The Importance of Resilience and How to Cultivate It – 10 Principles Overview

resilience

A favourite keynote of mine (and larger body of work too) is on resilience – why it’s important and how to cultivate greater resiliency. When I went looking for a formula or guide for resilience, I didn’t find any that spoke to me about my experience and the experience of my clients with resilience. Inquiring into what I was learning about resilience through my own experiences of shifting the shape of my life and through that of my resilient clients shifting the shape of their culture, team or organization, generated a definition and 10 lovely principles of resilience.

Resilience is the ability to find the inner strength to bounce back from a set back or challenge, to recover quickly from illness, change or misfortune and it is your sense of knowing that you have the resources and abilities to handle anything that comes your way. For many of us, this does not come easy. It comes with having survived and navigated many different curves in the road – some when we imagined we must have been through enough already.

Ten principles for cultivating resilience are listed below and each of these will become a little post on its own that you can look for over the next few weeks.

Principles of resilience:

1. Inquire into what works, especially what works for you – since we all have good stories about when we have rebounded or recovered from a set back. When you know what has worked for you and why, it helps you generate more and more of what works – principles from Appreciative Inquiry.

2. Notice your self talk – don’t believe everything you think. Your mind is a powerful tool and it often seems to have a mind of its own. Not really. You can program it. You can wrest back control and use it for your advantage rather than be at the whimsy of unintentional thoughts or stories.

3. Networks of support. We all have people who are our champions and biggest fans, who will catch us when we fall. Of course, you have to let them and that often means you also have to let them in.  Those walls you’ve created are meant to keep others out but what they really do is keep you in or insulated and, in the long run, that doesn’t work.

4. Be present. Lao Tzu offers this: if you are depressed you are living in the past; if you are anxious you are living in the future; if you are at peace, you are living in the present. It takes some conscious effort to keep yourself present in the moment and too often we allow ourselves, our minds, to wander to the past or the future. You will know where you let your mind go by how you feel.

5. Lean in – be aware of and still the voice of your inner judge. Running away from any problem only increases the distance from the solution. The easiest way to escape from a problem is to solve it.  Counter intuitive perhaps but true.

Jim Morrison - into fear

6. The Miracle of Story. You are always, always expressing yourself in story in one way or another. Usually you – most of us – are unintentional about how you do that. I love Charles Eisenstein’s reflection on story and miracles: “We have to create miracles. A miracle is not the intersession of an external divine agency in violation of the laws of physics. A miracle is simply something that is impossible from an old story but possible from within a new one. It is an expansion of what is possible.”

Not how the story will end

7. Intention. Develop clarity of intention, then let go of attachment to it. Hold it with lightness and see what shows up. Know it is an iterative process – you don’t just do this just once. Sorry. Or not. Depending on what’s showing up in the iterative process for you.

8. Act. Take steps. Look for openings, invitations and ease and also examine your limiting beliefs.

9. Life Throws Curve Balls. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out. Everything is running smoothly and life begs to differ. As you welcome it all in, you sit with it in a different way. A more accepting way. Then those curve balls lose their power to completely throw you off course.

Soul knows how to heal

10. Nourish Yourself. In the Art of Hosting world, we often call this hosting self – the first of the four fold practices. Embrace it all.

Body-mind-spirit healing

Women, Leadership and Power

Will feminine principles rule the future?  John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio posit this in their book, The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future, and I like to think they are right.  More than like to think it, I am actively inviting it, through the work I do and the way I do it – collaboratively, with others doing good work in the world using the practices and patterns of the Art of Hosting Conversations That Matter.  This doesn’t mean I think masculine principles are bad, just that they are overused and a rebalancing of the energies could spark the next evolution of leadership and power in life, work, play and community.

We are living now in the space between narratives as my friend and frequent co-host Jerry Nagel likes to say.  The old story of power and control, described as masculine attributes, that many of us around the world are reportedly dissatisfied with is the story that has been operational for centuries now.  The new story of consensus building, collaboration and co-creation, described as feminine attributes, is what many are longing for, even when they do not have the words to articulate it.  People I encounter in the work I do and the places I travel want to show up and be seen as full human beings rather than as the distinct parts that are “acceptable” in different circumstances – logic and rationality at work, nurturing and caring in private. When we are invited as full human beings a new essence of aliveness and creativity also shows up.

