“You can’t pivot by looking backward.” – Adam Markel, Pivot: The Art and Science of Reinventing Your Career and Life.
Change is bound to happen, and facing it forward instead of looking back will drive you forward. But how should you face change? It’s with resilience. Adam Markel, the author of Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience, dives into the dynamics of change and how you can create the mindset that embraces it fully. He provides value on regeneration and time off, discusses the myths surrounding resiliency, and the best approaches to addressing burnout. Don’t miss this inspiring episode!
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- 0:32 One year of Change Proof
- 3:34 What makes Change Proof relevant today
- 5:35 Creating pivot-ability
- 7:25 Navigating the rip tide of change
- 10:01 A business memoir
- 11:32 Kernels of wisdom
- 14:50 Change Proof reviews
- 18:35 Marketing Change Proof
- 21:20 Modeling resilience
How do we leverage continuous uncertainty to thrive in this unprecedented new world?
The answer is to build the resilience we need to power us through the challenges we face so that we become “Change Proof.” Prepare to tackle the future with confidence by reading Adam’s latest book Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience.
Watch the episode here
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Change Proof: Building Resilience Through Uncertainty With Adam Markel | Replay
Welcome back to another episode of the show. I can’t believe it, but it’s been a year since Change Proof originally hit the shelves, hit the stands, and all that good stuff. It was 2/22/22. Those are a lot of twos. We found that date, which was selected by the publisher to be an auspicious one. I’m not a superstitious person, but I certainly do believe in the power of numbers and in numerology, which is a very interesting science and something that I consult with and consider. That was a pretty cool date for us to see Change Proof get out into the world. It’s amazing that it has been a year since then.
I’ve said this too many times to count. I’m hesitant to even keep saying it, but we blink our eyes. It’s like that in the snap of a finger. Time passes, and it passes in a beautiful way. 2022 has been amazing. I’m going to take you through a little bit of a journey of where we’ve been with Change Proof since 2022. I’ll give you a little taste of maybe behind the curtain or behind the scenes of that and share some insights and things that we’ve learned along the way. I look forward to the continuation of this Change Proof journey.
If there’s anything that we’ve learned, it is that change is not going away. In fact, the pace of change or the velocity of change is even greater and will only continue to get greater. The pandemic slowed it down as much as there were pretty significant sizable chunks of change than the kinds of things that changed on a macro level. It’s pretty breathtaking and notable. The micro changes that are happening constantly and the speed of those changes from AI to everything else you can think of are enough to take your breath away.
One thing we know is that navigating change is going to be something that we have to do individually and as career professionals leading others, ourselves, and organizations, which is very much the work that I do in the world now and for the indefinite future. Change is part of that. It’s not just managing it, tolerating it, or weathering it, but rather utilizing it, maximizing it, and optimizing it. That’s what we’re talking about.
Change Proof is not a book about how to white-knuckle the experience of disruption. It’s a book about how we leverage adversity and uncertainty as catalysts to build long-term resilience. It’s our theory and based on much research that we’ve done, resilience is the unsung hero in every success story. People, individually in their lives, personally in their family lives, and in every aspect of their personal lives as well as in their professional lives, resilience is a competitive advantage that many people aren’t aware of and even fewer people have mastered.
Part of the value of Change Proof and what makes it relevant even more than when it came out on February 22nd, 2022 is that it is in greater need now than it was even then. Our capacity to have ready energy to resolve issues, outperform challenges, and outperform problems is more profound than it has ever been during my 50-plus years of trips around the sun. I would venture to say regardless of what your current age is, you can probably identify with that.
The level at which we are being challenged to resolve problems quickly and outperform the things that are showing up that might otherwise take us out, the need for that or the value of that is more than probably most of us have seen called for in our lives to this point. What is this book? How did it make its way to the marketplace? What have we learned? Let me share a couple of those insights.
First of all, producing a book, in case you’ve done it or haven’t done it, for a person who cannot give birth to a child, which I cannot, is as close to giving birth as I could imagine. I’ve been a witness to the birth of four children so I know how excruciating that process is and can be and how arduous it is over a period of many months, nine months in particular, and sometimes less. It is not something that we did lightly. It is the second independent book that we’ve done. We’ve done some collaborative books before. My first book was called Pivot which is a book about personal and professional reinvention. That book came out with Simon and Schuster as a publisher back in 2016.
