Wendi McGowan-Ellis 0:11
Welcome to "Your Authentic Path to Powerful Leadership" with Marsha Clark. Join us on this journey where we're uncovering what it takes to be a powerful woman leader. Welcome back, Marsha.
Marsha Clark 0:24
Well, thank you very much, and welcome back to you as well. And it's just the two of us in the studio. It's been a minute.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 0:29
I know it's kind of quiet minute. That's right. So strange. You know, the Girl Dads panel was last week. And now it's just you and me. So, anyway, here we go. One thing that has really stuck with me over the last few episodes is the impact of harmful or limiting messaging on women and girls, whether that messaging comes from a close circle of influencers, like their family, teachers, or close friends, or from society at-large, like social media and television, movies and videos.
Marsha Clark 1:04
Yeah, I agree, Wendi. And I also find myself, you know, in the proverbial shaking my head, and how much and well rather how pervasive, so many of these messages are about how we're basically not enough. Or, on the other hand, in some cases, were too much. And, you know, it certainly adds to the struggle as we first raise strong girls to rise above those messages. And second, to find ways as women to mitigate those messages when they're trying to invade our stories about ourselves or our options. So, I guess the good news is, is that I do see more and more women and quite honestly, men, in social media and in society in general, who are actively pushing back on messages that are intended to limit or even silence women and girls. And, you know, somedays admittedly, it feels like two steps forward and three steps back. But, that fuels me even more to do the work that we do and to support others who are doing the same.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 2:03
Yes. I mean, we definitely need to be celebrating the wins and the positive messaging when we see it.
Marsha Clark 2:09
Yes, celebrate it and amplify it, which I know you already do. But you know, to also let it soak in, you know, even if momentarily, so that you get some sense of relief that comes from acknowledging that there is progress being made.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 2:25
Yes. And, what you said is a perfect segue into today's episode on resilience. I think you may have just given us a spoiler on one or two of the strategies for building resilience. And, this feels like one of those conversations where we teach what we need to know.
Marsha Clark 2:45
Boy, it sure does. And, you know, this, hopefully will be a booster shot for both of us on ways that we can continue to build and strengthen our resilience and help others do the same.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 2:57
Well, here we go. So, today's content is pulled from a few sources that you've collected over the years on building resiliency, and then shared with your coaching clients, if I recall. So, what was the catalyst for creating that particular body of content, because it's not a specific topic that you focus on in your book, "Embracing Your Power", right?
Marsha Clark 3:22
Well, that's right. That's right. And, it's not called out specifically in the book, you know, other than some references, such as the section on the imposter phenomena about facing fears. In yet in reality, building resilience really is an undercurrent in almost everything that we do in so many ways. And, you know, just for a bit of irony for our listeners to hear, I was asked to speak on this topic at Southwest Airlines International Women's Day back in 2020. Now, you know, when we think 2020 what do we think about? Think about this from a timing perspective. I spoke just a few days before the CDC and World Health Organization, everybody, declared COVID As a global pandemic. And, I will tell you, the research and the preparation I did for that talk came in mighty handy again and again, throughout those next two years as we all navigated this global pandemic on both a personal and professional level.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 4:19
Yes, the document you created opens with a definition of resilience that might be helpful to create some context for our listeners today. So will you reshare that with everyone?
Marsha Clark 4:31
I will. The definition I use is and it's from the Oxford Languages Dictionary. So the definition is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. toughness. It means knowing how to cope in spite of setbacks, barriers or limited resources. Resilience is a measure of how much you want something and how much you're willing and able to overcome obstacles to get it. And it has to do with your emotional strength.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 5:04
Wow. Okay, that's quite a bit to unpack in that definition. So, let's break it down. The first part is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, toughness? What does that mean to you? Or, what does that look like?
Marsha Clark 5:19
You know, I think about it, and I often refer to it as the quote unquote, "bounce back factor", you know, we can get knocked down or get knocked out, but we're not going to stay down, we're not going to stay out. I often, you know, have the visual image of the clown, you know, with a weight in the bottom that you can punch it and it knocks over but it bounces right back up. And, I want to be that clown. You know, there's one of those taken-out-of-context comments, right? I want to be that, have that "bounce back factor".
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 5:48
Right. And, then the idea of knowing how to cope in spite of setbacks, barriers, or limited resources. What's an example of what that looks like in terms of resilience?
Marsha Clark 5:59
Yeah, I see this, how to cope as being resourceful. You know, maybe I do some research. Maybe I talk to someone, a subject matter expert, a mentor, or maybe I decide I want to be courageous and speak my truth. And each one of those can be a coping mechanism, if you will, to help me continue moving through whatever this challenge might be with great resilience.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 6:27
The third element of the definition refers to something that I hadn't really thought about before. And that is, resilience is a measure of how much you want something, and how much you're willing and able to overcome obstacles to get it. You know, that idea of how much you want something, the desire, and how it relates to resilience. That's a pretty powerful image.
