It’s Time to Stop Confusing Leadership and Management

Leadership is deciding what has to be done and getting others to want to do it. 
 
In working with clientsI have found that often leadership and management are used interchangeably. However, leaders and managers have very distinct responsibilities. Confusing the two or treating them the same can cause create very dysfunctional organizations and overwhelmed leaders. 
 
First, let me explain the practical difference between management and leadership.
 
Management is about work standards, resource allocation, and organizational design. Management historically got its start at the onset of World War I. It was around that time that Harvard University created its masters programs while other schools and universities also focused their efforts on varying fields within business management.
 
Leadership, on the other hand, is about vision, motivation, and trust. Developing people and organizations to grow and have a bigger impact. Leaders must deal with change and strongly consider time as they move their team or organization into the future. 
 
I am a lifelong Cubs fan. Seeing them win the World Series was an unforgettable experience. I believe that the key to their success was the hiring of a new manager, Joe Maddon. Management in baseball is about the use of data and use of statistics – how fast a player can run, the speed of their pitch, the angle they hit the ball ator how quickly they move in the outfield. This provides the manager with a very large amount of data. But, just collecting tons of data is not enough. The manager also has to decide what data is most important to collect in analyzing a players strength and therefore the overall strength of the team.
 
Leadership on the other hand is about heartbeat. A leader must learn about that individual, interview themand perhaps even interview their family members to find out if they are a good fit for the team. Will they be more concerned about the name on the back of their jersey than the name the front? While a player may have the right data it is also important to make sure they will fit into our team or organization. 
 
Mangement is a science. Leadership is an art. 
 
As you move up in your team or organization with increasing responsibilities you may find that you will be spending less time on management tasks of your job – those responsibilities should be delegated to those you have selected to be on your winning team. Your responsibility now lies in keeping your team focused on the vision, keeping them motivatedand continually building their trust in you and in themselves. 
 

We want to hear from you! Share with us in the comments below how you think leadership and management differ.


Dr. Jeffrey McCausland, Founder & CEO of Diamond6 Leadership & Strategy, LLC is a retired Army Colonel with over 30 years of unique and challenging leadership experiences. As a retired military officer and veteran, Jeff’s work has taken him all over the world serving in a variety of command and staff positions in places such as the on National Security Council Staff, U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA, and the Pentagon.

3 Ways to Get Better Sleep, Tonight

How did you sleep last night?
 
Did you wake up well-rested and energized? Or, are you feeling tired and groggy? Did you have trouble falling or staying asleep?
 
The American Sleep Association (ASA) recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for adults. But, we definitely have trouble getting our zzzz’s in each night. The ASA estimates that sleep problems affects up to 70 million American adults!
 
Sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. Study after study tells us how sleep deprivation causes us to eat more, shrinks our brains, can cause false memories, and is linked to type 2 diabetes. 
 
Sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture, and yet often, we willingly sleep too little or continue bad habits that stop us from getting good sleep. 
 
It really is our ethical responsibility to get plenty of sleep and rest. Our teams, colleagues, organizations, and our families need us to be at our best, to be able to think clearly, and make sound decisions. Lack of sleep can deeply compromise our decision-making ability and mood. 
 
But, despite the best of intentions there are times when getting the recommended 7-9 hours just doesn’t happen. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel possible (this pile of laundry is blocking the path to my bed and I can’t sleep until it’s done) or it’s totally out of our control (my toddler needs water….again). 
 
In today’s video I share three things you can do to get better sleep tonight, even on the nights when it’s less than you would like. 

1. Sleep in Complete Darkness

Melatonin is a hormone that rises at night and helps us go to (and stay) asleep. However, it is very light sensitive. For it to rise and be effective, your surroundings have to be completely dark. Make sure your bedroom is completely dark so that melatonin can do its job. Turn off night-lights, cover lights from electronics, and get room-darkening shades. If you need a night-light, choose one with a red bulb. Red light does not interfere with melatonin production.

2. Unplug Before Bed

Remember that little hormone melatonin we just talked about? Well, staring at a computer or your phone before bed also obstructs melatonin from rising properly. Your bedtime Facebook scrolling could be the cause for your sleepless night! Turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed to get your body ready for sleep. Instead, read a book, do some stretching, or enjoy a cup of tea. Next, get a real alarm clock. You know, the kind you plug into the wall and has numbers on it? They still sell those antiques at most stores! That way you don’t have to use your phone as an alarm clock. Instead, charge it overnight in a different room so you’re not tempted to check your email and compromise your melatonin production. 