The characteristics we are yearning for now are exactly the characteristics that have been dismissed and squelched as not being effective, as too soft, as the antithesis of leadership; the characteristics of feminine principles.

The principles of masculine and feminine are being confused with gender, feminine principles have been diminished and, by extension, women have been too.  Women wanting to be successful in business and politics in the past have had to become more like men in the drive for power and authority. Even Cheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In is really asking women to to step up to their male colleagues in the way of the old narrative.  I love that her book is sparking conversation in many places about masculine and feminine principles, and I love that she is successful as a powerful woman leader.

What does it take to shift to a new narrative about women, leadership and power? It is hard to shift to new narratives.  The grip of the old story is engrained in us in ways we do not even know.  Even as we step into doing things differently, the pull of the old narrative, embedded in culture which is designed to perpetuate itself, is strong.  It takes intentionality, vulnerability and the willingness to be in good inquiry and co-learning with each other.  It takes a re-valuing of the feminine in all that it has to offer and a new understanding of what it means to be powerful. It takes the willingness to let go of control to step into patterns and practices that invite the best of our thinking, leadership and accountability to show up, the spaces were emergence lives.

It takes men embracing principles of the feminine and it takes women seeing and stepping into the strength of these principles in ways that show how powerfully they can shift the shape of the narrative we are living into now.  It means bringing for the best of the masculine principles into this rebalancing dynamic and acting with curiosity, generosity and compassion.

This inquiry is one I am excited to be exploring at a one day forum in San Francisco on June 7, 2013, which is an invitation to be in a deep dialogue together with other women about women and power, the next evolution of leadership.  There we will be exploring questions like:

1) What is the new definition of success we need to create so women can truly thrive in their personal and professional lives?

2) How do we gain the confidence and courage we need to express ourselves more authentically as professional women?

3) How do we more fully step into our leadership to vision and co-create new, more powerful systems and patterns in the worlds we live and work in?

4) What are the feminine qualities, when we as women express them more fully, make us more powerful leaders?

5) What becomes possible when we as women elevate each other and what is required to support or grow this over time?

6) What is the desired impact we want to have in our organizations and in the world?

7) What are the prejudices and stereotypes women hold which, if they shifted, would create better opportunities for women to thrive?

I am curious to see what will emerge from the inquiry and how we might set in motion, or accelerate what is already in motion, supportive leadership practices that invite the best of who we are as human beings to show up, individually and collectively.

Slowing Down to Go Fast

Our world moves so fast we all want it done now, or yesterday – whatever “it” is. The paradox is, we don’t have time to go fast anymore. But it’s not just about slowing down. It’s slowing down, adding in intentionality, purposefulness and patterns of movement – often non-linear and iterative – to take us to places we’ve never been before but that we’ve dreamed and know have to be possible. We want to get to this new place but we keep repeating the patterns that have never gotten us there before – Einstein’s definition of insanity.

Add into the mix, the complexity of today’s challenges generally means it is not a straight path from A to B and even if it is, your destination is probably somewhere else.

What does slowing down mean?  One is taking the time to acquire new lenses with which to view the challenges and complexity we face.  Another is learning how to use conversational methodologies well – tuned into purpose and intention as a guiding principle for how to design, enter and engage the questions of most relevance to what’s needed now – in growing learning, tackling innovation or bridging organizational divides.  It is not simply a learning and development opportunity.  It can be a formidable strategy to grow an organization, engage a challenge, conceive of innovative processes and/or products that serve the mission or mandate of your organization – as you already know.

These things are all possible using the principles and practices alive in Art of Hosting practices and frameworks.  Art of Hosting is not just a training.  Seasoned practitioners use it in consulting work all over the world – in every sector, for small and large initiatives, to launch new organizations and teams and to shift whole systems.  It is not just theory.  It is today’s complex challenges made real.  And it takes time.

