Change the Narrative

Merriam-Webster refers to resilience as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. An ability to roll with the punches, according to Mayo Clinic. My understanding of resilience prior to this week was that it was something that people were just gifted with, like good eyesight or height. You either had it or you didn’t. Yet, in researching resilience I have learned that isn’t the case. Sure, some people tend to be more resilient because they are naturally optimistic. But what I have found is that resilience is a skill, something that can be honed.

Resilience is not some magical quality; it takes real mental work to transcend hardship. There’s growing evidence that the elements of resilience can be cultivated.

A perfect example of resilience is Kendrick Norton, a former Miami Dolphins defensive tackle. July 4th of this year Kendrick was driving his Ford F250 when it hit a concrete barrier and landed on its roof, his left arm pinned by the truck had to be amputated above the elbow. In a recently released video Kendrick said, “You’re still alive, don’t be angry. You’ll get better,” he continued. “I’m trying to handle it the best I can. Don’t be down about it ’cause that’s not gonna fix anything.”

And here’s the key phrase that he says, that perfectly sums up resilience: “Though the injury was far from ideal, especially as a professional football player, Norton said he was never in denial about it and instead, changed his outlook on the situation.” Kendrick changed his outlook, he reframed his thinking. “How we view adversity and stress strongly affects how we succeed, and this is one of the most important reasons that having a resilient mindset is so important. (1)” The Greater Good Science Center has collected many resilience practices on their website, they have identified 12 resilience practices combined into five categories. The number one practice is change the narrative. Kendrick changed the narrative. His NFL career over at 22 before even playing a game was most likely a devastating experience. But this is what Kendrick has said, “But I realize that I will not be able to play for anyone. We are working past that, you know. That reality is sinking in. I am alive and I am grateful. Now I want to organize a blood drive.”

He changed his thinking to one of gratitude, grateful to be alive. He is actively practicing the skill of resilience. And so can you, you have it within you. I’ll leave you with this last thought.

Resilience isn’t a single skill. It’s a variety of skills and coping mechanisms. To bounce back from bumps in the road as well as failures, you should focus on emphasizing the positive.” Jean Chatzky

“Control tower your life” – by Lauren Allen

As I’ve grown older I have realized that I carry far more control over my life than I once thought. There will be and have been lots of situations and experiences that “happened” to me, but how I responded and choose to respond are all 100% within my control. Gretchen Rubin wrote “Better than Before” in 2015, it centers on making and breaking habits in order to live a happier life. Herein lies the real roots of my “brain hacking quest.”

I am highlighting just two quotes from the book that resonated with me and have driven me to actively work on my habits and rework them and create new habits and rid myself of unnecessary habits.

“Habits are the invisible architecture of daily life. We repeat 40% of our behavior almost daily, so our habits shape our existence, and our future. If we change our habits, we change our lives.”

The idea of habits being the architecture of my daily life really struck me…more specifically the fact that I was giving habits control of my life did not sit well with me. Especially since so many of my habits were social media driven, which in turn means that I was giving Apple, Google, and Facebook the ability to control my days. I know that may seem like a reach, but essentially if my habits controlled me to log into social media at more than 4 hours a day-was that not what I was allowing?

 “Habits eliminate the need for self-control. With habits we conserve our self-control.

This I love, I am 500% for efficiency. So, the idea that I can use my brain even more efficiently than it already is, is definitely my thing. To tag onto this, Gretchen also says: “Stress doesn’t necessarily make us likely to indulge in bad habits; when we’re anxious or tired, we fall back on our habits, whether bad or good.” Habits therefore, help with my self-control in all situations.

So, a habit that I have gotten into over the last week is playing solitaire on my phone right before I go to sleep. One way that I was attempting to “hack” my brain was to put limitations on my phone by entering a passcode for when I go over my time allowed. Unfortunately, I…failed to write down the passcode. So, I have no way of accessing certain items on my phone when I need to after a certain point. The only way to resolve this is to wipe my entire phone, which I refuse to do…at this point anyway. So, I’ve found a work-around…by staying up until midnight I can tell my phone to give me access for the whole day, so that way I have no limitations. But that requires me to stay up until midnight in order to trick my phone and I am no longer 17 and capable of functioning well the next day if I stay up that late. And when it’s late and I’m tired and annoyed with the phone situation that is 100% my fault, I fall back onto the habit of playing solitaire. To “wind down,” which is code for stay up long enough to trick my phone into allowing me to snapchat with my sister during the day.

Circling all of this back to the first quote….we repeat 40% of our behavior almost daily and that in turn shapes our lives. I guess it’s time for me to implement some new habits.

Brain Hacking – by Lauren Allen

Back in 2017 I read Gretchen Rubin’s book, “The Four Tendencies” and discovered that I was a “rebel.” So much of my life, especially when I was a child, came into focus. “The Four Tendencies,” holds that how we respond to expectations gives us a framework within how to shape our behavior and responses and in turn make our lives better which will in turn again, make the lives of those around us better.

A rebel, according to Gretchen’s definition resists both inner and outer expectations. Essentially, you can’t make me do something and neither can I. As a result, I have been on a  quest to, as I like to call it “hack my brain” in order to be the person that I would like to be and get done what I need to get done.