3. Create a Comfortable Bed and Bedroom

Your bed should be a place that you look forward to relaxing and sleeping in. If there is something about your bed or bedroom that is uncomfortable, then change it. Is your mattress old and uncomfortable? Are your sheets too hot or too cold? Maybe your pillows are lumpy or too flat.
 
Be sure to watch the video where I share how changing our blankets has helped me and my husband sleep so much better!
 
I want to hear from you! Do you have any tricks for getting a good night’s sleep? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!
 

Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels. 

3 Ways You Can Inspire Confidence During Difficult Times

Do you know how to inspire your team or organization so they follow you? What if there is a challenge or setback? Will they stay by your side, hunker down and fight with you, or head for the hills?

 
Before we dive into these big questions, let’s talk about the word leadership”.
 
If you try and Google a definition of the word “leadership” you will be inundated with over 2 billion results! With so many definitions to sift through I have come to like the one by President Dwight Eisenhower best.
 
Eisenhower said,“Leaders have to decide what must be done and get others to want to do it.” 
 
The most important part of this definition – and the hardest – is getting others to buy into your vision for the organization and WANT to take action on it. Getting buyin from those who are actually going to make it all happenis the key to success. 
 
Here is my 3-step process for inspiring confidence during difficult times. 

Step 1: Dealing with Change

As a leader you have to deal with changes in the organization and changes in the environment. No matter if changes are in or out of your control, it can still shake your teams confidence. Distrust and uncertainty can spread quickly and significantly hinder the success of a sale, a project, a team, or an organization. Change WILL happen. A successful leader will embrace that change and chart a new course for their team. This brings me to step 2.

Step 2: Setting the Vision

It is the responsibility of the leader to continually remind their subordinates of the vision for the organization to help keep everyone working towards the same goals. Setting and reminding people about the vision is of utmost importance during difficult times, problems, and setbacks.  Keeping everyone focused on the vision of the organization will serve as a positive reminder and everyone working towards a common goal. When hard times hit, keep your vision in mind, and then implement step 3.

Step 3: Optimism in the Face of Uncertainty

On June 5th, 1944, General Dwight Eisenhower met with young paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division. Eisenhower knew that these men would be parachuting into Nazi-controlled France, in what we now call The Normandy Invasion. Rather than give the men last-minute instructions on tactics or strategy, his mere presence assured them that this plan was going to work. Eisenhower is quote telling his staff in March of that year, “This operation is being planned as a success. There can be no thought of failure. For I assure you there is no possibility of failure.”
 
As you are leading your team through difficult times never forget that, as author and leadership expert John Gardner said,“The first and last task of a leader is to keep hope alive!”
 
 

We want to hear from you! Share with us in the comments below how YOU have and continue inspire confidence within your team.


Dr. Jeffrey McCausland, Founder & CEO of Diamond6 Leadership & Strategy, LLC is a retired Army Colonel with over 30 years of unique and challenging leadership experiences. As a retired military officer and veteran, Jeff’s work has taken him all over the world serving in a variety of command and staff positions in places such as the on National Security Council Staff, U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA, and the Pentagon.

THIS Is More Important Than Leadership Development

When is the last time you did something for yourself? Say, attended a fitness class, went for a walk, got a massage, or went away for the weekend?
 
Or, if you do those things perhaps you feel a little tinge of guilt? A little voice in your head saying,“You don’t deserve to spend an hour of your day in a yoga class. You have too much to do!”
 
We have this idea that in order to be a successful and effective leader who is well-respected by colleagues and subordinates we should be working all the time. We should fill our days with meetings, phone calls, emails, and be accessible 24/7. And if by some miracle we have an open spot in our calendar or a free hour of time we immediately feel guilty for not being productive. Better fill that open time with some work!
 
Our lives are hectic by nature, there’s no doubt about that. Technology makes us available anytime, anywhere. Sure there are positives to this – we are no longer tied to our desks and can take the occasional conference call while driving kids to piano lessons. But, that means we let work infiltrate more and more into our personal lives. It’s a delicate AND very hard balance to keep. One that most of us are not so great at. 
 