For the training work we do, we often get asked about three days.  When money is no issue the larger question that looms is, “Is it worth three days of my time?”  Well, that depends.  On how aware you are of the value of slowing down to go fast – slowing down to allow insight to percolate, new perspectives to digest into new approaches and new strategies to emerge in animated and reflective conversation with other bright lights called to gather together in three days.  Because there are an amazing number of bright lights who show up for any training – of all ages, backgrounds and perspectives.

The beauty of being in 3 days or more with the same group of people is it invites the pattern of divergence-groan zone/emergence-convergence to show up.  There are many times when I’ve been asked at the end of day 2 of a three day training how is it going?  If I write that story, it is a very different story of what emerges because even subtle things shift and change in one more overnight or one more conversation evoked through a powerful question.  There is something in a three day pattern that lets us sense more fully into what our questions are, explore them in the company of others also asking powerful questions, seeing not just synergy but emergence – where we all gain something that no one person brought into the room, and we begin to imagine, often with extensive detail, how we will use what we’ve learned when we go back to work.

Not everything needs to slow down of course.  Not everything needs three days.  Some need less.  Many need more. But we refuse to take the time – we believe we don’t have the time, other things are more pressing, we will get too far behind – lots of limiting beliefs we carry individually and collectively.   But what about the things that do need three days and maybe longer? Percolation does.  New perspectives often do.  Imagining – really imagining the new – does.  Shifting paradigms does.

When we give ourselves permission to slow down we also invite ourselves to be surprised by what emerges and how fast things move with new clarity.  It is a wise investment of time and necessary for those of us imagining how to shift the shape of the worlds we touch.

“Until recently”…. a Very Simple Strategy

“Until recently, my office was really cluttered.  Now, I’m in the process of organizing it.”

“Until recently, even though I liked you and wanted to be in touch, I was a little afraid of you.  Now, I promise to stay in touch because I’m no longer afraid of the questions you’ll ask.”

“Until recently, I didn’t know how to approach difficult conversations.  Now, I’m learning strategy and gaining courage.”

“Until recently, I was just walking through the experience of my life because I was afraid of my emotional response.  Now, I’m living into it. And, it’s not as scary as I imagined it to be.”

“Until recently, I was struggling.  Now, I’m feeling more flow and a smoother road ahead.”

It is a simple little strategy that, until recently, I hadn’t heard about.  But, now that my friend Robert Newman from Columbus Ohio shared it with me when I saw him in June, I’ve been using it and I’ve been sharing it with my coaching clients.

One of the aims of coaching is to become aware of old patterns that no longer serve and awaken new patterns that serve us better, generating greater self awareness, one of the goals of hosting self in the Four Fold Practice.  It is really easy to get stuck in the story of what was instead of engaging the story  or the future we want to invite, the one that shifts the shape of our world and our interaction in it intentionally in the direction we envision, the way we want to show up for ourselves and in relation to other people.

It invites a gentle noticing: “until recently this is the way it was” – and it invites an intentionality: “now, this is what I choose. ” There is no harshness, no self judgment but a delightful invitation to choice.  To choose a better feeling story and invite ever increasing better feeling results.  It is like a mantra and a habit that can be remembered mid sentence in an old pattern:” I don’t keep in touch very…” pause, notice… “until recently, I wasn’t very good at staying in touch. Now, I’d like to set up a regular pattern of calls”.

It invites lightness into whatever it is we want to shift and grows the potential we will create the shift we want.  Try it.  Recently, I have discovered it is a very simple yet effective strategy.

Art of Hosting – Is It All About Being Nice?

Art of Hosting – is it all about being nice?  This question has my attention right now, following my recent adventures in and near Sao Paulo, Brazil for a four day Art of Hosting training followed by a one day Community of Practice meeting with mostly young practitioners in that country who are holding the field there with intentionality and integrity.  It is a question that has arisen a couple of times now post the training, I know it comes up in other places and it is one that is fundamentally important to the work we do.

Is Art of Hosting just about being nice?  And, why do we feel the need to ask that question?  I wonder if it has something to do with the field we create when we come together in ways that for many are different than their usual day-to-day experiences and which beg the question of how to show up differently.

