Issue No. 108 | August 24, 2016

Go to Your Fire

I was preparing for a keynote recently and was telling the story about Susan the flight attendant from 9/11 who I describe in my book, The Resilience Advantage. I mentioned that as first responders head towards physical danger when they hear about it, psychologists often head towards emotional danger when they hear about it. That day, when I heard Susan crying in the corridors of DFW Terminal A, I headed for that trouble.

In responding to tough stuff, research indicates that we generally have three ways to cope. We can approach the challenge and problem-solve our way to the other side or we can cognitively reframe the situation so that we see it from another perspective such as "looking for the silver lining," or we retreat from the circumstance and create a mental mindset that tells us that it is more than we can handle and that it is best to escape.

Each of us, however, has our own strength of character, our natural ability that draws us to some situations and away from others. My CPA loves to jump into the numbers while I'd prefer to just keep a 10,000-foot view. A dancer colleague of mine can get up in front of 500 people and create an improvisational dance that holds everyone spellbound but she's not too excited about thinking how she can monetize her work. One of my executive clients relishes hotly debated challenges while his colleague prefers peaceful and easy resolutions.

Like our first responder friends, we each have a fire that draws us to it. Resilience grows as we gain more confidence and comfort in taking on what we do well, learning from those experiences, and apply them to our fullest in situations that we are comfortable in working and those in which we are not.

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© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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