The Poetry of Resilience: Inspiration at Hand!

Greetings Dear Readers,

Sometimes if you’re dealing with change and challenge it’s great to have something on hand to inspire you. I have a favorite resilience poem to share – many of you may have heard it before from our beloved poet laureate Maya Angelou:

Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

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Leadership Resilience Quote of the Day

“I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.” – Barack Obama

Good morning dear readers. Whatever your political persuasion, I want to share a quote from our President’s speech of last night – I was struck specifically when he talked about hope.

When we look at great leadership and how we develop resilience in ourselves, on our teams, and in our organizations, one of our top jobs is instilling a sense of hope and possibility, even during times of stress.

According to the cutting edge research being done on Psychological Capital in the workplace by Luthans, Avolio, Youseff (authors of the book Psychological Capital from Oxford University Press), and others in the field, this is a definition of hope at work:

Hope – Is defined as a positive motivational state where two basic elements – successful feeling of agency (or goal oriented determination) and pathways (or planning to achieve those goals) interact.

Hope is one of four components of Psychological Capital that makes for effective organizations. What are the outcomes we see when our people are more confident, hopeful, optimistic and resilient?  Research has found that employees with high Psychological Capital:

  • Perform better
  • Have higher levels of engagement
  • Create more stable organizational growth
  • Have less absenteeism
  • Are more effective at leading or participating in organizational change

How are you creating a hopeful, optimistic environment in your workplace?

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Resilience Thought of the Day


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Resilience Quote of the Day: People who Soar

People who soar are those who refuse to sit back, sigh and wish things would change. They neither complain of their lot nor passively dream of some distant ship coming in. Rather, they visualize in their minds that they are not quitters; they will not allow life’s circumstances to push them down and hold them under. – Charles Swindoll

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Resilience Attributes: Empathy – Can You Stand in My Shoes?

Empathy is a primary key to conflict resolution. However, like other keys, it tends to go missing just when we need it.

In fact, some filmmakers felt so strong about it’s importance, they’ve begun a movie project, called Stand in My Shoes. From their website:

Do we have an “empathy deficit”?  We see the costs of our “me-first” mindset: record breakdowns in relationships, endemic corruption, environmental degradation, inequitable social structures, and a whole generation increasingly unable to deeply connect – to anything or anyone.  Now, scientists have confirmed we’re experiencing a steep decline in our capacity for empathy. Empathy is at the heart of human connection. It ‘s the glue that keeps us together.   With it in short supply, what will become of us as a species?

So what exactly is empathy and how exactly how do we best use it in our workplace? One blog describes it as having 7 elements.

1. Emotional intelligence is the cognitive ability involving traits and social skills that facilitate interpersonal behavior. It involves understanding emotions including non verbal signals, body language and facial expressions. Responding appropriately to the emotions of others is key to facilitating insight.

2. Mindset – Staying human and having the right attitude to connect to another person at that moment when they need you the most.

3. Present – You are present and in the now.  It is not about the past or future but being aware about another person’s feeling at that moment.

4. Attention – Demonstrate your interest in the person through your body language, facial expression, and gestures to encourage someone to continue speaking. “Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention” ~Jim Rohn

5. To Listen – You listen to understand rather than respond.  Sometimes, in order to elicit more of a response from the other party, you need to pause and say nothing.

6. Help Encourage – Use supportive comments to get someone to continue to open up. Gestures like nodding your head, appropriate facial expressions, eye contact can accompany, “I see,” “Really,” or “Oh no” to provide the necessary encouragement for the person to continue to release the emotional turmoil they are going through.

7. You Recognize Feelings:  Feelings reveal critical aspects of what is important to a person.  Identifying an impasse by Saying, “I see that you are angry” or “I am sorry but something seems to be upsetting you,” are ways you can bring someone’s feelings out into the open.

In Summary, by empathizing you show that you care, you are listening and you are concerned of the other person’s ideas, feelings and how it has impacted the other’s perception.

At work, it seems to me a lack of empathy is resulting in everything from lack of employee engagement and loyalty to workplace violence.

As leaders, it’s our job to understand our constituents and how they feel and think about their work and their workplace. When we have empathy, we can communicate more effectively and engage people in meaningful discussion about how to make things better.

Have you been inspired by someone’s empathy as a leader? Share your story – we want to hear about it!

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Resilience Attributes: Are You Really Collaborative?

Resilience requires us not just to be flexible and adaptable, but to have supportive relationships with others who can help us when the going gets tough. Supportive relationships aren’t all about helping each other through challenges; sometimes they are about breakthroughs, innovations, and excellence in results!

I seriously doubt Blogger employee, Evan Williams thought he would be partnering with, then-rival-Google employee, Biz Stone. But the social networking world ! When Blogger was sold to Google, the two joined forces. Stone even followed Williams when he left the company. The two, along with fellow Odeo engineer came up with the idea for Twitter.

Most big ideas are the result of collaboration of some sort. Imagine how many people need to get together to make the movie you watched last week!  Things just work better when more brains and hands are involved. We need other people for support.

There is nothing more invigorating than the exchange of ideas to get the creative juices flowing. Hearing your ideas reflecting off of others, hearing new ideas, working in tandem creates a certain energy.

  • Learning together
  • Group problem-solving
  • Helping each other get unstuck

and of course, two sets of hands are better than one.

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Leadership Inspiration: A Quote for your Labor Day Pondering

“May I stress the need for courageous, intelligent, and dedicated leadership… Leaders of sound integrity. Leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with justice. Leaders not in love with money, but in love with humanity. Leaders who can subject their particular egos to the greatness of the cause.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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