On top of being constantly connected (a relatively new phenomena), family life is looking very different than it did just 30 years ago. Now mom AND dad are going to work. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center report, 46% of American households have two full-time working parents. Trying to juggle work, meetings, getting kids to school, after school activities, and get some semblance of dinner on the table can feel like a feat of epic proportions – even on a relatively “slow day.” 
 
So, how can we do it all without burning ourselves out? 
 
With all that on our plates it seems impossible to make time for ourselves. And yet, it’s the only thing that can keep us going. Self-care is what fills your tank so you can get things ($hitdone AND do it all with clarity, patience, and grace. It’s essential and vital to being a successful and effective leader and the piece that many are missing.
 
In this McCausland Monday video, I share with you three very simple ways to practice self-care without taking up too much of the limited time you have. Plus, I discuss why modeling self-care is a powerful way to lead – your organization, your community, and your family. 
 
 
I want to hear from you! Tell me in the comments below…..
 
What self-care habits do you practice regularly that help you fill your tank?
What kind of classes or services does your organization offer that help taking care of yourself easier?

Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels. 

A 4-Step Process for Making Decisions and Assessing Opportunities

Do you find yourself having a hard time making decisions? Or, maybe you feel overwhelmed by all the opportunities out there and are unsure of which ones to take and which to walk away from?
 
Making decisions is a leader’s #1 priority and it’s your job to figure out which opportunities are the best for your organization. That’s a lot of pressure!
 
If you let those tough decisions get the best of you, there’s a good chance your decisions may not be in line with your organization’s mission, vision, and values. That is certainly not an effective way to lead.
 
Having a system or a strategy for making decisions, evaluating opportunities, and solving problems can be very helpful. At Diamond6, I use something called the OODA Loop”, a concept created by Korean War fighter pilot, Colonel John Boyd. 
 
The “OODA Loop” stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act, and Colonel Boyd used this approach to train fighter pilots. After leaving the Air Force, he created a number of books and lectures to help organizations and companies apply the OODA Loop” for their decision-making processes. 
 
Here is what the OODA Loop” stands for: 
 
OBSERVE– What is happening in the environment? What is staying the same?  What is changing?
 
ORIENT– Focus on what is the most important thing or things that are happening in the environment and your organization.
 
DECIDE– Make decisions on those items.  Never forget that time is a resource that you must manage. Not making a decision is making a decision.
 
ACT– Take action and monitor these new efforts closely. 
 
You can use the OODA Loop” for your own personal decision-making or throw it out to your team as a strategy for brainstorming solutions or making decisions. 
 
Observe, Orient, Decide, & Act!
Happy decision-making!
 

Do you have a great story about you’ve benefitted from the “OODA Loop”? Share your stories with us!


Dr. Jeffrey McCausland, Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership & Strategy, LLC is a retired Army Colonel with over 30 years of unique and challenging leadership experiences. As a retired military officer and veteran, Jeff’s work has taken him all over the world serving in a variety of command and staff positions in places such as the on National Security Council Staff, U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA, and the Pentagon.

Take The Risk

An interview with participant, Danielle Calero, 6th grade history teacher

At what point during your Diamond6 workshop did you have a “light bulb moment”?

On the third day of the workshop we were at the Army Heritage and Education Center and we heard Dr. Chris Maxwell
’s presentation, Lead Like a Guide. One of the things he talked about was taking risks. At the end of his presentation he asked us to write down what resonated most with us from his presentation. In my spiral notebook all I wrote down was, “take the risk.”

The day went on and we were meeting with our small groups. That is when it all really came together for me. I was in this group with so many established people in my school district. All week long I had been thinking, “I’m just a classroom teacher, I’m just a classroom teacher.” My colleagues definitely weren’t making me feel that way at all. It was more the feeling that I want to do more. There’s more that I can do to help my school site, my students, and my coworkers. But, the idea of taking the risk was something that I was always afraid to do.

Where did the letter to yourself come into play?

When Jeff asked us to write the letter to ourselves. He explained that we were to write down the one thing that we intended to do when we got back to work. We then sealed up the letter, returned it to him and he would mail them to us just around the time when school year would be starting up again.

