Applying Your Resilient Mindset At Work Is Much More Than Just A Brown-Bag Seminar Topic

By Steve Beseke, Doctor of Life Resiliency and now a part of the Lennick Aberman team – www.lennickaberman.com. Check out my newest e-books at www.resiliencyfirst.com. Contact me at beseke1@earthlink.net or sbeseke@lennickaberman.com.

 Overarching statements about most anything can, well, be truly overstated. From studies and professional/personal experience, however, understanding why work resilience is one of the most important aspects to your career success is definitely not one of them.

Having a resilient mindset at work separates those who want from those who do. I rarely say something so starkly in my worldwide articles or presentations, but this mindset is absolutely essential for your success. While enjoying the good times in life, it also allows you to overcome those unique work challenges that confront us – yes, sometimes every day.

 I talk about ways to use your mindset in my third resiliency e-book: “Liking Yourself And Being Happy Even When Your Boss Or Your Spouse Gives You That Chilling Stare.” It will be launched on my web site – www.resiliencyfirst.com – most likely next week for your reading enjoyment.

To give you a taste, I have updated one of the book’s many resiliency articles highlighting ways to use such a mindset for your absolute advantage at work – and life. Please enjoy.

This is absolutely not a political article, but early in his 2008 successful presidential campaign, Barack Obama said something very enlightening.

The President mentioned he used a resilient mindset in keeping on track at work, staying focused, understanding how other people see him and staying emotionally healthy during highly stressful days.

Wow! In times of struggle for all of us, the lesson I learned from the President is the need to look hard at your resilient self, your work/career objectives and understand the work needs you want achieved. 

Whether you are looking for work or are employed but maxed out, all of us should adopt or fine-tune our own resilient mindset. This will keep us from going nuts!

The challenges you face can be very daunting in your career: Ever-increasing budget cuts, workload expectations going through the ceiling panels, working more with a lot less and, yes, the notion that layoffs are not over yet to name a few.

As you look at your work resilience, you may want to mull through the following questions many typically face every day at work:

  • Do you deal difficult customers, colleagues or supervisors?
  • Are you involved in chaotic or exhausting work events?
  • Does it seem like you have to solve the challenges and problems of your direct reports even before your first cup of coffee every morning? 
  • Are you asked to solve work issues assigned by your boss that seem overwhelming or unsolvable?
  • Do you find that you are becoming less resilient to taking sometime challenging work events in stride?

If you’ve said “yes” to any of these, don’t feel alone. A national survey of employees found that 78 percent said “yes” to at least one of these questions. More than 50 percent said “yes” to all of them…

Are you surprised? I wasn’t. I have spent nearly 30 years successfully (or mostly successfully) stamping out the work fires that probably keep you up at nights. Some of my “fun” has included:

  • The last second “request” by the CEO to tweak his approved upcoming speech – and do it in the next hour for his plane ride review…
  • The direct report who was to present a white paper at a conference, but accidentally deleted the presentation 15 minutes before his presentation. The IT guys had fun with that one.
  • Staying up all night to meet a project deadline that unknowingly during the day had been pushed back two weeks. My AA was busy planning a luncheon celebration and never gave me the message…

You, of course, can probably fill in unique examples in your career that fit this bill.

There have been more than a few times I have been knocked down trying to navigate through the turbulent currents we call “the office.” But most of my work life has not been on the “dark side” but trying to stay within a healthy resilient mindset. 

As you probably have, I’ve been mostly successful at overcoming the work obstacles many of us face everyday – and ride the resilient wave helping solve a myriad of work issues because of a few strategies I’ve learned along the way.

I use the phrase “resilient mindset,” which I define as dealing effectively with all aspects of your work life, including challenging customers, colleagues, being patient and persistent with your team/boss, or possibly being nervous that this challenging economy might still affect your job. 

Such a mindset also means springing back from adversity to take pleasure in the quiet moments of fun with your spouse, significant person, children, friends or yourself. And even realizing that work/life balance is more than just a concept on a corporation’s blotter.

To keep your work resilience at a healthy level, I have found the art of workplace compromise, adaptability, finding common ground, and understanding strengths and weaknesses are more important than just a feel-good brown bag seminar topic.

They can truly make a career difference for you. A bit of resilient detail for you to noodle over:

Compromise: At least in American culture, the word “compromise” is not always seen in the best of light in the workplace. Typically, many of us are brought up to stick to our beliefs and not give in unless absolutely necessary. Well, in your job and career, this narrowly-defined attitude can spell ultimate failure. There was a study that showed that not being able to compromise was one of the top reasons work relationships fail.

For me, compromise does not mean always giving in to the eccentricities or demands of your co-workers – or even your boss. It is finding ways to give a little on both sides to find a common middle, even when the other side does not realize it.

That approved CEO speech I mentioned earlier is a good example of how I used the art of compromise to my fullest advantage. Could I control how he ultimately reacted to the speech? No. Could I control how I reacted to him. Absolutely yes. After the tweaks, and very humbly speaking, the CEO received a standing ovation after his speech, and I received a company award.

At lunch, a senior manager friend recently struck up a conversation with an hourly worker about the new work/life balance plan of the company he was presenting to the entire company the following week in the afternoon. The worker was interested but asked how will it be communicated to his friends on the “grave yard” shift. The manager said they would have to attend the presentation or call-in to the 2 p.m. meeting when all the company executives would be attending.

The worker said presenting info about work/life balance policies is great for those on the right shifts, but the presentation for others – especially on the grave yard shift -might be a burden with families, sleep, etc.

The light bulb went off and the manager added presentations at the times convenient for the shift workers. It meant a bit more time for him but ultimately was seen as very proactive in getting the message successfully out.

The manager compromised – not because of superiors – but because he listened to a typical employee. He could have stuck to his original schedule but he didn’t for the good of employees. It ultimately caused him less stress because he did not have to go back and “fix” something out-of-whack.

What ways you could “compromise” with a superior, co-worker or direct report that might make your day and week go smoother. Not everything needs to go your way, and the skill of compromising in some situations can be seen as a very positive career enhancer and part of your work resilience.

 The workplace point: Sometimes your co-workers or other colleagues are right on about the implementation of a project. I suggest not letting status and (yes) egos get in the way of a great idea.

Adaptability: We have all learned to adapt in our lives one way or another – whether at work or personally. Personally, I’ve had to adapt to a life-long disability known as Cerebral Palsy, which has at least initially affected perceptions of me at work. 

The old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover” definitely applies in my case and possibly many colleagues you deal with every day – possibly you. Sometimes initial perceptions get in the way, which might affect you or your team’s productivity at work. Such unfounded perceptions can cause you stress and may make you pop a few antacids during the day.

I’m now in my 50, but 30 years ago I was a par golfer. Phil Mickelson I was not – although I was a lefty, too. But I sank my share of putts for birdies in my time. The point…

Don’t worry that a person may be of a different generation, different gender, different belief or – like me – a bit different physically.

I suggest leaving all that at the door and judge folks on their work and how they get along with you/others. Sounds easy, but I know perceptions can become reality if you are not careful. 

Very early in my career, a supervisor was so caught up with my disability, he would go down to the lunch room to get me something to eat, never schedule a meeting if it was not a long distance away from my office, etc., etc. He was under the mistaken impression that I could not do normal activities. He later said he thought I was in pain when I walked.

 Disconnect to the max. He assumed something that he never asked me about and adapted much of his free work time “to help me.” Finally, I sat him down and very gently let him know I never need help unless I ask for it.

He was shocked I walked around the State Fair, and lettered in tennis and golf in high school, etc. When I told him this, he was shocked. But it effectively released him from having to adapt a lot of his day to make my work day better. This, of course, was well before the Americans with Disability Act was enacted in 1988.

 The workplace point: My personal example may be on the extreme side, but a resilient mindset partly means you need to be successfully adaptive in your work style with others. I suggest never assuming someone can’t do something or only has a certain skill set without asking or observing the person first.

 Please think about two adaptability and compromise moments at work that relieved your stress in the past, or ones you would have like to have done differently.

Knowing Your Strengths – and Weaknesses. Now let’s talk about how your resilient mindset plays into strengths and, yes, our weaknesses. All of us have tremendous personal and professional strengths – and, of course, a few weaknesses along the way.

As we talk through this section, please think about ways you use your tremendous strengths to be a great person, employee and/or supervisor.

