Mary-Ann Owens and Associates

Resilience Blog

Reaching your goals with Grit

How are you, how is your house?

How are you, how is your house?

I had a deep meditation this week. It helped me get in touch with some difficult events and feelings. My Mother passed away in November, we are in the midst of a renovation and a family member had surgery for cancer today. During the meditation, I thought I wonder how my house is?

In Jungian psychology, the house is the self…so wondering about myself…I realized that my front window was blown out due to the death of my Mother, the back window was blown out due to the cancer surgery of my family member. My house’s electrical system was fried due to the focus on the renovation.

I sent a couple of friends the metaphors that came up in the meditation and one of them sent a special poem by Rumi about the house. Also after I realized all this about my house it began to heal within the meditation. No doubt additional healing is necessary.

Here is the Rumi poem sent by my friend.

"This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.

meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond."

Turning Your Blocks into Gold

Turning Your Blocks into Gold

Often with time, the areas of pain and blocks to progress can become gifts for your life’s trajectory. What has been the fruit of your difficulties?

I have lived a life of dipping into things that confused or stopped me. I have ended up loving learning, growth, and development. This love and motivation have paid off as I got to work with people coaching and guiding them towards increased resilience and career success. What stopped me has become a source of motivation and strength.

What we fear can stop us, though and end up owning us, if we don’t figure out ways through the blocks.

What are you afraid of?

If networking makes you afraid, learn enough about it that it doesn’t stop you and block your progress. You won’t be deterred from networking if you do this.

If trying something new that you aren’t good at causes you fear, purposely dive into it and give it a go. When you move through your fear, you increase your resilience.

If you are afraid that there are no jobs in your field, create work for yourself by helping a company that is growing or learning how to run your own company. If you do this you will no doubt need to learn how to sell yourself, your service or product. The great thing is that everyone needs to learn this skill, so the earlier the better.

Digging deep, learning and working hard can take you on a trajectory of growth and employment. This effort can take you on a pathway onwards and upwards toward attaining your goals and increasing your success.

Believing You Are Enough

Believing You Are Enough

I looked at my posts on Linkedin last year and found that the article that got the most views was on how to feel you are enough.

Where does this feeling of not being enough come from? Sometimes in the midst of all the pressure and expectations of life and work we can forget all the wonderful, unique things about our self.

You are more valuable than both heaven and earth. What else can I say? You don’t know your own worth. Do not sell yourself at a ridiculous price. Rumi

Sometimes when interacting with others we can feel others' conditional regard. We may feel we aren’t worth the attention of others, worth talking to, or worthy of others' kindness because we don’t measure up to some external criteria. This means we are being externally oriented, that our self-worth is based on some kind of external condition. Am I making enough money? Do I look good enough? Am I accomplishing enough? Am I getting high enough marks? Do I have the approval of my family?

Often we seek approval from external sources instead of approving of ourselves. When we seek external approval we have no control whereas if we connect and approve of ourselves we can impact our general mood.

How about contemplating how your enough is enough. How you uniquely bring all that you are your strengths, weaknesses, successes, and humanity to life and work?

When people feel intrinsically valuable they feel valued for their own sake. So if they are or aren’t performing they know they are valuable regardless of the outcomes.

If a person is self-valuing they have better mental health and relationships. Self-valuing enables us to risk and ultimately perform better.

Do you have a baseline of inherent value?

  1. One way of setting a baseline of inherent value is to allow 20% of external opinions in and focusing the rest of your time and effort, which is 80% on valuing yourself. Listening to your internal voice allows for risk-taking with others, lessening the impact of the critical voices of others, and helps you lean into constructive feedback from others
  2. Another way to establish a baseline of self-value is to do something that resonates with you for its own sake. Actively doing something that makes you feel inherently good. Doing this softens your experience of self because you experience yourself in a non-conditional way. Your self-value can go up if you compare yourself to yourself instead of to others. There will always be someone better than you at some things. What if you brought yourself just as you are to your relationships or your workplace? Would you behave any differently?
  3. To counteract the negativity bias (and our brain’s tendency to focus on what we DIDN’T do today), it’s very helpful to end each day with a “positive focus”. At the end of the day ask yourself what 3 things went well today. It may take a bit of time to think of these things. If you invest the effort on doing this your mood will improve. You will enhance your awareness of what it is you are doing that makes you feel good. Acknowledging what you did well helps you experience that your enough is enough.

