Building Resilience For Future Success Featuring Robert MacPhee


A crisis can bring an opportunity to identify a new pivot, as well as learn more about your own resilience. Robert MacPhee is the former Director of Training for Jack Canfield, as well as the author of the bestselling book, Manifesting For Non-Gurus. He joins Adam Markel to discuss why building resilience is essential to your future success. After all, life is predicated on the natural uncertainty of things, so it’s important to always be ready to make the most of any situation. Tune in to learn more about resilience, including how to cultivate it BEFORE you need it.

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Building Resilience For Future Success With Robert MacPhee

I feel quite lucky to be not in the seat but to feel the support of a multitude of people. I’m gauging my words right now. I have a multitude of people that support me in my life that I feel supported by others, by the universe, by you all that are tuned in, have subscribed or a part of this podcast, have shared it with others. I’m so grateful for all of that support. The little voice in my head was going multitude. That’s so many people it makes it sound like. If you don’t have a multitude of people supporting you, you’re shit. That’s total shit idea because that’s not the case at all.

I feel like at times I don’t acknowledge how much support I get. That’s where I’m going with that. There’s so much support everywhere. That is blowing me away at this moment to think and to feel it. I’m feeling it in my body right now. My eyes have gotten a little glassy. I can feel that coming. Where is it right now that you feel supported? If you could strip away for a moment even, the reality. Let’s move the reality of what’s happening in our world at this time to one side for a moment and feel without the weight of all of that. How much support you have in your life at this moment, people and other things that are nonphysical.

There’s so much that we can count on as being solid and think about the earth, for example. You can’t get a greater example of support then when you put your feet on the floor. This is not a thing to take for granted. Yet we do because we wake up every morning and very few people are truly feeling supported by even Mother Earth. From there, a million other places we can see that support staring back at us. I’m taking that in for myself. You might feel a little of that and maybe it’s not resonating, but that’s up to you. I also feel blessed because I’ve got a friend on our Zoom horn to chat.

I love this guy. I know many of you probably already know him. I’ll say a little bit about his background, where you may have run into him in his work in the past. He is truly and not just in language alone, this gentleman is a thought leader and somebody who’s been sharing great thoughts with a great multitude of people for a long time. He was the Director of Training for Jack Canfield for many years. He is a founding member and former Executive Director of the Transformational Leadership Council, an organization I feel blessed to be a part of as well. He is the Cofounder of the Southern California Association of Transformational Leaders. It’s another organization. He’s an author of a wonderful book called Manifesting for Non-Gurus. I believe there’s also a journal that goes with that as well, companion journal. He’s the Creator of Excellent Decisions Leadership Programs. He helps people make decisions based on their vision and their values rather than stress and pressure. Robert MacPhee, do you have your work cut out for you?

That whole thing about stress and pressure seems to be coming up a little bit these days.

I’m going to start with you the way I would with anybody, which is to say that’s a lot in terms of a bio and a bit of an intro. What’s not part of what I read and shared that you would love for people to know about you as we begin?

That’s such an easy question because the one thing that’s not in my bio and I know it’s something that you and I share and that’s how important it is for me to be a dad. I have three kids. I have my business. These organizations that like you have been so blessed to be a part of. I love that part of my life but there is nothing more important to me than my three amazing kids, who are now empty nesters and out there in the world and contributing members of society. That’s the barometer by which I measure pretty much everything. All the work that I do, the Excellent Decisions work started with working with young people.

My kids are in college. I saw all the stress and pressure that young people are faced with. The pure pressure, the social pressure, the academic pressure, in a lot of cases, parental pressure, which in my opinion tips the scale. The parents are part of the pressure and the stress rather than part of the solution. The truth is I had an unfair advantage as a parent. I was working with Jack Canfield. You mentioned I was the director of training for Jack’s organization. He’s an amazing man, mentor, teacher and friend to me.

I was hanging out with him while my kids were growing up and that was an unfair advantage. Most parents don’t get to do that. I see the difference that it’s made. I see that I was a different parent because of that. That’s not in my bio, but it is a part of who I am. I also want to pause, go back, and thank you for the way you set up this conversation with some gratitude for the support that we all have. For me, whatever we talk about for the rest of our time, that was worth it. Getting together to have that, just centering and grounding whatever our situation or circumstances.

Thank you, Robert. As we’ve known each other for a while now, we’re both very centered in our roles as parents, as dads. I used to introduce myself. I used to get on the stage and the first thing I would say is, “I’m a daddy.” I would say that first because there’s something profound about our ability to impact someone’s life. That is one of the most profound opportunities we have. I know a lot of people that are reading are probably parents and some are not parents. Maybe some want to be and some don’t ever want to be, but we were all kids. That’s the funny part about that. We may not be parents, but we were all kids once upon a time. We know how great that influence can be. One of the things you and I were chatting about how it’s not all gravy either as many parents know. I don’t mean the usual teenage bull or some of the other stuff that happens along the parenting path. We had Ken Druck on our show. There are people who’ve lost children and that’s one of the most devastating. I can’t even put myself in the space of fathoming what it’s like to lose a child.