When doing this, then think about the ways your perceived weaknesses sometimes mask the best that you are. As employees, all of us want to feel great about our work and have a sense of accomplishment without feeling like you are gasping for breath or waiting for the next crisis to hit.

While we need to understand our weaknesses, I contend (for our health, happiness and well-being) we should focus on what we do well in at work, instead of always dwelling on the things we don’t do so wonderfully.

It’s definitely easier said than done. I know I could list work weaknesses easier than writing down the same amount of strengths. Studies show that our strength/weakness thought process is just the way our brains are connected and how societal norms prompt us to view ourselves.

In a job, though, I have found my greatest success when I am totally focused on what I do best. I know we don’t always get accolades on your strengths at work. Rather, some corporate cultures rate you more on your possible missteps. 

I m usually a very laid-back consensus-builder type of guy at work, and I am not at my best when I step out of character – being too inflexible and stubborn. I definitely can exhibit all these sometimes-perceived weaknesses but my strength I strive for is being the compassionate, team guy in most work situations 

What type are you at work?

 Knowing my particular strengths have helped successfully stay on the same resilient page. When I was asked to create a layoff communications plan a number of years back that would affect so many of my work friends – and ultimately me -the first draft was not seen as “hard enough” by the executive team. I’m not good at being too hard.

I took the critique by upper management, and used my strengths of adaptability and patience to craft a more direct yet sensitive communications plan that was implemented.

The workplace point: Unless you lack some core skills, I suggest not worrying as much your weaknesses. Spend at least 80 percent of the time demonstrating your strengths to your work world. You’ll feel happier and a lot better of yourself, while showing what you do best. You were hired for your strengths – showing this part of your resilient mindset every day will keep you healthy.

A study has show that workers can improve their strengths by up to 30 percent. If they use the same amount of time to improve their weaknesses, they can only get less than a 10 percent improvement rate. If we have a glaring weakness, that is a different story but…focus on your strengths, my friends.

In Part II of this article next week, I will talk about finding common ground, dealing with work setbacks and enjoying your time at work – where you may spend more than one-third of your years in life. 

Your comments have been very inspiring…thank you! I appreciate linking to my resiliency site – www.resiliencyfirst.com – and I will talk with you again next week about some amazing news!

Photo By:  alibubba

Finding Ways To Overcome Mistakes Requires Not Letting Them Consume Us

By Steve Beseke, Doctor of Life Resiliency, beseke1@earthlink.net, steve.beseke@resiliencyfirst.com (Please take a look at my new resiliency e-books at www.resiliencyfirst.com)

As nearly all of us have found in our own unique orbits, life and work mistakes can have profound effects on our family and the fabric of who we are as a person. A gifted colleague of mine pointed out recently that each of us makes 10s of thousands of routine and complex decisions each day. Even if we make mistakes or misjudgments on as little as 1 percent of these thoughts, we can rack up 100s of small or more significant mistakes on a daily basis.

When I first heard these numbers, I was simply astounded and a bit of intimidated by the volume. As I thought about them further, though, I realized mistakes our inevitable no matter if you are a CEO of one of the top Fortune 500 companies orr someone like you and me.

You probably crossed the finish line on this before me, but I finally realized: Whether we make mistakes large or small, it is how react to them through our resiliency, adaptability, honesty and integrity that will help us move forward successfully in our lives and/or careers.

Circumstances Should Not Consume Us

While I have a very wonderful 27+-year marriage, we’ve definitely made our share of mistakes along the way. But we’ve worked through them, moved forward and have not allowed any to stop us from enjoying life.

You have probably been in the same type of circumstance in one way or another. Mistakes are inevitable, but it is truly digging deep to use our personal brand and having a heart-to-heart with ourselves that will allow us to minimize any damage in our personal lives – or at work.

Many of us, for example, have gone through layoff challenges in this perfect storm economy – or have been over-burdened at work because of extra duties added with valued colleagues being let go.

Should we feel down at least momentarily? Of course. Should we lose our confidence for the moment because of very challenging circumstances coming to our doors? While I hope not, we are only human.

Mistakes happen to all of us. Too often, though, we misidentify them as our mistakes when we did not have as much control over the situations as originally thought. This happens a lot when there are extraordinary stressful times at work.

Does this mean you are any less of a person, or your top-notch skills have diminished? Not…

I made the mistake of blaming myself after my layoff 2+ years ago – even though being told I was one of the top performers at my company. More than 90 percent were ultimately laid off because of the worsening economy…I did not have as much control as I thought despite, humbly, my rock star performance.

Whether it is a layoff, not reaching the profit margin the Board of Directors expect or rarely being able to have a meaningful conversation with your 16-year-old “drama queen” daughter. Sometimes all of us make the mistake of beginning to doubt ourselves and the skills that have made us so successful at work and in life.

I also made a mistake after the lay off of thinking I just had one course of action to try to find the same type corporate communications executive position I’ve always been successful in the past.

My biggest mistake, however, was letting such circumstances consume me without seeing the true skills and potential I had in this “new” economy.  

How are you reacting to your own unique life circumstances?

You also may have experienced this, but I did a lot of soul-searching after I figured out the types of jobs I was accustomed to were just not there – or at least not readily available – anymore.

I Did Not See My Life Gifts or the Broad Picture…

Do you see your true gifts and talents? Most of us make the mistake of seeing what is “inside the box” and only going for the easier low-hanging fruits of life.

I was there after the lay off. So where was I going to go and what were my next options. To be honest, I just did not know at first. Should I continue down the same employment path as before or should I do something else?

What if I make a mistake?

Well, what I decided is an example that I suggest you consider as you move down your unique career and life journey – whether you are employed or in transition.

I moved outside the box quite dramatically.

I did not make the mistake to continue rehashing the past. As you should whether employed or not, I looked extremely hard at my personal brand and what I truly loved to do in life. I want to retire some day in Hawaii, but that is not going to happen any time soon.

So how should I use my many talents in life to continue being reasonably successful in my work – and, most of all, happy?  

How are you doing?

After a lot of reflection, I decided to use my gifts as a writer and speaker to help others (like you) with the shared desire to have a happy life/work and very resilient future. But how could I do this?

For my health, I started to write this blog to keep my writing talents sharp and my skills in talking with people fine-tuned.  I did not think many would read it, but…

It was a God-send and a true revelation…my common-sense resiliency strategies hit the right cord with individuals and corporations. I used my personal work resiliency moments and life challenges as a person with a lifelong physical disability (Cerebral Palsy) to help provide – as so many of you have appreciated worldwide – real life vignettes showing how all of us can stay resilient.

Resilient strategies (like adaptability, perseverance, persistence and patience) that you can use every day to make your world more rewarding and just a bit less stressful…

While I now have more than 3 million viewers worldwide who have visited my much more enhanced web site (www.resiliencyfirst.com) and spoken to more than 100 groups, the point is I needed to re-invent the way I thought about myself leading me to a very resilient mindset.

How do you think about yourself? Low-hanging fruit or something more inspired…

I didn’t make the mistake to only see me for what I was professionally for nearly 30 years, I stretched myself to the point my resiliency business is on the edge of something very humbly big.

This has helped me maintain my confidence, stay persistent and be truly patient as I keep finding ways to spread the resiliency message to (very, very humbly) millions of great folks like you.

If you’d like me to talk with your corporation or group, please contact me at beseke1@earthlink.net 0r 651-341-9826.

Never Limit Yourself

The additional point: Please never limit yourself or let any mistake make you spin to where you begin to not see your true potential – not only at work but in life.

If I would have stayed the typical course, I may still be out of work with much reduced confidence and a sense of diminishing hope. Now, I have a resiliency business that is so gratefully taking off. Despite my perceived layoff mistakes a couple years ago, I looked at what I absolutely wanted to do in life and developed a plan to get me there.

So, if you have made life or career mistakes or are facing other significant challenges, I suggest you never give up believing in yourself, your resilient attitude or the rock-solid values you live by everyday.

While I personally went through my “black hole” after the very agonizing layoff, I found the resilient formula to be happy and healthy in my life and career. You can, too.

Understanding your personal brand and confidently going where you want to be. I know you can have even more success than me if you only believe and find ways to move forward from your life or work mistakes.

I will talk with you next week, and I hope you are staying resilient despite the possible missteps and challenges all of us inevitably face. Again, please take a look at my work and life resiliency e-books at www.resiliencyfirst.com.