The only thing I wrote down was “take the risk.” Nothing else. I put a period at the end and put it in the envelope.

What happened when you got home?

When I got back I had so much to share with my husband and my coworkers. The more I started talking through everything it became clear that I needed to take the risk.

I’m not ready to be out of the classroom yet. But, an end goal for me has always been to take on an administrative position. I’ve wanted to explore that avenue more.

I happened to be talking to one of my coworkers who came on the Diamond6 trip to Pennsylvania with me and she told me she applied for the Administrative Credential Program. Through this program I would get my preliminary administrative credential and it would allow me to take on positions like an assistant principal or principal job, student advisor, teacher on special assignment – it gives me a more options to leave the classroom when I’m ready but not completely leave education.

And so I thought about the program a lot. Should I do it? Should I not? My kids are still little. I don’t have enough time. All the excuses that I’ve been using for the past 5 years!

I talked it over with my husband and realized that my kids of course aren’t going anywhere, the busy schedule isn’t going anywhere. What happens if an opportunity arises and I’m not ready or I’m not prepared? So, I scrambled to get my paperwork and application together and literally got it in the day before the applications were due in August.

When did you receive the letter you wrote to yourself?

I came back to work to start the school year and got all the papers from my work mailbox. I saw the letter but I didn’t want to open it yet. I knew what was in it, but I didn’t know yet if it was worth it. I hadn’t heard back from the program so I didn’t know if I had been accepted or not.  

So I brought the letter back to my classroom. I sat down at my computer, opened my email and there was the email saying that I had been accepted into Administrative Credential Program. And then I looked at my letter and I was ready to do this, I was ready to open it!

Those two things happening on the same day made it all clear that the next year and a half might be a struggle, it might be busy, I might get stressed out but it’s worth the risk. I just can’t be afraid anymore. I can’t be afraid because opportunities will pass you by.

Like I said, I’m not ready to be out of the classroom yet. But, when the right opportunity comes along in two or three years I don’t want to be thinking, “I should have taken the risk and gotten that certification.”

Are you taking risks in other ways?

I’m very comfortable talking in front of my students but it’s hard for me to talk in front of my peers. So, over the last few years I’ve been taking on more leadership positions at my school site. The leadership seminar through my school district and the week with Diamond6 really gave me the confidence I needed to start this next journey.

What keeps you motived at work?

I see the potential in our school, in our students, and in our staff. I’ve been learning a lot in this Administrative Credential Program about the importance of school culture, relationships and trust building. That keeps me motivated to keep doing what I’m doing, to stay positive, with that end goal in mind.

 


 

We’d love to hear about your risks! Share your leadership stories with us.

Honoring the Seasons of Your Life

The leaves are beginning to turn from green to red, the temperatures are dropping (well, sort of), and pumpkins are appearing on porches. It’s a time for change and reinvention, to start anew or perhaps start over.

These seasonal changes are predictable, they happen with ease, and they require no effort on our part for them to take place. Fall will go into winter, whether we like it or not. Sure, they may result in sleepless nights gluing together the last-minute Halloween costume or stress-induced hives when you can’t get the Christmas lights untangled. I’ll save that for a future article!

What are life seasons?

In addition to seasonal changes we also experience life changes – often many times throughout the year. I call these “life seasons.” We have different life seasons in our personal and professional lives. Sometimes they are short, sometimes long.

Some life seasons are predictable, such as the start of a new school year or budgeting for the next quarter. At Diamond6, for example, we have learned that our busy professional season is spring through early fall. That has evolved over time and we have learned to expand how we work to accommodate that growth.

Other seasons come as a surprise, such as suddenly caring for an aging parent or getting a promotion. These unpredictable seasons can catch us off guard and require extra time and energy to feel comfortable and confident – no matter if they are positive or negative.

Change is a constant

Just as with the start of a new season, the one constant in life seasons is change. Now, that’s not to say that change is a negative thing. Change is what helps us grow and evolve, embrace new experiences, and live fully. Change can also make us feel unsteady, unsure, and afraid.

A promotion is a great example of this. Being promoted is exciting! Others have recognized your hard work and you are considered a valuable asset to the organization. But, it can also be stressful taking on extra responsibilities and learning new things. This change is an opportunity for growth AND be a time of some uncertainty.

