Mary-Ann Owens and Associates

Resilience Blog

Reaching your goals with Grit

10 Ways to Support Your Resilience by Savoring the Good

10 Ways to Support Your Resilience by Savoring the Good

“If you keep resting your mind on good events and conditions, pleasant feelings, the things you do get done, physical pleasure, and your good intentions and qualities, then over time your brain will take a different shape, one with strength and resilience hardwired into it, as well as a realistically optimistic outlook, a positive mood and a sense of worth.”  Rick Hanson

At some point this week if you can, take the time to:

  1. Notice what went well 
  2. Savor supportive, or positive interactions, events or outcomes
  3. Appreciate and be grateful for what you have, even if it is something very basic or simple (like a beautiful plant, tree or view on your morning walk)
  4. Savor the taste of the food or drink you are imbibing
  5. Notice the good intentions and motives that underpin your actions 
  6. Catch-up with good friends or family members and talk about your good memories (For example; my niece went on an African safari recently; it is such a joy to hear her experiences of seeing the animals!!)
  7. Notice what you accomplished today and savor the good feelings that result
  8. Share your positive feelings with others, don’t just keep them to yourself
  9. Capture the positive moments that occur as mental snapshots
  10. Get absorbed in the moment because when you slow down, the present moment is usually something to be savored

Remember these events for 10 seconds or more so that you can lock them into your memory and increase the number of positive thoughts you can turn to. 

The benefits of carrying out these activities include:

  • Increased feelings and thoughts of well-being
  • Putting your thoughts on an upward trajectory (versus heading on a downward spiral where unhealthy choices are made such as drinking alcohol or filling your head with negative self-talk)
  • Experiencing a gratitude-filled life 
  • Developing your can do muscles and increasing your confidence
  • Improved performance in work and life
  • Increasing your positive social interactions
  • Decreasing your negative thinking, which allows for more positivity
  • Improved decision making

Click here if you want to savor a beautiful time-lapse photography called Spring

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Transform the Negative by Facing It

Transform the Negative by Facing It

Thoughts and feelings create mental and energetic patterns. Resisting or chasing away negative self-talk and feelings can actually make them stay with you longer. Facing, accepting and allowing these thoughts or feelings helps to neutralize them. Essentially you need to find a way to accept the things you can control and not beat yourself up about the things you have no control over. When you are clear about what you are dealing with you will be better able to face your situation head-on. You will then be able to get moving forward again and take action. 

Negative situations can take you down a rabbit hole that robs you of a clear focus and energy. People neutralize the negative and thereby take the sting out of difficult thoughts and situations.

Embrace Your Negatives 

Spend time with these thoughts and feelings so that you enable them to take up a smaller part of your thoughts. They will become less of a focus this way. When you feel negative feelings you are embracing and allowing them to exist instead of pushing them away. When you push away the issues, they will eventually rear their ugly head again and when they do it may be worse than if you had dealt with it initially. There is also a chance that ignoring the negative thoughts may cause you health problems. This is why working with a counsellor can help or assist you in getting over a difficult situation that you have gone through. By talking to a professional and getting your thoughts and feelings out this enables your negative thoughts to occupy less space in your mind. People also talk with friends and family assisting with the same type of process, thereby lowering the sting or need for rumination on a difficult situation. 

Watch Yourself

When you are having negative thoughts and feelings watch yourself and become aware of your thoughts. All religions of the world have centering prayers. By centering yourself and watching yourself you will tap into your higher self. Your higher self can neutralize the negative by watching undesirable emotions and thoughts and help you realize that they are not the core of you. Sometimes your thoughts consist of negative opinions or feelings of other people, which you have taken on. Getting in touch with your own values, and what is most important to you such as compassion, love, or self-care can help you distance from the negative opinions of others. By centering and watching yourself you can let these thoughts and feelings go.  

Make Your Fears and Complaints into a Growth Challenge

Choose to see through your fears and complaints. Each of your fears and complaints give you opportunities to neutralize these patterns and turn them into positives. You will need to grow and get stronger to truly neutralize a fear or complaint though. What opportunity exists if you were to challenge your fears or complaints and focus on making them breakthrough opportunities? You may sense and know that by focusing on these specific growth opportunities you will grow and overcome your issues. 