Stat resilient, my friends!

 

Establishing Your Work Brand Means Much More Than Having A Terrific Idea

By Steve Beseke, beseke1@earthlink.net, steve.beseke@resiliencyfirst.com

Great ideas at work. Many of us have them every so often. Why do some convince “the boss” to take action, while others of us have seen our ideas spin like a top without anyone grabbing hold of them?

I read a very thought-provoking article recently that posed the questions:

Have you ever seen two people offer a similar idea, and one is heard while the other is not? Have you ever been that person whose idea was passed over? 



Many of us have been there at one time or another in our careers. Why do such things happen? Is one person brighter or just more convincing then the other? Possibly. But I don’t think that is the entire story…

I highlight this further in my newest e-book, “Join The Likes Of Bill Gates and Donald Trump As Someone Successfully Branding Your Talents.” It is available for a nominal cost on my web site – .

I think a lot of it has to do with the sometimes-nebulous ability to “close the deal” and understanding what one writer coined as a “personal leadership brand.”

Sounds like a couple of Twilight Zone topics that are not really part of the package for normal folks like us. Right? Well, not really…especially in the economy we are living in today.

Early in my career, I didn’t always know how to present my ideas in a way that connected deeply with the needs of my audience.

When I worked in local government in the 1980s, I was one of the recycling leads in the Public Works Division. I helped create one of the first successful recycling programs in the Twin Cities area. As time went along, I thought that giving a rebate on your water bill was a way to get more folks to participate across the city in very high numbers. I presented the idea, but it was another colleague that eventually got the proposal through.

How come? I thought. What had made the difference in convincing our superiors? What was getting in the way of my ability to speak so that others—particularly my bosses—would jump on my idea bandwagon?

This is where that connection I spoke about earlier came in.

Laura Lopez, an International Association of Business Communicators contributor, has it spot on.

She writes very adeptly: Communications is an influencing tool. To influence others to take action, you need a personal leadership brand. Developing your personal leadership brand ensures that your communication messages connect with your audience, even if your audience is a boss or other senior leaders. 



Too often we believe that leadership is only for those who have a certain title or the responsibility to lead others who report to them.

What I found out back in the 80s has helped me since. Influencing others when you are in a supporting or advising position is when you require leadership skills the most. 

So what is a personal leadership brand?

A personal leadership brand, according to Laura, requires you to clearly know your core offering and how it benefits your target audience. Effective brands are leaders in the marketplace because they connect emotionally with their audience and offer a benefit that there audience values.

I presented that recycling idea with cold hard facts. It was ultimately going to save the city money, while getting folks to begin recycling more. My colleague presented these facts, but also showed how such a move would be a personal benefit to the bosses in letting them get more sleep at night. They did not have to worry about getting more folks to participate in the fledging recycling program. Saving money talks loudly.

He closed the deal with just not facts but with emotion. This teaching moment back then has helped me throughout my corporate executive career and in my worldwide resiliency business.

His communication was more consistent with the core offering, which, in other words, is what he did better than my brand at the time. He found a way to emotionally and factually connect it to those who want and need this offering.

In response, my resiliency messages today just don’t connect your world in a factual way, but sometimes just as importantly they stir your emotions.

All of us have obstacles and we deal with them in a variety of ways.

As Laura points out, our core offering is based on your strengths, values and overall experience. When developing your personal leadership brand you must learn to connect that core offering with the needs of the boss or senior leader who you are serving or advising.

When trying to influence them with your ideas and perspectives, your messages must consistently provide your target with a benefit that addresses their needs – sometimes emotionally.

I did not do this with my recycling example, thus my suggestions were not as convincing as my colleague. As I said, that was definitely a learning moment that has shaped me as an influencer today.

That’s why I just don’t talk about resiliency in a fact-based way in all my communications today. I interject my real stories to connect with all of you. That’s why some say I am humbly one of the top influencers on career and life resiliency in the world

In upcoming weeks, I will be talking about other key steps to help you navigate successfully toward your personal leadership brand.

Thanks, again, for allowing me to walk down your own unique path to your work and life resiliency. Again, please visit my web site – – to see my newest e-book on personal branding.

I hope you are having a resilient day!

 

Photo By: [Jongky]

 

Resiliency Does Not Necessarily Need A World Stage To Affect Our Terrific Lives

By Steve Beseke, beseke1@earthlink.net, steve.beseke@resiliencyfirst.com

The uplifting events in Egypt the last couple weeks show the inner resiliency spirit, grit and determination that all of us have – if sometimes hidden. America pulling together in wake of the shooting tragedy in Phoenix a few weeks ago also shows that our resilience is always greater than we believe. The miners in Chile who survived months underground after a horrific mining accident demonstrated their own life and death resilience.

While these events are seen on the world stage, such resilience does not usually capture headlines. Sometimes even more heartwarming individual stories take place: A colleague or friend, who has been in work transition for two years, finding his next great work adventure. Parents finally being able to break through their teenager’s indifference and attitude to understand what a terrific person their child has become. Or, like many of us, just getting up in the morning and truly and honestly liking ourselves without typically focusing on our faults.

Our resiliency is definitely the whole package whether it just affects us, or an entire nation. Dealing with the challenging times, the great times and the everything in-between times that capture our life and career stories.

As I write and speak worldwide about career and life resiliency, so many of you have poured out your pain of being laid off, the loss of a significant relationship, or other tragic life moments.

The extraordinary events in Egypt, however, puts all of our (sometimes severe) challenges in perspective. Many of us have had to reinvent ourselves to successfully adapt to the current worldwide economic mess. And, in a matter of days, Egypt has begun the long and sometimes agonizing process to reinvent its world to allow its citizens the rights of freedom and resilience as a people. America did something similar in 17776 and so many other nations since then.

While I’m sure most in Egypt have never heard of the word “resilience,” this is how they will claw their way through the next months to find the basics of freedom. Finding ways to determine your own destiny and live a very healthy life is what we all aspire – whether in Egypt or Antarctica.

As I work toward the success of my new resiliency consulting business, I glance up to the all-mighty and give thanks to the fantastic life I have lived for 51 years. I am sure you have done the same no matter if life is just right for you, or you are battling through the inevitable challenges and obstacles that some litter your path.

Sure, not everything has gone our way, and my life and career struggles specifically have been apparent from time to time. As I hope you do, I look at the great moments in life with my family, friends and terrific colleagues worldwide and feel so fulfilled. I hope you think through your daily challenges and realize how lucky you are to be alive and not having to worry so much about the basics of life.

The Egyptian government is in turmoil because its citizens did not see themselves as lucky with a dictator-type rule for decades. They wanted more from life and finally did something extreme about it.

While you and I might not have to do those type of extreme actions personally or professionally, I suggest we should think through our lives hard and re-look at ways to keep our jobs, careers and personal lives from going nuts. I suggest it’s also time to be thankful that most of us live in societies that promote freedom and individual happiness. It is also a time to stay resilient and understand that we don’t have it so bad no matter our circumstances.

As many of us have done before, we need to open our hearts and minds to those fighting for freedom in the Middle East. It also might help each of us understand to not settle and find those (sometime elusive) ways to do what is best for us in our lives and careers.

In their own very inspiring way, the Egyptian people have given us the resilient blueprint to take charge of our lives – and don’t let others unduly influence it.

Until next week, thanks again for the opportunity to talk with you about all of our resilient issues. Take care…

History Can Teach Us A Lot About Connecting Our Resilience With Success

By Steve Beseke, beseke1@earthlin.net

As we recently celebrated Veteran’s Day for another year, I want to thank all the veterans past and present for keeping our country and world safe from anarchy.

In thinking about this, I see such a connection with the first frustrating days of WWII to the resilient challenges many of us face in these very challenging economic days we are continuing to face. Pearl Harbor had just been bombed and Hitler was overrunning Europe. FDR famously said that we cannot worry about the 10 catastrophes of the moment, but focus on solving one critical issue at a time.

In the Japanese campaign, that meant trying to bomb the home Japan islands in some way. Eventually this led to the iconic Doolittle Raid that bomber Tokyo in mid- 1942.

I don’t mean to teach a wonderful historical lesson, but focusing on one issue at a time does play n our current lives every day.

To effectively deal with my career and life ups and downs, I periodically ask myself this resiliency question: What is the one thing that makes me the happiest about myself for that particular moment?

– Is it something great I have accomplished at work?