In that book, there was a chapter on resilience. As is the case with pivoting, we understand that to be successful, or maybe we don’t understand, that book was about how you successfully plan a pivot. My own story was having the perfect storm of events producing what could have been a midlife crisis in my life that turned into a midlife calling and how important calling is.
In Change Proof, which is a book that’s committed to resilience, that has content in it that’s about how you create agility and flexibility and are able to be pivotable. You have a pivot ability. In producing that first piece of content called Pivot, I realized later on that the bigger topic was the chapter on resilience. In my life, the one throughline that’s been consistent from the time that I was young was this capacity to utilize what was happening in my life to some advantage.
I had a propensity, if you will, for looking at situations that were going on in my life and finding something valuable in them even when those situations were disappointing, painful, or anxiety-inducing. I’m not perfect at doing that. I can still get caught in the riptide of fear, doubt, or worry. I can still have that happen.
What I know how to do now that I didn’t even know how to do then was to hold onto this buoy that I called resilience or that I refer to as being resilient and my resiliency. There are markers for our resiliency. One of those markers that I talk about in the book Change Proof is how it is that we are able to find value in our life situations and leverage what we learn from those situations to advance and move forward.
In Change Proof, we talk about this ever-present change as a riptide or rip current. It’s a rip current at the beach that pulls at us, feels like it could drown us, could take us out to sea or into oblivion. It could take us under. How it is that we navigate that riptide, rip current, or undercurrent means the difference between not survival and living, but the difference between struggle and success at the highest levels? It’s learning how to leverage any of the situations that are happening for us so that we cannot bounce back but bounce forward. We can bounce back stronger than we were before. That has been a throughline in my life.
I’ve been able to reinvent myself numerous times personally and professionally. I developed success in at least three careers that I can think of, having been the CEO of large and small companies, an attorney for eighteen years and retiring from that practice, and had a successful run at that in two different jurisdictions in the United States. I recognized that it was not my continued calling to do that but finding that calling to replace it. It was not jumping ship from that work that I was doing, but finding something that felt better, more in alignment, and more congruent with what was important to me from a purpose standpoint or the standpoint of what I wanted to devote myself to that I was able to reinvent and seek after that or follow that.
I could never have done those things without developing this change-proof resilience, which isn’t ordinary resilience even. That’s why I’m so happy about where the book has been and what people have said about it. I’m going to take a minute here in a second to read some of the things that people have said about the book. I’ll say this. If you have thought about writing or you’ve done that, you know what it’s like. It is excruciating. It’s the closest thing that I’ve come to in terms of the process of giving birth to something.
It takes a village and people to help you to do it. You have to have a team. You have to have people there to act as the midwife, the nurse, the doctor, and all the support staff to see it through. I couldn’t have done it myself nor would I have ever tried to. Even with all that support, what a task. With Change Proof, we went with a great publisher called McGraw Hill. It’s the largest business book publisher in the world. They fell in love with the concept and helped in the formulation of the concept as well as provided fantastic feedback throughout. There were many rounds of edits. It was a wonderful combined effort to produce what we see as a valuable book that gets granular.
What I love about the book is it’s a bit of a bizmoir. Somebody said that once that I thought was cool. It was like a business memoir. There are a lot of my own personal stories in the book, but there are a lot of stories of other people, business leaders, sports figures, artists, musicians, and people that understand through their own philosophy and their own ethos how it is that you succeed in the face of about anything.
You’re able to constantly be moving forward, elevating, and raising the bar, if you will, and not seeing life as a series of experiences and saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” That’s a hollow statement. It doesn’t tell a story to me that’s comforting, but rather to understand that everything’s happening for a reason. The reason underscore is that it gives us an opportunity to serve.
The things that are most adverse, most challenging, and most uncertain are the greatest catalysts for our growth. Usually, if we don’t shy away from them or don’t run in fear of those opportunities, we are better for them. Sometimes, we’re dramatically better for them and other people are also better for them. That takes a level of courage, I suppose. It also is so helpful when you can know that other people have done it. Understand how they did it. Be able to model or at least take for yourself their nuggets of wisdom. Copy even what you’ve learned of their capacity to navigate, accelerate, and utilize that for yourself.
