#015 - There are bumps, potholes, and detours we ALL have to contend with. Just like our cars, we all need to equip ourselves with springs and shock absorbers - resilience - to help smooth out those bumps. Join Dr. Charles Boyer as he discusses ways to be more resilient.
Hello there! And welcome to KEYS FOR NEW LEADERS, a podcast just for you, the new leader. I’m so glad you’re here today. This is your host, Dr. Charles Boyer, but my friends call me Charlie, and that’s YOU, my friend. If you have already subscribed to this podcast, thank you very much! If you haven’t, please take a minute to do so. We’re nearing the 500 subscriber mark, and it would be great to have you join us!
This is Episode 15, called “Bumps in the Road.” This episode has been a real challenge for me. I’ve drafted and re-drafted this episode about 4 or 5 times. Maybe this time will work out ok. When I planned an episode about “Bumps in the Road” I sure didn’t know that I’d be experiencing those bumps firsthand! It has been a rough ride for our family these past few weeks, and my springs and shock absorbers sure have taken quite a beating. The rough ride isn’t over yet – but at least there is a good end in sight! Here’s a quick summary just to give you an idea of what’s happened to us: my wife took a hard fall and fractured an elbow and hip. During the past few weeks, we’ve gone from doing ok to the Emergency Room to surgery at the hospital, and now to rehab for therapy and recovery. Things are improving, I’m happy to say. My wife is making good progress with physical therapy, and my depleted energy is beginning to reappear – slowly, but it’s coming along. I’m grateful for whatever improvement there is.
Yes, all this has been a HUGE JOLT, not just a little bump in the road, and my resilience has been sorely tested yet again. That’s what has helped me a lot through all this– my resilience. And we all need a huge supply of that resilience to handle those bumps in the road, large and small. But this is not about me, it’s about YOU. How has your resilience been tested recently?
Resilience has been described as a process of adapting well in the face of adversity. It’s a process or system you can learn about and practice to help you adapt to threats and adversities you may experience in your life. Notice that I didn’t say “accept” but “adapt” to threats and adversities. Eventually, you must “accept” but first you must “adapt.” It’s not a matter of liking or disliking your adversities, it’s all about how you choose to deal with them. And you need to prepare ahead of time as best you can, because these bumps in the road happen to everyone. It’s not a matter of IF, it’s a matter of WHEN! And how you CHOOSE to act!
There are bumps, potholes and detours we ALL have to contend with. Just like our cars, we all need to equip ourselves with springs and shock absorbers – resilience – to help smooth out those bumps. The US Armed Forces provide military personnel and families with resilience training to help people cope with adversity, adapt to change, and overcome challenges. Do an internet search on resilience and you’ll find many resources to consider – too many to count, in some cases. Let’s see if we can summarize the main points for you.
There seems to be some common ground among many of the resources, describing a resilient person, and characteristics or descriptions of resilience. This is a quick description, but basically, you are considered a resilient person if you are one who shows emotional wellbeing, you look to the future, you enjoy good health and good relationships, and you take good care of yourself. There are several important points to take note of here:
An important part of maintaining your resilience is your emotional wellness, those thoughts and feelings that help keep you on an even keel. Again and again, resilience articles point to the importance of good overall health, and your emotions play a key role in this. You must continue to believe that you can cope with whatever comes your way, that the universe is not plotting against you, and that overall you can keep things in perspective. One of my favorite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.” Seek the sunshine!
A positive outlook on things pays big dividends. Believing in yourself and your abilities is more than half the battle. Let positivity be your guiding force. I think of the Winnie the Pooh characters, Eeyore and Tigger. Eeyore is the little donkey that always seems to find the dark clouds in any situation. He’s the eternal pessimist. Then there is Tigger, the bouncy, bubbly, energetic, effervescent – well, Tigger! Aim for being a Tigger!
