Please watch the video for a comment from Eileen McDargh about the horrific tragedy unfolding in Boston, Massachusetts today.
At Davos, Switzerland , the scene for this international summit, Klaus Schwab, executive chairman and founder of the Forum describes the theme of RESILIENT DYNAMISM as “the ability to respond to the many global risks we currently face and to seize the opportunities it provides.”
Fascinating: in the face of risks, seize opportunities.
Before one can seize them, one must be on the lookout for them. Paying attention with your eyes wide open is a critical factor in discovering and uncovering what gold lies beneath the surface.
I am keynoting a conference next month for administrators of community colleges. The educational systems nationwide have been hit hard with the economic downturn. Voter approval of tax increases is but a stop-gap measure. It is time for groups like this (and others) to look beneath the obvious. It is time to stop thinking “phew-we can get things back to normal.” “Normal” and “back” are words that belong with the dinosaurs.
Instead, the questions now could be: who needs out services that we never thought of? Where can we create strategic alliances from what we “thought” were competitors? How do we tap into our customer base (in this case students) and ask them to help us create the future. Government, healthcare, education (as well as many companies) are all pretty hide-bound institutions. But it does not have to be that way.
Like the conversation in Davos, maybe we might all put on wide-range glasses and ask ourselves: What is the opportunity that we have been given?
That’s resilient dynamism.
Can you look beyond the obvious to see possibilities? Resilient people can. Watch this video and I promise you—you will cry and believe. Sent to me by my very resilient twin brother. http://bit.ly/ppL0WA
My son-in-law, father of two amazing granddaughters, is a Fire Captain for the City of Portland, OR . He also serves with the volunteer fire department in his local community of Corbett, OR. After the horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary, Phil—himself a first responder- sent out an email that took my breath away. I had no idea about this group AND it gave me a way to put some action behind my grief.
Here is what firefighter Phil Dearixon wrote to our family:
Dear Family, I’m sure all of us have been affected in some way by the events of the past week that occurred at both ends of our country. Being a first responder myself and seeing first hand the pain and suffering family members experience after the tragic and unexpected loss of a loved one, I would like to propose that our family Christmas project involve a non-profit program that assists families of victims as well as first responders after a life- changing event.
Trauma Intervention Programs Inc. (TIP) has many local chapters throughout the nation. We have a really good one here in the Portland Metropolitan area that I have had first hand contact with numerous times. The volunteers who come out to the scene after an emergency to console grieving loved ones and explain options to help them cope with the situation are very professional and add a calming effect to the aftermath of the event.
These programs operate solely on donations and fund raising activities. I would urge everyone to look into their local chapter, see what they do and consider a contribution or maybe even consider volunteering.
I cannot imagine my pager going off or being awakened by the bells and being asked to respond to what the volunteer firefighters in Sandy Hook, CT had to respond to yesterday. But I am absolutely certain there were TIP volunteers or some form of same at the station waiting for the first responders when they got back to help them cope with the feelings they must have been experiencing.
My friends, this is an organization I knew nothing about until Phil brought it to my attention. It started in California and spread eastward.
I offer this to you as a way to let our heart be broken OPEN so we can learn how to respond to others with compassion.
Sister Helen Lange amazed me again! Sure she’s shown plenty of spunk in her life time: entering the convent in 1930, dealing with running a large Catholic elementary and junior high school in Jacksonville Beach, teaching others at Holy Name Academy in St. Leo’s, FL. and widely traveling, singing, directing, retreating, and praying.
But this last venture felt like the end of the line for my beloved junior high school principal. Macular degeneration had reduced her eyesight to simply shadows. It was harder to get out with the “red hat/purple scarf” ladies. But being moved to an assisted living facility—away from all she knew and the beloved routine of daily Mass, comforting rituals, and sisterly camaraderie left her upset and less-than happy.
That was 8 months ago. Her Christmas letter to me, dictated to a typist, once again showed this determination to see the glass half full. Imagine, age 99 and she can reframe a community. She says this:
“The lame, blind, the troubled in mind and body are now my new community. I am beginning to see the hand of God in this, it has become my garden of laughter and cheer. For example, Martha, age 90 came all the way over to my room in the opposite wing, looking for her car keys. I told her we’d go down to her room and look for them. I kept talking all the way down, trying to distract her. Since she loves to sing, I began singing ‘Let Me Call You Sweet Heart’. She chimed in and forgot all about her keys. God is still performing miracles. It takes so little to distract Martha., I must have a pocket full of fibs ready. I hope God forgets the number of fibs I have squandered. “
Reframing is an incredible resiliency skill. Sister Helen continues to laugh at herself and find joy in the oddities of her fellow human beings.
Imagine: Age 99. I wish I had 25% of her courage and ability to be an intelligent optimist.
1. End the use of filibusters to prevent a bill from reaching the Senate for debate. Or at least create a time limit for the filibuster.
2.Allow members the ability, if they have a majority, to override a leader or a committee chair’s refusal to bring a bill to the floor. McKinnon suggests anonymity until the bill is passed. I disagree here. Why not transparency!
3.Introduce a “question time” for the president, on a rotating basis, between the House and the Senate with these sessions televised.
4. Expand presidential power to eliminate redundant parts of the federal government.
My personal two cents: send everyone in Congress to see LINCOLN, the movie starting Daniel Day-Lewis. It becomes clear how far both parties have moved from their roots. One sees a singular man convinced on what most be done for the good of the nation and NOT for singular people. May we talk about moral ground? Of all our presidents, the staying power of Lincoln remains a strong heritage and demonstrates that legacy has resiliency.
