Mary-Ann Owens and Associates

Resilience Blog

Reaching your goals with Grit

Get Resilient! Get Hired! Get Promoted!

Get Resilient! Get Hired! Get Promoted!

Companies often hire for attitude because they benefit so much from these positive employees. Your ability to be resilient supports a positive attitude. How can you be this resilient employee with the good attitude? 

When your behaviour aligns with the following resilient behaviours you can promote these benefits to organizations you are applying to or working within.   

Employers benefit from their positive attitude. How can you do this?
  • Be keen and curious, embracing and chasing change and learning
  • Say yes to assignments, even when that means climbing around, under or over walls to progress
  • Play full out giving it your all to benefit both yourself and others
  • Determine who boosts your energy and surround yourself with these people
  • Boost your spirit and fill your mind with positive information, reading, videos or audios
  • Acknowledge and celebrate small wins which will lead to bigger wins
  • Take breaks to re-energize yourself
  • Cherish and embrace laughter and joy when and where it occurs
  • Notice and comment on things you are grateful for 
Employers gain from their focus on the right things. How can you do this?
  • Work hard and keep learning
  • Reinvent yourself as trends within your industry evolve and change
  • Develop a personal mission statement that brings out the best in yourself or is focused on outcomes larger than yourself
  • Motivate those around you by reframing negative situations into possibilities, opportunities, and learning
  • Be professional and optimistic enough to enjoy the adventure in the unexpected
  • Look adversity in the eye and know that with time and effort something good will come of it
  • Create your own destiny by stepping up to what you can do to aid situations
  • Hold onto a positive vision of your team’s and organization’s future especially when things aren’t going well
  • Get centered quickly after you get knocked about by assessing what happened and asking for help and support
Employers benefit from their emphasis on “we” over “me”. How can you do this?
  • Smile at, welcome, and be polite with others
  • Know that relationships are more important than things
  • Befriend and find ways to cheer up your co-workers
  • Notice and let others know when they are doing a good job
  • Be happy for and congratulate others when they succeed

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7 Wonderful Ways to Increase Your Energy Levels

7 Wonderful Ways to Increase Your Energy Levels

1. Be grateful. 

Being aware of what others are adding to your life and letting them know supports your relationships.

  • Who are your grateful for? 
  • How have they added value to your life?
  • Did you tell them? 

 Raise your energy and self-esteem by acknowledging what you are grateful for within yourself.

  • What are you grateful for about you? 

 Feeling good about your life circumstances, such as where you live or what you own can make your heart warmer. 

  • What are you grateful for about your life in general?


2. Learn something new today.

 Learning gives you ways to keep moving. 

  • What are you curious about in your life and work?
  • What do you want to learn more about?


3. Meditate. 

Centering or meditation assists you to focus, be clear and in the moment. I found a meditation that helps calm my mind by bringing me into my senses. This gives my mind something to do and quiets it. I love it. 

  • How can you center yourself?
  • What can you do to calm yourself down?


4. Balance being active with being in the moment. 

I was really tired the other day and I tried to do nothing as Peter Fenner says in his book Radiant Mind. By being in the moment like this throughout the day I got a lot more accomplished and I had more energy for all my activities. I wasn’t pushing my adrenals or stressing about anything.

  • How could you bring this kind of non-outcome oriented method to your day?
  • How could you balance just being, with getting things done within your activities today?


5. Focus on the progress you have made.

We often focus on what went wrong or what we didn’t get done, however, this drains our energy levels. Instead, focus on the progress you made today.  

  • What did you get done today? 
  • What skills enabled you to get this done?

Living on the edge can help stretch your skill and confidence levels. If you stepped outside your comfort zone today, ask yourself:

  • What enabled you to be courageous and exercise risk today?

When you get to know this about yourself, you will learn to make ongoing progress by exercising your risk muscles.  


6. Break your larger goals down into manageable chunks.

Smaller chunks are doable and action brings helpful energy along with it.

  • What are the next steps in your projects that are easily doable?
  • What steps take more time and effort to accomplish? 

Assessing your goals like this and writing them down enables you to determine what to do and when to pursue each next step. These actions will help you stay focused and make progress.  