Marsha Clark 6:51
Yeah, I agree. Think about a situation. And I'll ask our listeners to do the same thing here. So think about a time when you really, really, really, really wanted something. You deeply wanted it. And it didn't happen, or you didn't get it on your first attempt. Did you just pack it up, give up, give in and walk away? Or did you pick yourself up, shake it off and try again, tomorrow kind of thing? And so the times you walked away, especially if that's at the first sign of resistance, or loss, or are likely times when your desire wasn't as strong or it was just something you thought you wanted. Or, and this is often where the shoulds start creeping in, I thought I should do it or should want it. But deep down inside, it wasn't really something that I or you deeply desired. So it didn't really take much resilience to walk away, because the thing we were targeting, you know, whether that was a promotion, or relationship, an award, whatever, they may have been a false or superficial goal. It to me, it's a cousin to the phrase, 'choose your battles'. Know what you really, really, really, really want and go for it.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 8:04
And where resilience is measured in this case is how much we were willing to go back after what we wanted, regardless, or in spite of how we were feeling, or that we didn't get it on the first try. And, I'm going to throw in another cousin phrase that my husband, Scott, and I use a lot around the house. And, the phrase is this, "if it isn't a hell yeah, it's a no". I mean, so that's that piece of did you really really want it, or did somebody should on you, or did you shouldon yourself? Because, if it's not a hell yeah, it's a no.
Marsha Clark 8:40
Yes. That's wonderful.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 8:41
So I'm really intrigued by this idea, right now, I need to go back over some of my wins and losses and see when and where resilience kicked in, and what that looked like and felt like.
Marsha Clark 8:52
You know, I think that's an excellent exercise and reflection, right? What happened? What did I do? What did I learn, all of that kind of thing. And, we often don't recognize when our resilience is kicking in because, you know, we may think of it as pure stubbornness or, more positively using better, more positive language, a burning desire or even perseverance, tenacity. And, yet, at some point, the elements that make up resilience were in play when we think back on those circumstances or situation. So, I think it's important to dissect those elements and really figure out which ones we need to shore up during any given setback or to help us get back on track to that "bounce back factor".
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 9:36
And that's exactly what we're gonna do next is dissect those elements. Okay. So, in your resource guide on exploring resilience, you spotlight seven different skills from the book, "The Resilience Factor" by Reivich and Shatte, correct? Okay. So will you share the seven skills first and then we can do a deep dive into each one?
Marsha Clark 10:02
Yes, I'm happy to do that. So, the authors introduced the seven skills of resilience with this phrase, "know thyself, then change". You know, we're always saying, you know, know yourself, be your best self all that stuff. This is a little different twist on it. And they group the skills into two categories. Know thyself is one category, and change or change your skills is the other category. So, the three know thyself skills guide us towards a better understanding of how our mind works, and they help us build greater self awareness. So those three skills are one, learning your ABCs, two avoiding thinking traps, and three detecting icebergs. And, I really like how the authors explained that those three skills can provide us, you and me and all of our listeners, with a map of our beliefs, feelings and behaviors and how they interconnect. And, that ultimately helps us to see ourselves and the world around us much more clearly, as well as offering insight into why we react to events the way we do.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 11:19
Okay, so then what are the next four change skills?
Marsha Clark 11:24
Yes, and for our listeners who are getting antsy right now, we are going to come back and take each one of these. So yeah, it's coming.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 11:31
I'm getting I was getting antsy.
Marsha Clark 11:33
Yeah, there you go. So the four change yourself skills, if you will, the first one is challenging beliefs, mine my own. Two, putting it in perspective. Perspective is one of my favorite leadership words. Number three, calming and focusing. And, four is real-time resilience.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 11:35
All right, well, now let's break these down starting with the learning your ABCs.
Marsha Clark 11:46
Yes, this is not what we did in first grade, but we're always learning. So, I do want to add a quick but important note here that the authors emphasize, before we break down the skills, they explain that you are what you think. I mean, and I think that's the power of beliefs, right in that sense. And that the foundation of the seven skills of resilience is built on the simple realization that our emotions and behaviors are triggered, not by the events themselves, but by how we interpret those events.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 12:40
And that is an incredibly important distinction, right?
Marsha Clark 12:43
It is. And for those of you who know that in the book, and know that we talk about the ladder of inference, it's that data we select the assumptions we make, the conclusions we draw, and this idea of, we're seeing it based on who we are not necessarily how it happened. I do want to add a couple things. So, when we acknowledge this distinction, as well as quite honestly the space for options that it creates, it makes the exploration and development of these skills, much more amenable and, ultimately more productive.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 13:23
Okay, so now, are we ready to dive into the ABCs of resilience? Okay, perfect.
Marsha Clark 13:28
Alright. So here's what each of these letters stands for. A stands for adversity. B stands for beliefs. And C stands for consequences. So, adversity unpacked, we dive deeper, is really about figuring out how, what or who pushes our buttons, and as the author so elegantly put it, "rob us of our grace".
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 14:02
Okay. So, I like that because it's already feeling like it's something within me that is happening instead of something purely external. So, if someone or something is pushing my buttons, like, oh, my God, I have no idea. Things that push my buttons, people who can't get their wallet out at the grocery store, like you've been standing there watching the entire cart gets scanned, why is your credit card, debit card, cash, not out and ready to go? Like, seriously, we have to sit here and wait on this whole thing. There, that pushes my buttons. Can you tell I don't have a lot of patience? So, then that that feels very outside and uncontrollable. But as soon as you said 'robs me of my grace', I feel a twinge of responsibility over that even though I can't control the woman and her wallet, I am relinquishing my control over something that feels important to me, even though it probably really isn't.
