Back to School…for Everyone

I pulled a colorful leaf off of one my neighborhood trees and have it by my computer to remind me of the changing season. As if the fall colors aren’t enough, the early arriving school buses welcoming yawning students is a fail proof assurance that summer is over and we’re off to a new school year. Like January 1, I like to use this back to school month to reflect on my accomplishments and consider what I want to push through to the end of the year. I’m working on a new book with my colleague Michael Couch on Leadership Development. I’m also preparing for several speeches and conferences where I’ll be talking on resilience and other topics. Of course, Read More

Be Quick But Don’t Hurry

John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach for UCLA would begin each of his training camps instilling this (and other messages) into the minds of his young players. He must have been doing something right as the UCLA Bruins of the 1960s and 70 won 10 NCAA basketball championships and an amazing 7 in a row! We are generally familiar with the idea of moving quickly. We see an emergency or an issue that needs resolving and we want to take action to make it better. This sense of urgency, that is a natural bias, works well and is an action of our reactive brain. Practicing “not hurrying” puts a mindful moment between our perceptions and actions and gives us an Read More

The Resilience Of Helping

While our hearts go out to the victims of Harvey, we’ve heard story after story about the people who reached out to help those in need. Alison Regan and her family, who found themselves on dry ground in a Houston suburb, know they needed to help and took out their inflatable kayak and found 15 elderly couples who were surrounded by water in their homes. One of the people has a severe heart condition and they wound up steering the kayak right into his home to get him on board! While its amazing to see how many people reached out to help, resilience research suggests that it was not all about doing good for others, but also doing good for Read More

Who’s Training Whom?

Our little pup, Cody is just over two years old, is a barrel of fun. Training him however…not so much. One of my biggest issues with him is his barking at the TV. When he sees anything with more than two legs, he goes into his high stress reaction, jumping and barking at the perpetrator, whoever that might be. I’ve read articles about stopping this behavior, tried Cesar Milan strategies, and even discussed with my dog consultants (vet, groomer, trainer and sitter) but so far, no luck. It came to me this past weekend that, of course, I am the problem. When Cody gets agitated, so do I and I jump up from my comfortable position in front of the Read More

The Breathless Man

I had a second meeting with a new senior leader this past week and as we sat and talked about coaching objectives, one of which was his wanting to be more comfortable when public speaking, that I noticed something interesting about him. He wasn’t breathing very well. It wasn’t as if he had some respiratory disorder but rather his breaths were rather shallow and his speech was somewhat halting as if he didn’t seem able to get enough air in to complete his sentences. As we had just met, I didn’t want to be too intrusive but my job is to find ways to improve his conditions so I respectfully told him about my observation. He smiled and chuckled and Read More

The Power of Mindset

One of the questions I often hear about my resilience work is whether I really believe that “having a positive attitude is all it takes to overcome life’s difficulties?” Uh, no…I don’t… However having the right attitude is an important factor in how we recover and grow from adversity. Even more specifically, the power of our mindset is a key element in everything from happiness to longevity. A research study recently conducted at Stanford indicated that people who think they are less active than others in their own age group die younger than those who believe they are more active, even if their activity levels are essentially similar. The researchers retrospectively studied survey results from 60,000 US adults completed over Read More

The Stress Vaccine

Inoculating yourself against stress is less painful than getting a shot in the arm and works just as effectively. Vaccinations are intended to challenge the body by injecting a small amount of the disease your are trying to avoid into your body and having the body respond to it by building antibodies to those viruses. Stress inoculation works by putting yourself into small and meaningful stressful situations so that you become more comfortable and ready to deal with the stress when it is for real. Want to get over the nervousness of presenting to your senior leaders, go ahead and rehearse your presentation in the Board Room with your boss. Starting a new job and concerned about not knowing anything Read More

Lets Fika

On our trip to Sweden this past month, we came across the concept of Fika, which is considered something of a social institution in that Scandinavian country. Americans might think of it as a coffee break but it is much more to the Swedes. In a country that is considered to have a low stress level and high productivity level, some experts suggest that Fika may be part of that equation. The Fika (it is both a noun and verb) is not about multi-tasking while slurping down your cappuccino, but is instead a time to pause, reflect, and enjoy the moment with colleagues and friends. Usually paired with some tasty pastry, the Fika becomes something of a special but regular Read More

The Luck of the Nobel Laureates

While on holiday in Stockholm, we visited the Nobel Museum just off the main street in the Old District of town. It is a small museum filled with stories and artifacts from the greatest minds of the past 111 years. In one room ran a constant stream of videos from different Nobel winners describing their work and their award. While there were many similarities to what many of them said such as having a visionary ideal, or being dedicated and focused, there was one that particular quality that stood out for me. James Watson and Francis Crick, who discovered the arrangement of DNA, our basic biological structure, described the certainty they felt about how luck played a critical role in Read More

The Art of Relaxation

We’re on our summer holiday that includes a weeklong cruise along the Norwegian Fjords. Our first day, which was a “sea day” meant that we would be going from port to port without any stops and the only activities to engage in were those on the ship. For me, that meant a day of ease. I knew I was in the right place when the notice to hang on the door didn’t say “Do Not Disturb” but instead stated “Still Relaxing.” For almost all of us, relaxation is a lost art. Our busy lives consume every waking hour which often means collapsing into bed, which is our body’s primary rest and recuperation period and a key to our resilience.. It Read More