The ripple effect of change

One of the hardest things to accept during a new life season is that things will not remain the same. In short, something’s gotta give.

And, while your new life season may be one you’re welcoming, such as a promotion or a new job, chances are other parts of your life will be affected. Late nights at work mean more frozen pizzas or skipping the gym a few times.

This is where we struggle the most. Where we feel guilt, shame, and maybe even have the occasional internal temper tantrum. We might want one thing to change but not all the others that come with it.

However, if we give ourselves permission to let other areas of our lives change too, chances are it will all go more smoothly.

Seasons change

During the dead of winter, when it feels like it’s been cold, snowy, and miserable for an eternity I try and remind myself – spring WILL come! Thanks goodness for that!

Guess what? Life seasons change too! They can be bumpy at first but eventually the road smooths out. We get accustomed to our new routine. We get back to the gym and maybe even start cooking dinner again. We get comfortable with our new role and confident in our abilities.

We’re cruising and all is well.

Just in time for the next life season to drive up and surprise us.

What life season are you in right now? What else has changed in this season? Did you welcome the change or did you struggle?


Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels. 

How Leaders Set the Tone

The Success of the Thai Soccer Coach

For two weeks people around the globe were glued to their television and computer screens searching for updates about 12 boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach who were trapped deep inside a cave in Northern Thailand. Finally, on July 10, the story that captivated and stunned the world came to an end when the final members of the soccer team exited the cave alive and well.  

“We’ve rescued everyone,” said Narongsak Osatanakorn, the former governor of Chiang Rai province and the lead rescue official. “We achieved a mission impossible.” 

And it certainly was an impossible mission. Divers and rescuers from all over the world came to help guide the young boys through narrow passages, in pitch dark, weighed down by heavy equipment. Each grueling trip took between nine and 11 hours. Some of the boys had to learn how to swim while waiting to be rescued.

The Thai Navy SEALS summarized the rescue well in a Facebook post that read: “We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what.”

What is most miraculous about this incredible rescue is the physical and mental health of the young boys when they emerged. Aside from being tired, hungry, and having lost some weight from weeks without proper nourishment, the boys were considered to be in good health after a short hospital stay.

While the rescue certainly required extraordinary feats in cave-diving expertise and medical know-how, it is steady leadership that played a significant role in helping the crisis come to a happy conclusion. The officials in charge of the rescue operations, the medical doctors, and the Thai SEAL divers were critical in pulling off the actual rescue, but it is the soccer coach who played the most critical role.

Having already gained their complete trust, Ekkapol Ake Chantawong, a former monk, kept the boys calm and focused and kept up their hopes that they would be found and rescued. It was his ability to set the tone in the cave that ensured rescuers would be able to get them out alive. If he had not done so successfully, the divers may have had to rescue boys who were dangerously anxious, panicked, or deeply traumatized. Not a state of mind you want someone to be in when you’re rescuing them from a life-or-death situation.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to set the tone for your team or organization. It is your actions and reactions that your team will follow during challenging situations and crises. However, you don’t have to wait for an epic crisis to start practicing setting the tone. Consider these three concepts during day-to-day operations to set you up for success in trying times.

1. Build Trust

We instinctually know that we will not follow someone we don’t trust, as it can be dangerous— physically, to our careers, or to the future of our businesses. Building trust takes time and effort on the part of the leader, and it can ensure that your team will follow you through thick and thin. But don’t forget! That trust can be lost in an instant if promises are broken or ethics are violated.

2. Check Your Optimism

I often say, “Nobody is going to be more optimistic than you are!” Be it completing a new project, overcoming a financial challenge, or getting through a crisis, if you shrug your shoulders and say, “Well, not sure how this is gonna go folks!” you just massively decreased your chance of success. Plus, you’ve lost trust and you will have a hard time being taken seriously in the future. Be an optimist and your team will be optimistic they can complete any task that comes their way!

3. Never Let Them See You Sweat

As a leader, you have to be steady, calm, and keep your cool under fire. Losing your temper in staff meetings or having a public emotional breakdown during a crisis will put you on a path to disaster. You will appear unapproachable and unable to lead with confidence and grace. Be honest, stay composed, and have your emotional moments behind closed doors.