Marsha Clark 15:08
Well, that goes back to perspective, right? We're gonna talk about that in just a minute. And, you know, for me, the trigger is, the listeners have heard me say it, the word should. I get all knocked out of, you know, staying connected without managing myself accordingly. So I think, you know, there's an interesting shift that we can, in our thinking, hopefully already, in that first step of assessing our adversity is getting clear about what we view the adversity to be - a family member, a word, a situation, how I've been talked to, those kinds of things. And, it may also include maintaining balance between work and family, juggling several tasks at once, dealing with people's anger, conflicts with colleagues or family members, and even just simply adapting to change.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 16:00
Yeah. What's interesting is that some of these sound pretty universal, like dealing with angry people or conflicts at work. Those seem like something everyone would be stressed out about. But my ears perked up when you said, juggling several tasks at once as an adversity. I mean, I suppose I do have a limit to how much I like to juggle, but I do enjoy the complexity of having multiple projects going on at once.
Marsha Clark 16:27
Yeah, you're bringing up a good point, Wendi. And it really goes back to that foundational premise that it's not the event or activity that damages or tests our resilience. It's our attitudes or belief around it. And getting into a deep debate with colleagues or friends, buddies, is exhilarating for some and exhausting for others. So it's about what are your adversities because we can have very different ones.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 16:56
Exactly. Okay. And now I'm getting this and you're so right about it. And now that I think about it, so what sets my nerves on edge can just float past Scott and vice versa.
Marsha Clark 17:09
Yeah. And that's, that's exactly what I'm saying. So getting clear on what our own hot buttons are is a very personal exploration. So I want our listeners to hear that. And the question for our listeners then is, what are the things that rob you of your grace, steal your joy, or as we often say, just set off your last, you know, and so I invite our listeners to just take a moment to reflect on what that is under the big heading of adversity. But the way we can define adversity is what robs you of your grace, steals your joy, or sets off your last nerve.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 17:50
Okay, so that's A and B's beliefs, right?
Marsha Clark 17:54
That's right. So I want to give another reflection question here. So what are the thoughts that run through your mind, and sometimes they're outside your awareness and so we're trying to bring those into focus right now. So what are those thoughts that run through your mind that determine one, how you feel, or two what you decide to do in the midst of an adversity a challenge or an obstacle or a new experience?
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 18:26
Why don't you say those again.
Marsha Clark 18:28
Okay. All right. So what are your thoughts what are the thoughts that run through your mind that determine one, how you feel, or two what you decide to do in the midst of an adversity, a challenge, an obstacle or a new experience?
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 18:45
Okay. All right.
Marsha Clark 18:47
So another belief question focuses on seeking the answer to why why, why did this happen? These show up when we're experiencing something is failure or or when our expectations have not been met. So the natural human tendency to seek answers or to make sense of those things kicks in and in the absence of actual answers, our mind starts to develop a story, a narrative, a script, a drama, you know, and it's usually fiction, you know, with us starring in the role, many times of either hero/heroine or the victim, and rarely are we the villains. So the more elaborate that the drama is, the drama of our own why beliefs, the harder it may be for us to bounce back from whatever the setback was.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 19:41
And why do you think that is?
Marsha Clark 19:43
Yeah, so So I've found that it happens for a couple of reasons. First, the more elaborate my imaginary story is of why something happened it's ever harder to disentangle ourselves from it right? We're I often use the phrase when I'm in it, I'm in it. I'm not looking at it objectively, I'm not, you know, being thoughtful perhaps. I'm just in the middle of it. And you know, this confirmation bias kicks in. And in confirmation biases, we start looking for evidence to prove our version of the why story and, quite honestly, discounting or denying any other counter evidence. You can tell me something but if it's not what I believe, I'm going to, you know, reject it. So, and in other cases our why stories are comforting or enabling or even tranquilizing. So it becomes a mental or emotional I like to think Get Out of Jail Free Card to keep us from having to do anything differently or accept any ownership or accountability for where we are.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 20:47
Yeah, I can completely see that. And I've been there.
Marsha Clark 20:51
We all have, Wendi, I mean, let's just be real. So we don't usually like to categorize ourselves as a victim in our stories. But it is easy to weave this comfy cocoon for poor me to crawl into and then lament about what someone else did that pushed me to this point. So, you know, that and other examples of belief system that can impact our resilience is what the authors call 'What's Next'. So, the first one was 'why'. Now it's 'what's next' beliefs. And this is where we start thinking, or worrying really, along the lines of since this happened, this is going to happen next. If A then B, and these beliefs are often, quite honestly, catastrophic, and also highly improbable.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 20:51
Yes, and I've even heard the phrase catastrophizing before, where the person's thinking starts spinning into all the worst possible scenarios that could happen. And, I can totally see how that does happen sometimes.
Marsha Clark 21:51
Yes, it, as we often say, if it's real, there's often a name for it. What psychologists consider it to be is a cognitive distortion. And that, quite honestly, really does rob people of their joy, especially because of the likelihood that none of the nexts, N.E.X.T.S, that we've come up with, will actually happen. So, my question for our listeners around this, much like with adversities is to reflect on any of your beliefs, and how they may be keeping you stuck in a cycle that prevents or inhibits your ability to be resilient, to bounce back and to recover from whatever the setback or, you know, working through the challenge that might be head. Are you stuck wondering why something happened and affirming your story? And are you frozen in a cycle of worrying about what's next, which keeps you from trying again?