In my experiences, when we really pay attention to what’s happening in the Art of Hosting training field (and beyond too), we will know that it is not always “nice”.  There are things that come up within host teams – issues, questions, disagreements, shadow – that sometimes get addressed and sometimes don’t.  We know that unresolved issues on host teams can and does impact the training field to large and small degrees depending on the issues and the capacity of the individuals to host their own field.  Sometimes what happens in the field of the training influences or impacts the host team.

Because Art of Hosting trainings are just that – a training ground – and people are courageously stepping into hosting portions of the training using methodologies they are not yet familiar or comfortable with, it is an imperfect practice and not always “nice”.  The intention the host teams I work with carry is to support and encourage learning and growth by helping people see their own learning and growth.  In Brazil, I was part of some really powerful debriefing sessions where participants shared their learning in ways that were far more comprehensive than anything I could have shared with them.

I learned some things.  I learned how challenging it is for people to leap into the challenge of hosting when they don’t know each other, they all have great ideas about how to host the session they signed up for and they are carrying their doubts with them as they work with others and step into a very public part of the process, doubts that can very easily and often unintentionally be triggered by themselves, by others and by the work.  I am even more aware of how important it is that they feel encouraged and supported and that as part of the overall hosting team, we create space for them to grow, experiment and risk – which may also mean that they “fail”.  But if that can’t happen in the training ground, where else can it possibly happen?

Art of Hosting is about creating space for meaningful and relevant conversations and it is about relationship building.  The better we are able to build the relationships the better the conditions for the conversations we are wanting to have in our organizations, networks and communities.  The more we care about the other people involved and the purpose for which we are working, the more we are willing to stay in conversations that move us toward different results – and particularly the necessary, often difficult conversations – the ones that when we don’t have them, they get in the way of change, impact or progress and hold us back. The more we care, the more we are willing to risk – even imperfectly.

We can only truly be in those conversations when we personally are able to find our voice – a voice we often dismiss before others can or bury deep inside ourselves by believing there is no space or room for us, that we will be judged for what we want to contribute or that we do not have enough credentials, experience or credibility to say what is on our minds and in our hearts.  And this may be the thing we all most need to have voiced.

Learning, growth, risking, finding voice are not about being nice but it is a lot easier to tap into these things when we feel encouraged and when the environment is welcoming of all that is showing up.  This is not always easy to do and, for me as a host, it is a constant learning journey – and I know this was true of others on this particular hosting team.

Ultimately, the purpose of this work we do in the Art of Hosting field is to make a difference, maybe even to change the world, if I may be so bold.  And I do see it happening – in individuals, teams, organizations and communities.  I see this work being used very strategically in all kinds of places to shift the shape of communities, organizations and systems.  These trainings help us create foundations – within ourselves and with the work – to generate this shift.

The theme for this Brazilian Art of Hosting was the dance between inner and outer self – the impact of doing deep inner work on how we work in the world.  This theme came about because friends and colleagues of our Brazilian host team were asking for it and the response to the invitation was strong – thirty-nine of us altogether from a range of backgrounds and experiences,  mostly in their twenties and thirties.  The host team modeled well the theme.  We had strong, caring relationships that allowed us to compassionately and honestly voice the full range of fear, uncertainty and contradiction that was showing up for us, as well as the joy, appreciation and gratitude for what we saw emerging, building a stronger field for the participants and greater opportunities to flow with what was wanting and needing to happen in the field we were holding.

No, it is not all about being nice.  But how wonderful when we feel the foundation to be able to speak and address the things that are not so nice coming from a place of caring deeply, opening us up to more attentive listening and responsiveness and growing our capacity to shift the shape of the things that are most important to us in the world.

Social Media Changing Social Norms

Had a fascinating conversation with a small group of people at #PodCampHfx last Sunday about the role of social media in shifting the shape of the world.  I was particularly interested in its influence along the chaordic path – that place between chaos and order we seem to be navigating more and more frequently in the world right now.

The Chaordic Path

The Chaordic Field

I wanted to understand more the influence of social media on the chaordic path and  what the opportunity is to influence it more strategically or with greater intentionality.  I also shared the stepping stones of the Chaordic Path: need, purpose, principles, people, concept, limiting beliefs, structure and processes, and practice.