7. Get happy.

I saw a blog post that said you should dance around your office. Isn’t that fun? There must be a million ways to increase your happiness and energy levels.   

  • What makes you happy? 
  • Can you do whatever this is for 5 minutes to raise your energy and happiness levels?

Answering these questions enables you to get moving in ways that work for you. 

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Working With the Ups and Downs of a Work Search

Working With the Ups and Downs of a Work Search

Have you noticed that the end of a really busy day that your thoughts and feelings can turn negative? The next morning’s thoughts and feelings, however after a good night’s sleep, will have improved. The negative state was transformed into a positive one due to your good night’s sleep and elevated energy levels.

If we are also able to just watch our thoughts and feelings during the day, we can begin to notice that they are fleeting. They come and they go. It helps to realize that these thoughts or feelings too shall pass. The awareness of your energy levels and the normal occurrences of the ups and downs in anyone’s work search can help you realize the transient nature of challenging thoughts and feelings.   

Problems occur though when we get stuck in negative patterns of thoughts and feelings. We might be heightening our negativity and believe it is all that will happen to us no matter what others tell us or our past experience has shown us. We might be locked into these patterns and find these difficult thoughts do not go away.

In these circumstances, fear might be in the driver’s seat because of a pressing need for outcomes or finances. If this occurs it usually helps to step back and look at your situation from a broader perspective. You can look for evidence of positive circumstances, opportunities, and possibilities and open yourself up to the fullness of your experiences and eventualities. Most likely both the positive as well as the negative are part and parcel of your current situation and are viable with time and effort in your future.  

Staying in a state of fear, though, can rob us of the energy we need to move forward and advance our situations. Often relaxing and centering ourselves can help us move forward into action and broadened outcomes. Consider the following questions to assist you if you are stuck:

  1. Who in your support network has helped you be your best self and advanced your efforts?
  2. Where did you experience positive outcomes within challenging circumstances? What did you do to enable them?
  3. What has helped you to relax and move forward in the past when you faced difficulties?

Use these questions to assist you, helping you stay determined and progressing in your work search.  

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Independent - Dependent - Where do you lie?

Independent - Dependent - Where do you lie?
Are you an independent person? 

Could you benefit from being more dependent on others?

It is important to find a healthy balance between being independent and being dependent.

When we are independent, we own our own issues and we don’t blame others for the state of our work and lives or the consequences of our choices. We also take personal responsibility for being the best we can be, by making the most of our time and opportunities. 

We can sometimes be too independent as outlined in the following story: I do an exercise with clients where they assess the support around them. I remember delivering a workshop where a leader did this exercise and stated that he had only one person that supported him. I wondered how much support he could receive though because he told me the supportive individual was in another country. This leader was off the scale in his independence, he was unable to be vulnerable with others and his extreme independence was getting in the way of his success. 

Some of the benefits of relying on others include:

  1. Gaining information and learning. We live in the information age where a wealth of knowledge is available to us. Change is also occurring rapidly. No one person can know all the developments that are happening around us. You can learn about opportunities, issues, and trends in your field by increasing your support and depending on others. You can also get advice from those who are more experienced or have different points of view. 
  2. Delegating work to others. We can increase efficiencies and access subject matter experts that can aid in resolving your situations or problems. When we ask others for help, we can usually get more done. 
  3. Gaining feedback. We can work through projects more thoroughly by asking others their opinions or for feedback on what we have done so far. By getting feedback from others we can build more robust processes and projects which leads to enhanced success. 
  4. Building your professional relationships and network. A healthy professional network can help you to gain work. You can also raise your professional reputation through opportunities you hear of through your network. Speaking at a networking event, or writing an article for an industry newsletter are ways to ensure others are aware of your expertise and skills. Having a diverse personal and professional network also gives you a wider base of support when you need it and can increase your confidence in sharing your knowledge and network to help others.

Where do you lie on the scale of independence versus dependence? Do you need to set a goal in either of these areas to achieve more success?

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Increase Your Resilience through Tapping into Resources

Increase Your Resilience through Tapping into Resources

There are two types of resources, internal and external, that can support your ability to be resilient. 