What will you do to face and tackle your negative self-talk? 

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How Holding an Internal Focus Benefits You

How Holding an Internal Focus Benefits You

If you do something for yourself, rather than for the external impact, you can increase your:

  • motivation,
  • alignment with your values and purpose,
  • influence on others and the situation,
  • responsibility levels,
  • effort and preparation levels,
  • positive attitude,
  • confidence levels,
  • happiness levels,
  • ability to challenge others,
  • integrity,
  • independence,
  • self-determination, 
  • perseverance levels, and
  • success.

When we make choices for ourselves, we have an internal locus of control. We believe we can influence our own life outcomes when we are internally directed. 

When we have an external locus of control we attribute outcomes to external circumstances such as other people, events, luck or fate. 

There are drawbacks to having an internal locus of control, though.  Being hard on oneself and feeling responsible for both success and failure are also part and parcel of being internally directed. Sometimes a realistic sense of one’s circle of influence is helpful in a team or corporate context. 

Overall though having an internal locus of control is seen to be better at creating outcomes we have a stronger likelihood of achieving.  

How can an attitude of I am doing this for me help you?

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5 Ways a Resilient Attitude Will Benefit Your Career and Work Search

5 Ways a Resilient Attitude Will Benefit Your Career and Work Search

Some people hire and retain for attitude. A resilient attitude may help you with this and in other ways as well. The following sections and bullets list ways to show you how holding a resilient attitude can benefit your career or work search.  

1. Having an Optimistic Attitude:

Being optimistic about the future and believing that good things do and will happen helps keep adversity in perspective. When the going gets tough in your career or the work search, remember this too shall pass and good things will again come your way. Here are a few suggestions to help increase your optimism by:

  • noticing what went well in your day, week, and month,
  • determining what you are gaining in the work search in the way of skills, and contacts,
  • noticing the balancing effects that not working brings to your life; more time with family, and friends,
  • putting the work search or your career in perspective, trying not to take an industry downturn or layoff personally, and
  • noticing how you have positively changed over the course of your career or your work search.

 2. Being Socially Connected:

Cultivating your relationships and network will benefit you. You will need to ensure you bring benefit to others along the way. You can do this by: 

  • taking the time to invite your network to an interesting industry event,
  • sending your network a relevant article you found online,
  • interacting with groups online in a way that contributes to members success,
  • supporting others by volunteering in your industry, or community, and
  • learning new skills and making new contacts where you volunteer (it truly feels good to help others).

 3. Accepting Help:

If you need support and help along the way, you can ask for it and give yourself permission to be on the receiving end of support by:

  • getting advice from others you admire,
  • asking others who have been through a similar situation about how they succeeded,
  • reading a positive book or blog that supports you,
  • going to support groups or joining virtual ones on Facebook or other social media,
  • getting support in the form of career counselling or help from a therapist if you are getting in your own way.

 4. Welcoming Change:

How can welcoming change help you in your career or work search? Adapting to changes that occur in industries and the workplace requires that you work on your ability to welcome change. Here are a few tips on how to manage and be more flexible to change by:

  • flexing to the needs of bosses, others in your team, search professionals, and people in your network,
  • adapting to the feedback and being receptive to trends in your industry,
  • being prepared to transfer industries if the one you are in is in a downturn,
  • leaning into feedback and being curious about others' opinions, and
  • learning from the missteps, you make along the way and modifying your approach.

5. Being Grateful:

The work search is full of rejection so balancing this out with gratitude will enhance your energy levels and mood. Your career itself can also be difficult from time to time. Here are some ideas to put gratitude to work. You might try being grateful for:

  • the people who invite you to coffee and who are truly there for you,
  • the growth and learning you are gaining in your career or during work search process,
  • for what you already have, noticing the small joys and successes in your day, 
  • the skills and character you are developing, and
  • the life and career lessons you are learning along the way in your career or the work search process.

Which of the 5 areas is your career or work search needing the most? You can utilize these 5 resilient attitudes to support your progress in your work search and career in general, obtaining the work and projects you desire.  