Social media facilitates networks or webs of people in making interconnected relationships more visible.  Partly because of this it is also driving greater transparency in today’s world.  Buzz spreads rapidly through Facebook or Twitter and it is a lot harder to hide information, indiscretions, faux pas’ or worse.  Even with privacy settings, you cannot control what someone else posts.

There was a time that technology was isolating for people.  It was easier to sit at home emailing people half way around the world than it was to go knock on the door of the next door neighbour.  The rise of social technology though is enabling people to connect and reconnect with each other in ways that also generates in person contact.  Friends in a city will find each other through social technology – on the web and in person.  There are examples of how Twitter friends, who may or may not have actually met each other,  arrive at conferences and then set up the opportunity to meet face-to-face.

What was most interesting in our chat at #podcampHFX was how often the word community popped up.  I have noticed that people are yearning for community and sense of connection and social media seems to have created pathways to community in surprising ways.  And the most intriguing thought: social media is transforming our social norms, changing the parameters of acceptable and non-acceptable behaviour, doing this broadly and maybe more swiftly than any other social norm shift in the history of civilized society.

I’m still reflecting on how social media is shifting the shape of our world and contributing to the regeneration of community.

Sensing Into and Connecting With Future Possibilities

If studying and learning from the past only serves to create more of the same problems we are experiencing, as Otto Scharmer eloquently presents in his book Theory U, and the way to a different future is by sensing into and connecting with future possibilities – a view, by the way, supported in much of Peter Block’s work around Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community, what is required to shift us – individually and collectively – into living into an emergent future rather than one that flows from the past?

This question excites me. Intuitively I completely get it – even as I work to get my head around it well enough to explain it to others and to live more fully into it in my life and work.

It requires tapping into new  or underused leadership skills and capacities like activating intelligences in addition to cognitive – the intelligences that come from an open mind, open heart and open will.

Shifting the shape of leadership – internally and externally is the most significant struggle I witness in the people, teams and organizations I speak to and work with.

In Theory U,  Scharmer speaks about the social field which he describes as the totality and type of connections through which the participants of a given system (organization, community, family, social network) relate, converse, think and act.  When there is a shift in the social field, people connect with a deeper source of creativity and knowing and move beyond the patterns of the past.  When this happens it is a memorable moment.   It results in outcomes that include a heightened level of individual energy and awareness, a sustained deepening of one’s authenticity and personal presence and a clarified sense of direction as well as significant professional and personal accomplishment.  It is felt individually and collectively.  And it has been far too rare an occurrence in the past, sometimes because it feels elusive rather than something you can create or co-create with intentionality and sometimes because it almost doesn’t seem real.

What does it take to more permanently shift the social field?  Awareness.  Intentionality.  The willingness to hold the space for this to happen and emergence to occur.  Presence.  Things that now and in the past we often say we don’t have time for because the business at hand is too pressing. We need results!  Current leadership practices and organizational and social culture do not support creating the conditions to sense into and connect with future possibilities and this is the point of resistance and struggle in many organizations right now.  Individuals see it, sense it, come close to it, yearn for it and then the risk feels too great to step partially or fully into needed new leadership practices.

Scharmer says the essence of leadership is to shift the inner place from which we operate both individually and collectively.  It may well be the single most important leverage point for shifting the social field in this century.  This is enormously exciting to me as I am more and more boldly emphasizing growing capacity through self-awareness, personal and, dare I say, spiritual journey – however that shows up for people.

How can we learn to better sense and connect with future possibilities that are seeking to emerge? Presencing is one means of sensing, tuning in and acting from one’s highest future potential – the future that depends on us to bring it into being.  There are many avenues to presencing, individually and collectively.  A few of them: meditation, physical exercise like running, mindfulness in any activity including walking, connecting to nature, yoga, Aikido and Shamanic practice.  Any practice that requires us to activate a different source of intelligence: the intelligence of the heart, which gives us much greater capacity to listen into the emerging field of the future.

I know this experience of listening into the emerging field of the future.  It is what happens when I follow the energy flow of intuition around work, life and the things that matter most in my life and journey.  It is what happens when I am willing to let go and let come, when I can let go of attachment (or at a minimum identify it when it shows up) and surrender completely into what is wanting to happen (instead of trying to direct it or manage it).

