Resilient Leadership Quote of the Day

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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NYC Shooting: What Do We Do Back at Work After Violence?

Greetings Dear Readers,

The shooting at the Empire State Building today by a laid-off worker reminds me of work I’ve done in organizations after episodes of violence and loss. I’ve worked with executive teams who’ve lost members and companies who have been traumatized by terrorism, and it can be so difficult to know what to do as a leader with such powerful and potent emotion.

How do we bounce-back from horror, fear, or grief at work? How do we lead people who have been traumatized, particularly when we are as well?

Step One  – Honor Grief and Loss

Everyone grieves differently, and they need time and space to do so. As a leader, you may wish to say a few words to your team or workgroup about what community means in times of sadness, and that it’s time for us to come together and have a moment of quiet, offer each other support, and talk about what’s happened if you want to.

Step Two – Ensure an Ongoing Support Mechanism

Engage your EAP program, get a grief counselor or other resource in to assist anyone who needs help.

Step Three – Don’t pretend it didn’t happen and go about “business as usual”. Make sure that in the following weeks ahead that you check in with your people, ask how they are, and continue to focus on community building so that employees do not get disconnected or alienated from the team.


Step Four – Learn about and leverage resilience practices. When a team experiences something difficult together, they have an opportunity to build tighter, more purposeful relationships. They have an opportunity to offer their own help to others. They have an opportunity to think about what they are grateful for, and bring that gratitude into daily awareness.

Please pass it on.

-Karlin Sloan


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Difficult People.

Difficult people are everywhere. You may even be one of them sometimes!

John is a new employee in the office. This is his first job, out of school. He’s young and nervous. He won’t stay focused on anything. He cannot seem to stop talking. It’s very distracting, and very hard for his supervisors and co-workers to steer him back to the task at hand.

In any profession, you will find endless stories about difficult bosses, co-workers, and clients; the ones who are annoying, the ones who are cranky, the ones who are high-maintenance, the ones who are jealous of your success, the ones who are dissatisfied with life in general.

No one likes dealing with difficult people. Unfortunately there is no shortage of them. People can be difficult to work with for any number of reasons. Understanding their reasons makes it easier to work with them.

If you can just learn to either ignore them or appease them in a detached way, you may learn to survive the day.

The experience of working with difficult people, though not pleasant can prove beneficial, giving you necessary skills, you might not ordinarily develop.

• You learn to see things from a different perspective

• You learn to be more assertive

• You learn new skills to empower yourself, like tenacity, determination, and resilience

Take your RAW-Q today, or order LEMONADE: The Leaders Guide to Resilience at Work for more useful info!

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A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words – This is what TEAMWORK looks like!

NASA Team Celebrating Curiosity’s Touchdown!

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Mark Zuckerberg and Accepting the Help You’re Offered

Do you ask for help when you need it? Or accept help when it’s offered?

I’ve recently been consulting in a corporate system (that shall remain nameless) in which it is deeply frowned upon to ask for help. It’s as if when you ask for help you are demonstrating weakness or ineptitude, so everyone runs around fearing they will be fired and doing everything themselves, not asking for the resources they need, and not accepting help they are offered. It’s a disaster in the making!  If you really think about it, it’s mission-critical that we all learn how to take notice when something good comes along -and accept the help that’s available! Here’s a fun story about accepting that other people’s talents can make your team more effective:

When Mark Zuckerberg met Sheryl Sandberg at a Christmas party in 2007, he wasn’t even looking for help. After spending time together, she was brought on board, as COO. Zuckerberg is the shy idea guy, Sandberg is the smooth-talking business face. She is credited with Facebook’s huge profitability.

“A lot of people choose to hire people who look exactly like them,” Zuckerberg told the NY Times. “Here we just value balance a lot more. It takes work to build those relationships, but if it does work, you end up with a much better system.”

Sheryl is responsible for making money. She is jokingly referred to as the “grown-up” at Facebook.  Unlike Zuckerberg, Cheryl Sandberg is referred to as elegant, stylish, sophisticated, and polished. Zuckerberg didn’t have to listen to or accept her help. He was doing an ok job by himself.

It is hard to ask for help. It is even harder to accept that help. Everything in us screams I can do this on my own! I don’t need help! I’ve got this.

We are a do it yourself society. We see asking for help as a sign of weakness. We should have all of the answers. Which is interesting, because we usually don’t, and things often go better when there is teamwork involved, when everyone plays a part.

The truth is, no one is self-made. We all depend on each other.

Sure, we can try to figure everything out ourselves. Or we can, as Isaac Newton said, “stand on the shoulders of giants.” We can get a sense of what to expect from others who have already been there. Learn what to do, also what not to do.

One step you can take toward acceptance, not to mention success, is taking our RAW-Q, or reading the “Accepting” chapter of our latest book – LEMONADE: The Leaders Guide to Resilience at Work.

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Are you an Optimist?