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The worst possible thing that a parent could imagine. My dad always said, “I can handle anything,” he used to say, “Just let me go before any of my kids go and I’ll be okay.”

I love that conversation with Ken as well because part of what his gift in the world is that he learned through that experience how to help other people to navigate difficult times like that. The things we call catastrophes. You and I were talking about some of the rubs if there’s a rub in parenting, it’s that if you do a decent job, then at some point, your kids will call you out on your shit. They will hold up a mirror to you and let you know when you’re missing the mark yourself. Do your kids do that for you?

I love to share an example. One of the foundational principles in my work that I brought over from the work that I did with Jack was about personal responsibility. I love to share a story of when my youngest daughter was in high school and she was playing soccer. I had some meetings. I said to my daughter, “I’ve got this meeting tomorrow, so I can’t go to your soccer game.” I will never forget this moment. She looks at me. She’s fifteen years old. She crosses her arms. She rolls her eyes back and she goes, “You can’t?” She is so right. I had done the same thing to her in terms of taking responsibility for your choices. It sucked at that moment. I was not happy at that moment but now as I look back on it, I’m thrilled that my daughter had that level of understanding about what personal responsibility means, how it shows up in our language.

She felt strong enough to call me on it, calling her dad on it. She was 100% right. I was making a choice and I was chickening out. It was much easier for me to say to her, “Honey, I’m sorry, I’ve got this important meeting. I can’t go to your soccer game.” It’s the meeting’s fault. It’s not my fault. It’s not my choice. It’s this meeting. That’s all in the meeting. When the truth is, I was making a choice. It was going to the soccer game or go to the meeting. I didn’t want to look my daughter in the eye and say, “This meeting is more important than you are,” which truthfully isn’t even what I was saying. It felt like that but the truth is I went to almost all of her soccer games. I don’t remember what it was, but it was an important meeting and that was my choice. She got me to reframe it and say something to the effect of I’ve got this meeting tomorrow. It’s important. I’m choosing to go to that meeting so I’m going to miss your soccer game. I promise no matter what, I will be at your next soccer game or something to that effect.

That moment where she looked at me and said, “You can’t? Mr. Self-help, personal improvement guru, author, speaker guy, you can’t? Come on.” It was so awesome and to have her call me on it, to have her have the level of awareness, first of all, to see it, to hear it, the strength and the confidence, and not to be cocky about it. It’s not to make me wrong or whatever, but to call me on it and say, “You taught me this. Maybe I could teach you a little something.” It was great. It’s not great in that moment, but looking back on it and knowing that all of my children grew up with an understanding of a principle like that, of personal responsibility, how important it is, having a vision, being clear about their values and knowing how to communicate effectively. All those things that they learned growing up, what more could I possibly want?

Self-ownership is such an important life lesson as well as a skill in relationships, business for a lifetime. How beautiful to get it reflected in that way? I’m thinking of Chelsea, our oldest daughter, she’s of late been calling me out on something in my language. It’s funny because we talk about the word incredible and unbelievable. She goes, “Is it incredible?” I was using that word. She said, “What does it mean to be incredible?” It means it’s not credible. She says, “Are you intending to say this thing is not credible or unbelievably you’re saying this is not believable?” I’m constantly on the lookout for my language. When I’m unaware and I will speak out of more habit and not being fully present. A lot of the times, we’re running a script almost.

What a gift it is to be surrounded by people in our lives, work, family, friends and our colleagues if we are surrounded by people who can call us our language and as you described with Chelsea, in an engaging way, “I’m curious. Let’s look at that. Is that what you mean?” In a supportive way, it doesn’t sound like you felt like confronted or attacked or anything like that. It’s like, “How cool is that with our children?”

She smiles at me now. She gives me a wink and then I know, “I did it again,” although I catch myself more often now too. It’s very powerful to have people in your life that will hold the mirror up for you. In times like this right now, having those people around is more of a physical challenge that not everybody that would have that influence potentially in your life is somebody that you might run into physically. Yet there are other ways that you can continue to maintain that. Ultimately, there’s an opportunity to ask for that support from those people and others. I want to get into something you and I start talking about, which is the concept of vision. We are in the cycle of this right now. Meaning the cycle of this pandemic that has taken the world by storm.

There are a lot of people who are a bit dazed and confused. I’m not going to take myself out of the characterization either because, at moments, I can feel a wave of pure uncertainty that wash over me. Having done a lot of this work for a lot of years, I call it out for myself. What’s my best response to this wave of uncertainty? I’ll fall off the faith truck and then remember at some point that all, I don’t need to go any further than that reference point for me to say, “What am I afraid of here? What is the great uncertainty that’s got me, grabbed my attention, taken it away from the present moment and taken me out of the opportunity at this moment for so many things?” It’s the opportunity to create, the opportunity to be alert to the opportunities that are out there for me, to take me out of the moment where I could be directed, guided and inspired to move in a certain way.