Taking a note from Scharmer’s work on Theory U, I am immersing myself in this study and will start by observe, observe, observe, then retreat and reflect, then act in an instant.  I am deeply curious about the future I am sensing into and connecting with and what magic will emerge for me and others as I do so.

 

The Power of Story

Story.  Story telling.  It defines us.  It defines our culture – home, work, community, other.  Through the stories we tell we point to where our focus is and we get more of what we focus on.  Much of our story telling is unconscious – we tell our stories without thinking about them or their impact – on us, on others.

What if we told every story from a place of consciousness and intentionality, understanding the power of story and how it shapes our experience, our relationships and our world?  What stories would you choose to tell with intentionality?  What stories would you stop telling?  How would some of your stories shift and change as a result?

We make sense of ourselves, our journey, our relationships, events that happen to us, the places we work, through story.  We cannot move on from our experience until we have integrated it through story and, most often we need to be witnessed – which is why we verbalize our story to others.

Story is the basis of sustaining relationship.  We cannot know another person until we know their story and often, once we do know their story, everything shifts – from interacting with “those” people to interacting with living, breathing human beings where soul, the sacred and magic can enter.

Every story counts.  Every story serves to put positive or negative energy into your interpersonal field.

Your stories define you.  Sometimes we are attached to certain stories we tell – especially the ones we tell over and over again.  Are you attached to a story in your life?  Does it serve you in being the best you can be?  In living an inspired life?  If not, how can you shift the story you carry to shape a more powerful experience and build capacity – for you and for those around you?

Work and the Sacred – Distinct and Separate or Whole and Integrated?

The birth of Shape Shift Strategies Inc. has been truly inspired.  In the midst of this transition in my life and work, it became clear to me that I would be letting go of Chrysalis and of Co-Creating Futures and leaving them with my business partner and that this was absolutely the right thing to do.

As I let this go, the name Shape Shift came, unbidden, with ease, on a flight to Colorado on my way to an Art of Hosting training and a vision quest.  Both the company name and the look for the company have been universally well received as I speak them or hand out business cards.  It resonates with people and it reverberates as people carry it away and contemplate it.

Shape Shift has a practical quality – how do we want to intentionally shift the shape of our own world rather than be a passive recipient.  The shape of individuals, teams and organizations literally shifts as people bring intentionality and purpose to everything they do.  Some would argue intentionality and purpose border on the spiritual.

I know Shape Shift also has a spiritual quality.  It has its own essence beyond anything that I personally bring to it.  Every now and then I feel that I glimpse a bit of its possible future and I am surprised by the potentiality that exists.

It also has a spiritual quality because it is born out of my own spiritual journey – a journey that has dominated my life path in the last couple of years.  Some would say I am a Shape Shifter.  Some days I might even say that.

The largest question I have been sitting with the last few months is how to bring my spiritual path and my work path together…. and still have credibility, and still make a livelihood … as if they are two separate and distinct things and that acknowledging the sacred will somehow be an impediment in some of the client work I do.  Then a good friend thoughtfully said to me, “I think you are making a distinction where none exists.”

Hmmmm.  Powerful.  Nice pause.  Deep breath.  You are making a distinction where none exists!

I have brought this thought, this awareness into quite a few conversations over the last two months.  I am beginning to speak these things out loud, publicly.  I am in a community of practice with people who are also exploring this question and beginning to speak it out loud – or just to practice it by showing up in the sacredness of who they are and the magic they bring to people, places and things.

What if the essence of who we are, the work we do in the world and the sacred are not all separate things but that we have been making distinctions where none exist?  Imagine if we intentionally bring a sense of seamlessness and integration around work and the sacred EVERYWHERE, all the time, and people understood it to be normal rather than an edgy conversation!  Imagine the sense of harmony and ease we would bring into all the places we touch.  Every time we do this, we bring a bit more healing to ourselves and others.

What does the world need right now?  Healing.  Where do we start – or where am I starting?  With what I used to think of as an edgy topic in some settings – by intentionally bringing the sacred – and magic – into everything I do and every place I go.  Will you join me?