There are kernels of wisdom in this book, and they’re not mine. Maybe there are some that are mine perhaps, but there are lots of other people’s wisdom. There are tons of research that we’ve done over the course of several years working with more than 5,000 business leaders across the globe. They’re everything from startup companies to Fortune 50, organizations, and almost everything you can think of in between. It’s through the assessments that we’ve done about resilience in four specific areas that are included in this book that serves as the foundation for what it is that we share. It breaks down into mental resilience, emotional resilience, physical resilience, and even spiritual resilience.
I can tell you that statistically speaking, in the surveys that we did, the median score out of a possible 100 across the board was a 64. That means individuals and organizations that participated in our Resilient Leader Assessment, on average, scored a 64. You can ask yourself, “64 out of 100, how good is that?” It’s good because that means that there’s a level of resilience in those four areas that’s tangible, usable, and you can build upon. It’s a foundation. It also tells you that there’s a capacity to become even more resilient as well in those four zones.
Typically, the physical zone was the weakest. In some organizations, emotional intelligence, EQ, or the emotional areas were the strongest. It was not in every but in many. The mental side was also often weakest after the physical side of people is good at giving themselves a good hard time. You probably are one of those folks that can identify with a mind that doesn’t stop cogitating and chewing on things, especially things that create some discomfort or fear. People have not developed effective practices for quieting their own minds. They don’t create many boundaries between their thinking on an intentional level and allowing their thoughts to run wild.
One of the things that we talk about in Change Proof is how it is that you can do that. It’s how it is that you cannot so much control your stream of thoughts, but what to do with that thinking and how that can become a catalyst for better mental health, less anxiety, and more clarity. You have a greater capacity to stay present and stay focused. That’s hugely important.
On the spiritual side, what we find is that at a tune of almost 90% of the time, people that we’ve surveyed are engaged in a livelihood in work that is in alignment with their highest values and beliefs. Yet, the very next assessment that we take in that spiritual zone identifies whether there are significant gaps between what they say is important to them in their lives and how they allocate their own time, resources, and energy.
Often, the first question is, “Are you engaged in that livelihood or the work that’s in alignment with your values?” The answer is yes almost 90% of the time. Are there also gaps between the things you say are important and what you do with your time, energy, resources, etc.? That score is typically under 60. That shows that there are great big gaps between those two propositions. There’s some interesting stuff to pick up on there.
I’m going to read a couple of quick Amazon reviews that have come to us about Change Proof. I’ll pick a few here. It says, “This is particularly relevant for those of us who lead teams. It provides an interesting perspective. It has simple yet impactful tools. It has relevant and helpful stories and data for shifting my ability to handle change. It has great insights into the importance of resilience and building our capacity as the foundation for our relationship with change and disruption. This has engaging stories and practice strategies shared in a relatable manner.”
Here’s one that says, “I had the pleasure of hearing Adam’s message at a local conference where he was the keynote speaker. I was completely invested in his message, so I purchased the book. I found myself not being able to put it down. It resonates on so many levels.” The reviews have been lovely. I haven’t found a review that said it was terrible whether they didn’t like it. Almost always, you’re going to get some form of criticism. Anytime you put anything out in the world, you can pretty much expect that.
When my TED Talk came out, it was a talk about how you deal with anxiety in the face of a number of things that are going on in your life. I was sharing some stories of my own panic attack, ending up in the hospital, the aftermath of that, my shame around that, and how I was dealing with it. Ultimately, I came out on the side of a particular ritual in the morning that starts my day. It helps me to get grounded, get into gratitude quickly, start on the right foot, and get my head right to start.
That’s a practice that involves four simple words. I love my life. Saying those words in the morning when I wake up as I put my feet on the floor and what that meant to me. Yet, even in that TED Talk, there were people that called BS on that and called me out for it. With Change Proof, I would’ve expected, at this point, to see some negative reviews, but I haven’t seen them. That’s been a wonderful thing.