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 22:48
Yeah, I feel like we could spend all day just talking about the A's and the B's of resilience.
Marsha Clark 22:53
And, and I will tell you in some of my coaching sessions, that we do spend an awful lot of time on those two things, because they can be so challenging.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 23:03
Okay, let's move on to consequences. How do consequences relate to resilience?
Marsha Clark 23:09
So, I've come up against this adversity, I now understand more about what my beliefs are. The consequences are the way you feel and what you do in the moment of an adversity or an obstacle or a challenge. So, think of it in this way, A, adversity, plus B, beliefs, leads to C, consequences. So I'm faced with an adversity, my beliefs kick in, and beneath the surface of my conscious awareness and that's what leads me to the consequences, my thoughts, my feelings and actions that result from A and B.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 23:50
Okay, so I'm already seeing how by being more self aware of our beliefs, we can positively influence those consequences.
Marsha Clark 23:58
Absolutely right. So the goal is to have your emotions and behaviors be productive and appropriate responses to the facts of the situation, not a knee jerk reaction to your beliefs. And, quite honestly, it does remind me again, of what I consider to be a very powerful quote by a very amazing man, Viktor Frankl, in the book "Man's Search for Meaning". He describes it as between stimulus and response, there is a space. And, then I want our listeners to know this next is boldface, italicized, underlined, in that space, is our power to choose our response. In our response, lies our growth and freedom. So I want to read that again, between stimulus and response, there is a space, this happens, how am I going to respond to it. In between there is a space, in that space is our power to choose our response, in our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 25:13
Yeah, that really is the perfect quote for the ABCs of resilience. I mean, how can we take advantage of that space to be thoughtful and deliberate about how our beliefs are driving or influencing our consequences, our thoughts, feelings and actions? So fascinating.
Marsha Clark 25:31
Yeah. So the authors offer some really good advice here. When they suggest that we can use the ABCs whenever we're confused by our reaction to adversity, or when our reactions create a consequence that is, in fact, counterproductive. So, instead of blaming the adversity for the consequence, what might be more productive, and is certainly more empowering, is to examine what role our beliefs played in that counterproductive outcome.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 26:03
So, now I'm reminded of the phrase 'with power comes great responsibility'. And, that power of choosing and acknowledging our own culpability in a situation is a bit humbling.
Marsha Clark 26:15
Well, it's humbling and empowering. So that's a 'both and'. And, you're absolutely right, Wendi, that with that power comes great responsibility. And which when we break it down means response. Think of the word a standalone word response, and a second standalone word, ability, response abilities, kind of a different twist on it. And when we own and acknowledge our ability to respond, in any given situation, it can have an incredible boost on our resilience, because we have a stronger sense of what is often referred to as our locus or our center of control.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 26:53
Okay, so much already. And that was just the ABCs, we have six more, we have six more skills to cover. So let's look at the second one, Know Thyself skill, which is avoiding thinking traps. What are some examples of thinking traps?
Marsha Clark 27:08
Well, and you know, for our listeners, this is where you might want to slow down, get a piece of paper, because, not only are there seven skills, now we're going to give you eight thinking traps that the authors share. And you know, while almost all of us have my every single one of these thinking errors at one time or another, typically, we tend to be more vulnerable to two or three of them. So let me let me give you all eight now. So the first one is jumping to conclusions, which basically means without any data, we make these assumptions, and then this huge leap or jump to a whole set of conclusions. It's the way our brains work. So it's not whether we're going to have these thinking traps, it's what are we going to do with them when we recognize we're in them. The second is tunnel vision. And this is where we narrowly select data to drive our thinking, preferring evidence that reinforces our theories about ourselves in the world around us. And this is often what the phrase that comes to mind when I think about tunnel vision is the echo chamber. I want to be around people who think like I do, and it's a pretty narrow thinking. I don't want to broaden my thinking, I just want you to agree with me. All right, and then the third thinking trap is magnifying and minimizing. And so this is kind of two ends of the spectrum, if you will. In the magnifying we overvalue some data, and in the minimizing we undervalue other data, so we can go negative positive or positive negative. So magnifying, I think of my, my mother used to say this all the time, is 'making a mountain out of a molehill'. So, we're making it much bigger than it is. What do magnifying glasses do? They make things bigger. So are we making this adversity and how we think about it and feel about it bigger than it is? And, minimizing sounds something like it is n o big deal, when in reality, it was a big deal, but we're just going to minimize it because either I don't want to think about it, or it's too hard, or I've been taught just deal with it. And then the fourth is personalizing. And this is each and every one of us, again, have a reflex tendency to think of problems as one's own doing. I caused this, it leads to sadness, and, quite honestly, a sense of guilt. The next one, five, is externalizing. And this is the reflex tendency to think of problems as someone else's or something else's doing. This where I'm pointing fingers in every other direction other than towards me. The sixth one is overgeneralizing. These are another some of my trigger words, by the way, thinking in terms of always or never, every one or no one because there's always exceptions, right? So this may be something that our listeners will now listen for. Rarely do I say all or none or always never. So the last one then is mind reading. And this is when we believe that we know what those around us are thinking and we act accordingly. We make big ole leaps of assumptions. And on the other hand, we also believe that others know what we're thinking or feeling and assume that they will act accordingly. And, you know, when you think about that, it's, you're reading my mind, you know, we expect people to read our minds. And then number eight or the last one is emotional reasoning. And this is where we're drawing conclusions about the nature of the world, based on our emotional state, not necessarily the actual nature of the world.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 27:37
Yes, and I definitely see a couple of my go-tos. I am a mind reader, and I am an overgeneralize. Those are my top two that I do.