For instance, last night when I did this exercise I realized;

  1. I was emotionally open and vulnerable with some new friends over dinner.
  2. I listened to my husband’s inner process in an open and affirming way twice that day, once in the afternoon and another time at night.
  3. I worked hard cleaning our house.

Maybe you had a productive meeting with a colleague or your boss. Note this or even better write it down. Maybe you had an honest conversation with a co-worker or family member. Great note this or write it down.

Try to write down at least three things that went well and your mood and the skill of self-valuing will be enhanced. Over time you will raise your ability to value yourself and your confidence levels.

  1. Enjoy the journey of learning and working, not just the destination…. Enjoying the journey, the knowledge and experience that the process of trying, learning and creating enables you. Even the successes and failures can be leaned into. The learning within the process, the attempts within the process, while not being hard on ourselves about failure, allows us to have the energy to keep going.

We lose motivating energy if our thinking stops us from acting, trying and learning. If we compare our results to others who have spent more time doing something when we are starting, a beginner, we lose our energy and vitality for the task. If you focus on what is within your power to change and iterate, then you will make headway.

I remember one time, taking a painting class with my Mother. She had majored in art at University and I had never painted before. This was a discouraging process because I compared my work to hers. She had had so much more experience at painting than I did. I took a class alone instead in ceramics from a wonderfully supportive teacher. She got a lot out of me and I wasn’t comparing myself to an expert as in the first experience.

Make it about the growth, the journey, the learning, the successes and attempts along the way. When faced with too much external pressure we can forget all the positive progress we have made. Focus on how to make yourself better rather than on the end results. You can learn from others how to make your product or service better, as long as you keep trying and don’t discourage yourself with too much performance pressure. Can you focus on the learning or the next task to accomplish? Leaning and iterations are a process; we can become discouraged when we focus on the end results when we are in the process of accomplishing and creating.  

There are dilemmas about work, we need to be performing and making tangible progress on tasks that are of value to our bosses and strategic to our organizations. Being on top of trends, learning and action are important. There are always external performance criteria we need to meet at work. If we are feeling that we aren’t measuring up in our thinking this could override our internal self-valuing and erode our ability to perform at work. Our internal view of ourselves is more important than the external criteria in the long run because this ability supports our performance.

For Career Success Ride a Trend

For Career Success Ride a Trend

I remember coaching a geologist client a few years ago. He saw the oil industry suffering from multiple layoffs. He decided to take a risk and took a one-year data science master’s degree. His foresight and risk-taking paid off. He switched fields early in the data science lifecycle, during the introductory time frame. This ensured he was employed quickly after completing this degree.

Many people hang onto their jobs in dying industries and professions. Careers and industries have life cycles, just like products/businesses do. If an industry is in the decline phase of its life cycle, there will continue to be declining employment levels. In Alberta, for instance, oil and beef are declining industries. Sustainable energy and plant-based foods are growing/trending industries.

I understand why people hang on. They may have invested a lot of money, time and themselves in a certain industry. They may not want to give all that up. They may feel they don’t have the capacity or energy to invest into a new field.

Luckily, everyone is proficient at skills that can be transferred to other fields. One needs to explore what skillset growing industries require and compare that to their current skills. Let’s go back to the geologist example. Geologists have developed complex analytical skills. Data scientists also require this skill.

A geologist can adapt this skillset analyzing new datasets and utilizing software that the data scientist field requires of them. The learning curve would not be as steep for geologists because of their transferable skill.

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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 for 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 with 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 notice 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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