For the fact that I’m now rehearsing something. I’m now looking at the list of possible catastrophes that are yet to occur. I’d love to get your thoughts on the mindset that people are in at the moment. You’ve been such a leader in this space. You’ve coached a lot of people. You’ve worked with great thought leaders as well. What do we do in a situation like we’re in now where that wave of uncertainty seems to be cresting all around us, especially if you’re consuming anything on TV, through the media or what have you? I want to cover that and then talk a bit about vision and where that plays into the creative opportunity that exists for people now if they can be present to it.

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Manifesting for Non-Gurus: How to Quickly & Easily Attract Lasting Results

The concept of vision ties directly to the conversation about all the uncertainty that’s out there. For the last several weeks, one of the common themes that I hear coming up in the conversations over and over again is the uncertainty that we’re going in. This is a historic time that we’re going into a period that we don’t know what it’s going to look like. We don’t know what business is going to look like 2, 3, 6 months down the road. It’s going to be different. It seems very clear to me, but how it’s going to be different, we don’t know. Vision is a concept that’s rooted in the future, like having a vision, looking ahead. I see the vision as taking goals, objectives and creating a multisensory experience. How is achieving this goal? Whether it’s a money goal or a weight goal or whatever it is, it’s going to impact every area of my life.

If I double my income, it’s not I have twice as much money in the bank. It’s going to impact where I go, what I do, who I hang out with, how I feel and the experience I’m having. The vision is all of that. People are curious about everything we talked about, but we’re bringing it all back. The truth is we don’t know. I do a lot of work with vision, helping other people with their vision, crafting my vision and I’m reworking my vision right now. I have a tremendous amount of curiosity in the area of vision right now. The truth is there’s so much uncertainty. There’s so much that’s evolving and changing on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis.

My vision, I don’t know right now. I still have elements of it that I feel like are important, but it’s a work in progress right now. What that leads me to is with my Excellent Decisions’ model, it’s vision, values and value. That’s what my mission is to help people have that be. Those three things drive the way we think, the decisions we make and the actions we take. When that’s true, it’s our vision, our values, and our value that drive our thinking, our decisions, our actions versus all the external stress and pressure, all the people that we should do. We have to do it. We need to do it. If we let the vision, the values, and the value drive the bus, the way we think, the decisions we make, the actions we take, then life changes.

Life is completely different. What I’m finding right now is that this is a time where we have to set vision aside a little bit, be patient and let that evolve a little bit, get a little more data about where we’re headed here and focus on values and value. Because it’s a great time, no matter what our situation and circumstances are, to remember what’s important to us. You asked me a question about that. People are clear. One of the things that’s important to me is my family. It’s a good time to remember that. I can freak out right now over the fact that because my business is driven by traveling and working with groups, it’s had a significant impact on my business. Freaking out about it isn’t going to help.

I feel like this is an important time to remember like who I am, what’s important to me, and also the value piece. I feel like there’s never been a more important time for people to understand what it means to make excellent decisions, to have clarity as best as they can about their vision, values, the value that they bring to the conversations that they’re in at work, in their family and their relationships. There has never been a more important time for that. Because of that, I’m finding myself strangely calm in spite of the fact that there’s so much uncertainty in my business right now. I feel like having the certainty about who I am, the clarity about who I am, what’s important to me, and the value piece is critical especially as we look at business and business is changing.

I believe a lot of us are going to have to deliver our value in different ways, but it doesn’t change our value. You bring a tremendous amount of wisdom, experience, and skills from your background that adds up to a lot of value that you bring to the marketplace. The people that you work with, someone who’s reading your book, hearing you speak or working with you in coaching or consulting, whatever it is. You bring a tremendous amount of value but I’m guessing, you like me are expecting that 3, 4, 6 months from now, we’re probably going to be delivering that value differently but it doesn’t change the fact that we bring great value as it does with everyone. There’s a great value that we bring. It’s a good time to remember that.

When I was on your show, Robert, we talked a lot about this concept of pivoting. The idea that originally birthed the book was about reinvention and how important it is that we recognize our place in nature, our place in the universe is inherently changing. It’s never stationary. There’s nothing that stagnates in the universe. Anything that stagnates is ultimately petrifying. It’s like the dead and we are the same thing. We have to continue to evolve and change or we also atrophy and ultimately are not what we are capable of being. Change is constant. This is a great change that’s upon us. That’s a huge catalyst for change. Vision is a thing that many people can do. Meaning this is something that when we’re not aware of what’s to come, the uncertainty is more in our face now than it’s been in a while.