It’s Day Two in our countdown to Thanksgiving, a holiday that would never had happened in Lincoln had not LISTENED to Sarah Josepha Hale and her idea that the nation needed a day of gratitude.
Listening implies putting aside preconceived ideas and being open to the meaning behind the words. It implies asking reflective questions. In my book, Talk Ain’t Cheap, It’s Priceless, listening plays a crucial role in effective leadership, community building, and family tending.
At the same time, in the past, I too often took for granted the simple sense of hearing itself. Imagine living in a world where you can see someone’s mouth move but can’t make sense of what is coming out. Or perhaps you “think” you heard correctly, but some of the words weren’t correct. That’s what was happening to me until my sweet husband quietly put an ad for hearing aids on my desk and suggested I might look into it.
OK. I swatted him. I cried. This is a malady that has struck every male in my family for four generations. Not me. Alas, perhaps because I shared the womb with my twin brother who has significant hearing loss, I apparently have also gotten that genetic marker.
I do wear hearing aids. Not all the time, but enough to appreciate the nuances of a stage production, to answer questions from my audience, and to joining into conversations at gatherings of many people.
You, dear reader, are probably one of those blessed souls who has perfect hearing. Hearing is what occurs in moments like this:
I was sound asleep today when the alarm went off, a classical station that sends up everything from soothing concertos to percussive passage from an obscure composer. I never know what will start my day. Our water fountain is timed to start flowing at 4am. While that might be calming, the hard rock music at the gym gets my body pumped for a stair climbing or lifting weights. In contrast, the ride home from the gym is blissfully silent.
I am grateful for my ears. I am grateful for help that lets me hear more. I am grateful for the music I sing and the songs I dance too. And I am eternally grateful when someone says, “Thanks for listening to me today.” That ranks higher than water flow or the orchestra.
Where today will you be grateful for hearing AND for listening.
Part of our nation is waking up jubilant today. Another part might be everything from disappointed to angry. Neither swings of emotion will help us do what we must now do: becoming a UNITED States of America.
I will be writing a series of posts on next steps for becoming a more resilient people, resilient nation, and with resilient leadership committed to people not politics.
But here’s the first important thing: we DID hold an election. My sister helped drive people to the voting polls. She found one elderly woman in an assisted living home. The woman was overjoyed that Susan would drive so she could vote. It reminded us of our Mom.
Every day of her life, until age 91 when failing health brought her to Aegis Assisted Living, Mom would walk outside and proudly plant the United States flag in the front yard. She taught us that voting was one of the most precious gifts this nation offered. Anyone or anything that denied that right was patently wrong.
Perhaps it is time to consider a national standard for voting procedures. Create standardized voting times and days so no governor of ANY party can arbitrarily shorten days to vote or close down hours of operation. Create a national standardized plan for what can legitimately be required as voter ID. Mom no longer held a valid driver’s license and we’re lucky her passport was still good. Something to consider.
Tomorrow is a NEW day. Breathe. Talk to each other. And let us start.
In October, Carolyn Gross asked if I would close off her meeting. Friday night. Escondido. For Carolyn… anything.
She is a stage-three breast cancer survivor and from finding alternative medicine that saved her life, she has been committed to bringing this information to others. How could I say “no” to “Your Health is Your Wealth. I firmly believe it.
Meet Dr. Geronimo Rubio and Rubio Cancer Center. I sat for an hour before my presentation and listened. Mesmerized, I heard Dr. Rubio talk about how they use the patient’s own body to fight the cancer. I looked at my friend, Carolyn—so vital, alive, smart and keenly committed to helping others.
Resiliency is all about finding many ways to view a situation. Dr. Rubio and Carolyn invited me to consider alternatives. Of course, I must share them with you, Please tell me what you think.
According to ComPsych Corp, a provider of employee assistance programs worldwide, 63% of workers cite high levels of stress at work with extreme fatigue and feeling out of control.
According to psychologist Ben Palmer, CEO of Genos International, “The more you adopt the ‘do more with less’ mentality, the greater you drive down innovation because high workloads and stress are the antithesis of innovation.”
How to counter this? My suggestions from the field of resiliency and work./life integration:
(1) Remember that legacy can be a lien on the future. Are people doing “things” because no one has challenged the status quo?
(2) Encourage employees to be push-back zealots—asking them to point out activities that add no value to the end results.
(3) If there is merit in an activity, make sure everyone understands why.
(4) Be an on-the-ground leader. Look for points of stress within the organization and then work (not visit) alongside those employees.
(5) Recognize the law of diminished return. Specifically, the quantity of ones efforts and the quality of one’s efforts are not in balance. Major issues with rework, mis-communication, and even accidents occur when an employee is exhausted.
(6) Create fun in the process. An assisted living center needed to totally clean and paint the kitchen in the memory care unit of the building. The executive director told her staff to come in in old clothes and prepare for manual labor. The executive director led the charge, putting on upbeat music, encouraging singing while they worked, and had pizza brought in as a lunch treat. More work, yes. But because the senior leader became intimately involved AND made it fun, no one complained.
(7) Get outside assistance and coaching for employees to learn how to handle their own levels of stress on and off the job. I’m headed back to the East Coast next week to do just that. After all, we are responsible for the choices we make and can learn to respond in more life-affirming, re-energizing ways. It just might take an outsider to prompt this awareness.