When faced with a challenge or extreme crisis, it is the leader’s responsibility to set the tone. Your reactions will decide what direction a simple challenge or crisis will take – the road headed towards complete disaster or the road that will most likely lead to a positive outcome. But, don’t keep these steps in your back pocket for that worst-case scenario. Start practicing today so you can have success when challenges and crises arise.


Dr. Jeffrey McCausland, Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership & Strategy, LLC is a retired Army Colonel with over 30 years of unique and challenging leadership experiences. As a retired military officer and veteran, Jeff’s work has taken him all over the world serving in a variety of command and staff positions in places such as the on National Security Council Staff, U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA, and the Pentagon.

9 Ways to Take Care of Yourself While on Vacation

Summertime is here! Chances are you have a much deserved vacation planned – either by taking a car trip to the closest beach or hopping on a plane to visit family. Taking time off to catch your breath, get some rest, and enjoy time with family and friends is essential for our health and well-being.

However, traveling and being away from home can create some challenges when it comes to self-care. Quality food is less accessible at gas station rest stops, sitting on a cramped plane can make our bodies feel stiff and achy, and spending hours in the car with children can be a combination of beautiful memory-making and pure agony.

Much like preparing for a trip by making hotel reservations, buying your tickets, and packing your bags you can also prepare for how you will maintain some semblance of self-care while on vacation. Below I’ve compiled some of my favorite tips and tricks for eating well, moving more, and staying calm while away from home.

TRAVEL FOOD

Salty Snacks– While traveling I personally tend to crave salty foods over sweets. Can you relate? Olives have now joined the more common nuts, crackers, and cheese as a go-to travel food. Several brands now sell them in convenient travel packs like Olovesand Mario. Plus, they really satisfy those salty cravings but are a better choice than chips or pretzels. Other great salty foods include Skinny Pop, single-serve hummusand roasted, salted chickpeas.

Granola Bars– Most granola bars are packed with as much sugar as a candy bar. When looking for a quality granola bar be sure to read the nutrition facts – you want lots of fiber and protein and as little sugar as possible (5 grams or less/serving is ideal). KIND bars are a great choice. They use whole grains and raw nuts so you have plenty of protein. The Cashew and Ginger Spice is a good choice at 4 grams of sugar. Plus, the ginger can help alleviate nausea or upset stomach during travel

Instant Oatmeal – Hotel breakfast usually leaves much to be desired. Waffles, bagels and pastries will have you hungry again in an hour. The rubbery eggs and greasy meat patties are not all that appetizing. Instant oatmeal can be a great alternative and hot water is readily available at hotels, gas stations and airports. You can pack instant oatmeal cups like these from Bob’s Red Mill, or, buy single packets if you think you can swipe a bowl or cup somewhere. You can often find honey, fresh fruit and granola at a hotel breakfast bar to jazz up your oatmeal. I suggest adding whole milk and butter to make it a very satisfying breakfast that will keep you full until the next rest stop!

MOBILE MOVEMENT

Shoulder Push & Pull – While driving gently grip the steering wheel at the 3 and 9 o’clock on positions. Keeping your back firmly against the seat, gently pull your right shoulder forward, then push your right shoulder blade back into the seat. You should feel a slight stretch in your neck, collar bone and upper back. Repeat 3-4 times and then do it on the other side.

Travelers Cat-Cow – If you’ve done yoga you are probably familiar with the cat-cow posture that you do on your hands in knees. You can do the same movement while sitting in the car or on a plane – where we tend to collapse forward and hunch our shoulders. For this movement simply exhale and curl your spine and shoulders forward (imagine a classic black Halloween cat with an arched back). Then inhale, pull your shoulders back and arch your spine. Do this several times remembering to deeply inhale and exhale with the movement.

Gas Station Stretches– When we’re driving we sometimes become fixated on just getting to our destination. And, it doesn’t help when you have a chorus in the back asking, “are we there yet????” Despite the desire to rush through pit stops, take just 5 extra minutes to stretch your legs, back and arms before getting back behind the wheel. Stretch side to side with your arms over your head, put your hand on the hood, straighten your arms and stretch your calves, clasp your hands behind your back, straighten your arms and tilt your head from side, front and back. Take a few deep breaths and keep on driving! Here is a detailed articlewith pictures for several stretches you can do using your car.