Marsha Clark 31:04
And mine is jumping to conclusions. Because, you know, I often see the beauty of growing older, because we have so many experiences, it broadens your perspective. But it can also, the trap is jumping to conclusions, because I've seen so many things, and here we are again. And, this is where I manage myself, if you will, by asking myself, what else could be true, because I jumped to a conclusion, but it doesn't mean it's the right one.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 31:30
Right. So if the skill is to avoid these thinking traps, I'm guessing the first step to avoiding is identifying and having awareness of when they're starting to cloud or distort our thinking, right?
Marsha Clark 31:44
You're absolutely right. So, we use these thinking traps, really in our analysis of our beliefs, going back to the ABCs. And we also look at which of these traps is influencing or driving our beliefs, which can be narrower, you know, the tunnel vision. It can be jumping to conclusions. It can be magnifying or minimizing. So we need to consider what are some ways or some strategies for how we can untangle them. So, for example, if our trap is tunnel vision, or jumping to conclusions, one of my favorite responses to that thinking is asking the question, what else could be true or what else is possible? So I shared that with you, and we need to have our own internal triggers that help us figure this out.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 32:34
Right. So now that you mentioned it, I'm wondering if those questions wouldn't work for virtually all of the thinking traps, at least to create more space and critical thinking in the moment?
Marsha Clark 32:45
Well, they helped me in that way, I will just say that. So they are pretty universal. And but again, I have to recognize which one I'm in. Okay. So if I'm magnifying this, you know, what else could be true? It might not be a mountain? Or, you know, are there ways that I can work through this so that it doesn't become a mountain? Or even if I go there, what's the probability of that extreme best or worst really happening?
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 33:14
So, in addition to to using our favorite reframing questions, what else can we do to reduce the limiting impact of our thinking traps?
Marsha Clark 33:25
The first task is to start noticing. When are those traps creeping into your thinking? And maybe you recognize them, maybe you call them something different, or maybe you even want to keep this little list of eight thinking traps handy. So which adversities seem to trigger those thinking traps? So the goal, of course, is to start recognizing them in real time, so that you can catch yourself before you either fall into them or get too far along in them. And you know, each thinking trap has its own, and we can create reframing questions that help us if you find yourself jumping to conclusions without any data or with questionable data, challenge yourself by asking about the data. Where did it come from? What's the source? Is it reliable? Can it be validated by other data? You know, and I always I want to, again, make sure our listeners hear this, oftentimes there's one source of data, but there's 15 stories about it, right? But if the the literature or the recitation of it all goes back to a single source, that's not really checking your data. You want to have unique disparate sources of the data to, in fact, have the corroboration that the data is valid. So you know, with tunnel vision, get curious about the big picture. What's the larger issue here? What's the endgame or the bigger goal?
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 34:50
Yeah, I'm seeing another trend here. It sounds like the questions for each thinking trap focus is on looking for some kind of balance kind of a yang to the yin, so to speak.
Marsha Clark 35:01
Right. So each trap, you know, challenges us to ask questions, to dig underneath, to challenge our assumptions or false beliefs, and reality, that are undermining our resilience and therefore our ability to respond effectively.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 35:17
Okay, there's one last 'Know Thyself' skill, and it's called detecting icebergs. Talk to us about that.
Marsha Clark 35:25
Yeah, so sometimes our beliefs don't explain sort of the intensity of our reactions to a given situation. When that happens, it's a sign that we're usually a sign that we're being affected by an underlying belief, one of those deeply held beliefs about how the world ought to operate, and how you should how you feel you ought to operate within that world. Notice I'm avoiding the word should. And iceberg beliefs are somewhat akin to stereotypes, or unconscious biases, where and remember that stereotypes are I'm going to make up a whole story about you, based on some model of what a woman looks like, or what a blonde woman looks like, or what dare I say, short woman looks like, all that. Those are putting people who have similarities into a bucket, not recognizing the uniqueness of each of them. So these iceberg beliefs, they fall into one of these three general categories or themes. And so the first one is achievement. And again, what's underneath achievement? The belief that failure is a sign of weakness. My job title determines how successful I am. Those are two achievement-oriented beliefs below the water level. The second is acceptance. And my belief about that is that it's my job to make people happy. And it's my fault if people don't like me, in order for me to be accepted and in relationship to them. And so if I have that belief, I can sometimes go, too far, if you will, in trying to make people like me or have people like me. The third is control. And the examples here are asking for help, the belief around it, asking for help shows you're not a good performer. Or, if I don't get my way, my own self belief is I'm not an effective leader. And you know, I'm always encouraging women to ask for what they want and that kind of thing, and yet I tell them, just because you ask for it does not mean you're going to get it. But you'll get 100% of what you don't ask for. So, that that's an another aspect of the control.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 37:38
Well, I can definitely see how any of these icebergs can cause us to spiral, lose our resilience. What can we do when we suspect that we have an iceberg blocking our way?