I’ll read another here. It says, “Change Proof artfully blends unique stories and stories that contextualize the principles to make them more understandable and applicable. The author weaves these two themes together to give the reader both the content to succeed and the context to apply them. He takes you on a journey through your left and right brain to continuously engage the reader, making it an enjoyable and practical guide to deal with the inevitable changes we all face.”
For example, in the chapter on disputing irrational beliefs, the reader has been told a story that is clearly folly about an ancient king trying to hold back the ocean tide. The author asks the reader, “What self-defeating irrational belief do you want to dispute and surrender?” He then offers this one from his own experience. I must be competent in achieving all I do or else I am an inadequate, worthless person. From an objective standpoint, it is an irrational belief. Yet, everyone raised in the US education system believes it. He goes on to teach how to identify and reframe the irrational thoughts limiting our success. This book is the real deal.” That’s a lovely review.Adam Markel goes on to teach how to identify and reframe the irrational thoughts limiting our success. Change Proof is the REAL DEAL. Click To Tweet
I can tell you that over the course of 2022, not only were we able to bring the book out and share the book in so many ways but typically, what happens is that people will find the book or they’ll go to my website, AdamMarkel.com. They’ll read more about this concept of resiliency, our philosophy, and our research on it and find the book. People will contact us and say, “We’d love to have you come and keynote one of our conferences. Share your keynote on resiliency, mental health or work-life balance,” which we reframe as work-life harmony or even stress management. I speak on all those things.
They say, “We’d love to provide an opportunity for the audience, whether it’s our teams or others, to get access to the book. It supports the work that we’re bringing in to share with our folks.” That’s been a joy. It’s a big difference between how we’re able to initially market and sell. The last book I did and the way we have been marketing and selling Change Proof have, for the most part, been in connection with these keynote talks, workshops, or even sometimes the work that our consultancy does.
We’re deploying the book as a tool for large groups of people across different geographies and different functions to get everybody on the same page when it comes to how you operationalize resilience. It’s one of the things that I talk about in the book. We’ve developed a specific program for it which I’m going to share with you. It’s something that helps an organization actually run this to the ground. That means that if they wanted to have a more resilient culture or they wanted their individual leaders and teams to be more resilient, how do you do that to the point of it becoming part of the culture?
We decided that we would create a product for that in particular. In the event that people or organizations are not ready to bring us in to work with teams in a more consultative way, we have a digital product called the Change Proof Program. It’s built for individuals but also built for teams to work collaboratively as well. In that program, we talk about how to operationalize resilience. What does it look like to operationalize it?
I’ll tell you what the four things are. In getting the book work and getting access to the digital program, you can do all that at ChangeProof.com. You can find out how to make it available to teams and how to access it yourself as well. Let me say that the four areas of resilience from an operation standpoint start with the value set.
Initially, what has to be a first domino is that everybody realizes that this is valuable. We’re not discounting resilience as a “soft skill,” but rather it’s something that becomes a part of our value set. When you think about companies that are focused on their mission, their vision, and their values, this has got to be among them that we want our people to be resilient. We care about them and ultimately, we are willing to go to bat for them. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is that the SOPs or the Standard Operating Practices or Procedures have to reflect. That is, in fact, the case that it truly is important. An organization isn’t checking a box or ticking a box as we sometimes do on things like mental health, or when we hear that people are quietly quitting or that they’re resigning their position and we’re reacting to those things. We’re doing something then to stem the tide of attrition that has become epidemic on its own. The Standard Operating Procedures say to people, “We do care about resilience. We are looking to supporting you. This is serious for us.” That has to be congruent, in other words.
The third thing is modeling and permission. They’re related, but a lot of times, people will get the modeling part if they want others to be resilient. The key to resilience is to ritualize it or create recovery rituals. If you want other people to do that, then leaders have to do that. That, we get. What often is lost is the fact that a leader is not modeling those things and they’re still abiding by the old paradigm of resilience that we should be gritty, grind it, or be burning our candle at every end, winning the night owl at first in the morning and the last thing in the afternoon. That’s the mentality that’s still running things.
