options for what to do with our time,” Zajack said. “Only when we accept that we cannot do everything, we can begin to prioritize, hopefully focusing on those activities that are truly important to becoming the person we’d like to become.”
The Invited Faculty Lecture is an annual tradition at HC dating back to 1985 where students and faculty alike vote for two faculty members on campus to give a lecture over a topic of their choosing in their department, one being held in the fall, the other in the spring. The other nominees for this year’s lectures were Aaron Badham, Bruce Batterson, Dan Deffenbaugh, Patricia Oman, Glenn Avent the spring lecture will be Dr. Glenn Avent, professor of history on March 8.
“I think the Invited Faculty Lecture is a great tradition, almost like an investment by the college in our own professors,” Zajack said. “ … of course, when you are selected, it’s a bit daunting to prepare a lecture for the whole campus. While it’s flattering to be selected, there’s a part of you that says, ‘Just don’t screw it up.’ You don’t want to be the last faculty invited lecturer.”
Zajack is an industrial organizational psychologist and spent time outside of Hastings College as a business analyst and consultant. Zajack has been from coast to coast, with his bachelor’s degree coming out of Colgate University, his Master’s degree from San Jose State University and his Ph.D. from Clemson University.
Zajack spoke about the motivations for what one does every day, influenced mainly by motivations of intrinsic and extrinsic nature. Intrinsic motivations are personal rewards gained for what one does, while extrinsic motivations are external rewards that you receive, such as money.
“The lecture focused on the decisions we make on a daily basis and the sources of motivation for those choices,” Zajack said. “I chose the topic because we are often so focused on what we are doing that we lose sight of the reasons why we are doing it. When we examine our underlying motivations for what we do, we see that many of our activities are at odds with our priorities.”
Zajack used clips from the movies “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Office Space” to give examples of the points he was making and used his own models of prediction for NFL games to relate to the students in attendance.
“When I remembered that scene with Paul Rudd’s character giving a surfing lesson from the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” that was a bonus and gave me the courage to use ‘Sometimes Less is More’ as the title,” Zajack said. “I figured, even if the lecture bombs, people will get a chuckle out of it.”
Zajack wants students to realize the importance of the underlying motivators that are the reasons why people do what they do every single day and realize the benefits of doing the things people actually want to do in life and to follow what one truly want to do.
“For any of us, but particularly for students, there is a lot of pressure to do more. I fully support doing as much as we can,” Zajack said. “But, I also think it’s important to prioritize our limited time to those activities that are most important to us. When we do what we do in a way that is driven by intrinsic motivation, the outcomes are better for everyone.”
To watch the lecture in its entirety, check out the Hastings College YouTube page.