Mary-Ann Owens and Associates

Resilience Blog

Reaching your goals with Grit

Reframing the Current Situation Looking for Opportunities

 Reframing the Current Situation Looking for Opportunities

Many people are experiencing difficulty in their careers due to the lockdowns and isolation required of us during the pandemic. Some businesses are closing because of the restrictions on people’s behaviors and movements.

What if we reframed the circumstances we are having right now, focusing on making the most of our time and efforts?

Reframing is when we change and deepen the current assumptions we hold and place another frame that fits the facts of the situation better, thereby changing the meaning of the situation. Reframing within career planning is often used to help a person come to terms with a change or help them enhance their progress. It is used to create an understanding of the situation and motivation. Reframing helps create a different perception in situations where things aren’t working and we feel stuck.

Some questions we can ask:

What career opportunities currently exist due to trends?

How could you make the most of quiet and time due to self-isolation to make advances in your career or field right now?

What opportunities are open to you right now for learning important skills that are needed currently and will be needed in the future?

If you were to use your time to deepen your work, based on your current motivation and trends, what could you do?

How will you need to utilize your time and energy in different and new ways to benefit yourself the most?

A few career trends include:


Diversity and Inclusion Specialist

Information Security

Data Scientist

Artificial Intelligence

Cloud Technology

Genetic Engineer

Smart Home Technologist

End of Life Manager

Organizational Disruptor

Links to current career trends:

Job Opportunities Through the 2020s

Best Careers for the Future

Three Career Trends for 2020 and Beyond

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10 Benefits of Journaling

10 Benefits of Journaling

The benefits of journaling are many. The list below contains some of the ways journaling can support you. You might want to give journaling a try if this information appeals to you.   

  1. Enhancing your focus and clarity

Taking time to journal can help you focus and bring clarity to your thinking. The mind is often full of thoughts, looping, and spinning. In contrast, it can be still and calm. Journaling can assist you in emptying thoughts thereby calming and slowing the brain. When we rid the brain of some of its contents it can work more optimally, increasing focusing.

By not returning to the same loops the brain can work more effectively, making more progress. The result can include clearer and organized thoughts that help our work and lives.

  1. Reducing your stress

When we write out our thoughts, expressing our emotions, we help to relieve the stress we are experiencing. When we write both down the good and bad experiences of our day, we can highlight the positive and purge the difficult. We can lighten the load both mentally and physically. I’m sure you have heard the term the mind-body connection. We can unleash tension from both the mind and body by journaling and feel the resulting relaxation. Journaling for just 15 minutes a day can thereby lower stress levels.

  1. Enhancing your career

Your private journaling aids in many ways listed in this blog, but writing can also add value to your career. When you write you often uncover themes and new ideas that can assist your work. Some people write blogs, workbooks, and/or books that enhance their careers. When fresh ideas are organized into a format and published they can add value to your work and inform others who may be interested in utilizing your services and products.

  1. Recovering your center and objectivity

Journaling can be a springboard for daily recovery. When we get difficult thoughts out on paper we can recover our ability to be present and centered recovering from these challenges. We can vent on paper when we journal which can give us a quick release of pent up thoughts and feelings. We can also recover objectivity from these experiences and get on with making progress in our life and work.

  1. Integrating your learning

Writing things down enhances your ability to retain information. The act of notation enhances your thoughts and memories associated while reading. Taking notes while listening to talks, podcasts or audio-books also helps you retain the knowledge you have heard. Writing helps you prioritize and separate important from insignificant information. Your memory can then target and integrate the salient information.

  1. Increasing your emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is being able to identify our emotions and regulate them. Journaling can help you with both of these processes. When we identify what we are feeling in our journal the left brain can calm the right brain down. This is often a welcome experience, providing both understanding and information about what can be done about what we have found next.

Empathy, one part of emotional intelligence, is the act of understanding the emotions others are feeling. When we empathize we can relate to and support others through their experiences and problems. Being on the same page with others helps us to connect with others more thoroughly and deeply.

  1. Enhancing your creativity

Julie Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way promotes something she calls “morning pages”. For 10 minutes or more per day, she says to write whatever comes to mind, your stream of consciousness.