Other people are denied permission to take care of themselves in a different way because that’s the standard. Modeling is not that you are living as a leader in accordance with what you say is important so that you’re not a hypocrite, in other words. What it does on a much deeper level is it either gives permission to people to take care of themselves or denies that permission. Where in organizations that’s the case when permission is being withheld and people have to feel guilty or feel shame about going to therapy, getting to their kids’ dance recital, or doing the other things that they have to do for themselves to be the best they can be, then that’s a big issue in terms of the culture of that organization.Modeling is not just that you are living as the leader. Following what you say is important so that you're not a hypocrite. Click To Tweet
Last thing is that we frame this as a got your back culture. In the best of scenarios, it means that there are other people who are looking after you. You are looking after others and they are looking after you. We all have each other’s backs. That’s a partnership. Rather than thinking of it as accountability, we like to think of it as a partnership. We call it a Got Your Back partnership. That’s what supports everybody in this joint effort to create a more resilient organization. In doing so, operationalizing resilience within a team or within a larger structure creates a Got Your Back culture. That is fundamentally important.
It has been quite a journey getting to this point, creating that digital product, and marketing this book as we have continuously through podcasts, guest appearances, these wonderful keynote events that I get invited to, etc. I’ll say one last review as I’m closing up for the moment on this. I wish I had this person’s name, but this is a beautiful review right here. It says, “In our world, there have been more than 129,864,880 books published.” I don’t know where you get this number, but this is pretty interesting. He says, “I see them in two categories. Books and life-changers.” Number two is life-changers.
“This book is a life-changer. The principles span all domains and modalities and set you up to succeed everywhere in your life. Take this book and pair it with the authors of the other incredible book, Pivot. You’ll have a roadmap to guaranteed success. My recommendation is to read it cover to cover and then turn it into a daily accountability and implementation guide. No other book is needed. No more info is needed. It’s right here. Thank you for pouring your years of experience and wisdom into helping millions transform and making it accessible to everyone. This book will be read 100 years from now and still be applicable.”
I got to tell you that. It’s beautiful to read. It’s humbling to read. I hope that’s true. I don’t know if I could say that to myself without my own inner critic thinking that’s pretty arrogant. To read someone else’s words like that, that is every reason and every confirmation for why we did what we did in putting this together. It was a team effort in giving birth to a book like this. It was not easy. Yet, for that to be the dividend, I would do it again and again.
I hope that if you’ve not yet experienced Change Proof that you go out and get it. I’ll remind you that if you do get the book, whether you buy it on Amazon or in some other store, you go to ChangeProof.com to get the additional gifts that are yours for free. That’s simply by sharing with us where you bought the book so that we know that the gifts that we give you will have their proper place. Without the book, the reference that those particular gifts don’t make a whole lot of sense. There are some great ones. You can go and check that out on your own.
The Change Proof Program hit the airwaves or got into the ether space sometime in September 2022 and people are loving it. We’re getting great reviews from it. It’s something that is truly transformational. If you are a lifelong learner like I am, I like to consume things in a variety of different ways. Reading a book is phenomenal. I also like to listen to the author. I like to listen to the people that the author has interviewed and the basis of that research.
The Change Proof Program blends all those things. There’s audio, video, and walks with me. They’re in short, digestible bites, which in the world we’re living in, consuming hours and hours of content is not easy to do. I know it can be done, but it’s not easy to do. These are more bite-sized pieces that you can take on a walk with you or sit in front of your screen and watch. You can share it with your teams. You can watch them together. You can debrief them together.
There are program guides, downloadable forms, worksheets, exercises, and practices for yourself, your family, and those that you lead. All those things are a part of the program. I hope you take advantage of that as well and leave us reviews like this or other reviews. We believe in feedback. We talk about that in the book. Feedback is like oxygen. Sometimes, even the worst feedback is super helpful in terms of how you recalibrate and make things even better. All feedback is welcome.
If this is an episode that other people would benefit from, please share it with them. Please feel free to leave a review on whatever platform it is that you’re consuming this. Your five-star review, if you leave one, will help the algorithm to make sure that more people are finding the show and that it’s a benefit to them in their lives as well. I want to wish you a beautiful rest of your day, your evening, or wherever I’m finding you. Thank you so much. Ciao.