Resilient Practice; The personal resilience credo

“Of all the virtues we can learn no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness

Mental health is a growing concern for our society. As the stats for mental health continue to reveal erosion, happiness seems to be moving further beyond the reach of many. We turn to medical health providers for help – but here we find another pronblem: Physician health and wellness is a growing concern within the medical profession as well. The data (above) was collected in 2017 through an online survey of nearly 3,000 residents and physicians (Canadian Medical Association).

Is there anything we can do to turn the tide?

I recently had the privilege of working with a Saskatchewan Top 100 (SaskBusiness annual list) organization, and the experience was noteworthy enough that I’ve asked permission to share their story here anonymously. The initial request was for me to facilitate a process that would help to bolster the resilience of the employee group. We discussed the organization’s mission, vision and values and determined that a set of cultural practices would serve well to nurture the resilience desired.

For reader context, I define resilience as, “The ability to persevere, adapt and excel through life’s change, challenge and crisis.” It is more than bouncing back. The concept of bouncing back does not self-evidently incorporate the impact of the learning and growth that can be achieved through change, challenge and crisis. Difficult season often affect us in ways that profoundly impact our person, with the potential to be a very positive outcome.

After facilitating the leadership session, it became readily apparent to me that the culture within this organization was healthy, and that the leadership served and modelled a character that was compassionately supportive of all employees. In fact, the leadership asked that the group be equipped for resilience in ways that would transcend the business, with the top priority of impacting them personally. This healthy character-culture established the foundation to go further with a group than I have been to date: A Personal Resilience Credo: “a statement of the beliefs or aims that guide someone’s actions.”

The employees were presented with resilience principles though a blend of academic theory, philosophy, psychology and stories from personal and public history. They were then simply asked to take notes as to what resonated most strongly with them. The results were the following 6-Key Principle that they could live out as a Personal Resilience Credo:

GRACE: I understand that no one is perfect, so I choose to embrace life, self and others with grace, neutralizing fear through empathy and compassion, enabling peace, growth, and fulfillment.

PERSPECTIVE: I understand that purpose and meaning exist as opportunity and that I have a valuable role to serve within my circle of influence.

AWARENESS: I choose to grow in mindful awareness of the impacts of my attitude, thoughts, behavior and communication, and the dynamics that hinder and/or enhance them.

RESPONSE: I choose to humbly and purpose-fully exercise my freedom to respond, to be aligned in principle, word and behavior — expanding my capacity in life and mission.

TRUST: I understand that trust is a decision, and that my character is revealed and grown through each decision I make – I desire to work, speak and act in ways that make me trustworthy and safe.

CURIOSITY: I choose curiosity rather than defensiveness, to keep conflict healthy, ideological and objective, remaining vulnerably open to listen to understand, in the discovery of truth.

I believe that wisdom of this organization’s leadership, revealed in this request, is remarkable. It should be obvious to all, that every organization is a human system, therefore the health of the organization and the individual are inextricably connected. One might even argue that organizations have as much to do with ecology (the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings) as culture. However, not every leader steps up to invest in a free, no-strings-attached benefit to the personal resilience of employees.

Life in business takes us through different seasons, and whether an organization is going through a season of change, challenge or crisis, the ability of the individuals to remain resilient within the incorporation, bolsters the resilience of the organization, but it also benefits the families, communities and planet as the character formation of the individual is writ large – whether the employee stays, or moves on. There is a synergy that happens when as we achieve purpose through our work, as we find purpose within it; the combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual parts. As we practice resilience principles together, we grow stronger individually and corporately.

Vulnerably for you

I was just reading a post by W. Brett Wilson in the Calgary Herald, We need more than thoughts and prayers for mental health, related to the recent suicide of a business colleague and friend. Someone that no one would have suspected of being depressed or suicidal – someone who looked to have it all together.

In the article, Wilson suggests that we need people, “who will openly share their stories of healing so that others can find hope.”

I’ll share – vulnerably, for you.

Just a few years ago, I was in the home stretch of a master’s degree, with only 1-year remaining. As I started the first week of a new class, I began to realize that I could not retain any of the information I was reading in the course material. I’d go back and try again, but always with the same result. This was happening during a time in my life where business had been drying up, and I had a few bad accounts (contracts that did not pay) which compounded the financial pressure. I was depressed, and depression had turned to despair.  Please Continue Reading …

Ride to Remember

I spent the past 3-days riding my road bike in the 2017 Ride to Remember event from Prince Albert to Regina – a total of 480 kms. I learned a few things, and thought to share them with you.

I was first moved by the people of Beardy’s-Okemasis Cree Nation. The students of the Constable Robinn Cameron Education Complex lined up and and gave us all a warm and cheer-FULL reception.  We were then welcomed by the school staff, band elders and Chief Okimaw C.R. Petit. I was deeply moved by the ceremony that followed, as the band elders and community presented Constable Robin Cameron‘s mother with a star blanket. I can’t imagine what it is like to loose your child so young,  Please Continue Reading …

Anxiety’s Antidote

If we have any self-awareness, we can easily identify feelings of uncertainty in our future vision from time to time. Especially today.