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Creating a Resilient Leadership Outlook

Creating a Resilient Leadership Outlook

Resilient leaders need to both support and challenge their employees. If leaders are centered in their heads, often all they can do is challenge. This is not empowering for anybody. The leaders themselves and employees reporting to them, often feel a relentless driving pressure which doesn’t contain enough support. Employees’ enthusiasm and energy levels drain when there is nothing positive to focus on. 

Positive encouragement drives performance, creates a safe space, and demonstrates care. Pushing for results and having heart at the same time, enables humanity which increases motivation and performance. Employees will feel the support of their leader if they feel valued and respected for their good qualities. Everyone will be more open to seeing challenges and feedback as constructive because they feel powerful. 

So how do you move from orienting yourself with your head alone to using both your head and your heart when you lead? 

You can start down this path by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What do I appreciate about my life and work? 
  • What skills, passions, accomplishments, and strengths have I demonstrated?
  • What am I proud of? 

“To help others develop, start with yourself.”- Marshal Goldsmith

Then when you are able to appreciate, honor, and feel proud of yourself on a consistent basis, you can move your focus to your team. At that point ask yourself:

  • What do I appreciate about my team members?
  • What skills, passions, accomplishments, and strengths do my team members demonstrate?
  • What makes me proud about my team? 

You can’t just think about the answers to these questions, though. You will need to let the team members know the details of what you notice. The positive inner response you will gain from this focus will help you do the work of leadership more naturally and with increased ease. 

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”- Nelson Mandela

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5 Ways to Face Your Fears and Make Progress

5 Ways to Face Your Fears and Make Progress

Fear can stop us in our tracks. However, if we approach fear in the right way we can advance and learn some things along the way. 

I found some quotes on dealing with fear and have included a few of them. I hope they inform and inspire you as much as they did me. 

“Each of us must confront our own fear, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it. “- Judy Blume

I remember when I went back to school full time to take my MBA. I changed my major and went into an area that I was more motivated by and that I found more interesting. I did, though, have to quit my well-paying job. It took a huge leap of faith and I trusted that my gut was leading me in the right direction. I wasn’t motivated by finance, which was my major in my undergraduate degree and working in the area was making me unwell. I was good at math, but it wasn’t an area I was passionate about. 

I bought an audio book called Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. I used to go over to a nearby park and listen to it. The book helped motivate me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. My gut was right, I never felt unmotivated in my work again. 

Here are some learnings from my story:

  1. Trust your gut.
  2. If you want to realize your dreams, you may have to be willing to take a leap of faith, despite your fearful feelings. 
  3. Take action.
  4. Learn about the things that are holding you back.

1. Acknowledge, Face, and Dissolve the Fear

‘You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Ideally, you will take on the challenge of acknowledging, facing, and dissolving your fears. This, however, requires further reflection and deep thinking about the situation you fear.  It requires that you move toward the fear and become more curious about it. 

Ask yourself:

  • What are you afraid of?
  • What is the worst that can happen?
  • What is your story?
  • What are your fearful feelings trying to tell you?

Observe what is going on. Get curious about the thoughts your fear generates. Become aware of the pictures in your head the fear creates. Think about alternative visions that do not include negative outcomes within them.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you holding back to avoid looking silly, being judged, or getting rejected? 
  • What are the legitimate things you need to learn that would help you be successful? 
  • Are you afraid of success? 
  • Or is it something else that is holding you back? 

2. Act on Your Fear

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” - Dale Carnegie

Do the things that frighten you. This action builds courage and strength. You may have noticed that 80-90% of the fearful thoughts you have never happen. These thoughts just hold you back from accomplishing your goals. 

Think of the next step that you need to do to get moving. Often we focus on the end product but the end result is often too far away. If instead, we focus on the next thing we can do to make progress toward our goal, it can help us to move forward. 

Taking small steps towards your goals are fine and are something to be affirmed and appreciated as you make progress. If you take enough small steps, before you know it, you will be at your end goal. 

It isn’t how you feel, it is what you do. My actions were that I quit my full-time job and enrolled in an MBA with another major. I did it and then day-by-day I went to classes, took on part-time work to finance my studies, and eventually finished my MBA. The actions, not the worries were what mattered. 

Acting brings self-confidence along with it. When you act you gain experience and with that experience, you feel confident. Sitting around and thinking won’t make you feel confident, however, action will. What action can you take to overcome your fear this week?

