Time for a resilience checkup: are you doing the things you should be doing to build personal resilience? The book, Change Proof, seeks to debunk the old paradigm of resilience that is based on grit and endurance. In the book, Adam Markel aims to change that dynamic and help people suffer less, thrive, and succeed while enjoying every step of the process. A big part of what Adam talks about in the book revolves around the 14 markers of resilience. In this episode, he talks about three of the most important: attention to health and good cardiovascular fitness; the capacity to recover rapidly from stress; and the ability to regulate our emotions.
Tune in and find out how each of these markers contribute to building resilience and how we should implement them in our daily lives.
03:35 – Attention to health and good cardiovascular fitness
09:01 – The capacity to recover rapidly from stress
13:58 – The ability to regulate our emotions
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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.
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Resilience Checkup: What Are You Doing To Build Personal Resilience?
In this episode, I’m going to be your guest and your host and we’re going to talk about something that I write about in the book, Change Proof. I don’t know if you’ve gotten a copy of the book yet. I say yet because I hope that you will at some point. That sounds and is a bit self-serving, but the book itself is a very valuable tool for your own personal resilience as well as the resilience of those around you, whether they be your family, your friends, your colleagues at work, people that you’re leading on a team, or your organization itself.
It’s very important to recognize that for many years now we’ve been pursuing resilience from a very odd place, using a methodology that is outdated and no longer serves us. It isn’t attainable. There’s so much struggle already in our world so our team’s goal is to stop that, if possible, change that dynamic, help people to suffer less, to thrive, to succeed at higher levels, and to enjoy the process.
Resilience is the unsung hero in every success story, whether it’s in sports, business, personal endeavors, relationships, health, or anything. Resilience is going to be involved in that success at some level or another sometimes greater and sometimes lesser. The book, Change Proof is about how it is that we leverage the power of uncertainty and adversity as a catalyst for our growth and building of long-term resilience because it’s through that long-term resilience that we are able to succeed, either sooner or later. That’s the only thing that I can’t say with certainty and it would be audacious and foolish for me to do that.
What I can say with certainty is that if you do work on your resilience mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually, you will succeed over time in various ways. Sometimes it’ll come sooner and sometimes it takes longer. There are certain markers of resilience that will help you along the way. These are some things that I want to talk about that come right out of the book, Change Proof. There are fourteen markers of resilience that we address or talk about in the book. I’m going to cover a couple of them.
I invite you to get your own copy of Change Proof. You can go to ChangeProof.com to do that on your own. You can also go to Amazon and buy it, but feel free to go back to ChangeProof.com, even if you’ve bought the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever it might be because there are certain gifts and things that will be yours simply by letting us know that you bought it elsewhere. Those gifts are a pleasure to give you, but you have to go there to claim them yourself. There’s nothing else to it.
Attention To Health And Good Cardiovascular Fitness
Let’s start with these markers of resilience. As I said, there are fourteen that we unpacked in a variety of different ways and mostly through a narrative, story, etc. in the book, but I want to cover a couple of them right now. Number one, attention to health and good cardiovascular fitness. We take ourselves for granted in so many ways and we take our health for granted unless we are training for something or we’ve been given a scare. It is often the case that we don’t realize that we’re speeding on the road of life until we get pulled over. The sirens go on and we’re either pulled over or end up in an accident and then we go, “We’ve been traveling too fast. We’ve been traveling without enough gas in the tank and now we’re out of gas, and broken down on the side of the road.”
I want to share a little lesson that I learned from a woman by the name of Blair Braverman. This lady is an Alaskan sled dog musher. She performs the role of musher on a sled in Alaska and often in a race called the Iditarod. It’s a 1,000-mile race through the frozen tundra of Alaska. She mushes her beautiful Alaskan Malamutes and huskies.
She’s like the conductor in the symphony. She’s the coxswain in a boat in a crew. She’s the team leader. She knows something about these beautiful dogs. She takes very good care of them. She loves them and understands that they are built to run. That’s why they do that. It’s not cruel at all for them to be harnessed to one of these sleds and asked to run. Given the opportunity to run, they will run and run until they cannot run anymore because it’s in their DNA to do that. She also knows that if she lets them do what is natural to them, they cannot win the race. They will, at some point, become so exhausted that they have to stop and recover, and it takes some time.
She does something unthinkable on some level. She stops them about every four hours before they have any clue that they’re tired. Sometimes they won’t even lie down on the ground even though she puts out these blankets for them. She stops and they howl and they bark at her like she’s out of her mind. She feeds them before they know that they’re hungry. She gives them water before they know that they’re thirsty because she understands the concept that’s fundamental in being resilient and building resilience for yourself and for others around you. It is far easier to prevent our fatigue in the first place than to recover from it later. It’s far easier to prevent our injuries in the first place than to recover from them after the fact.It is far easier to prevent our exhaustion in the first place than to recover from it afterward. Click To Tweet
She understands this about her dogs. It’s a fundamental principle when it comes to taking care of yourself and becoming more resilient. When you think about attention to your health or good cardiovascular fitness, what are you doing on a daily, ritual, or routine basis to take care of yourself so that you are preventing exhaustion, burnout, or injuries from happening?
