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Tag Archive for: resilience
When we indulge ourselves with a massage, or take a nap in the afternoon, we usually talk about it as “treating ourselves” to a luxury. I would like to look a little deeper into this language of “treating ourselves”.
We have a habit of thinking that taking a break from constant driving is equivalent to overindulging ourselves. Especially when we are going through a transition—from training for a triathlon to changing careers, from going through a divorce to watching the kids leave home—we are in particular need of treating ourselves.
But we continue to think of it as indulgence, rather that seeing the words more clearly for what they describe. Treating ourselves is literally about how we treat ourselves everyday. Why should a massage or a nap be a luxury? The evidence of living proves that each day is an ebb and flow of high and low energy, yet we persist in pretending that we can “give 110%”. Read more →
The very word hiatus sounds funny. It’s from the Latin, meaning gap, or to gape. And when you take a hiatus it seems like gaping is just what you’re doing—gaping into a space you’ve made, trying to take a breath, get caught up, and get recalibrated.
Hiatuses are good. IF.
If we examine what we’re taking the break from and make a conscious choice to either go back to it, or change our course. That’s where the gaping comes in. Sometimes you need a stare down with your goals.
As 2011 launched I have been doing just that. And you have probably been doing something similar. The calendar turn over is a good reminder to do that. Two things motivated my gaping opportunity, and that is why there has been a little hiatus in the blog. First, my son decided right before Christmas to get married—in January! That in itself can create a hiatus. But second, I wanted to reconsider how this blog works, and how to make it worth both our whiles.
Let’s talk surprise wedding for a minute, because it actually relates to making this blog work for reader and writer. My son is in the Army and will be deploying to Afghanistan in March. Because the date got moved up, he and the love of his life listened to their hearts and pledged their vows to one another in January.
Now the logical side of our brain might tell us they should wait, should be sure, so much uncertainty. But the other side of our brain tells us, NOW, NOW is the time. This is what we’ve got. This is all we’ve got.
So part of the hiatus was to plan and enjoy my son’s wedding. The other part was a focus adjustment. Like a camera seeking auto-focus, I have come to see how the three parts of my work flow together. I work in the areas of business change, personal change, and resilience.
All rotate around the core of making choices on purpose (hence the name of the book, blog, website, etc.)
We’re going to continue to focus on being on purpose, because it puts us squarely in this minute, and gets us responding to what is happening as opposed to what we imagine is happening, good or bad. And I believe it is most effective at the crossroads of change at work, change of heart, and the resilience to keep it going, to keep changing.
So lets get busy gaping, looking hard into our center, and moving our lives ahead one step at a time.
Yesterday my family and I had to put our dog to sleep. She was thirteen years old and her health was failing. No matter how much you think you’re prepared for this kind of thing, it still brings a wave of emotion, from doubt to sadness, from loneliness to grief.
But what I want to focus on is how this old story we hear about the cycle of life plays out. Sharing in the cycles, and recognizing them for what they are, ups and downs, lessons and learning, is what counts.
And when we think of cycles, we think of comings and goings. Grace, our darling dog, came and went. But it was humor that saved the day. We laughed and remembered the funny stories—how she could hold three golf balls in her mouth at the same time, and how a sweet, quiet spirit like her couldn’t resist the pull of her DNA to go after the ground hogs in the field.
This experience highlighted an important element of resilience—looseness. A funny word, I know, but I’m struggling with finding a better way to describe this capability. When we harden ourselves, overprotect ourselves, and tighten up, it’s harder to roll with the punches and bounce back when challenging things happen.
Dwelling on a sad moment like yesterday doesn’t help us stay loose. What helps us stay loose, though, are the connections and the support we have. Most of my family was there, and we shared the burial ritual and spent some time laughing and hanging out when it was over. It was short, but ever so meaningful.
Connections and support carry us through rough times. Whether it’s someone to work with, someone to talk to, or someone to sit with—that presence makes a profound difference. And as my yoga teacher loves to say, “What a difference a difference makes!”