– Is it that I remembered to kiss my beautiful wife when I got up in the morning?

– Is it that I effectively handled a typical challenge from my teenage daughter?

– Is it that I thought positive things about myself that day without sweating the small stuff?

Just like in WWII, in which my father served, all of the world’s ills could not be solved at once. It took a concerted plan to accomplish particular tasks at certain times that made the true difference.

I have found our career and life resiliency today is more than just dealing with the big things in life all at once – a death of a family member, losing one’s job or dealing with many other family or work situations. It is more about the smaller, individual tasks we do everyday that make us feel good about ourselves and able to adapt successfully when unforeseen events happen.

I’ve also found, as our fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers did in WWII, that focusing on one objective at a time would eventually lead to success – however you define it.

Take me, for example. My objective initially – after being laid off from a corporate communications executive position last year because of he economy – was finding one way to use my writing and speaking skills in a slightly different method. One strategy, one goal and one objective. After this, then I could move to solving other issues exposed by the lay off, such as keeping my confidence at least on an even keel or stop worrying so much about my lifelong physical disability (Cerebral Palsy).

As you ready to deal with your life and career challenges, I suggest not take on all of them on at once. I’ve definitely learned from past missteps. This time, I wanted to give myself a “healthier” alternative. I eventually came up with one plan to start to write and talk about career and life resiliency worldwide.

This maybe seemed like a long shot for success, but my single purpose has enabled my to find a second, very humbling career as a resiliency thought leader around the world – making a fair living and extremely happy from it. I am so lucky that this web site has been visited by more than 2 million of you. One action at a time can make the ultimate difference for me – and you.

My resiliency challenge for you this week is to do ONE life or career action that makes you happy, which has been off your radar screen for awhile. Maybe it is kissing your spouse or actually having a meaningful conversation with one or all of your children. Or it may be helping a co-worker with a work project even though you are not assigned to do it. These are actions within your control and are easily doable if only you give a small portion of your time and stick with it.

Over time, achieving such single actions will help build the resiliency and inner-feeling of good inside you when dealing with things not always within your control. And when times don’t go exactly your way.

Look what single actions like the WWII Doolittle Raid did for the morale of a nation. While not to the same global degree, are you ready to achieve your dreams by accomplishing one action at a time?

I’d love to hear from you and how you chose your particular action. How did it go and did you begin feeling that inner-sense of good? I suggest choosing one item like this per week, and you will begin to see the total sense of resiliency you build up moving forward.

Take care my friends and thanks so much for your continued support!

Image Attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fdecomite/402499198/

Your Personal Brand: Thinking Like Multi-Million Dollar Corporations

By Steve Beseke, beseke1@earthlink.net

Many of you have requested I talk even more about personal branding – and why staying in control of it is so important. To continue this on-going series, I want to highlight more about understanding yourself and what you bring to the table every day.

Sure, we know the Nike and Apple brands. The swish and the apple are part of the landscape of corporate society these days. But do we know our own brand that people see and judge – especially at work?

For the sake of a definition, a personal brand is the talents and skills you show the world – whether in life and/or your career. I will focus on your career in this piece. How do people see you? What is their reaction? How do you see yourself?

All of us have career strengths, life passions, unique personality traits and a myriad of talents helping make us stat successful in our careers and lives.

Sometimes, however, these talents are not always seen by others and believed in by us. One of the best ways to show our best is to better define and actually use our personal brand.

Please just remember to not try to create/reconfigure your personal brand all at once. I suggest you think through it and take one step at a time.

Firstly, a little about my own personal branding journey…

When I assessed my career a couple years ago, I wanted to take a critical look at what I offered companies and, really, myself. At the time, I said to myself, “You are nearly 50 now and what is your career passion that will make you happy for the next 15 years.” It was not like I was struggling in life or anything.I’ve had a very successful career making money to buy a nice house, afford periodic vacations and live a quiet upper-middle-class life.

But I wanted more. I wanted to be reenergized again at work and actually feel more work passion than the everyday humdrum of job stress. I am sure many of you have gone/or going through the same reflection.

I asked myself, ” Does my career resiliency and legacy only depend on how much money I make?” I am a materialistic guy, but after considerable thought I had to admit that it was not.

This started me on my journey to identify my personal brand and passion. The fascinating ride has taken me down some interesting turns – including a layoff because of the economy. This journey has led me to my resiliency business, motivational speaking and personal brand consulting. As I am now nearing 51, I want to continue using my life experiences as a person with a disability (Cerebral Palsy), a local leader in internal/employee communications for companies and an average person like you to make a true difference.

Over the next decade, I want folks to remember me (a.k.a., my personal brand) as someone who is helping others find their resilient “sweet spot.” All of us have this spot and we deserve to find it for our health, happiness and resilient well-being.

As we continue our discussion about personal branding, please think of yourself as a corporation selling a product. While you may not have millions of dollars to promote yourself like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s, you do have your wonderful skill set, personal/professional experiences and on-going integrity to offer a company the “best deal in town” – yourself. Whether you are seeking a job, or secure in one right now.

Let’s get started:

Personal Branding is Your 21st Century Key to Standing Out From the Crowd

Today, branding isn’t just for companies, Hollywood celebrities, or highly-paid athletes. People in all walks of life are starting to use personal or self branding to get ahead in the game of life.

The single factor that often explains the difference between a professional who is competent and doing okay and one who earns a significant income and generates lots of business is having the confidence of self branding.

Self branding also is a strong personal identity based on a clear perception about what you stand for, what sets you apart from others, and the added value you bring to a job or situation.

Your self brand is the sum total of other people’s feelings about your attributes and capabilities, how you perform, even their perceptions about what you are worth.

To brand or not to brand? Many people think that if they do a good job, their career will go fine. But no matter how secure your position seems to be, you are in competition with more people than you think. Even if you do a great job, you could still side-railed by circumstances out of control. I had this fantastic position that I was receiving wonderful accolades and salary. This country’s economic meltdown forced my company to lay off 2,000 0f 2,200 employees including me.

To some people, branding may seem manipulative or phony. “I’d just rather be myself,” they say, “to with the flow and see where my career takes me.” Or, the familiar line, “I’m not good at marketing myself.”

If you don’t brand yourself, others will. The fact of the matter is you’re giving the power to other people to brand you if you don’t do it yourself.

Self brands are created not born. Branding is mainly a process of analyzing a product in relationship to a market and figuring out how to maximize the brand’s potential. Branding is creating an asset out of something. It is a matter of satisfying a market need in a different way. And figuring out a plan of action – the marketing plan – to build awareness and trial of the brand.

Launching a person on a drive to become a successful personal brand is essentially the same process. It is a conscious strategic process, a branding process, a process that Hollywood celebrities and high profile athletes have been using for some time. As I mentioned earlier, I had to sometimes be brutally honest with myself in my branding process!

The Self Brand mindset: Self branding means looking at yourself as a marketer would look at a product that he or she wants to make a winning brand. You don’t think of yourself as an employee even if you work for a boss. You think of yourself as working for yourself marketing the brand, You.

The first thing a marketer does is analyze the market and the product to understand what the opportunities are, what the threats are. What are the current conditions? What are the assumptions about the future? What problems need to be solved? What needs aren’t being met?

Act like the marketer of the product: You. In personal branding, after analyzing the market, you do a self-audit. What are my strengths and weaknesses? How does my brand compare with the people I am competing with?

You focus on key attributes and resources that differentiate you. Skills, abilities, even personality traits you have that are a solution to a market need. Then you adopt what Theodore Levitt called “the marketing imagination.” You build a personal brand identity that is different, relevant and adds value.

Plan to dazzle: Write out a marketing plan. I often work with folks to develop a formal marketing plan that lays out a personal brand strategy and action plan. It is often in the writing that new creative options come to light.

It is important to set personal brand goals with a specific timeframe and plan of action for achieving your goals. So, just like a marketer would, write down your personal marketing activities to achieve your goals. And, of course, you then need to execute the marketing plan. You can’t get to where you want to go unless you plan it and then do it.

The final step is measurement…assessing your effectiveness. How is my “portfolio” different now than it was last year? What new projects did I take on? How did I expand my network? What new learning did I acquire? If something isn’t working, you change trains. Branding is a dynamic process that offers the greatest rewards to the receptive individual.

Thinking and acting like a corporate brand can create and maintain demand for your most important product – that is, you!