Marsha Clark 37:50
So, as with many of the things we talk about, the first step is self awareness, through reflection. And what the authors recommend that you ask yourself is, what is my theme? And this is an interesting twist. I love the question because it's not one we typically ask. So over your lifetime, maybe you've been driven to be an achiever, right? And a people pleaser seeking acceptance. What's behind that? Someone who desires control over situations or even control over myself. So, where are those coming from and exposing those, and quite honestly, it can be uncomfortable, because they're usually pretty deep, deeply ingrained, and they can often shake, really some core or fundamental beliefs or biases that you may not have even realized were there. And, they're usually formed and solidified at a very young age. And that explains why it can be so hard to face them and also explain why they create these strong emotional reactions when they're triggered.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 38:55
Well, that makes a lot of sense.
Marsha Clark 38:57
Yeah. So I want to recap, understanding our ABCs, avoiding our thinking traps, and detecting icebergs are the skills that increase your self awareness and deepen your self analysis. And, I want to also acknowledge it takes courage to look at ourselves honestly, and, and identify those areas for our growth and learning. And, then we're better able to productively apply the four remaining resilient skills that focus us on changing some of those beliefs.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 39:31
Okay, so the first change skill is challenging beliefs. In your resource guide on exploring resilience, you highlight some of your favorite phrases that help us shake up our thinking, and they are, what else can be true, as we've already discussed, iIsn't that fascinating, and if I believe it, I will see it. Will you elaborate more on the two additional phases that we've put here and how they can help us challenge our beliefs?
Marsha Clark 40:01
Yeah, you bet. So, our frequent listeners have probably already picked up on the phrase 'isn't that fascinating?' since we've said it fairly often on the show. And it had its own episode, and I think it was number 12, going all the way back to December 2021. And anyway, the whole idea behind that phrase, is to prompt us to examine our beliefs from a place of curiosity, instead of judgment. And, what happens is I begin to wonder why believe what I do, while remaining open to exploring my own biases. Where did where did that come from? And the next one, 'if I believe it, I will see it' is this other phrase that I want to our leaders to hear. And it's another shift in thinking that was popularized by Dr. Wayne Dyer. So it's a twist on the phrase, 'if I see it, I'll believe it'. So we think we have to see something, people can talk all about it that all they want to, but if I don't see it, then I'm not going to believe it. And I want you to get the flip of that. This is if I believe it, I will see it. And so when you consider that, if I think you're smart, Wendi, everything you say from this point forward, is going to be brilliant. But if I believe the person right next to you is not as smart as you are and they say it, it may not have the same meaning for me. And so, when someone makes that promise to do something, and they've consistently broken it in the past, and you're going, yeah, yeah, right, I believe it when I see it. So, that's where we often go to, but it goes back to what are my beliefs. I'm seeing the world through the lens of my beliefs. So the twist, of course, is to flip it around, to flip our skeptical belief system upside down, and consider that I might actually see things differently when I allow myself to believe they can be different, or believe that there already are different, I just hadn't noticed it.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 42:04
Right. Right. So what's an example of that?
Marsha Clark 42:06
So, it's like the one that I just gave you, I think you're smart, you're gonna be brilliant. If I think you're dumb, I won't believe a word you're saying, and I'm probably not listening half the time. You know, another is that you're a subject matter expert, because it said so on your resume, or, the proposal you just sent. And, if I know something about you, if you were referred to me by someone, if I know something about your company, I have a whole set of beliefs about that, and, it will determine how I interpret and assess what you say.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 42:37
So, in addition to challenging our beliefs, we have skill number five, which is putting it into perspective. Tell us about that.
Marsha Clark 42:46
Yeah, as I said, that perspective is one of my favorite leadership words. This skill is especially helpful for people who tend to, you know, I call it obsess or to blow things out of proportion, or if anxiety is a major player in their life. And, I love that the authors, they open this chapter in their book with the Mark Twain quote, and I just love this, "I've had many catastrophes in my life, some of which actually happened".
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 43:16
We're back to catastrophizing.
Marsha Clark 43:18
Yes, that's exactly right. So a powerful suggestion for how to bring some perspective to those catastrophic situations, is to put your thoughts down on paper in some sort of systematic, thoughtful way. So here's some steps. So, you're up against this adversity, this challenge. So step one is write down the worst case, and the best case set of beliefs, two columns on a piece of paper. What's the worst that can happen? What's the best that can happen? And then write down how likely you think those beliefs, both the worst and the best, are to actually occur. So this is the probability step. You know, worst case, maybe a 50% chance, best case, maybe a 70% chance, and then write down what you think the outcomes of that best case might be. So that's the greatest probability. And then you can begin to then identify possible solutions.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 44:19
So that's infusing some logical and critical thinking into the process.
Marsha Clark 44:24
Yeah, now for some people, this can be its own special challenge, because they may be stuck so stuck in there thinking that they can't imagine any best case scenarios. So it can take some extra prompting to get there, but in the end, just the process of breaking the situation down into these realistic perspective, best and worse, can often deescalate the thinking and create some space for some resiliency.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 44:50
Yeah, and resiliency skill number six is all about calming and focusing. I think this is one I gravitate to the most personally, but I hadn't thought really about it as a tool for building resiliency. I have to admit that.