When we feel the edges of our being start to harden, it’s important to remember looseness. How can you possibly roll with the punches or bounce back when you’re not loose enough or light enough to roll or bounce?
Especially at this time of year, when family rituals remind us of that cycle stuff, there is no better time to loosen up. Transition times test our resilience. This is when we can choose to loosen up and become open to opportunities we might usually be blind to. So I’m going to keep my eye on looseness. The bridge to rolling with punches and bouncing back is closer and quicker that way.
I liked Sean’s MBA post last Friday. It struck a chord with me. This serendipity and Guided Drift stuff is always happening. But what makes it happen is having your hand in lots of interactions, lots of conversations, and lots of possibilities.
That was my big take away from Sean’s post. He is involved in lots of different groups in his program, and it just keeps opening up possibilities. I find myself in the same boat. So many new possibilities opened up for me after I wrote my first book, Choose on Purpose for Twentysomethings. I expanded my opportunities to have conversations with more young people in (or working on getting in) the work force, as you deal with getting acquainted to work-a-day life, and the human relations fun, quandaries and learning opportunities.
These conversations have turned my head and my world around. It is truly exciting to share the perspectives of the generation behind me. And it’s connected me in a new way. In an on-line survey offered by the Pew Research Center (How Millennial Are You?), any of us can even see how “Millennial” we are. In other words, it helps us look at typical behaviors and attitudes of twentysomethings today and see how well we relate. (It’s nice to feel at least a little “hip” — as I rated 56 on the scale, when most Boomers rate 11, and most Millennials come in at 73.)
And as I’ve worked with this new population more and more, I have also been doing research on resilience, especially for individuals in leadership roles in companies. It’s been a great complement to the twentysomething work. Making purposeful choices, after all, can contribute to making us more resilient, hardier, and better able to roll with the punches and bounce back when we hit bumps, big or little. And twentysomethings have a boatload of bumps facing them, with this economy thing going on. So what better time to be working on resilience — for today’s leaders and tomorrow’s leaders — at the same time.
So I see these two aspects of my work coming together now. And this is where Sean’s ideas of serendipity and Guided Drift come in. If we don’t have enough new conversations, new experiments going on in our lives, it’s a lot less likely we’ll run into new opportunities. It’s just a matter of probability. The more times at bat, the more likely you’ll get a hit.
So I’m up at bat in the world of resilience research, and pretty excited about that. I have a suspicion the time and effort I’ve put into understanding the world of today’s twentysomethings will find a way to wrap itself inside this resilience work. In fact, I’m going to a conference in Washington, D.C. at the end of this month that’s all about resilience — for our leaders, our businesses, and our nation and world.
I can’t wait to see what doors serendipity and Guided Drift open there for me. I’ll keep you posted…
Last week I had lunch at the Raindrop Café (vegan heaven) with my long time friend, T. We met through work over fifteen years ago, and don’t get to see each other often. But when we do, sparks fly.
T is as smart as they come. No matter what she touches, her combination of brainpower and smile-power overcome obstacles. She is now trying her hand at writing—see http://yogagirlgoesvegan2.blogspot.com
In this blog she experiments with lots of things. On the surface, it is about “the ups and downs of lifestyle transformation from omnivore to vegan.” But underneath, it is about the life skills we all need to cope, stay resilient, and keep laughing.
Speaking of resilient, as we talked about our current work, she made a keen observation about my worries about my own work, those moments of stuckness I feel. She saw right through me, and reminded me that the work itself is resilient. I just have to let it go and let it find its own targets. You gotta love people who love you and want you to grow. They help you see what’s right in front of you.
Sometimes we (I) get fixated on one way to do things. Maybe letting it go is the answer—and as T observes, letting it go doesn’t mean giving it up. (See her funny post on October 17, 2010.) Letting it go works—physically and mentally.
So my vegan-girl friend is letting go in a very novel way. Through a combination of life style change, working a minimum wage job at mid-life, and exploring her writing voice, she is the poster child for “guided drift”. She’s making choices and guiding her experiences, all while letting a sea change in her life provide just the right amount of drift to create some fresh experiences.