The initiative of creating or updating our vision is that much more important and imperative but it isn’t any different than any other time when we’re alive. I’m putting out there the fact that the uncertainty is constant. That’s never been any different. There are all kinds of things that happen to people that are unexpected all the time. What’s unprecedented is the degree to which the change is global. It’s not your cousin that got hit by a car or this friend of yours that was diagnosed with cancer or the unexpected loss of a job or the business that went bust or any of the things that in our individual lives and in the lives of people we know, these things are happening all the time.

This change is everywhere. People are born. People die. Constantly things are happening. Yet it’s the fact that it’s happening across a wide spectrum, a wide landscape that is also a cause for people to not have confidence in their ability to navigate these times. What I’m putting out there and, and what I want to understand better from you, is there any difference between what’s happening now and what our response can be to what’s happening now individually as entrepreneurs or career people? Is it so different than the uncertainty we were all living with before? I’m putting it out there and I don’t have an opinion formed yet, but I want to get your thoughts on that, Robert.

There are some fundamental differences. When you were on my podcast, we talked a lot about pivoting. That’s a big part of your conversation. You should be getting royalties for everyone in this world who’s talking about pivoting because pivot has become the buzzword of buzzwords. We all need to pivot and I think it’s true. There are two fundamental differences in what’s going on now. It is interesting to think because you and I had the conversation on my podcast before this all happened. It might’ve been the very beginning of it. It’s not that long. It was not in the US. It was not front and center. It was not everywhere like you said.

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The truth is, at that time, you and I were talking about changes and people wanting to make changes. It was driven by desire, wanting something to be different. You and I both work in the world of helping people create the changes that they want to make in their life. One of the big fundamental changes that I see happening right now is that this is not a change that we chose. This is a change that has been thrust upon us, but it is a change. In my experience, a lot of the same dynamics of dealing with it effectively, getting through it, handling it well, being a contributor versus sucking the life out of other people, whatever it is, has a lot to do with understanding how change works and how to successfully navigate change.

Whether the change is something that we desire or whether it’s something that has been thrust upon us. I’ve been working with a client down in San Diego and they have a change. It’s a hybrid of those two things. They’re growing so fast that it’s difficult for them to keep up. They’re delivering 600% more product than they were a year ago. They’re in the biotech world. This is continuing even with everything that’s going on in the world there. They’re now delivering 600% more product than all the people have to work from home. What they’re trying to do is they’re trying to maintain their culture, maintain the way they do business, who they are, their mission, their vision, their purpose amidst this incredible change that they created it themselves. They did that first part with a change that they desire and now they’re dealing with the, ‘be careful what you ask for’ because it’s hard what they’re dealing with right now.

If you could pick your problems, that’s a good one to have. The truth is if your company is growing at a 600% annual rate, you’ve got some serious challenges that you’re faced with. If you committed to maintaining the culture that you’ve built, it’s difficult when you’re bringing in so many new people so fast. The last time I was in San Diego working with them, they had 180 open job postings. I was like, “How do you even conceive of that?” The truth is we have this dynamic of now dealing with change that has been thrust upon us as opposed to last time you and I talked. In this world of personal and professional development, we tend to focus a lot on the changes that people want to create in their lives.

We want to make more money. We want to lose weight. We want to improve our relationships. We want to make a bigger contribution. It’s human nature. We want to change. We want to improve. We want to grow. We want to be better and we can help people do that, and I think you and I both do. Now it’s different though, but the same information, the same ideas, the same skill sets, the same perspective I find helps people deal effectively with this crazy change that’s coming our way. The other different thing is the uncertainty looking ahead. We have this change. We’re in the middle of it. It’s taken our whole life and it’s like it’s in a box. It got dumped out on the table. It’s this big mess right now.

I want to dig into even a little bit more and see where we go with it, Robert. The vision piece, I want to tie that to our conversation and people can also check out your show as well. We talked about the fact that in the Pivot principle and the book, Pivot, we talk about pivot by design and pivot by default. What you’re talking about the things that we’ve been helping people with for a long time are the things they want. Creating a design, a plan for it and vision has a big piece of that. There’s this whole sense of change by default, pivot by default where we’re not necessarily actively, proactively pursuing some change. People could have been a few months ago, proactively actively pursuing a change in their business model, including working virtually, having a remote workforce, serving clients in a different way, using more virtual means as a way to get off the plane and out of the cars.

It could have been that our carbon emissions were driving a person to a place. I got to do my part for the world and stop driving when I don’t need to be driving or on a plane when I don’t need to be on it. There’s always to look back and go, “A few months ago, I could have been thinking about, ‘How am I going to serve my clients in the future?’” given the fact that we know that there are all these other concerns about our natural resources, the environment and about any number of other things including a pandemic. I was watching as Trevor Noah was interviewing Bill Gates.

Bill Gates famously or maybe infamously at the moment delivered a TED Talk a few years ago, where he talked about the advent of a pandemic, what that might mean, how we ought to be thinking about and proactively doing some things. He even on that interview said, “Some of the stuff that they talked about, they put into action.” They didn’t have to raise money. They’ve got a massive foundation. They deployed money and got involved in some early-stage things that are helping us a little bit now. The bulk of what they were concerned about and were alerting the world through his TED Talk, they didn’t do much with. They didn’t get a lot of traction.