3. Center Yourself to the Present Moment

“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

The present moment is fine and even wonderful. You can experience positive feelings and thoughts again by focusing on the present moment. You are more than your fears; you are a bigger and brighter awareness. 

I notice that when I appreciate what I have and the events of my day, my outlook is a lot brighter. By focusing on what you are grateful for, you can change your focus and cope with more resourcefulness than when you are fearful. 

4. Be Positive

“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.” - William Allen White

When you notice you are being fearful about possible outcomes try and make a point of looking for evidence that the situation could also turn out positively. Our thoughts narrow when we are fearful, however, if we sit with our situation and look for positive outcomes our thoughts broaden. 

  • Is there an opportunity to think or feel something positive within the situation we are afraid of? 
  • Who could you become by taking on the lesson within the fearful situation?
  • What is the fear asking you to do or be?
  • Can you call on your past skills or successes to help you with this situation?

Being resourceful in the midst of a fearful situation enables the positive to evolve within the situation. 

5. Learn About Your Specific Fear

“Fears are educated into us, and can if we wish, be educated out.” - Karl Augustus Menninger

Read and learn about your specific fears by listening to a talking book on the subject as I did. I have often found, when I have a problem, I can find someone that can help me through the situation or a book to read on the topic I was struggling with. 

This quote sums it all up and hopefully will inspire you to do what you need to do to face and move through your fear. 

 “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt

Book review for Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. 

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10 Ways to Move From Good to Great

10 Ways to Move From Good to Great

I am reading a book that states that good work isn’t good enough anymore. I find this topic fascinating. How can you move from good to great in an effective way? How can you impact others greatly by your work, products or services? Something great makes you think about it after the fact. It impacts you in a way that helps you gain a new perspective on your work.

The following pointers will bring out the greatness within you.

1. What is most important to you? Your purpose? Your why?

Develop a vision and clarify what it is you truly want to accomplish. 

“You’ve got to think about the big things while you’re doing the small things so that all the small things go in the right direction.” Alvin Toffler

2. What skills, talents, and passions are you living when you are being your best self? What are you really great at? What do others say you are great at? Offer your greatness to others with your full presence and engagement in whatever you are doing. 

“When you are good at something, you’ll tell everyone. When you’re great at something, they’ll tell you.” Walter Payton\

3. What positive habits can you practice today? Set your mind, heart, spirit and body up for peak performance. Tell yourself things that support your best self. Eat healthy food. Find ways to connect with others, loving and noticing what they do right. Get connected to a larger whole. Take time for stillness. 

“Rule your mind or it will rule you.” Horace

4. How can you bias yourself toward action and learning? When you do something can you notice what goes well and what needs to be improved? How can you follow-up on the improvements? How can you line up the action with opportunities for improvement? Sometimes doing things that are uncomfortable can line you up with the improvements or the goals and performance levels you want to achieve. Diving into strategic action can help you get the desired results.

“Think like a man of action. Act like a man of thought.” Henry Bergson

5. How can you ensure that your time is productive? Loehr and Schwartz say we can be productive for periods of about 90 minutes and then we need to take a break. Our focus is better after we take this needed break. When you are working be sure to limit interruptions by focusing on the task at hand and leaving the phone, emails and social media alone. Dealing with one focus at a time can enhance your productivity. 

“What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do.” Aristotle

6. How can you ensure you get things done? Can you break the project down into actionable steps? Some people get support from makings lists and taking notes. Writing down the next actionable step in your project or process before putting a task away helps you focus quickly when you come back to it.

“Work smart. Get things done.” Susan Wojcicki

7. How can you be sure to stick with it? Being able to complete work tenaciously builds muscle. 

“Doing stuff I don’t want to do is greatness.” Joe De Sena

8. How can you team up for increased impact? Can you talk with someone who is helpful in your support system? Can you hire a coach or talk with your mentor about you plans and goals? 

"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." Helen Keller

9. Can you look for opportunities everywhere? Can you turn adversity into an advantage? 

“A crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.” Rahm Emanuel

10.  How can you be of service to others as you move through your process? 

“Greatness is impact and impact is service.” Keith Ferrazi

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The How To's of Networking and Benefits to You

The How To's of Networking and Benefits to You

Networking and connecting with others is a mutually beneficial activity where you exchange career related information with another person. Many people feel they are bugging others by asking them for a coffee and to network with them. When you go into this activity realize that while you are the one asking the other person to network, they will benefit from the exchange as well.