Remember to stay connected with your values. When you are in sync with your values, you are in a very strong place. If one of your values is Clarity, how can you call upon that value to help you keep things clear and in perspective during bumpy times? If one of your values is Confidence, how can that value help you to move forward? Which of YOUR values can you call upon to help you over those bumps?
Good friends and family are GOLDEN! Frank Tyger describes good friends as “… shock absorbers. They help you take the lumps and bumps on the road to life.” And your family should be there in person or in spirit to love and support you, no matter what. A lot of my resilience comes from a loving and caring family, good friends who call just to check in with me or just to listen, and church friends who send cards or call and offer prayers. Where does YOUR resilience come from?
Positive self-care is also a must-have for a resilient person. It’s important to take care of yourself, more especially during stressful times. Good self-care, eating healthy food and getting rest and exercise are not luxuries – they are absolute necessities, especially if you are in a caregiver role to a loved one. And, embracing healthy, positive thoughts is key to your overall good health, also.
Mindfulness is mentioned in several different discussions, and indeed it is an important tool in your resilience arsenal. Mindfulness has been described as a form of meditation where you focus on an awareness of the present, what is taking place right now, not what has happened in the past, or what might be ahead. Focus on what is right now. Calmly acknowledge your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Breathe deeply and relax. Think positive thoughts and look ahead. It won’t help you to give in to the “poor me” or “ain’t it awful” potholes. Don’t be an Eeyore!
And, maintaining a sense of humor is vital to your overall well-being and your resilience. Henry Ward Beecher said that “… a person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs … jolted by every pebble in the road.” It’s not that you laugh at misfortune, but that you find ways to smile, to laugh, to lighten up the load, to break the tension of adversity. Winston Churchill once said, “When you’re walking through hell, keep walking.” Also important to your positive self-care is to do something positive just for you. Don’t just take time --Make time to enjoy a favorite activity, listen to good music, read an enlightening book, watch a favorite movie again, sit quietly and think of good thoughts, beautiful scenery, good times ahead. Is all that important? You bet it is – big time!!!
It's really not possible for us to consider all the possibilities. Everyone’s bumps and potholes, everyone’s adversities are different and no two solutions are alike. There are, however some things that YOU can do to help you absorb some of those bumps. As I mention these as possibilities for you, keep in mind that I’ve had a bit of experience with bumps in the road lately, and I’ve found that these things help a lot. You may have other points to add, and you should.
Let’s recap some of these points, and give you a few takeaway points. These are in no particular order, but I believe you’ll find them helpful to consider. Here they are:
1. Believe in yourself. You can survive, and you can cope. Keep things in perspective, stay in sync with your values, and you can persist in the face of adversity.
2. Take care of yourself. Good health is not just important, it is absolutely necessary. Practice mindfulness, keep up with good eating and exercise habits, and stay positive.
3. Deal with the challenges. You can’t hide from them, avoid them, and pretend they don’t exist. Remember some of the coaching questions from the last episode, such as: Who can help you with this? – or – Which of your strengths can you use to help you deal with this?
4. Stay connected with your friends and family. Communicate! Now is not a time to go it alone. You need the support of others in times of stress. Look for ways to talk with others – and stop to listen, also. You can also help others.
5. Keep your eyes on the prize – look ahead, not backwards. There is always more to come, and you need to aim towards that, whatever the goal is.
I hope these thoughts and suggestions will be helpful to you. As I said before, this has been a most difficult episode to put together, and it has helped me to reflect on and practice many of these points and suggestions.
As we’ve done in previous episodes, here are three questions for you to answer as you wish and as you think about them. Again, this is not a test, and there are no right or wrong answers, only the answers that are meaningful to YOU:
1. When you experience bumps in the road, where do you find resilience?
2. Which of your values do you call on the most during your stressful times?
3. What is one positive thought or feeling you are taking away from this episode?
Thanks for joining me for this episode of Keys for New Leaders. In our next episode, we’ll talk about your message to others. Is it Clearer or Louder? There’s a big difference. Until then, stay safe and well, my friend, and be resilient.