That part of it was working on a cure for malaria and several other things in sanitation, several other things that took also money and focus. This was on his mind. He did a TED Talk and yet fast forward all these years later, it has created such a disruption that even a Bill Gates who was well-ahead of thinking about it wasn’t fully prepared. He’s fine and they’re deploying $100 million already out of their foundation to assist in funding the vaccine basically, funding seven groups that are independently working on the vaccine, etc. This idea of a pivot that involves us being able to create a new vision is the area that I wanted to tackle with you right now. I’m positing that the uncertainty now isn’t very different than the uncertainty we were dealing with a few months ago.

We were unaware, let’s say, or sleeping more comfortably, not thinking about the advent of a pandemic, not thinking about the advent of massive macro change too to the workforce or the structure of the workplace. The Future of Work’s author was talking about these things many years ago. You go, “We were in our little comfort zone,” all of us collectively as a globe, feeling that somehow or another the massive change wasn’t on the horizon and yet we all got clipped. It’s pivot by default. What I want to ask you about is what’s the best way for a person to be creating their vision now for a future that does not yet exist. Is that an impossible task, Robert?

It is a more challenging task. At the same time, you bring up a good point, which is there’s all this talk about uncertainty, looking ahead and we don’t know as if we knew before. The truth is it’s a good reminder that we never knew. There never was any certainty. The truth is there is more uncertainty. The uncertainty is a lot more obvious. Anyone who’s pretending they know what’s going to happen right now doesn’t have much. Going back to your legal background, they don’t have a very good case. Before we can at least make a case, we could predict based on what has been happening up until now.

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Building Resilience: It’s great to have a plan, but don’t get attached to your plan. Be ready to adjust once you start taking action and getting feedback.


Jim Rohn has a great quote, “Everybody huddle around and I’ll tell you exactly the way things are going to be in the future.” It’s going to be pretty much the way it’s always been. The seasons come and the seasons go, yet there is this illusion of certainty. The truth is we don’t know. I do believe that this is a historic time. A few months ago, you and I could have a conversation and reminded people that we don’t know and they should get on with their pivot and get on with creating their vision because the truth is we don’t know. We’ll do the best we can. We’ll be ready to shift on the fly. It’s great to have a plan, but don’t get attached to your plan. Be ready to adjust once you start taking action and getting feedback and all those things.

The truth is this is different. I still think it’s important to be looking at our vision and doing the best we can to craft one but again, I’m Mr. Vision, value is a value. I’m thinking of my youngest daughter again. When she graduated from college, she had a little party here at the house. She had a friend who was starting a business. Her friend and I got in this conversation about the work that she was doing and this company that she was starting, my work, Excellent Decisions, and the whole concept. Her friend goes to my daughter and says, “I talked to your dad and he was talking about vision, values, value and how important that is.”

My daughter’s like, “Enough with the vision, values and the value. That’s all we ever hear.” This is what I’m talking about all the time. This is historic. This is a time where the people that I’m working with right now on their vision, it’s a different conversation. It’s not business as a usual conversation. I do think there are elements of that conversation that are on pause while we figure out how long is this going to go on? What businesses are going to come through this, what businesses aren’t going to come through this? It was different a week ago. It’s going to be a different week ahead. There are good things that can come out of this. There are some tragic things that are going to come out of this. I heard a story not too long ago. You talk about people pivoting.

I heard a story about a woman who was right in the middle of her pivot when this all happened. She had quit her job and moved into a new career in the hospitality industry. She was moving her family to Las Vegas to take a job, a very high level like management position in a casino hotel property and this happened. She lost her job. She lost where she was living. She’s there in Las Vegas with her family and it’s crazy. It’s not normal. She may have followed all the right steps as far as making that pivot and setting yourself up for success in the path that she was taking. She may have done everything right and then out of left field comes this crazy situation. Who could have predicted it? Several months ago, we should’ve seen it coming. That’s a separate conversation about getting prepared.

This is may be a good time to transition into what will buoy people through this at this moment. My answer would be the principle of resilience. That we’ve got to develop resilience at this moment and maybe it’s greater resilience because most people would probably define themselves as having some level of resilience. I want to get your take on resilience. There are three things in particular that I want to bring up in a little bit about resilience. What is your feeling about what resilience looks like and how important has it been for you? How important do you think it is for your clients right now? The vision as you said, part of it is that there’s greater uncertainty than we were aware of before.