How much time do you spend during a day stretching your body or creating better flexibility through some simple practices? How often are you elevating your heart rate so that you are working on your cardiovascular health? How often are you taking a simple walk? What are you doing on an intentional basis to curate the food that you put in your body or the drinks that you have, the way that you hydrate yourself, the water, and other hydration techniques that you are utilizing?
These are very deliberate things that people that succeed at the highest levels are doing, not because they are any healthier to start with or any more gifted physically than most people are. That’s not the case. People that succeed for lengths of time are intentional about taking care of themselves. The key ingredient to being resilient is not one of how long you can go without the break, how it is that you can burn the candle at both ends, or every conceivable end you can think of. It’s not about winning the night owl award, but it’s about understanding that resilience is not about endurance, to begin with. That’s the old language, the old concept, or the old paradigm. It’s the one that we’re working very hard to debunk for people.
Again, many people think resilience is about grit or being able to grind, but that will only lead to exhaustion. Same as Blair Braverman’s dogs, they cannot grind their way through a 1,000-mile race or grit their way to the finish line because they will be exhausted long before they ever get to the finish line. They will never make it there based on that structure or strategy. What we have to understand is that resilience is not about endurance, it’s about restoration and how you recover. It’s about how you ritualize recovery day-to-day or routine by routine. That’s the first marker of resilience. It’s this attention to our health and good cardiovascular fitness.
The Capacity To Recover Rapidly From Stress
Another one is our capacity to recover rapidly from stress. I’m going to tie that marker of resilience to the last one that I just said, which is that our capacity to recover rapidly has everything to do with whether or not we have created rituals for our recovery in the first place. Without rituals for recovery, it is almost impossible to recover rapidly from stress. You may be able to do it occasionally, but you certainly can’t do it routinely and on a consistent basis. You’d say, “Adam, do I need to be doing it on a routine basis? Do I need to do it all the time?”
I’d say, “What world are you living in? The world I am living in is one where we’re constantly being stressed.” Stress is not something that’s going to go away. For people that want it to go away, you’re looking at it through the telescope from the wrong end. It’s never going to go away. In fact, we shouldn’t even want it to because stress is vitally important to our growth.
What we have to understand is that stress is not the enemy here. It’s a lack of recovery from stress. That is the enemy. That is the thing that will make us sick. That’s the thing that we can do something about long before we start to see the physical signs of deterioration or depletion. The idea when it comes to this marker of resilience, our capacity to rapidly recover from stress is that we have to understand that it means we have to ritualize recovery long before we are feeling the results or effects of stress. That means day-to-day or routine by routine, we have to ritualize or schedule it.Stress is not our enemy. It's a lack of recovery from stress. Click To Tweet
If you saw my calendar, you would see that my calendar is filled with things that I do on a ritual basis to recover from the stresses of ordinary life, whether their personal life or business life matters. That’s everything from taking a scheduled walk in the afternoon to taking twenty minutes to do legs up the wall posture, which is a gentle inversion with your back flat on the ground. For twenty minutes with my eyes closed in the middle of the afternoon is better than any cup of coffee at that time or anything else that I might use to energize or re-energize myself.
It’s the same thing before bed. The most important recovery we get is at night when we sleep. There are many people who have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, etc. One of the best things you can do is legs up the wall exercise for about twenty minutes before sleep. It helps with insomnia or anxiety. It sets you up for success in a way that many people are not intending ahead of time. It’s very much about being intentional in the way you structure your day so that you can create these pockets of recovery. It’s what we like to call recovery zones throughout the day,
By the way, just so we’re clear, it doesn’t even take twenty minutes for a recovery zone to provide a benefit. The evidence and the research are clear that five-minute breaks will cool our brains down. I love the visual that I often will show an audience when I’m delivering one of my resilience keynote talks, keynote on mental health, keynote on stress management, or even on work-life balance, which we speak of as work-life harmony. I’ll often use research like the Microsoft paper that was published which shows the difference between our brains on breaks and our brains when we have no breaks. It’s a visual thing for me.
The brain with no breaks is hot. It’s orange, red, and yellow. It’s a hot head, basically. The difference between our brains when they’re under stress in those times and a cool brain is the color blue, which is not under stress, strain, and depletion. Also, it is not producing cortisol and adrenaline at the same time as a means to defend from that stress. That brain is simply a brain that’s had breaks of five minutes. That’s it. Five minutes between your Zoom meetings and other things that you’re doing to relax your brain.
There are lots of techniques that we get into in the book, Change Proof as well as in the Change Proof Program, which is our digital program that’s all about taking change, becoming change-proof, and developing resilience, rituals, etc. for yourself and your teams to a level of intentionality that most people don’t learn or acquainted with. I wasn’t acquainted with so I began doing this research some years ago.
If we want to develop resilience for ourselves and for others around us, we want to model it and others to be more resilient in the world of never-ending change then we have to do this intentionally. We have to do it by design and not leave it to default. Again, a marker of resilience, we have to have that capacity to rapidly recover.
