How is it that some people suffer hardships, setbacks, and difficulties and not waver? That colleague who isn’t able to regain their confidence after a job loss or hearing contrary feedback. Friends who avoid relationships after a betrayal of trust or can’t bring themselves to love again after a divorce. “More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.” (Dean Becker)
The skills and behaviors that feed and enable your resilience are critically important to develop and nurture now more than ever. The combustive cocktail of daily public provocations associated with political, social, and natural disasters, the pervasiveness and popularity to be mean and demean others, along with our ever-present personal challenges increase the likelihood that our contingency plans (aka Plan B), will one day move from thought to reality.
The Center for Creative Leadership defines resiliency as the ability to bounce back from a difficult moment, a rough day, a big setback, or a life-changing hardship. Resilience is also about tapping into what you need daily to avoid paralysis when you can’t see thru the forest or when you just don’t know the next move. While deeply personal resiliency, has profound business implications. A global survey of over 100,000 employees found that employee depression, stress and anxiety accounted for 82.6% of all emotional health cases in Employee Assistance Programs in 2014. This is an increase from 55.2% in 2012. What I know for sure is that when people are sad, angry, reactive, and anxious they are unable to be at their best in any role. Decision-making and interpersonal interactions take a hit.
The good news is like most things resiliency can be learned. It is built by a set of attitudes and behaviors associated with optimism, flexibility, continuous learning, creativity, confidence, mindfulness, and vision orientation.
Resilience is a core leadership competency for anyone on the #boss track. Make sure you’re practicing these enabling behaviors. They demonstrate your resilience to others:
- Effectively communicating your intentions.
- Being receptive to feedback; requesting feedback; and responding by acting on the feedback.
- Building positive trusting relationships.
- Willingly take bold risks and try new approaches & ideas.
- Having a vision for change. Embrace change. Inspiring others to change.
- Decisive effective decision-making enabling forward motion. When you misstep, quickly edit and course correct.
The race isn’t given to the swift, nor to the strong, but to the one that endures to the end (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Flex those new muscles that surviving the experience created. Use the learning to relaunch, redirect, transform… Take a step, make a move, fly, soar, leap… whatever. Maintain your bounce to live and live well.
With the end in mind, I created my personal vision statement. I had no idea how meaningful this would be. This vision statement is my north star, guiding and inspiring the direction for my life; defining success for me, and keeping me intentional and on purpose. Having this statement to reference has been invaluable in minimizing stress, simplifying decisions and giving real meaning to my life. A tool that’s lasted 29 years was certainly worth the 30 plus days it took to create.
Bringing into existence your life’s vision is a process requiring commitment and discipline. A personal vision/mission statement is a powerful tool that expresses your sense of purpose and meaning in life. It acts as your personal constitution by which you make and evaluate decisions, choose behaviors, and create results. As a first step, transfer what you envision from the mental realm into the physical. You may have heard it said, “Write the vision, make it plain or where there is no vision people perish . . .” There is power in this process!
Six Essential Questions To Answer
- What will be the center of my life? Think about those things you want to build your life around. There are many choices like family, career, spirituality . . . What’s most important is that you identify what will keep you rooted and will be unshakable during life’s twists and turns.
- What things do I want to have that I feel are important and why?
- What is it that I am or want to be about?
- What character qualities and traits do I want to emulate?
- What’s the legacy that I want to leave?
- For what do I want to be remembered? Think as if you are writing your obituary.
In need of a little inspiration? Try these helpful exercises and resources.
- Write for 5 continuous minutes in response to questions 1-6 noted above. Keep writing until nothing else comes to mind. Don’t worry about what it looks like. The goal is to get your thoughts on paper. Think one person brainstorming.
- Review inspirational poetry, quotations, blogs, stories, biographies, and autobiographies.
- Establish a list of positive character traits that you’d like to develop and live by.
- Keep a journal to reflect on your passions and the principles & values important to you.
- The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
Opportunities and possibilities can easily become distractions when we are disconnected or unclear about what’s important to us. A personal vision/mission statement provides a path for success, and it gives you permission to say no to the things that are distractions. Once written, regularly review your mission statement and use it to create goals and produce results. Test and validate its functionality, relevance, and value by frequently asking, does my mission statement:
Represent the absolute best that is within me?
Challenge and motivate me?
Address all the significant roles in my life?
Provide me direction and purpose?
Provide me security and comfort?
Express timeless principles that produce quality of life results?
“Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him. But unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them — the path to their personal legends and to happiness” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.
. . . Heart and Hard Work
All too often, we bare witness to people washing-out simply because they didn’t spend enough time on their personal foundation. Or as I like to say, they had a lapse of judgment that was rooted in a character flaw. The hard truth is it takes more than degrees, certificates, networks, and intellect to have sustaining power, emotional agility and the kind of mental fortitude that you can thrive no matter the circumstances. The strength or weakness of your character will make or break you – professionally and personally.