I didn’t hear you say, “Just because that we can’t necessarily see, we shouldn’t have a vision.” You could have a million analogies for that but if you’ve got radar or GPS even or any of those kinds of things that allow you to navigate in the dark, to navigate when there are clouds, a fog or any of that, we know that it doesn’t have to stop us simply because we can’t see. Creating a vision, a flight plan, or a roadmap, that those things are vitally important even in times where we’ve got limited physical vision. I think in the world of flying, they call it VFR versus IFR. VFR is the thing where you’re rated to be able to fly when you can see clearly. I don’t know what that means, ten miles or something like that. It’s a clear sky, clear day then you’re allowed based on your skillset to fly a plane under VFR conditions. If those conditions change, you’ve got to land. That’s it.

There’s IFR, which is an instrument rating and that means you can fly when you can’t see a fricking thing. With the tragic accident involving John Kennedy Jr., he was a VFR-rated pilot as I recall. He was flying conditions where the fog didn’t allow him to see and that resulted in that fatal accident. Let’s bring that up as well because I think your work right now, the work of creating a vision is more important now than it’s ever perhaps been because of the conditions. It’s one thing for a person to go, “I can eyeball it. I don’t need that instrument rating thing. I can see and I’ve always trusted my ability to see and govern by my sight,” but clearly, seeing is limited right now. The markets can’t see that’s why they’re so upside volatile. They don’t have the transparency to know what’s going to happen. Your work is vitally important right now, Robert. I want to tie the vision piece if we can to this concept of resilience. Get your thoughts on that.

It’s interesting, the flight analogy came up also with the Kobe Bryant tragedy and the helicopter crash. It’s the same thing. It’s a very foggy day and the pilot, was he certified? Did he have the level of experience necessary to fly in those conditions? It is a powerful analogy. It’s a powerful analogy because it’s a good reminder in the opposite way where we think of flight. This is life and death. When I get in a helicopter and if I’m flying with my daughter, I want to know that I’m flying with somebody who knows what the heck they’re doing. They knew it was foggy when they took off and I think that same pilot, Kobe had flown with him for years. He trusted him and you would want to have somebody that you trust. It’s also important to remember with most of the decisions that we’re making, with most of the day-to-day actions that we’re taking. It’s not that life and death. When we look at what to do next with our business, there’s an opportunity to lean into the uncertainty, be willing to take action and do things knowing that it’s not life and death. In my business, I can try something new. I can try a new approach. I can see how it works. I can get feedback.

If the feedback says, “Bad move, not working, stop doing that, try something else.” If the feedback says, “Good idea, that worked, do that again, do more of it.” In terms of resiliency, I find it interesting because again my daughter was picking on me about, “Vision, values, value enough already. I’ve heard it.” I have the language that I use in my model with Excellent Decisions and it does. it comes up over and over again. People sometimes ask me, what about this? What about purpose? Where does purpose fit into your model? I’ll say, “If you have a clear vision and it’s in alignment with your values, I believe you’re on purpose.” I stay focused on vision and values. If you do both of those things, you’ll end up on purpose in a powerful way. Truthfully, resilience is not a word that I use a lot in my work and the conversations that I’m having. People ask me about Excellent Decisions. I’m explaining it or whatever. When you said that, what came up for me clearly at this moment was resilience is a combination of clarity.

I know what’s important to me. I know where I’m going and strength. It’s great to have clarity, but if I don’t have the strength necessary and the strength, I believe will ultimately be measured by the willingness to take action, to try something to get into the game, even if there is uncertainty. This is where it connects to the current situation and the idea of resiliency is to be willing to lean into that uncertainty, to step into the dark, to step into the fog, to try something to see if it works. The truth is if you’re not willing to do that, you’re not exhibiting resiliency. If you are willing to do that, on some level you are exhibiting resiliency.

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What’s the alternative? When you’re not instrument rated, you must be grounded. It’s funny you say that because I’m picking up this book here that says that there’s a pivot point that’s on point with what you said, which is resilience is the ability to experience setbacks or failures and use them to create momentum. It’s a very assertive principle that you’re not grounded even when you can’t see. You use these things as a catalyst to create momentum.

If there is some very real danger, if the fog is so thick that it is not a good time to take action, pay attention to that. There’s some pretty thick fog out there right now metaphorically speaking. It’s a good time to be intentional and rigorous about the decisions that we make, the actions that we take, and to be sensitive to other people and aware and paying attention. I believe the truth is for most of us with what we’re dealing with on a day-to-day basis with our business or with our family. My wife and I are sheltered in place. We’re empty nesters. There’s a communication dynamic. There’s an importance of being rigorous about how we communicate. I’ve been married for many years. I’ve learned it’s important to listen to my wife.

People right now who are in those same situations are chomping at the bit to know what someone like yourself was married for many years and is an empty nester at home and you’re saying that communication is so important and it’s changed. Tell us what that looks like for you.

What that means to me is that everything that’s always been important is right now even more important, like listening, my willingness and ability to listen, my willingness and ability to think before I speak and my willingness and ability to pause. We had this running joke. Before all this happened, I was traveling like half of the month I was gone. We joke, the more I’m gone, the better we get along. It’s good to have some space. It’s good for any relationship to have some space. The truth is we don’t have any space right now. We both work at home. It’s not that much different for us.