The risks are that you put yourself out and can get ignored and rejected. Don't take this personally, you know how busy you are. The other person is probably just as overwhelmed with their busy life and work. Listed below are 8 benefits of networking to entice you to give it a try.

Some of the Benefits of Networking Include the Ability To:

  • Gather information,
  • Learn from others,
  • Increase your skills,
  • Provide and gain support,
  • Ensure you stay relevant,
  • Connect with role models,
  • Test your ideas, and
  • Increase your knowledge of opportunities to work, learn and build skills.

Some of the Best Practices of Connecting Include:

Benefit Others: Go in with an attitude that you will be of benefit to the other person. Connecting with others is supposed to be mutually beneficial. You can't guarantee that the other person will help you out, but you can ensure that you will help them. If the meeting doesn't benefit you, you may not be motivated to connect with the other person again. If it does benefit you, you will want to meet up again. "The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity." Keith Ferrazi 

Start Where You Are: You already have contacts so you can start with those and meet others through these contacts. By setting goals to connect with others who are doing interesting things, are experts in your field, who are tackling similar projects as you or are building organizations, could all help advance your career and process.

Trust is Built in Person: It is good to introduce yourself on Linkedin, however, to deepen the connection it is best to meet face to face. Having a coffee with someone you want to connect with or attending an industry event with someone else is a good way to start to get to know them.

Spend Time wit Good Networkers: Spend time with people who are good at giving of themselves since they will likely have a number of people in their network. Make sure you give back just as much as you get whenever you can. 

Ask for What You Need: This is an important gift you can give yourself. Ask for what you need after you have been of benefit to the other party. Keith Ferrazi calls this the strategic ask. Don't be afraid to ask for what it is you desire out of the meeting. This could be a contact in a certain company, learning about a skill area, etc.

Extending yourself and connecting with others can be enjoyable and bring benefit and energy to your career. Those with an ongoing and established network are more readily able to get work and information that will be of benefit. This mutually beneficial dance lifts your energy. Try helping others as well, you will feel the positive results. Sometimes the benefits will be returned many fold.

Let Mary-Ann know what gets in the way of your ability to network more effectively.

Resources:

Ferrazzi, Keith "Never Eat Alone" http://ferrazzigreenlight.com

Sanders, Tim "Love is the Killer App" http://timsanders.com/love-is-the-killer-app/

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Demonstrate Grit: Take These Steps and Make Progress on Your Goals

Demonstrate Grit: Take These Steps and Make Progress  on Your Goals

These 5 steps will enable you to advance and make breakthroughs toward your goals.

1. Gather Support and Feedback: Ask people in your network who have gone through a similar situation for feedback. Discuss the barriers or blocks that you are struggling with that may be inhibiting your progress. See what feedback and advice they can provide for you to work through your obstacles. Find out what others who you admire would do if they were in your situation. What advice would they provide you? Even if the person hasn’t gone through a similar situation just talking with others you admire enables your best thinking to show up.

2. Imagine You are More Skilled and Resourceful: You can imagine or visualize that you are the person you greatly admire. Ask yourself what they would do if they were in your situation. Then be courageous and do it. This way you challenge yourself to dig deep and work through your blocks to spark action that enables progress. 

3. Increase Your Accountability: Tell supportive others what your goals are so you can increase the likelihood of removing blocks that prevent progress. Sharing your goals will make you more accountable when asked how things are going, which will also increase your chances of getting it done. Some people don’t like to share their goals. If you are one of these people you can write your goals down and look at them often. Doing this can raise your accountability levels. 

4. Take More Responsibility: If you were the only one who could resolve this situation and make progress what would you do? By asking yourself this question, your abilities and resourcefulness will be called upon and emerge.

5. Lean Into The Learning Opportunity: If you knew that by learning about and making progress on your goals your productivity would increase, do you think you would lean into the learning more fully? Assume that the learning on the way to accomplishing your goal will benefit you exponentially. That way you will lean into the problem and approach solutions with more determination and perseverance. 

Try 1-3 of these today. You will make further progress on your goals. 

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