1. Which of the following do you currently utilize to support your resilience? 

2. Are there some new resources you want to tap into when you read the lists? 

Internal resources include:

  • Skills can be developed by learning with your body, mind, heart and soul. Examples of internal skills are using, strengthening or stretching your body. From swimming and running to carpentry or knitting, these are a few of the skills that utilize your body. Interacting, communicating and getting along with people are skills utilizing your heart, etc. If you want to become aware of your skills make a list of what you have learned over your life and the skills that you currently use in your day-to-day life and work. The actions we take and focus on are the result of the skills we have developed over time. How extensive and varied are your skills? 
  • Many of the following practices are soul practices in that they bring peace or lightness to your whole being. Examples of soul practices include contemplative prayer, centering, yoga, tai chi, chi gong, meditation, journaling, reflective writing, self-awareness exercises, relaxation, aligning with nature, and using your imagination to make positive progress.
  • Everyone is creative and anything you do can be done creatively. How do you exercise your creativity? Some examples of activities that demonstrate creativity are writing, dancing, painting, drawing, sketching, sculpture, ceramics, music, cooking, and many others (limited only by our imaginations). 
  • Knowledge is the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject using your mind. What areas of work and life do you demonstrate wisdom in and have knowledge to offer others? What areas of work and life do people repeatedly ask you about? 

External resources include: 

  • Classes, seminars, talks, podcasts, or conferences, 
  • Friends,
  • Family,
  • Colleagues,
  • Professional services,
  • Books,
  • Technology,
  • Money,
  • Public institutions and facilities such as educational, or health facilities, 
  • Libraries and art galleries
  • Community centers,
  • Science centers,
  • The internet or social media sites, and
  • Non-profit agencies, special interest collectives, and non-governmental agencies.
How could you utilize these resources to support your resilience? Are there areas in work and life where you are stuck? Would increasing your internal or external resources enable a breakthrough?
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Acceptance Then Progress

Acceptance Then Progress

“The more you hide your feelings, the more they show. The more you deny your feelings, the more they grow.” ~Unknown

Many people define resilience as being able to move toward goals. However, at times our negative emotions, thoughts or memories can block our progress. When we accept our difficult emotions, thoughts, and memories, paradoxically, we can help make the progress we desire. These valid parts of our healing process most likely need some focused attention.

Part of having career grit is to acknowledge the difficulties we have in life and at work. By accepting our negative feelings, thoughts, and memories we are validating and honoring what we have been through. Accepting our whole self-allows us to move on and work through difficult experiences. When we don’t acknowledge and accept these parts of ourselves, we can end up being stuck in repetitive patterns instead of moving beyond these experiences.

When we demonstrate self-compassion and self-acceptance of our thoughts and feelings we can develop the energy to move forward in our lives. Some ways to face and work with these thoughts and feelings are by:

  1. Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings helps you get them out of your head and can bring perspective to your experience. You most likely have had some negative moments in the past, where in time, you were able to release these situations from your mind and free yourself from the grip they had on you and your thinking. Sometimes difficult periods even bring with them unexpected gifts of resilience, learning or growth. Has that happened to you?
  2. Talking with Supportive Friends/Family: Sharing our problems with supportive people can help us get support in difficult times and share our common human experiences. Hopefully, you have people in your life that you can do this with. Don’t be surprised if some of your friends and family are not able to be emotionally vulnerable and tolerant of low moments. You will learn whom you can do this with by taking a risk and sharing with some of the closest people in your life. Keep those people who are able to be emotionally vulnerable close and also give them an ear when they are going through challenging times. This will help you build trust that either party can count on when you need support.
  3. Accept your Thoughts and Feel your Feelings: Allowing yourself to feel your difficult feelings, and bear witness to them, in a kind-hearted way can help you reduce the impact they have on you. If we strongly fight our negative feelings and thoughts they persist. When we accept our thoughts and feelings, we can change. “What you resist persists.” Carl Jung

One example occurred with a client I coached who had memories of working in a number of difficult team settings. This interfered with his work search since he was unconsciously worried this would mean that he would inevitably end up working with a difficult team again.