We live in Sonoma. We both work from home. Shelter in place, stay at home, it’s not that much different except for the travel piece. Right now, it’s all day, every day. I would say the things that are always important in relationships, the things that we know are important in relationships to be grateful, to listen, to express appreciation, to communicate effectively and to think before you speak. All these kinds of things, they’re always important and it goes back to a lot of things we’ve been talking about. In this situation and circumstances, they’re even more important.

We have a great opportunity for a reset in many ways in those relationships as well because we have the time to be able to recover together to be able to pay more close attention to those priorities that we know are priorities, but they don’t always look like priorities because of the difference between or the delta between what we say and what we do. To circle back to what we said earlier, our kids are great at that. When you’ve done a decent job as a parent, you’ll find that your kids in a respectful way will hold that mirror up and let you know when you’re missing the mark.

It’s a beautiful thing. It’s not fun at the moment, but it is a great thing. Every time it happens, I’m so deeply grateful. That’s what they hear. That’s what they see and that I have a relationship with them where they can call me out on it. They don’t go and complain to their mother about me or they don’t complain to each other about me. We have a conversation and again, how else would I want it to be? It’s a beautiful thing.

Randi and I are sheltering in place as well. We’ve got our youngest college student daughter with us. We have the cinema running joke about how we kicked them all out of the nest and now they’re back or at least one of them is back. She tells her friends, “I’m cramping my parents’ style and all that kind of thing.” It’s pretty funny. We’ve got a little bit of both here, but in the relationship area, I know that one of the great benefits of what’s happening now is the fact that Randi and I are going back to a principal from years ago that first arrived on the scene for us right after 9/11. That was to create a base camp to think about where’s that place and what are those things that we do on a ritual basis that creates the grounding for us.

Base camp is not a physical place, but it’s the way that we get to come back to as the most fundamentally important things to be paying attention to in our relationships. For us, the base camp is physically home now, but it’s also the things we’ll do together that we make time for. Every day, pretty much without exception, we create a little date night. Our date night is we’re not going to the movies, we’re not going out to a restaurant. Date nights look a little bit different, but it might be that its movie and a bath. It’s sitting in an Epsom salt bath is a great date night for us these days, taking a daily walk and doing yoga together and meditating side by side.

There are many things that can be done to enjoy the fruits of the moment that we would otherwise be off doing what we’re doing. I was the same way as you, a lot of travel for public speaking and the like. My beloved would sometimes say to me, “Don’t you have some travel booked?” I’ve been home for a long time. “Did you have a little travel booked on the counter?” It’s like, “Maybe we should get you some.” That’s not the case anymore. We better get good at and even better at what we’ve been open good at. We’ve come this far and have a resilient relationship through much great time and many stressful times. As promised, the three things I’ll quickly end on that you and I have shared some final thoughts, is that from our research, resilience is not so much about endurance as it is about recovery.

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Building Resilience: When trying to figure out what’s next for your business, there’s an opportunity to lean into the uncertainty and be willing to take action knowing it’s not life or death.


In terms of the traits that we find resilient people and resilient business owners have, one of them is that they have this capacity to ritualize their recovery. The things you do on a ritual basis to recover. By recovery, in both the mental area, the physical area, your emotional and even spiritual parts of your life. What are the rituals that you have that you’ve created or that you can create to create a recovery in those key areas? Many people have been exhausted mentally and now there’s an opportunity here to reset and to allow some space to be creative in between our ears as an example. Physically, are you allowing yourself the opportunity to get more rest, to finally catch up on my sleep?

Are you paying attention to what you’re putting in your body, the foods and what drinking and any number of other things? We’ve got a resilience assessment tool that we typically will give to a corporate audience. It’s That’s a self-assessment in looking at these four areas where you create resilience in your life, mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. The rituals are key. The second thing is our ability to look at situations that are happening in our lives, including that great uncertainty and simply be neutral. If you can be neutral about it and that means not judging whether it’s good or bad or it will be a great thing for you or it will be an awful thing for you, but simply to get to neutral so you can in some state of quiet or even neutralness that you can ask, “What’s the creative opportunity here?” There are many creative opportunities that we had a few months ago that we’re now executing on because we were forced to.

What are the creative opportunities that exist at this moment that we could be ahead of the curve in implementing, but for the fact that we spent a lot of time worrying, a lot of time in fear? A lot of time energetically is not in the present moment because we’re thinking, “God, I can’t see out there. Six months from now, my plane could crash and all that kind of stuff.” The last thing is the recalculation principle. This is the thing that GPS teaches us every time we have been in the car and we make a wrong turn. It’s not berating us for the stupidity of our decision making. It’s, “What’s the next best decision I can make?” “Let’s make a right turn up here so we can get back on track,” as opposed to, “Let’s pull off the side of the road and spend the next few hours being upset that we missed the last turn.” I want to go back to you, Robert, with any final thoughts, but I’ve so loved our conversation.