When we let our thoughts come to the surface unobstructed new ideas come to mind that can surprise and enhance your work and life. These ideas that flow enable us to create from the inside out. We are often recipients of external information through social media, google, and the internet; however the definition of creativity is letting ideas come forth. When we journal information that is within us comes to the surface and can enhance our process, work, and life.

  1. Finding meaning and priorities

Information that comes from journaling can provide insight as to what is most meaningful or important to you. You may not have realized how much you value the environment or how much watching daily news agitates you. Journaling can release themes like this. What you value and care about can make its way to the front and center of your life informing, guiding, and directing you. You can look over your writing watching for information that points to needed change in activities and priorities you may want to pursue.

  1. Increasing your self-confidence

Journaling about positive experiences helps you internalize your skills and accomplishments. Martin Seligman in his book Flourish outlines an interesting exercise. He says to write down three things that went well today and ask yourself why these experiences went well. Carrying out this exercise can boost your confidence levels by making you aware of your strengths and accomplishments. It can also help you to realize the skills and strengths of the supportive people you have around you.

  1. Solving your problems

Through the process of journaling, you can often find solutions to your problems. By spending time writing about a block or a goal you can find clues and subtleties about the situation that can enlighten and inform your progress. This food for thought and additional nuance can light your way on the path to your solution. Sometimes we need to look at the context, the environment, or content, details, of a situation to make headway. Writing about a goal or problem can help you round out the information needed to assist you on your way to solving your specific problem.

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Dealing with Adversity and Difficulty

Dealing with Adversity and Difficulty

Looking at the Problem

When we look directly at a problem we can accept it more readily. People often spend so much effort and time denying their problems that they lose a lot of energy spinning their wheels. This effort instead could be used to overcome their problems.

Identify what you are feeling and thinking about the adversity/problem. When we identify what we are feeling, our left brain, the rational side, helps us calm our feelings down and we can start to act on and do something about those feelings. Journaling is a way to identify your thoughts and feelings and manage difficult situations well. I remember when I was completing my Ph.D. when I was writing my literature review one semester I was also required to keep a journal. The process of journaling revealed topic areas of interest and my thoughts and feelings over this period. It was a very effective way of managing myself throughout the semester.

Leaning into the Problem

Stepping into the issue and finding out more about it can inform you about how to deal with it more effectively. Learning more about an issue will assist you in coping with it quicker and more thoroughly. When you have a problem determine how and what you could do to learn more about the problem.

The best way out is always through….Robert Frost.

If you know people who are skilled in dealing with your situation or problem you could ask them for help or if you have the means pay them to support you through it.

Reframing the Problem

Reframing is a way of changing the way you look at adversity and, thus, changing your response to the experience. For instance, if you reframed an adverse situation you could ask yourself, “What is the gift in this experience?” This question could open up the situation and allow you to see new possibilities. When we reframe an experience we can keep the momentum going, giving us opportunities to lower stress, enhance our development, and shift the meaning in situations where we were previously stuck.

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Giving and Receiving Support

Giving and Receiving Support

I was thinking of this topic because of the necessity of having to be alone this Christmas season due to the pandemic. Christmas is usually a time when we get to see our family and friends. We usually have too many social engagements scheduled during this season. This year though most of us may be experiencing the lack of social engagements are causing feelings of isolation, loneliness, and anxiety.

What can support look like this year?

We can reach out to others by mail, electronically, on the phone, or in person. This year though the in-person social gatherings are very limited in scope.

Staying in touch and keeping lines of communication open can provide needed support and encouragement to our family and friends. By providing an ear we could help to alleviate some of those feelings of loneliness.

We may have more time on our hands; so our gifts of support might include:

  • Baking cookies for family and friends,
  • Shovelling our neighbors’ walk,
  • Vetting your books and donating some to local charities or giving some to the little libraries in your neighborhood (A great charity that accepts books in Calgary is Between Friends),
  • Going through your closets and donating clothing to local charities, and
  • Others you can think of.

Support is enhanced by both giving and receiving

It is also important to identify your needs and how your needs might be satisfied.

