Out of the Shadows

A weekend trip to New York City had us staying at hotel within sight of the World Trade Center. A walk over to that hallowed grounds brought me for the third time face to face with the 9/11 Memorial Pools and our collective memory of that tragic day. The modern day resilience movement began that evening. How have we done from a resilience perspective over these past 16 years? From an economic point of view (we are staying in the financial district!) there is no doubt that the country has recovered. The stock market is at an all time high, the unemployment rate is at an all time low and technology and health care are leading us down new paths Read More

How A Company Can Promote Resiliency

Richard stresses how important communication is from the leaders in the organization. He shares a story of a company using the “open-book” model so that everyone was aware of how the business was or was not growing. … Continue reading

Overconfidence or Optimism?

An article in this past weekend’s Wall Street Journal pointed out that most recreational golfers are overconfident of their abilities. The research, based on studies of over 6 million tracked golf shots indicated that most of these players overestimate their ability (not me of course). Specifically, the investigators found that if a golfer needs to hit a shot 150 yards to reach a green, he or she will select a club that requires them to hit the shot perfectly to achieve that objective. Unfortunately, the research shows that they will only achieve that goal 37% of the time. Most of the time their shot falls short. The study’s authors point out that this tendency is referred to as the “overconfidence Read More

How Much Risk Can You Handle?

Managing risk is critical to business and personal success. We saw it in how Wells Fargo’s business practices resulted in fines and loss of customers. Fox News has seen its franchise diminish because it failed to consider the impact of not addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. Hospitals, insurers and providers are in a state of panic thinking about another major change in health care models. Risk tolerance is not just for business, however. It is also for individuals. Our ability to take risks is directly tied to resilience in that we may be fearful of taking on certain challenges or wanting to avoid danger because we are afraid that we may not be able to bounce back (or forward) Read More

A Veteran Tale

This past weekend I had to the opportunity to co-facilitate a workshop for the 4th Community Leadership Course for Veterans, which is a program of Leadership Pittsburgh. This experience provides a group of post 9/11 veterans, from every branch of military services, the opportunity to participate in a six-month course that helps them become engaged community leaders. One of their activities was a low rope course in which they work as a team to climb a big wall, balance their entire team on a big octagonal teeter-totter, and navigate their way across 3 stations and over an “alligator pit.” After each exercise, we had a chance to debrief and discuss their individual and team learnings. Putting aside their physical capacity Read More

Build It In, Don’t Bolt It On

In the natural world, resilience occurs without forethought or planning. Forests recover from raging wildfires, beaches find a way to replenish their foundations after hurricanes and volcanic eruptions use spewed lava to create new land. Nature has a way of making triumphs out of tragedy. Human resilience is a bit harder to recognize. Our flawed approach to addressing stress and challenges (which we call the “stress management model”) tells us that we can only try to cope with our stress since it is so much more than we can tolerate. Thus, we use words like “overwhelm”, “can’t take it” or “going nuts”, while the truth is that we mostly succeed at what we attempt because of our perseverance, hard work Read More

She Did It Again

Katherine Switzer’s ninth run at the Boston Marathon was a lot easier than her first and much more celebrated. I wrote about K.V. Switzer’s (the name she used to register for the race) in The Resilience Advantage. Her gritty first effort at that storied event 50 years ago, when women were not permitted to enter the Marathon, transformed long distance running. Her training that occurred during the cold New England winter of 1967 led to her quiet start where she hoped she would not be discovered. At about the 11-mile mark, she was seen by the local media who immediately reported her presence on the streets of Boston. Race coordinator Jock Semple, determined to get her “out of my race” Read More


I received lots of comments from last week’s RW regarding Time and Priorities. It seems that the idea that we beat ourselves up about not having “enough time,” resonated with many readers and that by reframing that message as a need to clarify our priorities, we usually serve ourselves better. Another way to think about productivity is the evolving neuroscience research about work and rest. Studies tells us that our bodies and minds run in a 90-minute cycle from a state of alertness to fatigue regularly during our day. We usually power through low time with caffeine, sugar or our own stubbornness about not giving into our natural rhythms. I discovered this phenomenon in graduate school when I recognized that Read More

Time and Priorities

I was facilitating a leadership workshop at a technology company this past week and the team got into a discussion about how they “do not have time” to meet with any other leaders in Pittsburgh’s increasingly impressive tech landscape. They agreed that from a strategic perspective it would benefit them to know more people at Google, Uber, and Carnegie Mellon but their work schedules prohibited such activities. I reached a bit of a frustration point as I saw that several of them seem to beat up on themselves when they concluded that there must be something wrong if they couldn’t do everything that was on their plate (and potential plates). As I discuss in The Resilience Advantage, time, like gravity, Read More