Microsoft and Starbucks has nothing over you or me – except those millions of dollars. We need to “live” our brand and folks will see the true passion and commitment no matter what your profession.

Please begin to think about establishing or reassessing your personal brand. I will have the next installment in my personal brand series in the near future.

I look forward to helping make your personal brand experience a resilient and worthwhile adventure.

Until next week, thanks again, for joining me. I am very humbled to say the least.

Image Attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ricardodiaz/604551936/

Our Healthy Resilience: Adding A Bit Of Fun Can Make An Impactful Difference

By Steve Beseke, beseke1@earthlink.net

Our lives and careers are very serious business. We go about our days with stout determination that success will definitely stay with us. That is, if we only work that extra hour, finish that project way ahead of schedule, or continually focus on completing task after task until their completed – no matter what…

No matter what, you say…isn’t there something else in life to shoot for?

National studies show having “fun” in your life is extremely important to our health and is sometimes a missing ingredient for many of us. One study suggests that “not finding the time away from the office,” could dramatically hurt our successful career and life path.

The message I suggest you think about and one I haven’t always followed: if you don’t step away from the office awhile, turn off the computer after the 50th job application filled out, forget to kiss your spouse, or love your wonderful kids and pets, you could become burned out and have out-of-control stress.

None of us want that – no matter how focused we are on our careers or other passions in our lives. To stay resilient, happy and fulfilled, we need to enjoy life and find those “sweet spots” that make us happy.

I say this because I need to hear it. In starting my own motivational speaking business, I have spent 60 to 80 hours a week at least thinking about work in some way or another. While each of our circumstances are unique, you also may be thinking about work as you sip a tall cool one. Or, you are at your son’s baseball game physically but mentally thinking about work – or finding your next great work adventure.

Why is that? I’d love to get your comments. From my view, it is at least partially because our world now lives through a 24/7 news cycle. We are nearly always a click away from checking e-mail, or trying to finish that report online, or finding something about anything. All of us are connected through the Internet, smart phones, etc., etc., no matter if we want it or not.

I think this “24/7 lifestyle” we lead helps us always stay too focused on the serious business of life and career – as we forget to take a deep breath or two. We don’t do this intentionally…there’s just a lot of serious stuff on our plate and fun can wait.

Well, it can’t unfortunately.

Another national survey showed that stress levels of those employed or looking for work are off the charts these days. Again, we are in serious times, but when was the last time you went to the lake and skipped rocks across the water’s surface? Had a quiet brew with a friend at a coffee shop with your phone and computer turned off?Set aside time for yourself and maybe finish that jigsaw puzzle that’s been on that card table downstairs for what seems like years?

Or, even more importantly, setting aside time with your significant other to do something fun and spontaneous for just the two of you. Maybe going to an antique shop? Staying for a night at a special bed and breakfast? Or, holding each other’s hands watching the sun set?

A healthy resilience is not just being in “your serious mode” all the time.

Fun can be a very unique experience. I suggest spending the next 15 minutes listing some of the fun you could be having if you weren’t so involved with your career or business. Then – tonight – share it with your significant person and ask the person to jot down a few bits of fun.  Share and find additional ways to stay happy and fulfilled. Come on, do it – for your sake.

For me, my fun is spending time finding antiques with my wife – with my iPhone off. Or, going out for a quiet dinner at a place we’ve never been to before. Or, cuddling with our two dachies or “weiner” dogs and loving them without worrying about my next e-mail message. Or, traveling to some exotic place and walking on a secluded beach where there is no Internet. Can you imagine that?

I’m not an old-fashioned guy, but I think we need to simplify and have a bit of fun for our health’s sake. Right now, I’m going to turn off my computer and phone, and take a ride in my boy toy – otherwise known as my Mustang GT. My “pony” and I are going to park next to a lake and watch the gentle waves as my spirit is refreshed.

I suggest you need to find your own fun and “sweet spots.” And, guess what? By allowing yourself time for such things, you’ll be more energized and successful with the more serious and mundane parts of your world.

It is amazing how your world can change if you incorporate fun back into your life…mine sure did for the absolute better!

Please be looking for new video vignettes and e-books on resilient strategies for you on my web site very soon. I also will be adding an additional national radio interview I did in the last couple weeks.

Thanks, again, for your support and take care.

Does Your Life/Career Feel Like You Are On A “Yo-Yo” These Uncertain Days?”

By Steve Beseke, beseke1@earthlink.net

Sometimes when you are trying to find your next great work adventure or establishing a new worldwide speaking business like me, your life seems like a “yo-yo.” One day it is running like a Ferrari and heading up. The next week it seems like you are descending in a dilapidated Model T.

Not that you are doing anything wrong or giving it any less effort.

It might just be that you feel less confident about the actions in your control. Whether it may be: You had your fifth interview for a particular job and the company is not getting back to you in a timely manner as promised. The vast amount of networking among colleagues seems to be yielding less than you expected. Or, a personal relationship is not going quite right.

More than ever, this is when all of us need to manage our expectations better. We need to realize that there are always going to be those days where you miss seeing opportunities, or you’d like to crawl back into bed and shut out the world for awhile.

No matter how successful we become in life, all of us must deal with life and career challenges – great and small – whether momentary or not. Other examples might include losing a loved one, or being shut down by your boss after presenting “the next greatest idea” at work.

We cannot get around it: Sooner or later all of us will face an opportunity to test our personal and professional resiliency. To successfully adapt to such moments, I have learned we must show some patience and understanding – in ourselves.

From personal experience of losing my dream job because of the country’s economic mess, I just wanted to get back “in the game” without worrying about my emotions. I forgot to deal with the emotional loss in a much more thoughtful way.

I felt so much personal pain thinking that if only I would have… Or, why didn’t I do this or that… Instead, I needed to rationally look at what I needed to do next. After I realized this, and thought through the grief stages below, I saw how successful I am and will stay in the future.

I have very humbly been very successful at retooling my career, and I am talking with great folks like you worldwide through speeches/conversations and writing about resiliency.

This has allowed me to continue my award-nominated http://resiliency first.com web site – which has now surpassed 1.5 million hits in a year. It has given me the opportunity to share my resiliency successes, and offer you a chance to tap into yours.

But there are days when even my life resiliency fails me. Whether it is because of a business issue or my lifelong physical disability (Cerebral Palsy) is particularly acting up, I’ve learned to not get outrageously high or sinking down to low.

While emotions cannot always be seen, they can be felt by those of us who have experienced pain or uncertainty. If you seem like you are going up and down too much because of a loss, I wanted again highlight Dr. Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief that has helped me feel less like a “yo-yo” being flung around.

These stages led me to recover from the job loss last year, and gave me the confidence to start my successful speaking and consulting business.

The stages are:

  • Denial (this isn’t happening to me!)
  • Anger (why is this happening to me?)
  • Bargaining (I promise I’ll be a better person if…)
  • Depression (I don’t care anymore)
  • Acceptance (I’m ready for whatever comes)

Life is definitely full of ups and downs. How we react and manage these challenges will determine the scope – and for how long – it will take us to recover our stride.

Now it is your turn. Don’t get caught up in the “yo-yo” syndrome of any particular day. Be ready for whatever comes and manage your expectations. This will help all of us ride the “yo-yo” moments a bit better.

Until next time my friends…thanks for reading my blog!

Maintaining a Resilient Mindset Key in Reducing Your Career and Life Stress – Part II

By Steve Beseke, beseke1@earthlink.net

As I post Part II of my “Resilient Mindset” series, there are many ways for all of us to continue being successful at work. Even when I was laid off, I needed think about the following principles as I was networking and finding my next great work adventure. Again, these are not meant as breakthrough ideas but common-sense strategies I’ve used to keep my sanity and “head above water” at work.

No strategy works every time, and I’ve suffered my share of setbacks along the way – as I mention further down in the article. It’s, however, how I’ve successfully dusted myself off that has helped me keep the resilient mindset through my 25+-year career as a corporate communications executive. How about you? After reading through this article, I suggest thinking about your approach at work and determine if you should change or enhance your resilient mindset. Thinking through this mindset might save you a lot of unneeded stress and work as you navigate through your career.

