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