Fires ravaging the entire state of Montana, Hurricane Harvey drowning Texas while Irma pounds the Caribbean – and while all of this rages on, Mexico lands an 8.5 earthquake. It makes one start to wonder what will be next…(I’ll leave the political scene untouched here).

We can find ourselves pondering the future within the context of a wide variety of life circumstance. Some of our pondering will lead us to anticipation, while others will lead us to a state of underlying anxiety; where we have an “off-sense” of disturbance in our spirit.

Anxiety is generally described as Please Continue Reading …

The Validation Vortex

I have known for many years that I had a problem seeking the approval of others. I understand why it was a problem, and I thought I was making headway, until my last round of bathroom renovation projects brought me a deeper dose of self-awareness.

Nothing wrong with doing a bathroom reno – and I enjoyed both of these recent projects immensely…but what’s up with the Facebook posting of pictures from various stages? Worse yet, why was I checking to see how many “likes” I was getting?

I’m a creative -no surprise there. I am not saying that I am a great artist or that every idea I have is a good one when I say that “I am creative” – I just know that I enjoy creativity. To be creative is to take risks. It is inherent in the nature of creativity.  Please Continue Reading …

Fearless in Grace: Let the truth flow

Over the past several years, I have written about many different aspects of resilience. I have written about the role of conflict, and beauty. I have written about hope and the role of adversity and challenge in the development of character. I have written about the role of trust and trustworthiness, providing a template for a corporate charter that would give all the opportunity to grow together in their ONE mission.

I have explored the role of creativity, and I have reflected on the impact of our ego through the Enneagram personality profile. I wrote about our resistance to change, and what we can do to overcome our inhibitions  (part 1, part 2, part 3).

In the end, all of these nurture resilience, but perhaps one, above all, brings it all together: Grace.

 

Grace has become the safe space for me to take responsibility for my behaviors without condemnation. It has allowed me to hold all of my trauma and past regret without despair. It is enabling me to look to the future with a greater sense of anticipation and to be released from past and regret to be more fully present within the moment.

Through grace I have the opportunity to view crisis and challenge with a sense of curiosity instead of a subconscious expectation of never being enough. I am coming to experience  Please Continue Reading …

Home

What is the nature of the corporate culture at your workplace? What word would you use to describe it? Would you say that it is fun, caring, or safe — or would you describe it as silo’d, fearful or driven? If you enjoy your workplace and find it a balanced atmosphere of productive, yet sensitively aware to the impacts on ALL to achieve that productivity, would you be bold enough to call it home?

I am in the middle of a 2-week holiday as I write this post. Holidays are a blend of break and reflection for me, and during this one I have been processing at the intersection of location, events, and thought, with a thorough texturing of past trauma to spice it up.

The location is Victoria, BC – where trauma impacted my family in a significant way some 40 and 45 years ago. The current events are a combination of graduate school convocation and ensuing peer discussions about “what’s next?” — with a remarkably deep and probing distance marketing workshop experience that has been pressing me to answer the question of “what transformation (I) lead my clients through.

One of the most interesting conversations during this trip  Please Continue Reading …

Challenged? Be thankful for the giants in the land!

All of us at one time or another have self-doubt. We look at the challenge before us and wonder if we have what it takes to overcome. As leaders, we may look at the organization we lead and wonder if our people are up for the challenge and/or equipped to face it.

My business partner and I have coined a phrase to repeat when we face difficult challenges and/or long odds: “there are giants in the land”. This simple phrase serves to instantly remind us of the need to be strong and courageous when our emotions might otherwise get the best of us and diminish our capacity for change. It also serves to remind us  Please Continue Reading …

The Most Powerful Experience of My Life

I have been blessed with many powerful experiences in my personal and vocational life. Some have been traumatically powerful, others euphorically…but none like what I have been experiencing currently – none so hope-full.

I have studied, worked, and spoken extensively in the area of values-based leadership and culture, and I have grown to understand that all of this culminates in the aspect of character – within the incorporated collective as well as the individual. The whole of this activity has been compelling to me – Please Continue Reading …

Who paid the piper?

“Someone paid the piper and we all sang along, but we’ve forgotten why we’re singing; we’re lost in the song.” Lost in the Song, David E White, 1999.

I wonder…what disturbs our peace and contentment so persistently, yet invisibly? We find appeal in the concept of the simple life, but we continue to fill our schedules with obligations, responsibilities, new pursuits and causes to serve. For all the years that humankind has been on the planet, the vast majority of lives have not been famous, remarkably significant, or even remembered, yet something in us seems to long for significance.

Is a leader, who has served in relative obscurity, less significant than one who has achieved fame? Is fame important; does it define the quality of a person, a leader, in any way?  Please Continue Reading …