I discussed a number of work mindset issues in my first article last week – compromise, adaptability and knowing your strengths. I continue with understanding the need to give a little – on both sides…

Finding Common Ground: Sounds easy, doesn’t it? I mean your work team should have common goals and practices to implement what needs to get done. In my opinion, finding common ground is ultimately the most important aspect of having a successful team and working relationships – whether it is with your boss, colleagues or direct reports. To me, I define common ground as every team member being – at least generally – the same page with the company’s vision and values. Do your reports know what the goals of a project or company are? Do you? Does your supervisor? Any of these trigger points can break down the sense of accomplishment all of us need to feel to be happy and successful and continue to have the resilient mindset at work.

This sometimes takes a team and even a corporate culture shift where more necessary information is given out to keep folks from jumping to their own conclusions at work. This “jump” can lead to lost productivity, rumors and increased stress levels for you and your team.

I was talking a couple minutes ago about the recent lay off communications plan I developed. Before I had a chance to even write it, I had to convince superiors to be upfront to employees for the challenging going on at the company. They initially did not want any extra communications fearing employees would get too nervous. I won the “more is better” argument by showing them the failing of other companies that decided to keep information close the vest

Going that extra step to communicate just a bit more can ultimately increase team understanding, your specific resiliency and cause you less stress long-term. While layoffs happened, the company received very little criticism for not letting employees know what was going on. I found common ground for the employees and company’s benefit.

You probably have much better common ground examples in your work careers. I won’t ask you to voice them, but spend the next few minutes thinking about ways you could further promote common ground in your immediate and extended teams. Try to implement at least one of these strategies in the next week or month at work. You’ll be happier, more productive and resilient.

As all of you know, our work resiliency is being tested these days. One interesting statistic from a recent national survey:

– More than 50 percent of employees across the country are finding their workload has increased by as much as 75 percent in the last 18 months.

During these stormy economic days, many of us are just trying to keep our heads down and grind through the workday waiting for a better and resilient tomorrow.

I read an article recently about a couple of resilient strategies to ease our job worries. They have worked for me and may help you continue having a resilient mindset. They are:

- The surprising cure for job stress: Schedule one more weekly work meeting and communicate with your supervisor. The current daily avalanche of headlines about layoffs can give even rock-solid employees like you job jitters.

You can’t change what researchers call the “collective uncertainty about the future,” but you can book a meeting with your supervisor to discuss the company’s goals and define your role in achieving them. Research shows that clearly defined goals make workers happier and healthier.

- Then, begin exercising on a routine basis. You see, those who exercise perform better at work than sedentary people. One study looked at people under extreme stress and time constraints. It was clear those who took the time away from work to exercise regularly  – even 20 minutes a day – were better at attaining personal satisfaction, and significant improved their work productivity and resilience.

Why does that work? Even though I have a physical disability, I try to exercise at least 20 minutes a day – or about the same amount of time going your local coffee shop and buying a large cappuccino.

I am definitely not a preacher, but studies show physically active people process data faster, and they’re more likely to have less work stress or to handle it better than chair-bound types. Workouts help your mind relax, so it’s a better incubator for new ideas and solutions – at work and in life. As one study subject said, “Running gives me a body that performs better at everything that I must do during the day.” Even if your job is secure, why pass up the chance to be at the top of your game all day long?

So, in the next week, just try three things for your resilient, emotional and physical health:

1) Schedule a meeting with your supervisor and discuss priorities during these hard times.

2) Exercise at least 20 minutes every-other-day.

3) Smile as often as you can.

I virtually guarantee you will see very positive resilient mindset results positively helping your stress levels at work and in all facets of your life.

Setbacks:

No matter how successful or resilient we become in life, all of us must deal with life and career setbacks – great and small. Examples might include losing a job, ending a long-term personal relationship, losing a loved one, or being shut down by your boss after presenting “the next greatest idea” at work.

We cannot get around it: Sooner or later all of us will face an opportunity that tests our personal and professional resiliency. To successfully adapt to such “setback moments,” I have learned we must show some patience and understanding – in ourselves.

I mentioned my life-long physical disability a little earlier. A couple years ago, I woke up in an emergency room. I had fallen and smacked my head on an unforgiving marble floor at a work conference. My head did not like it at all. As I regained my composure and was taken to the hospital, my first thought was to again blame my “setback” of having a physical disability.

Then, as it has for as long as I remember, my little resiliency inner voice took over as I was recovering with a couple of my valued work colleagues at my side. It reminded me that my entirely life and career has been about resiliency and adapting to circumstances sometimes out of my control – at work and in life I knew this in the emergency room: I was not going to let my disability stop me from my independence of walking and living life however I saw fit.

After a few tests, the doctors said I was O.K. to go home. I was fortunate that my life and public profile was not affected except for a few short-term bruises.

I don’t highlight my particular life example to tap into your empathy. I tell you this little life vignette to highlight that we all are dealt certain cards in work and in life. The key I have found to transition me very successfully through such personal and work challenges is my resiliency and adaptability to get past any of these life bumps – no matter how significant.

Whatever you work or life setbacks, I suggest using your resilient mindset to overcome the obstacles that you may think are unachievable..

If you are going through a work setback right now – large or small – I’d suggest you think about the following grief stages and face what I did. When you shed all the layers away, I found that life is very special and we cannot worry about things out of your control.

Here are Dr. Kubler-Ross’ grief stages that has helped me recover my confidence my confidence and resiliency.

They are:

Denial (this isn’t happening to me!)

Anger (why is this happening to me?)

Bargaining (I promise I’ll be a better person if…)

Depression (I don’t care anymore)

Acceptance (I’m ready for whatever comes)

As I’ve mentioned before, our work life is full of ups and downs. How we react to work challenges will determine the scope – and for how long – it will take to recover. Once I realized this and faced up to the grief stages, I recovered faster from my personal physical setback that happened to me at work.

Now it is your turn. Please use my lesson the next time the door shuts for you – or you have your own work/life setbacks.

Additionally, other resilient important techniques to help stop you from grasping for breathe or waiting for the next crisis to hit is:

Stop worrying about things out of your control… To stay happy, productive and in the present at work,  one thing all of us should manage more carefully is our expectations about controlling situations. Do you have ultimate control over how your supervisor reacts a project you’ve completed. Can you control how your reports manage their time. Do you have control how you react to these two situations. The answer to the first two questions is probably “not ultimate control. But you should be able to answer the third question with an unequivocal “yes.

As I mentioned earlier, all of us as managers want to feel great about our work and have a sense of accomplishment without feeling like you are gasping for breath or waiting for the next crisis to hit.” But many times we derail our sense of accomplishment because we worry about the events out of our control. For me, there are only three things you can totally control in your work or personal lives. That is, our attitude, values and how we relate to people. How I am thinking about myself, my work, my life, my family and my friends? As managers, part of our role is to be in control of situations. But you need to understand that nearly 95 percent of the projects or people you work with are only partially controllable by you. So you need to understand those areas that you can control and don’t get worked up about the things you can’t.

I mentioned the example of the CEO speech earlier. Well, just a day earlier, he thought the original speech was what he wanted to go with. But then, as if I were in the Twilight Zone, a few hours later, he wanted a different focus. Could I control his change of opinion…no! But I could control how I reacted to him, and how I re-crafted the speech. If I let the “process” consume me, I could have never wrote what turned out to be an award-nominated speech. In the final analysis, there is not much in our control except your attitude

The point is: If you let your attitude slip, life and work can really spiral downwards.

For reflection, please taker a few moments and write down a recent time where you worried about things at work out of your true control. How did it affect your attitude, your day, and your productivity in the short term? I’d love for you’ll to share an example from a past job…. How is your attitude affecting you today at work? How is it affecting your colleagues and reports? What is your style in relating to folks at work? Should you be more adaptive, compromising or trying to find more common ground?

I’d also suggest thinking for a couple minutes about how you can take charge of your attitude even with the real control challenges many of us have day-to-day.

For me, not dwelling on the things I can’t control has made a tremendous different in my attitude and how I relate to people. One more short vignette: Early in my career, a mentor counseled me that your attitude is one of the most important things people remember and cause you the most stress on an every day basis.

Man, I thought about this advice for a couple months while I was still getting youthfully mad on a whole variety of issues. Then, his advice hit me kicked in after a city council member – those government folks – denied additional funding for a project her constituents wanted.  My new resilient, adaptive mode grew from there and focused on the things I could control. That’s how I evolved into the consensus-building model I use today. My attitude changed about 180 degrees…

To help with “control,” I suggest you should always remember the three Ps – perseverance, persistence and patience.