Rather than avoiding becoming part of a work team again, he reflected upon his past experiences and learned how to impact teams constructively. This helped him lean into team situations again. Sharing and dealing head on with his experience, helped him gain the confidence he needed to move into a new work team.

The problem doesn’t lie in the negative thoughts or feelings we have, but in how we respond to them. Can we be compassionate with ourselves when we have a human moment without beating ourselves up after the fact? Can we accept the inevitable dips in our journey of life, and not judge ourselves harshly for the difficulties we face? Remember, acceptance and self-compassion are instrumental in keeping us on track and moving forward.

“Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you can not bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all you are beyond that pain.” Kahlil Gibran

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Turn up Your Thrill and Resilience Factors

Turn up Your Thrill and Resilience Factors

Our minds often focus on what is bad in our lives and make those issues appear bigger as a survival mechanism. We remember the unpleasant things that have happened to us strongly, even if we have had more positive experiences. This is called negative bias thinking and it occurs in everyone. The advantage with this aids in assisting us to survive negative situations, however, we end up living with more misery, anxiety, fear or depression than we need to much of the time.

Have you heard the line from that song called “Jack and Diane” by John Cougar …it goes like this…”life goes on after the thrill of living is gone”. You can, however, rebalance the positive and turn up the thrill factor within your life by doing one or more of the following:

  1. Remember all the good things that have occurred. We can increase the thrill of living and our resilience at the same time by remembering all the good things that have happened to us. A great exercise is to cut a piece of flip chart paper in three vertical strips. Then tape the three pieces together. You will have a very long piece of paper. On one end of the paper you can start with the beginning of your life and on the other end finish with the present day, you can list all the good things, the highlights and thrilling moments that have occurred over the course of your life. You may have to add to this sheet of paper, your lifeline, as you allow yourself to remember more of the good things that have happened to you.
  2. Think of all the friends and family that have demonstrated great love and care for you over your lifetime and the fun times you have had together. Add them to your lifeline.
  3. Notice the good things that are happening in your day, as they are happening. Let them sink into your mind by savoring them for a moment and reflect on how these good thoughts make you feel better.
  4. You may also recall some things that haven’t gone well in the past. With time, however, they may have provided you with an unseen benefit. Sometimes these gifts come in the form of learning, perspective or strength. What if one of the reasons these bad things happened was so that you could receive the gift? Consider what you are currently labeling as “bad” in your life. Think of what good might come of these things if you gave the situation some time, effort or perspective. Can you lean into turning the situation into something beneficial?
  5. On a different sheet of paper write down your negative thoughts and reflect on ways you can reframe the situation. Reframing means that you see the situation from a different perspective. An example is when you find yourself stuck in an airport in a snowstorm and you end up having to wait for 8 hours. A reframe of the situation would be the appreciation of quality time you have with the person you are with, getting some work done or making an adventure out of the situation. You can turn this negative situation into something positive for yourself and those around you.

You can imagine how doing these exercises on a regular basis will increase your resilience levels. You will be able to move through things when you rebalance your thoughts positively and increase your thrill for living. You will have more energy and you can take more positive risks because you realize that so much good can come from engaging positively with the situations you find yourself in when reflecting on your past and your experience of the present moment.

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What This Blog is About

What This Blog is About

Welcome to The Resilience Blog.

The topics in this blog help you be more resilient in your career and as a leader. I write about ways to gain momentum and positively move through blocks that get in the way of your goals. I post articles on the blog about once a week. 

When I did my research study for my Ph.D., I got to conduct interviews with a number of successful and admired leaders. What fascinated me about them was how resilient they were. They had grown into leaders who could make things happen by demonstrating their resilience, confidence, and adaptive behaviours. I will teach you how to use and apply these resilient behaviours in your leadership and career leading to new levels of success. 

I am completing a book on Career Grit, which will include content and themes that will appear in the blog. If you have a story about overcoming challenges and becoming increasingly resilient in the process, I would love hearing about it. 

I am passionate about these career related topics:

  • methods to positively connect with others,
  • ways to lean into feedback,
  • reframing negative experiences,
  • making progress on your goals,
  • methods to enhance your positive impact, and
  • meeting challenges.