Marsha Clark 45:07
Yeah, so calming and focusing is a powerful set of tools that can help quickly and effectively quiet your emotions when they're out of control. I mean, we're maximizing or minimizing, and, they can help us focus our thoughts when the intrusions are entering into our minds, and to actually reduce the amount of stress that you experience in the midst of that adversity. So when the authors first published this book, back in 2002, none of the current calming apps, if you will, the apps that we have on our phones, and laptops, and so on, were available as they are today. And, today, well let's be real, smartphones didn't even exist at that time. So they were relying on what might be referred to as classical mindfulness exercises to help to calm our minds, and bodies and to focus our attention. And, you know, some of those are controlled breathing, breathe in, breathe out, you know, with some rhythm, not gasping or shallow breathing. Second is progressive muscle relaxation, starting with some part of our body and working throughout, taking a walk, producing those endorphins and things that the good hormones that walking can generate. Even positive imagery or visualization, seeing something in our mind's eye, the act of meditation, and mind games, doing something that engages your brain in a way that distracts you from those intrusive thoughts and that may be robbing you, not only of your grace, but your resilience.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 46:41
Oh, if you tell me that playing solitaire is a resiliency strategy, I might have to like dance around the studio.
Marsha Clark 46:49
Well, you know, in a way it is because there may be times when you need to use this strategy, even in the middle of a meeting. Of course, use your discretion on how that works, but to help manage the thoughts and the problematic thoughts and feelings that are starting to bubble up in you. So, I often refer to this as self management. And, you know, recognizing that, playing solitaire in the middle of a high-stress meeting, might be career limiting, so be careful there. But some of the suggestions that the authors offer include what they would describe as the more internal mental games, like thinking of a simple word, and then finding all the words that rhyme with it, or, you know, counting backwards from 1000 by sevens or, you know, something like that, that really causes our mind to have to focus to do it. And you know, all of these exercises can be done in the solitude of your own brain and in the midst of what might feel like a emotional derailment that's about to happen.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 47:49
I really like that. I really like that idea.
Marsha Clark 47:53
So, you know, teachers and therapists recommended these kinds of tips, often to help people who are what they call starting to get emotionally hijacked. And you might hear of it as an amygdala hijacking, which is a part of our brains. And it's a tiny little structure in the lower back part of the brain that's really where our emotional processing center resides. It's also on alert for any of the signs of danger or threat. It's what triggers that fight or flight, block or freeze response when we're under stress. So basically, these mental games are an amygdala hack of sorts using, you know, today's vernacular, by shifting the focus of our brain back to the frontal lobes. And that's the part of the brain that needs to do the math or the rhyming or, you know, whatever that might be.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 48:43
Right. Well, I can definitely see how combining some of these techniques like the breathing and the mental games could really help you avoid that hijacking.
Marsha Clark 48:51
Yes, and the beauty is that now we do have access to so many resources to help us train for those moments. So, you can learn breathing techniques and practice them before you're in a crisis situation. You can find a good meditation app or a YouTube series and you can build up your skills with those meditation techniques, so that you can have immediate access to them when you need them.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 49:15
Right. Such a great point and a great way to create the kind of space that we talked about earlier for expanding our options in the moment.
Marsha Clark 49:23
Yeah, and the phrase I often use, it's a version of 'slow down to speed up', because that slowing down allows us to get clear.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 49:32
Right, right. Okay. Last skill in our resiliency toolkit is what they call 'Real-time Resilience', which feels a little bit redundant. So what's different about the seventh skill?
Marsha Clark 49:44
Yeah, it is a bit redundant, for sure. But but the key word here is real time. So the focus is on changing. This is the change yourself, your counterproductive beliefs the moment they occur. That's the key - the moment they occur. As you develop this skill, you're going to notice that you have fewer counterproductive thoughts, and that when they do pop up, they're less potent or they don't grab you as deeply and harshly even as they might have in the past.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 50:14
What are some prompts to help us make these real time mental shifts?
Marsha Clark 50:19
So the authors again, they offer three useful lines, the language for responding to and adjusting our own internal thinking, and especially when we find ourselves getting stuck and this is in that always or never type of overgeneralize thinking or slipping into the catastrophizing mode. So thoughts like 'this is going to be a disaster', or 'I don't have any idea what I'm doing', or 'I'm never gonna get through all these slides in 30 minutes', that kind of thinking.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 50:47
Alright, so what are these magic real time resilience phrases?
Marsha Clark 50:52
So the first one is 'a more accurate way of seeing this is'. A second one, so if my original thought is 'this is going to be a disaster', and maybe this imaginary disaster that I'm worrying about, you know, some sort of international online workshop I'm going to run, but I don't have anyone to help with the technical support, hence the disaster, my real time resilience prompt would be a more accurate way of seeing this is that it will be challenging for me to do this without a producer to support me. But as long as I'm fully prepared to deliver the content, I'm pretty sure I can manage any technical issues more easily. And I think that people are a lot more patient with the technical snafus these days, since we've had so many online meetings. So yeah, it's different self talk is what it boils down to.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 51:39
Right, and some instant reframing. I mean, that's really helpful.