CALM IN THE CAR AND PEACE ON THE PLANE

Breathe Deeply – While sitting we tend to take more shallow breaths and we sometimes hold our breath when stressed or tense. You can easily invite calm and clarity by taking a deep breath through your nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth. Repeat 3-4 times.

Get Present– Notice one thing at a time. Focus on the sound of the engine, feel the vibrations through your feet, your body in the seat, notice the distance between you and other passengers or drivers. If the flurry of the airport or the traffic your sitting in has you stressed out this is a good way to lower your blood pressure, calm your nerves and let go.

Explore a Podcast– Podcasts and books on tape are excellent ways to learn something new or be entertained while traveling. There are so many podcasts to choose from that it can feel impossible to choose. I enjoy Hidden Brain,TED Radio Hour, and On Being with Krista Tippettif I’m feeling curious or want to learn something. Meditation Minis with Chel Hamiltoncan be a great way to invite calm to an airplane ride. Two offbeat personal favorites are Armchair Expertand The Longest Shortest Time. If you have any other recommendations please share them in the comments below!


Tanya McCausland is the COO at Diamond6 Leadership and a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She is board certified by the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and teaches executive wellness to leaders at all levels. 

Resilience 101

“Resilience” is a new buzzword I’m seeing these days in a many different contexts.  We need to develop “systems resilience” to deal with potential cyber attacks. We need more “resilient communities” to prepare for tragedy and the unexpected. The government is creating programs to help develop “family resilience” to better cope with the stresses of military life. And the military seeks to develop “resilient soldiers,” less susceptible to traumatic stress disorder, better prepared to positively respond to stress and change.

Resilience is clearly a good thing. So what exactly is it, and how do we get some?

Like many things, resilience is both simple and complex. In essence, it seems to come down to an ability to cope and to respond well to adversity and stress. The opposite of resilient  might be ‘fragile’, ‘rigid’, ‘delicate’, or even ‘sensitive’. Persistence is usually, but not always, associated with resilience.

When we talk about people being resilient, we really have to define the context, since resilience manifests itself differently in different contexts. Different contexts may demand physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, or other types of resilience – or some of each –  to respond to different types of adversity. Being resilient in one context does not assume resilience in another. We’ve all seen people who may be mentally and physically very resilient in combat or high-stress environments (physical/mental resilience), but who emotionally over-react or are unbending with their families and friends (emotional/social resilience).   My graduate students are very successful in their personal and professional lives, but sometimes have views of the world that are quite rigid. Graduate school seeks to develop ‘intellectual resilience’ by forcing students out of comfortable mental models, to try on different viewpoints and different ways of thinking.

So how does one become more ‘resilient’?

Aristotle said that if you want to become courageous, you need to do things that require courage. He would say the same thing about resilience. One must be willing to get out of one’s comfort-zone and stretch one’s ability to adapt to a different environment, if one wants to develop greater resilience under stress or adversity. In other words, one must subject oneself to the stress of not being comfortable. In today’s culture, there is a temptation to find a comfortable niche, settle into a ‘comfort-zone’ and fight never to leave it. We commit to career, marriage, family, community, mortgage – what one young friend of mine called  ‘the whole catastrophe’. We seek stability, predictability, and… we get comfortable.

To stay nimble and resilient, we must occassionally force ourselves into endeavors and environments where we are not in complete control – and force ourselves to adapt. We must be willing to at least consider, and accept with some equanimity,  the possibility that the things we count on can be taken away – our job, our money, lifestyle, health, friends, loved ones, our title, and our reputation. And we must be willing to ask ourselves that ‘existential’ question:  What is left, and who are we without those things?

To step out of our comfort-zone, we risk failure. Only by trying and failing, and trying again, do we develop the resilience to deal with things happening in a way that does not suit us. Without learning to deal with failure, there can be no resilience. Not getting what we want means to suffer, and, as the Greeks believed, wisdom only comes through suffering.

In dealing with difficulties and discomfort, we frequently use something called ‘self talk’ as a psychological tool to help ourselves deal with  difficult circumstances. Self-talk has been shown to actually change the way we think, behave, and perceive our environment. “I can do this.”  “This too shall pass.”  “This is my opportunity.” “This is God’s will (or this is my fate).  I must deal with this as best I can.” “I am strong.”   “I am confident.” Prayer is a form of self talk. A wise person once warned against asking God to give us the result we want, recommending instead that we pray for the strength (resilience) to deal with what He gives us.