I’ll be following vegan-girl and her adventures. She inspires me to balance attention with letting go. What new adventure are you cooking up for yourself? And what needs letting go to make it happen?
Watching the recovery of the miners in Chile last week created a great pause for us all. It was funny to me that the issue of how many journalists were there recording and celebrating the event was even an issue. In a time of global recession, terrorism and fear, we all wanted to bask in that moment of discovery, connection, and restoration.
It gives me pause to talk about the research I’ve been doing for the last couple of years on resilience. My colleague, Rick Miller, and I have been diligently working on assembling some education—reminders really—on how to access our resilience, even during such long, drawn out down times like now.
The miners’ experience helps us understand resilience at its best. Based on research reported by the Department of Homeland Security (Concept Development: An Operational Framework for Resilience, August 27, 2009) we have been adapting ideas for how individuals become and stay resilient. The miners’ experience is a great example of how it works.
According to the research, there are three phases in resilience: Resist, Absorb, Restore. Looking at the case of the miners, part of resilience is preventing mine accidents and protecting the workers. Once the accident occurs, though, if we can’t move into absorbing the hit, then we don’t have the resources to get to the next step.
While we don’t know the full story, it’s no surprise that emotions were running high, that fights broke out, and that tensions and competition needed to be resolved. It is clear, though, that the miners moved on to the next step, whether it was sharing spoonfuls of tuna or creating exercise routines, they kicked into gear their ability to absorb the hit, and cope with the situation at hand. The fact that all thirty-three of them came up is testament to that.
Now they are deeply involved in the restoration phase. Here is where they recover, regain their strength, and bring stronger resilience skills to the rest of us. There is talk circulating about creating educational institutes to share their experience. How great would that be, to build our resilience skills even stronger by learning from them.
So whatever tough thing we may be facing in our life, we can all learn from the miners. The biggest lesson is to stop and take time to absorb whatever hit you are experiencing, and figure out baby steps to cope. Let that work its course, then you can move on to the restore phase. Patience—69 days of it in the case of the miners—time to absorb, pays off.
The big news this last week was the remembrance of 9/11. Important though it is to remember, I want to talk about the balancing act of remembering and forgetting. Both are critical to our ability to stay resilient in the face of day-to-day stresses as well as handling major trauma in life.
I have done some research over the last couple of years into PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome). We mostly associate it with warriors returning from the front lines, but anyone can suffer from PTSD after experiencing trauma. This includes experiences ranging from domestic violence to war, and from earthquakes to fallen towers.
One of the key things about recovering from trauma is finding the right balance between remembering and forgetting. When trauma hits, it becomes part of who we are, and we must honor that new aspect our being. But if we dwell in it, we become victims, lost in a swirl of complaining and even suffering. That’s where learning to forget–letting in the hazy view of memory that time affords us–becomes a key factor in regaining our strength.
Part of my work includes consulting with organizations on how to stay resilient. Looking at PTSD has been part of my research for those programs. And in conducing that research, I have also come across a terrific description of resilience. The research actually comes from the Department of Homeland Security. They have identified three phases in human resilience: resist, absorb and restore.
People who are resilient build up a resistance to stress and trauma. And oddly enough, the way we do that is by experiencing stress and trauma. Think of it like “resistance training” at the gym, or the old adage “no pain no gain.” By putting ourselves into situations that build our strength, we actually learn to resist some of the bad effects of stress and trauma.
But life happens—whether it be hurricanes or people who hurt us. And when it does, the next best thing to do is absorb the hit, roll around in it for a while, then start looking for ways to restore our strength and our power.
Sounds simple enough. But we know it’s not easy. And that’s where forgetting comes in. We want to remember 9/11 enough to honor those who sacrificed, but we want to forget enough to allow us to build our strength and move on. What do we do differently in the future? How do we avoid this happening again? What else is possible?
Holding on to the past keeps us stuck. Forgetting loosens us up to take on the next challenge. So what in your life needs a little fine-tuning as you balance remembering with forgetting? No time like the present to actively tweak the balance in favor of moving forward.