Perseverance

What can any of us do to reduce work stress? Your performance is great but your company is asking more of you offering less resources.

Persevere, again, means understanding what you can control and understanding what you do best…

Now, all of you are employed and thank goodness. I wasn’t so lucky a few months back. After I was laid off from by dream job because of this economy I mentioned in a previous article, I looked at what was in my control and how I could persevere during these rough times. I knew I had three things I could control – my attitude, my values and the way I relate to people.

While searching for a full-time gig, I also developed a personal business plan, looked hard at my personal brand and truly had a heart-to-heart with myself about what I wanted to do for the rest of my career.

Well, this perseverance led me to resiliency, an award-nominated blog and establishing a business where I could speak at organizations like this, develop resiliency materials for those in need and stay healthy in my day-to-day activities. It’s been a true blessing…

The lesson I learned – and one you should think about – is don’t pity yourself because you have had a professional setback at work. Look at yourself hard and determine what makes you happy in your job. Write those down and look at them once in awhile as you come out of your boss’s office perplexed on the decision that was made.  If those statements  still hold true, you are still on the right course. If not, you should look at how your reactions and decisions will allow you to persevere and maintain “work happiness” as you see it.

Don’t just settle because then you may be going through the same challenges in future time. Persevere and understand the fantastic skills and qualities you offer everyday!

Persistence

That great idea you’ve had that no one seems to hear or understand. It could have the company thousands of dollars, or make employees understand the company better. But no one seems to listen and your idea floats in oblivion. And you just don’t have enough energy or will to pursue it any longer. Been there, done that…

But just think about… those innovators throughout history.

I hope this does not happen to you:  After the 30th rejection letter, or having a company choose someone else after seven separate interviews from the CEO to the janitor on duty, I’ve had friends and colleagues say, “I am just going to give up.” This is when you must persist and learn how to promote yourself in an even better way.

I hate to promote myself. My dad was a car dealer, and I wish I had his out-going personality and ability to convince folks to close the deal. I’ve always struggled with this, and have tried to let my work do the talking for me. Unfortunately, in these times, you need to show folks why there can’t be a better candidate than you.

That’s why I think understanding and believing in your personal brand is absolutely a key to your future success. When I first re-crafted my “brand,” I thought I’d never come up with something that was truly me. But I persisted and gave myself enough time where I did not feel pressured to write something in five minutes. I persisted and diligently wrote down all my strengths and the types of work I like to do. I also did the same with my weaknesses and the activities I don’t like to do.

This gave my a framework where I was able to write down “my future.” It was not easy and it took significant time but I got it done and now I understand what I want to do for the last 15 years of my career. My persistence led to talking about resiliency and opening up about my disability experiences. Most of all, it gave me the inner confidence to offer my common-sense messages to assist you and other great folks worldwide. Being persistent can be magical…

Patience

You’ve just been laid off and wonder where the money will come from to pay the bills, keep your house and pay for your son’s birthday party coming up soon. In these circumstances, being patient to find your next great job is very hard. I’ve been there and my friends have been there. There’s nothing fun about it and you just want to hurry to find a job that pays for life.

For me, I found that I needed to step back for a moment and don’t hurry into something that I may regret. At least for the short term, I stayed patient and tried to understand what my next step should be. If you have access to unemployment insurance, you nest egg or money in your overall family, that’s great. If you don’t, you may want to consider consulting or some other type of part-time role to get you by for at least little while. This type of patience helped me as I found what I wanted to do – and the next great job in my life.

All of us can react wonderfully to favorable times in our lives. Our true grit is shown in how we deal with the professional and personal challenges all of us sometimes face. I suggest you think of the three Ps the next time you face one of those possible life-changing events in your life. Please don’t stay knocked down for long…see your true and fabulous potential.

Control: What life and career actions are totally within your control? For me, being called a work “rock star” and “essential” gave me some belief that I could ride out the layoff wave. Yet, I was still laid off. Nearly all of us think we are in control of more things than we are. My mother has worked at the same company for nearly 63 years. She is a beloved institution at her company and continues to thrive every day. The rest of us can expect 10 jobs over our career – not because we like to move around or our performance is deficient. The great company you work for today may not be in control of their fate tomorrow.

So, why worry about things out of your control? A psychologist I had coffee with told me “it’s being human.” Sounds justifiable in the abstract, but that does not pay the mortgage, keep your solid relationships intact, or make you feel a whole lot better.

Next time you have a low-confidence moment, just think about the three life actions totally within your control – your attitude, your values and how you interact with people. Find ways to use these three to see what is important for your life – your family, your friends and yourself.

I’d like to end my resiliency mindset discussion in talking about the most important person in your work life – yes, You.

To stay resilient at work, I’d suggest

Tapping into your vision of yourself, know what gives you satisfaction, and bring those into your current job or life situation.

The inner game. Recognize what makes you happy. Setting aside what you “should” like, think about what you “do” like. Everyone is different in what kind of tasks they like to do, how much structure they prefer, and how much they want to interact with others. Think about the type of company you’d like to work in — its size, culture and mission.

To truly understand and adapt your personal brand, you need to understand how you feel. When I was young, I did not want to discuss my disability and rarely asked for any help – even if needed. As I indicated above, I wanted to be seen as a normal person in a “normal” world. Can you blame me? Unfortunately, others do not always understand any difference a person has.

Folks always thought I needed doors opened for me or I was in severe pain when I walked. As a person in my 20s and 30s, and wanted to be seen like anybody else. So, my personal brand revolved around proving and acting as normal as I could be. I purposely became skilled at sports, lettered in high school athletics and became nearly a “scratch” golfer. While I was no Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods, my personal brand was all about this normalcy.

– Assess your current situation at work and how you personal brand fits into it. Review the amount of structure you have, the tasks you do, the people you work with and the organization you work for. How well does it fit with your ideal? Think about what you’d want to change in a new position. Look at your career progression, focusing on aspects that brought you enjoyment along the way. Consider ways in which your job has changed or how your personal brand has grown. Be clear about the parts that fit, too; it’s important to focus on the resilient positives.

– Look at the big picture. Are you satisfied with your life? Don’t leave anything out — consider family, friends, health, spirituality and hobbies. If you aren’t happy in the rest of your life, it’ll be harder to boost your energy at work.

The outer game. Build on the outer positives and your inner-resiliency. Consciously savor the aspects of work and life situations you like. Look for ways to bring back parts of your past jobs that were engaging. For example, you may miss doing hands-on analysis now that you’re in a management role. Without overdoing it, get a little closer to the work your team does.

As far as your career, I’d recommend watching your preferences. If you prefer individual work but spend a lot of time in teams, negotiate ways to have more independent work time. You may have more options than you first perceive, but you’ll need to ask for what you want. And vise-versa…

Stretch. Once you’ve mastered your job, it can feel stagnant. Find ways to grow. Take on special projects, or get to know people in other parts of the organization. Steps like these could lead to a new role. Think about your ideal job, and integrate aspects of that into the job you have now.

Having a mindset about work resilience is not a science. There’s no ultimate five-step guide to work resilience. But navigating your every day work challenges gives you the opportunity to show your strengths and demonstrate your successful work resilience for your company and yes, Yourself!

Managing your workload everyday requires your creative skills in avoiding job burn out and developing the proper mindset in dealing with difficult customers, colleagues and supervisors. At the same time, your work success depends on taking exhausting and chaotic events in stride and ultimately showing the terrific, resilient person that you are.

Please let me know what you think. I look forward to our continued conversation next week!

Adopting or Enhancing a Resilient Mind Set At Work Important for Your Continued Success

Early in his successful presidential run, Barack Obama mentioned he used a resilient mindset in keeping on track, staying focused, understanding how other people see him and staying emotionally healthy. Wow! In times of struggle for all of us, the lesson I learned from the President is the need to look hard at your resilient self and understand the needs you want achieved.

Whether you are looking for work or are employed but maxed out, all of us should adopt or fine-tune our own resilient mindset that can keep us from going nuts! The next two articles I write – Part 1 and II – will highlight  the resilient mindset concept for those of you who are still employed. The challenges you face can be very daunting: Ever-increasing budget cuts, workload expectations going through the ceiling panels, working more with a lot less and, yes, the notion that layoffs are not over yet to name a few.