I need to know that. The last part you were talking about, I love to say three rights don’t make a wrong, but they do make a left. When you make a wrong turn, if you make three rights, that equals the left. I would want to go back. This has been interesting like the distinctions around the concepts around the vision. Do we give up on vision now? Do we stay with vision? The story you shared about your family and your approach at home is a good example of the importance of vision. Anyone who listens to you share that story, know that you have a vision of how you want your relationship to be.

Even in these trying times, even when you’re not traveling, even though circumstances are different and you’re doing specific things to increase the likelihood of that happening, even though it’s all-new. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been told that I can’t go out. My wife and I were in the house. It’s us and we’re not going anywhere for weeks, months. That’s all-new. Still, we have a vision of how we want that relationship to be and the way we’re thinking, the ideas we’re getting about cooking together or going for a walk together, taking a bath, whatever, a date night, even though you can’t go out. We’re thinking in a certain way that’s more likely to create that outcome.

We’re making decisions in a way that’s more likely to create that outcome and ultimately, we’re taking action. We’re trying stuff. Get in the bath and she says, “I don’t want you in my bath. I want my bath alone. Don’t do that again.” With the best of intentions, with the intention of fulfilling that vision of a great relationship, staying great, even under these crazy circumstances, the vision is driving it. That’s a great example to wrap up that. I think there was some uncertainty around that conversation about vision. Are they telling me to stick with my vision, give up on my vision? No, as best we can stay with that vision and also stay in action. It was a beautiful example of that.

Thank you for assisting and closing the loop on that. There are a lot of people who feel like, “I’m grounded right now. I can’t do anything. I don’t know what to do. I’ve got to wait and see.” It’s that whole wait and see thing. I’m happy you came back to that because I’m probing at it. Curiosity and questioning more than anything that there’s no time when vision is not the central guiding principle. Otherwise, you are stagnant. We said long ago, stagnation at a minimum, it doesn’t take us any place. We stay where we are. There’s a bit of an interesting dichotomy here because we’re being told to stay in one place. I don’t know to what extent the order, the directive to stay in one place is energetically on some subconscious level. It’s maybe locking people in place in terms of creating a vision and looking at the innovation possibilities right now for themselves, for their business, for their career, for their life. I appreciate your insights on that, Robert. Thank you very much.

You’re welcome. Thank you for the invitation. It’s always a pleasure.

The last question I want to ask you, Robert, what’s one ritual that you’ve got that helps you to create more resilience for yourself? I know you don’t think in terms of that term a lot, but what’s one thing you do on a ritual basis to support you?

I’m a huge believer in rituals also. I’m going to take two. One is quick in the sense, going back to what you were saying about at this particular time, my wife and I are walking together. She said, “Are you ready to take a walk?” I didn’t want to go for a walk but I’m recognizing the importance of that ritual. The other ritual that comes to mind for me is to this day, I maintain my running ritual. I get so much benefit. It opens me up. It frees me. It’s my way to escape from all the things I get wrapped up in. It’s my way to get out to open up. It’s like a meditation. For me, running is a huge ritual. In my experience, it benefits every area of my life. It benefits me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It’s a hugely valuable ritual. If I have some injury or some circumstance that makes it difficult for me to get my run in, I notice the difference. It’s an important ritual for me.

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I’ll add my ritual to the pile. This is a waking ritual. My ritual is to wake up, which I hope everybody will join in that ritual. Wake up, that’s part one. Part two, be grateful that you did wake up. It’s not a throwaway line. I believe it’s like we started this podcast, can you find gratitude at this moment and certainly, upon waking there’s a whole lot to be grateful for? The last piece of that is stating something out loud that I want to be true. In all honesty, I feel this to be true more or less every day and less as possible. There are things that make you not necessarily feel love for what’s going on in your life and yet I start every day by saying, “I love my life.” Those four words, “I love my life.” I want it to be true. More often than not, it is true no matter what. Right now, can you love your life even in the face of everything uncertain, in all the things that Robert and I were talking about? That’s my question to all of you out there. I hope the answer to that is yes and if it’s not, yes, maybe you can try on pretending. What would it look like? What would it feel like to love your life no matter what? That’s my question and I’ll leave it there. Robert, it’s such a wonderful time for us to always get together.

It’s always great to connect. I appreciate the opportunity.

Everybody, have a wonderful rest of your day. Ciao. We’ll speak and hopefully see each other again soon.

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About Robert MacPhee

PR Robert | Building Resilience

  • Former Director of Training for Jack Canfield
  • Founding Member/Former Executive Director – Transformational Leadership Council
  • Co-Founder – Southern California Association of Transformational Leaders
  • Author – Manifesting for Non-Gurus (book and partner journal)
  • Creator Excellent Decisions Leadership Program
  • Helping people make decisions based on vision and values rather than stress and pressure