In the leadership area I enjoy focusing on: 

  • creating a safe environment, 
  • being more positive in your self-management and with your team,
  • raising your self-awareness,
  • bringing safety along with you wherever you go,
  • being able to have tough conversations when needed,
  • building trust, and 
  • ensuring your team performs. 

I hope you sign up for the blog soon and that you and your team apply these resilient behaviours thereby increasing your success.

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How to Advance Your Career Even If You Don't Have a Job

How to Advance Your Career Even If You Don't Have a Job

Many people think they need a job to make progress in their career. You don't need a job to make progress. Over time doing things that create forward momentum may create the work you need. So don't wait to start doing these career advancing moves. 

  1. Promote your progress. Let those with the authority to spend money and make decisions know the advances you are making in your learning, networks, and knowledge of their industry.
  2. Do your homework. Research the leading organizations and individuals in your field. Learn what they are doing to stay ahead.
  3. Have your finger on the pulse. Know what the emerging issues and trends are within your industry.
  4. Put your hand up. Volunteer within your industry association or on the board of an organization with a cause you are passionate about. Volunteering is a way you can expand your network and build your skills.
  5. Broaden your network in your field. You can attend industry events with a goal of meeting 3 new people at each event. You can let your current network know that you want to expand your network. Ask yourself are there people you should get in front of? 
  6. Find a mentor (or two). Spend time with people in your field who are further along the career path or considered experts in your industry.
  7. Polish your online profiles. Keep the information current on these public profiles, so that your contacts can be up to date on your progress.
  8. Push your passion forward. Advance your knowledge and abilities in areas of your career where you are truly motivated. This will be fun and rewarding as the learning and knowledge add to your skill sets.
  9. Take a risk. Put more skin in the game by putting yourself out more. You could organize an event, write an article, or offer to do a talk. Your efforts and learning can open doors, allowing you to meet new people, develop new opportunities, and give you new information and energy.
  10. Chart a career path for your career progress. What skills do you need as you round out your experience and move forward on your career path?

You can learn the skills you will require through;

  • taking a course,
  • researching and learning on your own,
  • writing an article and posting it,
  • volunteering, or
  • finding an expert or mentor.

These actions will advance your process, add to your knowledge base and network. Even if you don't have work, setting goals and carrying out some of these actions will move you closer to getting work that you would enjoy and shine at.

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What it Takes to Coach for Pride

What it Takes to Coach for Pride

I saw an article in the Globe and Mail on the weekend that outlined how Bob Johnson, the hockey coach, emphasized pride in his coaching. This is a motivating way to coach people and is also important for leaders in organizations. The article stated that this way of coaching was a switch from the aggressive style of coaching using fear and humiliation with hockey players that was common in the early years of hockey.

I bet you are thinking to yourself that coaching for pride would motivate and engage you a lot better than coaching based on fear and humiliation. This is also what they found with hockey players. 

Why would this method of coaching be discussed in a resilience blog? To make coaching for pride happen, the leader or coach needs to ensure they have a positive relationship with themselves. If the leader cannot see what is right in themselves, they won’t be able to see what is right and what they can be proud of in others.

Be aware, though, that some leaders present themselves in an arrogant way, they seem to act as if they are the only ones who have positive qualities. This is actually an insecure way of leading which is not based on a positive sense of self. These leaders need to get feedback from others to verify what they are truly good at. They also need to confirm through others what their skills are and support themselves in those skills.

To gain skills in this method of coaching you may need to:

  1. Start by asking yourself what you did well today. Notice where you feel good about the things you have accomplished. This can range from simple accomplishments such as writing a great email or having a productive conversation to completing a complex project in an effective way. The important thing to acknowledge is that you contributed and made this result happen.
  2. After a period of time focusing on the first point, start to shift your attention to noticing what others are doing well. Notice how your team members contribute weekly and with time and increased awareness, you will want to start to notice others' abilities. 
  3. Changing deep beliefs that keep you stuck and focused on what is going wrong, rather than what is going well may require you spending time meditating or working with a coach.

When you are able to have pride in your own accomplishments, you can encourage others to have pride in theirs. 

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