Recently I removed the internet browser app from my phone, I am an information junkie and for the life of me I could not stop googling every whim or thought that came into my head. Now, maybe the “adult” thing to have done would have been to limit when I would go into the app and to keep the phone out of my bedroom like all the good articles online say. But, knowing my tendency, that wouldn’t work, so removing the app completely off of my phone is the only way for me to hack my brain into getting rid of that dopamine hit of information always at the ready.

And what do you know, two days ago I received The Think Clearly newsletter that is essentially on the very brain hack that I just implemented. Mathias Jakobsen, a Danish internet entrepreneur regularly releases these great visuals that illustrate simple yet profound truths. I have included the visual that he released in the newsletter: how to break an undesired habit – introduce an obstacle that curbs the reward.

My trigger was boredom or a random thought which would turn into the action of “I should check my phone.” I admit that I didn’t create a 35-digit passcode, that would have driven me insane and not been helpful in the long run but I removed the app entirely thereby creating a new obstacle-NO access.

My question for you is, how do you hack your brain? Do you have hacks that you would be willing to share? I am always up for learning new ones! Do you have steps in place to assist you in accomplishing your goals whether they be personal goals or career goals or the like?

“Developing A Coaching Culture Within Your Nonprofit”

Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Jeff Jowdy, the President of Lighthouse Counsel about how to develop a coaching culture within a nonprofit organization.

If you are interested in how to build a coaching culture within a nonprofit organization listen to today’s edition of The Beacon Podcast.

Lessons from a video game

Probably like many of you, I have a simple video game on my iPad that I will sometimes go to for a time of simple distraction. It is fun, mildly challenging, and I have not become addicted to it. In playing this game, it has come to my mind that it is a simple illustration of a challenge that leaders face daily.

How do you make decisions that are both fast and right? At what level of confidence do you make the decision? Is your focus on the right thing / area or are you distracted from something important going on in a different domain of your responsibilities?

The game I play is one where you match up jewels of a certain type into different combinations. The better the combinations and their locations the better the score, but while you are trying to make that decision, the clock is ticking as well. If you hesitate too long, the opportunity is gone!

Sometimes I will be moving fast and making quick decisions and missing opportunities for higher scoring opportunities, sometimes I hesitate too long and run out of time in the overall game, sometimes I am so focused on one area of the screen that I miss opportunities in other ares of the screen. It reminds me so much of making decisions as a leader.

You have to learn to be able to shift from a tactical to a strategic view quickly, you have to learn the consider (quickly) the second and third order consequences of your decisions, you have to learn to not be so focused on just one aspect of our business that you miss opportunities or looming challenges in another domain of your business.

Finally, you have to become comfortable with understanding that you will never know all the facts and that you have to make a decision or time will run out and the decision will be made by default.

Practice to learn how to make decisions fast and right.

The Long View

“Are you and your people working to optimize the organization for their tenure, or forever? To promote long-term success, I had to ignore the short-term reward system.”

L. David Marquet in “Turn the Ship Around!”

This is a great book about how David Marquet was forced into an entirely new way of leading that was marked by long-term success – even after he had left the organization (ship).

Are you looking to the future? Are you developing the people in your organization for long-term success that extends well beyond your tenure?

If not, what do you need to change?

“The Enemies of Excellence”

Listen to our podcast today on Greg Salciccioli’s excellent book The Enemies of Excellence – 7 reasons why we sabotage success. This is a powerful book that will help you become an even better leader.

Greg is the co-founder and CEO of Coachwell, Inc. and a master leadership coach.

“This book is a wake-up call for all people who find themselves in positions of leadership and influence, and who want to preserve their families, their organizations, their self-respect, and their peace of heart and mind. The tragedy that can be avoided by heeding the advice here, and the joy that can be experienced through authentic, humble leadership, makes this a treasure.”

Patrick Lencioni in the foreword to Enemies of Excellence

How Goals are Failing Your Organization

I am thoroughly enjoying reading Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall’s book Nine Lies About Work. It is incredibly eye-opening as they take common assumptions and challenge those assumptions with real data.

In Lie #3: The Best Companies Cascade Goals, they state:

“. . . cascaded goals are tagging along behind work, not out ahead of it: as used in the real world goal setting is more a system of record keeping than a system of work making.”

Nine Lies About Work, page 60

They go on to say something that, in my opinion, is critically important:

“The best companies don’t cascade goals; the best companies cascade meaning.”

Nine Lies About Work, page 62

Zero-Sum – a toxic way to approach life

I don’t know about you, but I have come to detest the zero-sum attitude that seems to prevail in our politics and in much of competition between businesses (and even non-profits!). The attitude that for us to do well, someone else has to lose is repellent to me.

Now, I am a competitive person, but I was blessed to have parents and coaches that taught me to compete in a sportsmanlike manner – that you competed by the rules, that you did your best, that you respected, and even admired your opponents, that when you knocked them down, after the whistle, you gave them a hand up.

We can respect others even when we disagree with them. There is such a thing as respectful dialogue – of truly listening and exchanging and debating ideas in a respectful manner. Too many people now equate agreeing with understanding, when in fact, the better we understand someone else’s idea we may actually disagree with them even more. Yet we still listen and engage with others in a respectful manner in order to better understand each other and to learn from one another.

Listen as executive coach, Scott McBride, discusses Emotional Intelligence

Listen to the Chattahoochee Driftwood leadership podcast to hear a discussion with executive coach Scott McBride on the importance of emotional intelligence for a leader.

Scott McBride