The Ability To Regulate Our Emotions
Another marker of resilience is the ability to regulate our emotions. I could spend an entire episode talking about this, but I will not for now. Regulation of our emotions is so vitally important. Most of us never learned this. People live their entire lives not acquainted with how important it is to recognize your emotions, be present with your emotions, understand your emotions, and understand that it’s not required that you change your emotions.
The work to be done when it comes to our emotions is to acknowledge their existence, be present with them, and not try to push them away, or suppress them. When I say that, it’s an odd thing because often we have learned this very early on in childhood from the very first early life traumas that we had. You may not think that you’ve been traumatized and some of you know that you have because there have been significant abuses that people have faced in their lives, etc. but trauma can be very subtle and not everything rises to an obvious level.
Traumas can’t be compared because we all experience trauma uniquely. Something that might create trauma for one person might not create it, be that, or another, but what all of us learn regardless of whether we’ve been abused or something that made us experience fear, anxiety, discomfort, or any emotion as a child we didn’t know how to handle or deal with it.
In fact, we wouldn’t know how to deal with it before the age of 7 or 8 because it’s our pre-cognitive development years. Even when we start to develop cognitively, we don’t understand things and people don’t explain them to us. We are often the victims of our circumstances in that respect, but we have coping mechanisms. We all learn that.
One of those coping mechanisms for so many people is simply to not deal with it at all, deflect, distract, and repress. That’s done on a subconscious level. It’s unconscious to us. We don’t know we’re even doing it. We don’t even often know that that’s the default mechanism for dealing with unpleasant emotions.
You fast forward and you’re 20, 30, 50, or 70 years old and still not regulating your emotions in an open and honest way. What ends up happening in many cases is that the body has taken on the responsibility of distracting us from feeling certain things. A lot of the pains and aches in our physical beings are not due to structural damage but are our bodies, minds, or brains’ responses to unwanted emotions.
When those things are triggered, you might see things show up like irritable issues with your stomach, issues with your skin like rashes, and things of that sort. Also, it can be pain in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, back, or neck that comes from this unresolved tension. These emotions have not been regulated or dealt with.
Emotional regulation is one of those skills that we learned to develop greater resilience. The net result of that is not emotional resilience and mental resilience, but also physical resilience. Our bodies are in a position where when we can regulate our emotions and not try to change circumstances, but simply be able to deal with the fact that we feel the way we feel, and that there’s nothing wrong with that. Our bodies in those situations don’t need to protect us, defend us, or be on guard to distract us by producing other things to get our attention. That alone can create great relief that medicines, prescriptions, and even surgeries have not been able to provide for many people.Emotional regulation is absolutely one of those skills that we learn to develop greater resilience. And the net result of that is not just emotional resilience and mental resilience, but also physical resilience. Click To Tweet
I hope that you’d find out more about that, whether read it in Change Proof, develop a greater understanding of these things and capacity to regulate emotions through to the Change Proof Program, or seek that counsel and those strategies elsewhere. This is one of those game-changing things or transformational moments for so many people when they discover that they have so much more control over how they resolve their physical ailments as well as those that are mental and emotional as well.
We think about things being in our head and there’s a stigma associated with that. It’s easier to take a pill, listen to a doctor, or somebody else, and seek a structural change or surgery even to resolve that pain as opposed to simply understanding yourself better and how it is that you’ve been dealing with uncomfortable things probably since you’re a small child.
I wanted to cover a couple of these, which I have. As I said, there are fourteen markers of resilience. There’s a lot more in the book as well. You can go to ChangeProof.com to get your copy and also find out about the Change Proof Program, which is something that we’re very happy with. It’s something that you can do on your own in your own time. It is self-paced. If you’re a quick study, you could take it quickly. If you’re a slow study, which I am, then you can take your time doing it as well.
It’s great not only for individuals but for teams or individual leaders who are leading groups of other people. The Change Group Program would be very suitable in that scenario as well. Our companies or organizations are only as strong and resilient as the individuals in those organizations, especially those who are leading others. Our company is committed to creating a more resilient world, one individual and one organization at a time, and you’re a great big part of that. Thank you.
If you have questions for me, you can go to AdamMarkel.com/Podcast and leave your comment or your question there. If what I’ve shared with you is something valuable that you would like to share with someone else, you can simply share this episode. Another way to help to get the word out, in addition to sharing with people that you know is to recognize that the algorithm that determines whether or not this show appears in front of people is based on the things that people say about it or the reviews that we get. If you would leave a five-star review on whatever platform it is that you’re consuming this particular show, that is super helpful to us. We so appreciate you doing that.
I get it that it’s also self-serving to make that request, but think about how many other people at this moment could benefit from learning how to become more resilient in a world that we’re living in right now, which is full of uncertainty, ambiguity, and people that are mourning, in loss, or in some state of pain. If we can resolve those things individually and think about the benefit to us collectively as a society, as a community, or as a world, we’re doing something positive that way. We appreciate you being partners in that with us. Thank you. For now, I’ll say ciao.