“An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.” Winston Churchill


Imagine you are 18, a bomb goes off on the humvee you are driving in Iraq. A million thoughts are going through your head. You aren’t even supposed to be here. You are supposed to be a football star. You watch as your hand melts unrecognizably.

You are brought to the hospital to treat burn injuries with more than 30 reconstructive surgeries. Your face will never look the same. Everything has changed, and you have no say in it.

That’s exactly what happened to JR Martinez. He could have easily and understandably allowed bitter “why me” thoughts to infiltrate his mind. Instead of slowing down, he’s making the most of it.

“Life goes on, “ he says. “I don’t know the purpose of this, but if I have a good attitude, stay positive, continue to smile every single day…something good will happen to me.”

Since then, of course, JR has had the opportunity to star on All My Children and Dancing With the Stars. He has also been sharing his story of optimism across the nation.

True leaders are optimistic. They have to be, in order to be successful. Not in a Pollyanna sort of way, but in an “I can make this work” sort of way. In our book, we remind you that events are neither inherently good or bad, but rather our interpretations of things that create “goodness” or “badness”.

Some key characteristics of optimists can be valuable in times of turmoil. [taken from]

• Optimists look at life’s troubles as learning opportunities.  When they face a difficult obstacle and overcome it, they know they can create a different outcome next time.  So, every problem becomes a tool in their ability to handle future trials.

• Optimists tend to have something they can get excited about.  They have hobbies, play sports, travel or have something outside their life’s routine about which they are enthusiastic and into which they can escape and refresh themselves.

• Optmists expect good things to happen.  They greet each day with a sense of anticipation and a strong belief that something good may happen to them that day.  Their focus on that anticipation crowds out feelings like dread and foreboding.

• Optimists are dreamers.  They daydream about what they’d like to be doing, places they’d like to go, about love, success and so on.  These daydreams elicit feel-good hormones which reinforce their optimism and promote good health and rewarding relationships.

•Optimists smile.  The simple act of smiling also releases feel-good chemicals in the brain.  Even a “pretend” smile releases these chemicals.  The more they smile, the more they feel like smiling.  In addition, the more they smile, the more positive reactions they receive from people around them.  Smiles are like yawns…they’re contagious!

•Optimists write positive stories in their minds.  They tend to imagine positive outcomes to problems and imagine themselves as successful or even heroic.  They take difficult life situations and write internal scripts which have happy endings rather than imagining all the bad things that could happen.

•Optimists adapt to change.  They are not afraid of altering their routines.  In fact, they relish change.  They see changes in their routines as adventures…not interruptions.  By regularly changing things up a bit, they are less likely to be disturbed by minor annoyances like traffic jams or telephone interruptions.

• Optimists laugh.  They seek out opportunities for laughter in the books they read, the movies they see and the friends they have.  As with daydreaming and smiling, laughter is a good source of feel-good chemicals. (It seems our own brains are our best pharmacy when it comes to anti-depressants.)  Optimists realize they have to put good stuff in to get the good stuff out.  So, they tend to avoid depressing art, literature, news programs and movies and stick with uplifting entertainment.

You can start with an optimistic step by taking your RAW-Q at

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Values Proposition: What Does Your Organization Care About?

Recently my company (KS&C) has been doing a great deal of work with leaders around their individual and organizational values, and tying values to employee engagement. As we see more and more interest in this approach to developing corporate cultures, I’ve been seeing values everywhere.

Values drive everything in organizations, from how we work together to how we make decisions to how we treat customers.  In my experience, many organizations say they have a set of values, but they aren’t accurate. Their espoused values don’t match the behavior of the organization’s employees. (So how do we close the gap?  I’m excited to say there is a way to do so that has been validated over the last thirty years. The Hall-Tonna Values Inventory is an assessment that allows us to see the gap between where an organization wants to be, and where they really are. But I digress! I promise to write about it in another entry soon.)

The above graphic is a visual representation of the core values of 50 banks. I am convinced that if we really did define our behaviors and our culture based on values, we would see increased productivity, engagement, AND we would reduce ethical violations and the kind of world-crushing, focus-on-profit-over-anything-else decisions that we see coming from big corporations on a regular basis.

Here’s an excerpt from co-founder of Fast Company and HBR blogger Bill Taylor. For the whole blog entry click here.

It’s always risky to look to great humanitarians for lessons about business, but something Mother Teresa said long ago strikes me as a pretty good epitaph for our disruptive times …….”We cannot do great things,” she famously told her followers, “only small things with great love.”

Yes, success today is about price, features, quality — pure economic value of the sort that requires you to rethink your strategy and business models. But it is also, and perhaps more importantly, about passion, emotion, identity — sharing your values. And all that requires is a way of doing business, a strategy for connecting with customers, that communicates who you are and what you care about.

As the value proposition gets rewritten in industry after industry, it’s organizations with an authentic values proposition that rise above the chaos and connect with customers. Few of us will ever do “great things” that remake companies and reshape industries. But all of us can do small things with great feeling and an authentic sense of emotion.

What’s your values proposition?

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