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

The Ritual of Refirement

I like to say that when we are resilient, we move through life with more grace and ease. One of the tools that help us achieve that quality is ritual and we use them to help us with everything from our morning habits to our mourning customs. My friend Lynn retired from the University and is moving into a new work setting for herself. She asked for help in creating a ritual to solidify that transition and my wife and ritual expert, Sheila Collins prepared a ceremony that we would celebrate over the 4th of July weekend. Lynn invited friends and family, academic colleagues, and other members of her community over for a big barbeque. In addition to great food Read More

Challenge Vs. Hindrance Stressors: One is Good, One is Bad

A friend of mine recently left her sales position with a Fortune 500 company after spending 15 years with them. When I asked her why she left, she told me it was all the stress she was under. I inquired further whether it was the challenge of dealing with customers, the difficulties of closing deals, or having to constantly learn about new products. None of that, she told me. In fact, she loved that part of her work. The real problems were the shifting priorities, bureaucratic hassles, and her manager who wanted to micromanage her every step. Those issues just sucked all the energy out of her. New research points out that there is a difference between how different kinds Read More

The Silver Bullet (Redux)

On my flight home from 3 days with my coach Alan Weiss in beautiful Newport RI, I wound up sitting next to a woman who was a professor of nursing and an expert in health care policy. She shared with me that her husband had taken a new position in Pittsburgh and they would be moving here soon. She was facing many of the challenges of relocation and I could hear the fatigue in her voice and the expression of frustration in her words. I thought, she might like to hear some of my ideas on resilience so I told her about my book and we started discussing how she could transform her perceptions about the move from the stress Read More

Don’t Hold Back

Early in my corporate career, I would, on occasion, keep my thoughts to myself even when I believed my ideas would help advance the discussion and that my contributions would make a difference. I was fearful that my ideas would be rejected or that my comments would be seen as irrelevant or even stupid. Fortunately, I had a great boss who valued my ideas and encouraged me to speak my mind at meetings. He told me that our firm needed everyone’s good ideas and I was wrong not to share mine with the group. He was right. This behavior, in some instances, is based on wanting to reduce stress by avoiding the stigma of failure. As it attempts to mitigate Read More

Appreciation Partner

I noticed my wife talking with her accountability partner, Christine the other morning. Sheila and Christine speak most mornings, checking in with each other about their accomplishments from yesterday and their objectives for today. For some reason, I stopped and listened a bit more than I usually do that morning. I noticed that not only were they checking in about what they had accomplished but were also sharing appreciations and compliments about what they had achieved. “That sounds so exciting.” ” What great news that is!” ” I knew you would get that done,” were all uttered within the space of their short check in call. Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina has shown that the ratio of Read More

Your Non-Priorities

Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference is happening this week in the Bay Area. Over 5000 participants will hear about Apple’s newest products and software and they, in turn, will share their latest and greatest ideas for apps, better ways to build iTunes and how Apple should improve the Apple Watch. In a similar vein, a Tweet came to my attention this past week about how the continued additions to mobile software is creating so much complexity for users without adding significantly greater value. No I didn’t know that I could download stickers to i-message that I could then send to my friends. Or that “Digital Touch” allows me to draw sketches or show my beating heart as another way to Read More

A New Way of Thinking

In 1949 Saab Motor Company changed the way automobile designers thought about cars. It was at that time that their engineers began to think about the safety from a “big picture perspective” and their Saab 92 was the first car built with a full body safety cage modeled after how airplanes were constructed. For sure, safety was on engineer’s minds before and after then, but incremental improvements that included such items as padded dashboards, safety glass and head rests didn’t create a mindset of safety. American car companies got on board in 1966 after the US Department of Transportation was established with the mission of creating safer automobiles. No one obviously thought about the importance of safety enough to escalate Read More

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

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