Marsha Clark 51:43
Yes. And all the all of the prompts that I'm sharing are helpful at reframing. So the second prompt is, 'that's not true because'. So this is an invitation to basically fact check yourself. So when the thought that I don't have any idea what I'm doing starts running through your head, shut it down with a response. That's not true because I have 20, or 30, or 40, or 50, however, many years of experience researching this topic, working with experts in this field, and my own observations and practice, and any other lifetime or qualifications that you want to file through, in your, I call it the mental resume.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 52:25
I love the fact checking aspect of that. I mean, I can feel so much more grounded after doing something like that. Actually, now that I have to say that I have done that in the past, it's very helpful in dealing with anxiety before a public speaking engagement, or, you know, you're showing up to give a presentation, those kinds of things where you can start. It always happens right before you go, quote, unquote, "on stage", if you will, it's like right before, so these are definitely prompts that can help calm you down.
Marsha Clark 53:02
You know, when you speak about public speaking, I always say 'I'm only up there 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour, whatever. It's an hour out of my entire life.' That's one of mine. So it's hard, I mean, when we do those things.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 53:14
Yeah, it's hard because you care, it's hard because you want to show up and be good. And so you have to give yourself that internal talk that says, Okay, I've done this umpteen bazillion times before and they've all been fantastic. So as long as I bring the energy, that's going to be great.
Marsha Clark 53:31
That's right. That's right. So and then that brings us to the last real time resiliency prompt, which is the phrase, 'a more likely outcome is and I can do'. So in a situation where that always or never type of thinking kicks in, I'm never going to (fill in the blank), I'm never going to make my flight or I'll never get through all these slides in 30 minutes. So now I can shift that thinking by starting with 'a more likely outcome is that with adequate preparation, I can get through all my slides in 30 minutes. I can rehearse a few times before I have to deliver the presentation. And on the day of the meeting, I can have my timer in a very visible spot in front of me. So I can also have a few slides ready to cut and move over, you know, to hidden if the questions start to take up too much time and I need to get to my main point.' So you know, that's the beauty of this 'a more likely outcome is' and 'I can do.'
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 54:35
Yeah, those two phrases 'a more likely outcome is' and 'I can do', they're powerful and empowering reframing tools - positive, realistic, action oriented. Love it.
Marsha Clark 54:49
Yes. And I really like it too. For many of the same reasons. It really speaks to our desire for having agency over our lives. That's freedom. That's possibilities. That's empowering.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 55:03
Well, I feel like this episode has been a full day workshop, Marsha. I mean, so many thoughts swirling around. I want to start, you know, reexamining around my own resilience factors. I would suggest that our listeners, including myself, replay this whole episode and keep stopping it, you know, pause when you need to, get out a pen and a notepad to explore each one of these resilience skills.
Marsha Clark 55:29
You know, it's a great idea, Wendi. And I hope all of our listeners would benefit from breaking it down and working through these different skills on their own, really to figure out where their greatest opportunities lie in terms of building resilience.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 55:43
And again, I realize we've covered a lot of ground today. But is there any main point that you want to add or reinforce for our audience?
Marsha Clark 55:50
Yeah, there's a couple. And the first is that there's a very helpful self assessment in The Resilience Factor book. And I would highly recommend for people to take that and get some clarity. I've included that in my resource document as well. So if anyone wants to access it that way, they can find it on my website under resources. And then similar, since this book was first published, the concept of building and maintaining resilience has become a hot topic. And that's from education to businesses, governments, therapists, you name it. And really, a lot of people were talking about it, and with good cause. So when you think about people are suffering, and they're struggling to bounce back after setbacks, of, you know, food insecurities, job security, loss of loved ones, all of that, we're talking about mental health challenges. That's what these are. So as leaders, teachers, parents, influencers in our communities, you know, it's probably one of the most critical areas of focus for us to tackle today. So whatever you choose to do to increase your awareness and skill level in terms of building your own resilience and supporting others as they build others or build theirs is do something. I mean, ask yourself the questions, get clear about what's true for you, and then help others to do that same, you know, reflection and digging and analysis.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 57:18
Yeah, I think it's this is a topic that we're going to be talking about for a long time.
Marsha Clark 57:23
Yeah, I agree too and prioritizing it and over the long run, so you know, anything that we can do to enhance our understanding of it, and our ability to support others, as well as ourselves, for me is certainly a noble and worthy cause.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 57:37
100%. Well, thank you, Marsha, for taking us all on this fascinating exploration of building resilience. This has been eye-opening.
Marsha Clark 57:47
Well, and I know we get tedious a little bit. It's been long and there's lots of lists. Yeah, and lots of words, yeah, and sub-lists. So I do want to acknowledge that. And yet, this is an educational podcast where we want to offer and share information that hopefully, you know, really helps our listeners in this case to understand what resiliency is, and ways in which we can develop our own resilience capabilities.
Wendi McGowan-Ellis 58:15
Absolutely. Well, thank you, listeners for joining us today on our journey of authentic, powerful leadership. Please continue to download, subscribe and share this podcast wherever you like to listen. And today especially visit Marsha's website, marshaclarkandassociates.com. for links to the tools and resources we talked about. Go ahead and subscribe to her email list if you're not already. And check out all of Marsha social media as well. And of course her book "Embracing Your Power".
Marsha Clark 58:48
Well, thank you, Wendi. And listeners, please if there's anything we can do to help you in your own journey on becoming more skillful in resilience, it is one of the most sought after leadership competencies in the world along with being an avid and agile learner, and dealing with ambiguity. And Lord knows we're living in a world of ambiguity, and hard. It's just a hard world to live in right now, so we want to help you. It's our reason for offering this today and we're here for you. As always, thank you for listening. And "Here's to women supporting women!"
Transcribed by https://otter.ai