If you are feeling especially lonely you might support yourself by asking friends and family if they have time for a phone call. These calls could support you as they may contain needed company, comic relief, warmth, ideas, advice, problem-solving and tangible support. Your phone call might also have the reciprocal benefit of helping the person you connect with feel less isolated as well. They might even realize the value of reaching out and talking to their family and friends.

Seeking support through special service agencies or counselling centers is important to consider as well, especially if you realize your thoughts and feelings need to be supported more than the level family and friends can provide.

Due to the forced isolation, you may notice the extent to which you appreciate your friends and family increasing. Be sure to let them know what they mean to you!

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Opening Yourself Up to Increase Your Resilience Levels

Opening Yourself Up to Increase Your Resilience Levels

Here are 8 benefits to opening yourself up to ideas, others, and experiences.

Finding optimal solutions: If we are open we can find solutions and optimize our situations. We can unlock blocks to our progress and find solutions to our problems. This means being open and facing our problems head-on. We need to delve deeply into blocks and problems so we can route out the answers. Some people have the courage and tenacity to do this and when they do they are rewarded with tangible progress.

Staying relevant: Being open to ideas and input helps our relevance in the marketplace. We know what we know, but at the same time, we are not aware of what we don’t know. The input of others assists us to learn what trends are important to customers and employers in our careers and fields. Employers and customers know what they need and these represent trends in our industry or the broader community. Knowing this we will know what skillsets and expertise to pursue because these are required in the marketplace.

Increased confidence levels: It takes confidence or a strong sense of self to reach out to others. When we are able to do this we can more gain confidence, thereby reinforcing our confidence levels, through the experience of interacting with others. We can gain ideas, feedback, knowledge of developments, and opportunities in the process. We are also able to expand our horizons by reaching out to others.

Continuous learning: Being open to new ideas enhances our ability to continue learning. Whether through our own desire and motivation or out of necessity, learning can enhance our lives and career. Engaging our curiosity and working with something new can help to raise our energy and engagement levels. Our world can flourish when we open to the energy that learning creates.

Enhanced flexibility: When we are open we are able to flex with the various situations that occur. We can’t always predict what will happen and how we need to respond. If we are open, we can eventually find out how to deal with anything that happens to us. Sometimes that means letting go of control, accepting what life is presenting, and going with that instead of fighting it. Letting go increases our ability to tolerate diverse viewpoints and unexpected events as these will inevitably occur around us.  

Being mentally strong: Understanding yourself or others’ backgrounds helps you put into context why people do what they do. Being open to learning about any topic or experience that impacted you or others will give you strength. We can feel more centered or grounded by knowing more about experiences that impact us deeply.

Enhanced decision making: When we open ourselves to feedback from others our decision-making improves. If we decide on our at times this works, however, at other times we need to broaden the parameters of our thinking and decision making to ensure our solutions and methods are more robust. When we open ourselves to others' input our decisions are going to be stronger to the broader group or market.

Increased optimism and positivity: When you are open, you expand your ability to make positive changes even out of negative situations. I have read of people who were able through open-heartedness to forgive people that did awful things to them or members of their family. They were able to find meaning in extending themselves positively in a situation that would bring most people to their knees. So finding the higher meaning and doing something about the situation can ensure we generate positivity. This openness enables us to be empowered by what happens to us instead of victims of it.

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Every Night Forgive Those Who Hurt You and Thank God for Everything

Every Night Forgive Those Who Hurt You and Thank God for Everything

I saw this quote on Facebook the other day and truly believe they are important. Have you ever heard or read that forgiveness is for yourself? I never understood this before, but having recently completed some deep forgiveness exercises I have to say it left me feeling empowered and energized. I was able to let go of some memories that were victimizing me and my mind became more peaceful. The relief I gained was palatable. Have you gone through this? If not and you are harboring some resentment over something in your past, try a deep forgiveness exercise, and see what happens.

Being thankful for everything in life is helpful. Being thankful for good things makes us realize all that we have and supports our positivity. Being thankful for difficulties helps us cope with them more effectively upping our resilience levels. So like Charlie Brown….

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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