My old friend Master Chief Will Guild suggested two essentials to resilience:  a sense of humor and love.  A sense of humor gets us outside of ourselves and our own ego-driven self absorption. It can deflate the pressures of fear, anger, panic, and resentment. Love likewise gets us outside of the immediacy of our personal anxiety– loving others, in spite of their failings, and loving ourselves, in spite of our failings. Indeed, Aristotle saw self-love, or ‘proper pride’ as a fundamental virtue.   Maintaining our self-respect and personal sense of dignity, when all is going wrong, is essential to a resilient response to challenge and adversity. Without self respect and ‘proper pride,’ collapse in the face of adversity is predictable.

SEAL training is very much about developing physical and mental resilience to respond to adversity in battle or special operations.  SEAL basic training creates a somewhat artificial adversity in a controlled training environment that serves as a crucible to develop the resilience needed to respond well to the real fear and adversity of combat.  Master Chief Guild used to teach SEAL trainees four key techniques for developing the resilience necessary to succeed at their baic training, and by extension, in combat. These are variations on what sports psychologists teach to professional athletes to help them perform their best under stress and pressure.

Maintain a positive attitude

Believe in yourself, keep your sense of humor, and use self-talk to stay positive.

Learn positive visualization

Visualize and believe in your own success, whatever that looks like. Positive visualization prepares us mentally for the challenge at hand, and for what it feels like to succeed.

Practice segmentation

Break the challenge you are facing into bite-size goals -– this event, this day. Set simple, achievable, short term goals. Don’t look beyond getting through the challenge of the moment, the event, or the day.

Learn arousal control

Learn techniques to calm yourself when fear, panic, and anxiety seem ready to overwhelm you.  These techniques include meditation, deep breathing, heart-rate management.  And again, self talk.

The best literature I’ve read on resilience is from the Roman Stoics and from Viktor Frankl in his classic short book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Vadm Stockdale wrote extensively about how Stoicism helped him survive seven years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. Stoicism divides the world into two spheres – things we can control, and things we can’t.  The Stoic believes that we develop psychic resilience (and serenity) by learning to accept fate’s dictates, assuming full responsibility for our actions and attitudes, and developing the “wisdom to know the difference” between what we have to accept and what we can affect. Viktor Frankl’s book is about the resilience that comes from having a purpose for living – a goal for one’s life. This greater sense of purpose provides the strength and motivation to overcome life’s challenges.  Man’s Search for Meaning is about how Frankl found meaning in his suffering in a German concentration camp and how his belief in his own life’s purpose was key to his survival. Both Stockdale and Frankl would argue that a strong will to adapt, survive, and prevail is essential.

In conclusion, there is much that can be said and written about resilience. It is key to success and survival in dynamic, stressful, and rapidly changing environments.  As with leadership and character, resilience seems to be at least partly innate – some people are naturally more resilient and adaptable than others, and some people seem to be born with a stronger will to succeed. But as with character and leadership, resilience and strength of will can be improved through experience, training, and education. We can intentionally develop more flexible mental models, a broader perspective, and we can learn to imagine things as different than they are. It can help a lot to have a resilient and inspiring teacher, leader, or mentor who believes in us.

It is useful to remember that Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection put a very high premium on resilience.

 


Bob Schoultz is currently CEO of Fifth Factor Leadership, which applies a Navy SEAL and Special Operations perspective to dilemmas faced by leaders in business and other public and private sector enterprises. Bob graduated from Stanford University in 1974, and completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado California in the summer of 1975. He then served as Naval Special Warfare officer for 30 years, with numerous extended tours overseas in a wide variety of commands.

During his career he served all over the world, and commanded SEALS and Special Boat personnel at all levels up to Commanding Naval Special Warfare Group Two in Little Creek, Va. His last assignment in the Navy was as the Director of Leader and Character Development at the US Naval Academy, from which he retired as a Captain on 1 July, 2005. From Oct 2005 until Nov 2011 he served as the Director of the Master of Science in Global Leadership in the School of Business Administration at the University of San Diego.