Worldview Foundations for Resilience

We all go through seasons that test our resilience, some more, some less. Resilience is both a state and a process. Resilience is bouncing back, but more than that, in living systems it is also about growth and strengthening through trauma.


Research reveals that all have the attributes within them to be resilient, but not all become or remain resilient. The main characteristics that are evidenced in resilient individuals are: attitude, spirituality, problem-solving, sense of mastery, curiosity, and a survival instinct.

Which of these is most important? According to the Journal for  Please Continue Reading …

Anxiety – 85% of it wasted?

According to change theory (Kurt Lewin), learning anxiety and psychological safety are two of the biggest resistance issues in navigating change. Why? Fear. Change involves as much unlearning as learning. It is painful, and it threatens our identity. We can often feel incompetent as we engage what we do not yet know.

Attractive woman in pain

I have been engaged in grad studies once again. I wrote my prof to discuss the painful experience of adapting to language that I do not use every day (in truth, never). She put forward a helpful metaphor: “…let’s say that you have taken a few weeks of piano lessons, and that you have attended a concert pianist performance. You cannot expect to play at that level immediately…moderate your expectations…”

No circumstance has a direct link to the emotion of fear or anxiety. There is ALWAYS a  Please Continue Reading …

Courage – amended

The seasons and stages of our lives are sometimes slow, predictable transitions, wherein we enjoy a measure of peace. At other times they are periods that rock our world as catastrophe assaults us and threatens to crumble the ground beneath our feet.

cracked surface and character

I have been reflecting on the definition of courage, as I have been walking with friends who have been going through seasons of extreme challenge lately. I had defined it as “the ability to act rightly in the face of discouragement”, and while I still believe that this is true, I also believe that it needs a slight amendment. Sometimes courage is present, and their is no “act”-ion. Sometimes courage simply stands…even when Please Continue Reading …

Confident Grace

With a mid-morning sunshine caressing my cheek in the cool of an autumn morning, my thoughts turn to all I have experienced over the past few days. I led a workshop for a group of women, who contribute vocationally to the improvement of transportation systems. Following our time together, I received several warm expressions of appreciation for my leadership. Most affirming for me was recognition of “facilitation, grace and confidence”, which I demonstrated in leading such a strong-minded group.

I spent the next two days in leisure; salmon fishing out on the open water of the straight of Georgia, setting crab traps in a cove near an off-grid cabin high up on a rocky outcropping of a small island, and enjoying the company of old and new friends.

I also enjoyed a brief walk through dense forest, where two six hundred year old cedars have stood faithfully waiting for me to arrive. I smile thinking of this, for I know it is not about me, but the experience if no less meaningful in the moment. Each took part in playing their role, and as such facilitated experience. The salmon, the crab, the ocean, the cove, the island, sky, gull, seal and porpoise all played their part with confidence and grace, enriching life for all.
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Defining Statement

A while back I attended an all-day presentation titled “Grow Your Business”. The speaker arrived here from Minneapolis with many helpful reminders as to the various disciplines and tools that can make or break any business. One of the key statements he made was this: “No one in business fails or quits due to lack of Commitment or Conviction, but rather due to a lack of Clarity, Congruency and Consistency.”

At first I felt I should argue that a lack of commitment can bring failure, but as I looked around the room, I doubted that anyone in the audience would demonstrate this within their business life, so I let it go. The speaker went on to say that the most important tool available to anyone in business, for the purposes of achieving communications, marketing and promotions impact, is the “defining statement”. Ok…now I am really listening, I even leaned forward in my seat; this is starting to resonate with passion, purpose…and calibration! I knew that this would ultimately be similar to the exercise of developing a “13-second elevator speech”, but something about the title “defining statement” was intriguing to me.

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A few years ago, a friend of mine provided me with a useful definition for courage: “the ability to act rightly in the face of discouragement.” Passionately pursuing a life of purpose and meaning may challenge us beyond anything we have previously experienced. Sometimes, hanging on to a shred of life, and the feeling of being alive, is all we can do. Yet, to not pursue, and to not hang on, is to self-determine defeat.

I have seen courage around me of late. People continuing to put one foot in front of the other, doing what they must to ensure that others in their circle of influence (family, friends, coworkers, etc) enjoy the opportunity to experience full life…while they wonder if they will make it themselves.

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Guiding Leadership, Inside Out

I have had the privileged benefit of a long-term mentorship in business. My mentor had been the CEO with one of the largest companies in our Province. Early in my mentorship, he spoke of the difference between “IQ” and “EQ”. His conviction led him to hire his leadership team with a bias toward EQ. His reasoning was that when the pressure came, EQ would hold.

Think of a soft-sided ball. The ball can be attractive, and bounce ok under normal conditions. However, if we place the ball into a deep pool of water, the deeper we take the ball, the more pressure the ball receives from the water. Under pressure the ball will collapse if there is nothing inside. Alternatively, if there is substance inside, it will either hold the shape of the ball, or seep through as the pressure builds.

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Culture: an elite athlete perspective

I received permission to share an email (below) that one of my clients circulated among the staff of his organization…the day after an intensive culture workshop I facilitated. So often it seems that leaders are looking for a light switch process to “turn on” culture improvement…rather than go through the process. However, it is the process that works the depth of true transformation…painful though it may be.

At the start of a person’s journey from inactivity to elite athlete they have to expend high levels of their energy to do relatively little because they are not in very good shape. At the same time, they make big improvements in their fitness and ability to achieve in their sport.

As they get more fit, that same level of energy expenditure does quite a lot more and they improve noticeably. It’s a nice linear progression and as long as you only want to be good at the sport you can work reasonably hard and be in quite good shape.

However, if the goal is to be an elite athlete then moving from the 90th percentile to the 92nd percentile doesn’t take just 2% more energy, it takes almost as much energy as was expended to get from 0 – 90%. Getting a tiny bit better takes high levels of intense energy and focus. The work to go from 10th best in the world to on the podium is massive.

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Growing Capacity

In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles and positions.

Margaret Wheatly

If you were to take a snapshot view of your organization, based on the perspective of what Margaret Wheatley suggests here, what would you see? Is there a great emphasis on the task at hand, while relationships suffer along? Are departments and/or individuals operating as silos; islands unto themselves? Is it possible that, if the organization were to invest some effort into the “capacity to form” relationships, significant progress would be made? What could your role as one individual be? How much impact could you create?

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Entitlement vs. Appreciation

I wonder if I owe employer-readers of SaskBusiness an apology. A few months back I wrote of how employers need to value their employees in a manner in which employees “feel” valued. A few weeks later, I noted that employees of one of my clients left this article folded and face up on the staff lunchroom table for over a month…the first of my articles to receive such promotion. While what I wrote remains true, it calls for a balanced perspective within the employer/employee partnership…one of appreciation on the part of the employee.

“People who are raised in North America may have a sense of entitlement simply because they have no idea how lucky they are. If you’ve never been hungry, never wondered where you would sleep, never had to go without shoes, then your sense of what is by rights your due may be askew… ”

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