Our daily news feed is filled with stories of politicians, clergy, athletes, entertainers, business and community leaders… loosing position and income, derailing careers and their lives because of seemingly minor transgressions of exaggerated truths, distorting facts, disregard for governing policies and laws, and contrary dispositions. That’s a nice way for saying they lied, stole, cheated,. . . Thorny character traits come with the skin we live in. Everyone is vulnerable. Derailment and distractions due to underdeveloped character happens to regular folk – regularly. Most of us can name at least one person in our circle of family, friends, and colleagues that fell from grace (personally and professionally) due to a poor choice rooted in a character flaw.
Reflecting on my 30 years of navigating these types of issues in the workplace, I observed a diverse group of people ranging in age, profession and years of experience. They represent every gender and ethnic group. These folk live in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. There are two interesting similarities in this group: (1) All are Homo sapiens; and (2) Each possessed underdeveloped character traits that enabled life and career derailing decisions. ? Anyone who isn’t committed to continual character development can fall prey to its unyielding power.
Investments in education and technical training are essential to having qualifying skills. Competence is the price of admission and only half of the ticket. Equally important and the other half is your character. Competence is what gets you hired; character is what sustains you. Attributes like integrity, courage, compassion, contribution, responsibility, fidelity, accountability, empathy, deference, discernment, forgiveness, humility, honor, self-control, respect, justice . . .
Don’t believe for a second that organizations only care about results. How you got those results is discussed and for a multitude of reasons, you haven’t been brought into the conversation. In fact, you may receive high praise, one or multiple promotions before anyone approaches you with how. . . Hopefully your response won’t be a career staller or worse, a deal breaker. In the words of Stephen Covey, “The development of character offers you enduring effectiveness.” If you really want career longevity and long-term success, you must do the work on yourself that goes below the surface. This is the heart & hard work that creates authenticity. Balance your professional development investments to be equal parts competency development + character development. The combined investment will leave you richer at every level.
CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT enables you to skillfully manage an ineffective boss or rude colleague. It equips you to remain level-headed in the midst of chaos. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT urges you to resist your ego when it threatens. It will empower you to acknowledge when you are wrong and will convict you to self-correct. It will keep you humble, gracious, and grateful. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT fuels your emotional intelligence and compels you to inspire and serve. It equips you with an understanding of your worth and empowers you with insight to know when it is time to walk away. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT will help you distinguish valuable feedback from BS and respectfully disagree. It equips you to nurture healthy relationships – especially with those not like yourself. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT readies you with the grit required to take a stand, push beyond difficulties and propel yourself forward. It empowers you to give others praise and recognition. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT prepares you to challenge groupthink when it is demeaning, compromising, threatening…or just plain wrong. It will keep you from compromising your integrity. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT enables you to speak truth when a lie is more comfortable or convenient. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT qualifies you to live authentically.
Character Development Tips
Review and edit your circle. These are the people who are closest to your heart. They are your confidants and those you trust with the issues of your life. You must be able to rely on them to check you; tell you when you are wrong; give visibility to your blind spots.
With every project; every assignment, ask the people you work with (in a 1:1 setting), what can I do to be better? Think: Start, Stop, Continue. Whatever you do, don’t settle for “your great” or “nothing”. NOBODY is great all the time. Let them know you really want to hear – whatever it is. When people start to share, quiet yourself to hear with your heart and head. Only ask questions in the moment that will provide you clarity. Say thank you and put your improvement plan in motion!
Ask your partner, spouse, children what you could do to be more supportive, more loving of them. And like #2, don’t settle for “your great” or “nothing”. As they share, don’t shut it down by being defensive. Show maturity and wisdom by listening with an open heart and mind. And when they are done, hug and kiss them while you are saying thank you. Put your improvement plan in motion!
Seek professional help if you haven’t been able to figure it out.
If you believe in the power of prayer, pray for a heart to see yourself clearly; the insight that will help you change; and the courage to transform.
Create a daily ritual of reflecting on your words, actions, thoughts, and decisions. Put your improvement plan in motion.
Celebrate your successes.
Thank you OSU Fisher College of Business Black MBA Association for the invitation to present as a part of the annual LEGENDS LECTURE series. Having the opportunity to interact and dialogue with the next generation of world leaders is priceless and one that I cherish. ?
“Competence is the price of admission, but only half of the ticket. Equally important and the other half of the ticket is your character. Competence will get you hired. Character will sustain you”. Be intentional about developing both. #characterdevelopment
xoxo — June
With the many advances in technology & productivity tools, there remains 24 hours in a day – that’s it! “I’m so busy, blah, blah, blah…” The question: Are you busy with busywork or is your busyness adding value and getting results that matter?
