By Steve Beseke, Senior Vice President, Resiliency Practice Leader at think2perform. (If you’d like to read my resiliency e-books, please visit http://resiliencyfirst.com.)
I’ve been talking about my three Ps of resilience (perseverance, persistence and patience) for a number of years now as ways we can overcome, dust ourselves off and enjoy life every day. By sprinkling in ways to find common ground, believing in our strengths, being adaptable and understanding actions within our control, we should be able to manage our emotions no matter the circumstances.
That’s all well and good, but what happens when something catastrophic knocks on your door like a devastating injury or Mother Nature goes wild?
Instead of focusing on my world today, I wanted to highlight how others have dealt with circumstances seemingly out of their control.
Take the blizzard in the northeast US last week. Simple resilience techniques would not do much practically good when seven-foot snowdrifts prevent you from opening your house doors. Right? Well, think again.
A friend of mine was telling me about a homeowner near Boston, who may have been listening to our resiliency conversations through the years. I understand in an interview this former serviceman said his perseverance and patience helped him through a harrowing night of storms.
Short of being able to control the weather, he knew how he reacted to the blizzard challenges may have saved his life. And it probably did. He was totally shut in to his house because the snowdrifts did not allow him to get outside the door.
The 70-year old did not panic or over extend his strength trying to plow through the door - literally. He said he used his perseverance skills learned in the Army of knowing what he could control and staying patient with himself and the elements. That is, until his kids came over the next day and shoveled him out.
Because of his age and health issues, he realized that the drifts were too much for him.
Whether he knew it or not, his thought process fits extremely well with the experiential learning exercises that we – at think2perform (formerly Lennick Aberman Group) have taught many thousands of individuals worldwide.
One is called the “Freeze Game,” and the components allow you to become more self aware - whether in a blizzard, or even a particularly tough weekly meeting with your work team or a conversation with your drama queen teenager.
The gentleman near Boston in some form or another stepped back and asked himself as he was looking at snow above his door:
- What am I thinking?
- What am I feeling?
- What am I doing?
These questions are part of the freeze exercise that fortunately allowed his resilience of finding common ground to take over. He did not go to extremes – either trying to bust through thousands of pounds of snow (and possibly freezing to death) or going into a sheer panic mode. He found a way to stay warm, stay relaxed as he could be and conjure up a resilient belief down deep within him that his family or first responders would be there eventually and in time.
He was fortunate to have enough non-perishable food items and bottled water for an extended wait, especially with his phones not working. But I think his patience with himself is what helped him the most.
Too often, I think all of us would lose patience with ourselves in such circumstances – or even with events much less severe like the staff meeting or teenage drama queen examples I mentioned earlier.
That’s why the “Freeze Game” questions of what am I thinking, what am I feeling and what am I doing are so important as we work through all types of challenges.
By stepping back and thinking through such questions, the gentleman – and all of us – can work through nearly everything.
As I have found in overcoming my physical disability, this type of thought process can make such a profound difference in our lives. Please ask these questions the next time unexpected and challenging events happen to you or your family.
Periodically, I will focus on others as they use their resilience to overcome situations that you and I face every day.
Just a note: I was so thankful to be named as one of the top 5% of influencers on Linkedin in 2012. If you’d like to read my resiliency e-books, articles or view my videos, please click on http://www.resiliencyfirst.com.
I truly appreciate your continued readership and hope you are enjoying life today!