It sounds like a list of lovely, exotic names, doesn’t it? With this week’s reminder about the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, you’re guessing there’s more to it. Katrina brings up images of disaster, and thankfully, now recovery. Karma and Leila are another thing entirely.
An idea from Indian philosophy, Karma is a way of thinking about the world in an orderly way. It’s comforting for us to believe in the notion that “what goes around comes around.” I am sure each of us has “Karma” stories in our lives.
What is less well known, though, is the follow-on notion, also from Indian philosophy, of Leila. While Karma is about explaining every consequence in life, Leila is just the opposite. Leila says that lots of things in the world do seem to work in an orderly fashion–until they don’t. Leila says that sometimes, “Stuff” happens. No reason, no sense, no logic.
And that’s where Katrina comes in. It’s not that the weather event labeled “Katrina” is important. It’s what we do with it once it’s blown by us. We drive ourselves crazy with things like, “If the race issue were different in New Orleans, then…;” “If the Army Corps of Engineers had…, then;” or “If the rich versus poor issue were different, then…” The list goes on and on. More meaningful though, is how we act in the world now that Katrina has come and gone.
This is where Leila steps in. “Stuff” happens. Rather than resist it, blame others for it, become a victim to it, Leila is a stand in the world that says, simply, let’s receive it for what it is. Let’s see what the world has to offer us now, what we can become now, as a result of this.
Leila doesn’t demand that 2+2=4. In fact, it says that sometimes it may not. Not everything in life adds up in an orderly, Karmic way. In my town, we formed a bond with one of the small communities in Louisiana that lasts to this day. It’s a relationship that didn’t exist five years ago. I’d say that’s a pretty important consequence that no one could have predicted from a devastating hurricane.
There is, of course, still much work to do. The anniversary updates are full of information about that. So rather than buying into urban legends of conspiracy, what people deserved, or what they should have done, let’s enjoy the lessons, the relationships and the opportunities that have grown from this.
Katrina, Karma and Leila are linked. Most change, like Katrina, is foisted upon us. Our job is to absorb the change, restore ourselves to a healthy existence, and get stronger so we can take what comes next. And usually, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, so there’s no use trying. There’s lots of use, though, in letting Leila guide us to finding the explanation that is far from what we thought it should be.
Last week was a big week for twentysomething news. I couldn’t be happier that the changing needs of the third decade are finally getting some attention. First, the New York Times magazine ran a very long article (see http://nyti.ms/bn1BLK). Then, the same author got picked up by the Today show, see the link to the interview at http://bit.ly/a3jGr7.
This is the stuff we’ve been talking about for the last year—dealing with the push to grow up fast, and the pull back to slow down and try to figure it all out through the twenties. Both articles highlighted the overload of choices, the influence of peer pressure, media, the role parents play, and many other key experiences.
What I love most about writers and researchers focusing on this, is the role that choosing on purpose plays in making your way in the world. This is the time of life to build key resilience skills. This includes learning how to resist over-stressing, how to absorb the tough lessons when they come, and how to restore your strength so you can take on the next challenge.
The two articles get into lots of debate over whether there is a new stage of adult life between adolescence and full adulthood, with the responsibilities of family and finance. While the researcher in me is interested in following this line of inquiry, the application side continues to focus on what to do with this slow down phenomena of being a twentysomething in the 21st Century.
What counts is making choices. It’s the only way to deal with the floundering that comes with the overload of opportunity. Even our brains know enough to cut off the neural growth in areas of the brain we don’t use often, in order to be more efficient. We can consciously live our lives the same way.
Making a choice helps us avoid a condition I call perfection paralysis. When we want everything to work out perfectly, we avoid decisions, and end up being paralyzed with the swirling we do. I would rather see you decide, and end up changing your decision, than floating away on a wave of indecision, with no chance of finding your potential.
So hooray for the conversations about twentysomethings! The lines are more open than ever, so lets talk choices, fear, stress, new ways to get support, training and development to make it through this stage of life.