As you look at your work resilience, you may want to mull through the following questions you may face every day:

Do you deal difficult customers, colleagues or supervisors? Are you involved in chaotic or exhausting work events? Does it seem like you have to solve the challenges and problems of your direct reports even before your first cup of coffee every morning?  Are you asked to solve work issues assigned by your boss that seem overwhelming or unsolvable? Do you find that you are becoming less resilient to taking sometime challenging  work events in stride?

If you’ve said “yes” to any of these, don’t feel alone. A recent national survey of employees found that 78 percent of them said “yes” to at least one of these questions. More than 50 percent said “yes” to all of them…

Are you surprised? I wasn’t. I have spent the last 25 years successfully (or mostly successfully) stamping out the fires that probably keep you up at nights. Some of my fun has included:

– The last second “request” by the CEO to totally rewrite his approved upcoming speech – and do it in the next hour for his plane ride review…

– The direct report who was to present a white paper at a conference but accidentally deleted the presentation 15 minutes before his presentation – the IT guys had fun with that one.

– Staying up all night to meet a project deadline that unknowingly that day had been pushed back two weeks. My AA was busy planning a luncheon celebration and never gave me the message…

A few times I have been “knocked down” trying to navigate through the turbulent currents we call “the office.” But most of my work life has not been on the “darkside” but trying to stay within a healthy resilient mindset.  I’ve been successful at overcoming most of the work obstacles that many of us face everyday – and ride the resilient wave helping solve a myriad of work issues because of a few strategies I’ve learned along the way.

I use the phrase “resilient mindset,” which I define as deal ing effectively with all aspects of your work life, including challenging customers, colleagues or possibly being nervous that this challenging economy might affect your job. This also means springing back from adversity to take pleasure in the quiet moments with your spouse, significant person, children, friends or yourself – and even realizing that work/life balance is more than just a concept on a corporation’s blotter.

To keep your work resilience at a healthy level, I have found the art of workplace compromise, adaptability, finding common ground, and understanding my strengths and weaknesses very important.

Compromise: At least in American culture, the word “compromise” is not always seen in the best of light in the workplace Typically, many of us are brought up to stick to our beliefs and not give in unless absolutely necessary. Well, in your job and career, this narrowly-defined attitude can spell ultimate failure. There was a study that showed that not being able to compromise was one of the top reasons work relationships fail.

For me, compromise does not mean always giving in to the eccentricities or demands of your co-workers – or even your boss. It’s giving a little on both sides to find a common middle. That approved CEO speech I mentioned earlier is a good example of how I used the art of compromise to my fullest advantage. Instead of shuddering at the timeframe for writing the “new speech,” I talked with the CEO and gave him a number of concrete reasons why the new timeframe would not make him look good.

You can recite what is good for the company but try highlighting what is best for the person. None of us, even CEOs, want to come across as unprepared. I received an extra 90 minutes to re-craft the speech…it truly made the difference. Humbly speaking the CEO received a standing ovation after his speech.

A non-work compromise example that can be applied to work happened to me recently. After five years, my 14-year-old daughter was apparently not that interested in the flute any longer I thought she should just give up playing an instrument. My wife, however, took the long view and said that playing an instrument could continue to teach our daughter commitment, resilience and teamwork.

After many days of discussion, I began to believe my wife was right but that our daughter had to continue playing the flute instead of the sax.  We compromised on the solution – it took another month to convince our daughter about the positives of playing the flute rather than the challenges and expense of trying a new instrument at her age.

The workplace point: Sometimes your co-workers or other colleagues are right on about the implementation of a project. I suggest not letting status and (yes) egos get in the way of a great idea. A senior manager once told me he received the best advice over lunch when he sat down by one of the hourly workers.

The manager struck up a conversation with the worker about the new work/life balance plan of the company he was presenting to the entire company the following week in the afternoon. The worker was interested but asked how will it be communicated to his friends on the “grave yard” shift. The manager said they would have to attend the presentation or call-in.

The worker said presenting info about work/life balance policies is great for those on the right shifts, but the presentation for other might be a burden with families, sleep, etc. The light bulb went off and the senior manager added presentations at the times convenient for the shift workers. It meant a bit more time for him but ultimately was seen as very proactive in getting the message successfully out.

The manager compromised – not because of superiors – but because he listened to a typical employee. He could have stuck to his original schedule but compromised for the good of employees. It ultimately caused him less stress because he did not have to go back and “fix” something out-of-whack.

What ways you could “compromise” with a superior, co-worker or direct report that might make your day and week go smoother. Not everything needs to go your way, and the skill of compromising in some situations can be seen as a very positive career enhancer and part of your work resilience.

Adaptability: We have all learned to adapt in our lives one way or another – whether at work or personally. Personally, I’ve had to adapt to a life-long disability known as Cerebral Palsy, which has at least initially affected perceptions of me at work.

The old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover” definitely applies in my case and possibly many colleagues you deal with every day. Sometimes these perceptions get in the way that might affect you or your team’s productivity at work. Such unfounded perceptions can cause you stress and may make you pop a few antacids during the day.

Don’t worry that a person may be of a different generation, different gender, different belief or – like me – a bit different physically.

I suggest leaving all that at the door and judge folks on their work and how they get along with you. Sounds easy, but I know perceptions can become reality if you are not careful.

Very early in my career (I am now 49) a supervisor was so caught up with my disability, he would go down to the lunch room to get me something to eat, never schedule a meeting if it was not a short distance away from my cube, etc., etc. He was under the mistaken impression that I could not do normal activities. He later said he thought I was in pain when I walked.

Disconnect to the max. He assumed something that he never asked me about and adapted much of his free work time “to help me.” Finally, I sat him down to let him know I never need help unless I ask for it. He was shocked I walked around the State Fair, lettered in tennis and golf in high school, etc. When I told him this, he was effectively released from having to adapt a lot of his day to make my work day better – this, of course, was before the Americans with Disability Act was enacted in 1988.

The workplace point: My personal example may be on the extreme side, but you need to be successfully adaptive in your work style with others. I suggest never assuming someone can ‘t do something or only has a certain skill set without asking or observing the person first.

Please think about two adaptability and compromise moments at work that relieved your stress in the past, or ones you would have like to have done differently.

Knowing Your Strengths – and Weaknesses. Now let’s talk about how your resilient mindset plays into strengths and, yes, our weaknesses. All of us have tremendous personal and professional strengths – and, of course, a few weaknesses along the way.

As we talk through this section, please think about ways you use your tremendous strengths to be a great person, employee and supervisor. When doing this, then think about the ways your perceived weaknesses sometimes mask the best that you are. As employees, all of us want to feel great about our work and have a sense of accomplishment without feeling like you are gasping for breath or waiting for the next crisis to hit.

While we need to understand our weaknesses, I contend (for our health, happiness and well-being) we should focus on what we do well in at work, instead of always dwelling on the things we don’t do so well. It’s definitely easier said than done. I know I could list work weaknesses easier than writing down the same amount of strengths. Studies show that our strength/weakness thought process is just the way our brains are connected and how societal norms prompt us to view ourselves.

In your job, though, I have found my greatest success when I am totally focus on what I do best. I know that is easier said than done because you don’t always get accolades on your strengths at work. Rather, some corporate cultures rate you more on your possible missteps. I m usually a very laid-back consensus-builder type of guy at work, and I am not at my best when I step out of character – being too inflexible and stubborn. I definitely can exhibit all these sometimes-perceived weaknesses but my strength is being the compassionate, team guy in most work situations.

Knowing my particular strengths have helped successfully stay on the same resilient page. When I recently was asked to create a layoff communications plans that would affect so many of my work friends – and ultimately me -the first draft was not “hard enough.” I’m not good at being hard.

I took the critique by upper management, and used my strengths of adaptability to craft a more direct yet sensitive communications plan that was implemented. The point: Unless you lack some core skills, I suggest not worrying as much your weaknesses. Spend at least 80 percent of the time demonstrating your strengths to your work world. You’ll feel happier and a lot better of yourself, while showing what you do best. Your work hired you for your strengths – showing them every day will keep you healthy.

A study has show that workers can improve their strengths by up to 30 percent. If they use the same amount of time to improve their weaknesses, they can only get less than a 10 percent improvement rate. If we have a glaring weakness, that is a different story but…focus on your strengths, my friends.

In Part II of this article next week, I will talk about finding common ground, dealing with work setbacks and enjoying your time at work – where you may spend more than one-third of your working years in life.

Your comments have been very inspiring! Thanks for linking to my resiliency site, and I will talk with you again next week!