“How To Stop Busywork From Holding Back Your Career Progress” emphasizes the art & science of effective time management. EQ+IQ . . . #thebestgettingbetter
The message is clear: Great or even good health requires you to eat better and exercise more. Earlier this year, I shared my journey to maintaining as a woman of a certain age: “Fit And Fine At Any Age”. The blog inspired passionate conversation amongst friends, family & colleagues. The struggle, commitment and BS are real!
For me a healthy lifestyle is a journey not a destination. Frankly, that mindset keeps me on my Ps and Qs. “Feel good, celebrate yourself, but don’t get too comfortable girlfriend.” Letting down your guard breeds mindlessness. Fit and fine is a mandate for mindfulness – every day all day. My tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle:
- Be proactive about managing hunger. When traveling, pack healthy options that keep you from eating fast food that’s always in great abundance. Fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, and low-calorie nutrition bars travel well. If you spend a lot of time in your car, keep a “healthy stash” in your car.
2. STOP – Don’t eat out of that potato chip bag! First, understand the amount of calories your choices consume. Practice self-control by estimating the number of calories you are okay with and then count out every cookie, chip… on a napkin. Yes, I’m talking 1, 2, 3, and 4 . . . Apply the same principle when drinking adult beverages: wine, beer, mixed drinks — YOU NAME IT!
3. Save some for later. That slice of pie, brownie, large cookie, if it’s not miniature, save half for another day. Think differently about sandwiches and burgers. I hate being redundant but, save half for later.
4. Drink warm green tea or water instead of soda, fruit drinks, or alcohol with your meals and in between meals. See Tip #5 before you grab the sugar or sweetener!
5. Out with the BAD in with the BETTER
Salad Dressing Olive Oil or Red Wine Vinegar
Refined rice, pasta, bread Whole grain rice, pasta, bread
Non-Fat Yogurt Greek Non-Fat Yogurt
Fry Bake or Broil
6. Not ready to eliminate calorie rich condiments and sauces? Try my “1 Tablespoon Rule” for a couple of months. Over time you’ll be able to reduce it to 1 Teaspoon. You get where this is headed: minimize or remove.
7. Eliminate large or supersize orders of anything — small please. Enjoy it slowly (LOL)!
8. Order restaurant salads without salad dressing (see Tip #5). Or request the dressing on the side. If it’s on the side, implement Tip #6.
9. One day a week avoid eating meat, poultry or fish. For that day, all of your nutrients will come from the other food groups.
10. Get & keep that body moving. Walk, run, swim, dance, jump rope, cycle…Start small and make changes incrementally. Successfully integrating physical activity into your daily routine requires alignment of your mind and body. The goal is to make your exercise regime sustainable. Check out choosemyplate.gov for ideas on increasing physical activity.
11. Speak up! Let people know when you can’t, don’t, won’t eat… But you can and will enjoy… Most people want to be supportive. Living your truth is amazingly empowering.
12. Be mindful of your thoughts . “As a man thinketh, so is he” (Proverbs 23). Some days will go better than others. Don’t waste time lamenting on what you didn’t do. Reflect, adjust, recommit and get back at it. Edit your self-talk to include I am, I’m doing…Envision yourself living at the level you want. Put in the work. The results speak for themselves.
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference” ~ The Serenity Prayer
Until next time, remember healthy is very sexy. By any means necessary, keep you fit and fine!
This blog was written in loving memory of Watson Stewart. Thank you dad for inspiring exercise and healthy eating — from my beginning!
An organization’s culture is a reflection of the behaviors exhibited by its employees. People get their cues of acceptable and revered behaviors from those with the strongest organization presence. Who would that be? They are the decision makers, the communicators of decisions, the influencers of strategy and policies. Some of those folks have titles like executive, leader, and manager. And some don’t.
It’s not enough to have a set of organization values nicely framed and frequently articulated. Intention and accountability are essential to mobilizing your organizational culture. Keep your eye on how people are living those values in their daily unceremonious interactions. Remember: Employees hear what you say and mimic what you do.
If you really want the organization values to be more than aspirational, take a hard look at the behaviors of those entrusted to lead.
Here’s a great clip from Strategy & Business: What Is Corporate Culture?
10 Principles For Mobilizing Your Organizational Culture
Harvard Business Review provides more data informing of the value of diverse teams…Hiring individuals who do not look, talk, or think like you can allow you to dodge the costly pitfalls of conformity, which discourages innovative thinking.
Strategies and tactics related to organization culture, management and leadership practices, hiring, employee communication, talent management & development. . .are essential for an organization to leverage and thrive with a diverse workforce. What’s getting in your organization’s way? Check out Organization Challenges to D&I.