Change Proof | Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier | Resilience Plan

 

Joining Adam Markel in today’s episode is Dr. Marie-Hélène Pelletier. She is a Member of the Global Clinical Practice Network of the World Health Organization, past Director of the Canadian Psychological Association and the International Association of Applied Psychology, and the Author of The Resilience Plan: A Strategic Approach to Optimizing Your Work Performance and Mental Health. Dr. Marie talks about the importance of resilience in the workplace to optimize your work performance and mental health. She also shares her take on burnout post-pandemic. She shares her insight on building resilience to get unstuck from the optimism trap. Today’s discussion is valuable for everyone to help build resilience and optimize their performance and mental health. Jump into this episode with Dr. Marie-Hélène Pelletier now!

Show Notes:

  • 10:01 – Defining Resilience
  • 17:40 – Strategic Resilience
  • 19:27 – The Resilience Plan: A Strategic Approach to Optimizing Your Work Performance and Mental Health
  • 22:34 – Leadership Resilience in the Workplace
  • 27:30 – Dr. Marie-Hélène Pelletier’s Take About Burnout
  • 36:05 – Building Resilience to Get Unstuck from the Optimism Trap

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The Resilience Plan: How To Optimize Your Work Performance And Mental Health With Dr. Marie-Hélène Pelletier

I’m already giggling to myself because, for some reason, I’m having trouble reading the bio for my guest. I have an amazing conversation coming up with Dr. Pelletier. I’m going to share a little bit about her. She has spearheaded a dialogue on the crucial issues of leadership, resilience, and workplace health. Drawing on her extensive background in corporate insurance, governance, and public sectors, she brings national and international perspectives and expertise on mental health and resilience as a key pillar in overall health.

She’s a bilingual practicing Psychologist with over twenty years of experience in Clinical Psychology and Advisory Workplace Psychology, and holds a PhD and an MBA from the University of British Columbia. You’re going to so enjoy this conversation that I’m having with MH, as she is called. Buckle up, sit back, relax, and enjoy this conversation.

I’m so happy you’ve given me permission to call you MH. That was your suggestion. I’m thrilled about that. You have a very impressive CV. Your resumé of accomplishments is pretty off the hook. What I’m going to ask you is simply, what is something that’s not included in that laundry list of things that you’ve accomplished and done, which are very impressive, that you would love for our audience to know about you? It’s one thing that’s not included in your standard bio that you would love for people to know about you.

It’s probably still related but it doesn’t matter. I also enjoy challenges in nature. That’s mountaineering, going for a few days, going for 1 day, even going for 20 minutes if that’s all I got, and discovering unexpected things, even in the very short ones. I guess a bit of an explorer mindset.

Have you always been an adventurer? Is that how you were baked when you were a little kid? It’s like the big version of you is that much more adventurous or is this something new?

I think so. Probably, many people will relate to this in some way. As children, that’s a bit of what we do in different ways. We explore, learn the world, and do different things. As with many kids, I liked climbing trees and doing things like this but so for me, yes, that’s there. I still would love to climb trees but I don’t have trees right here that would be the perfect place to climb. To answer your question, it’s always been there. It happened in different contexts as well.

How important is it for you that you are able to retreat into nature or do things that are more adventurous as a part of your resiliency and how you decompress, reset, recharge, or restore? There are a lot of good words that start with R that have to do with resilience.

Initially, it was out of enjoying doing it for the fun and the sake of it. That’s it. As I trained in my fields and all that, I then learned that the research backed up a number of these good activities thing. Now that I’m a bit further in my career and like most of us, when you are a bit further, there are more demands of different types and that kind of thing so then it connects a bit with the work that I do, the book, and all this.

It’s true for me as well personally that there is this more deliberate choice of attention on a daily basis. The amount varies on a daily basis but the attention is probably there on a daily basis to how am I recharging and if this is in nature. Sometimes, it’s not always possible for me but the intention is there, a version of it is there so that I can stay as resilient as possible but also enjoy life.

That’s such an important piece when I am speaking on the topic of resiliency, audiences, or in workshop settings, and things like that. People will all often ask me, “How much is resilience on your mind on a regular basis?” It’s an interesting question. For those who are watching this on YouTube, I’m wearing a resilience shirt. For those of you who are reading, imagine I’m tanned and bald wearing this black T-shirt that says Resilience across the chest. I wear that shirt in part because it’s a part of the brand but it’s also a reminder to me. I have lots of T-shirts with messages on them. In our company, we like to think of them as talking tees and they’re saying something. There’s a message.

It’s a message to the people who read it. That’s a message to me. I’m branding myself with that statement or word. The intention is vital. When I’m answering that question, I’ll say, “I am very much intentional about resilience. I am intending to be resilient each and every day because for sure, there are things that are testing my stamina mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually each and every day.”

I don’t know that I can think of a day in the past where resilience wasn’t a key ingredient in whether that day was successful, whether I felt good when I put my head on the pillow to go to sleep or what the quality of that day turned out to be, resilience was a key ingredient. Do you agree with that? Does anything resonate there for you?

Sometimes I find for myself and in the work that I do with others as well that it’s either there consciously or deliberately on people’s minds and that’s the state that many love to be in. There will be days when things pile on each other. Don’t just follow each other’s meetings. They superimpose each other on themselves and you’re triple booked. There will be days when that deliberate, grounded approach does not appear very much.

However, as soon as we can get back to it or whenever we can get back to it in small ways, it keeps it on the radar. Maybe we don’t even get to doing anything about it now but because it’s on the radar, it will be on the radar tomorrow again and tomorrow may provide an opportunity for more active work in that area.

On the better days, whether it was deliberate or not, it often was present. It brought situations that increased our resilience and allowed us to bring our best, both professionally and personally. Why not harness this? Make it more conscious, deliberate, and strategic, I would argue, such that we’re realistic about what can be done even in the busiest schedules so that we’ll bring our best for ourselves and the people around us in our work and personal lives.

Do you find that when we are more strategic about our resiliency, more intentional, and more conscious, it becomes our default mode when stress happens, disruption occurs, and change is present?

Resiliency becomes our default mode when we are more strategic, intentional, and conscious about it. Click To Tweet

Yeah. These actions do become a habit in some ways. Sometimes, it can be like habit formation would happen if you are repeating certain behaviors. It’s in part a bit of habit, I would say. It’s also in part having a strategic plan, which is a bit higher level than the specific behaviors or habits, mostly because sometimes, that particular action or habit is not possible for whatever reasons. If we’re only tied to a habit and this particular habit cannot occur, even in smaller versions, then we need to think of something.

Everything’s going fast so we don’t. Therefore, nothing happens. If, in addition, that habit is part of an overall strategic plan, then we have higher-level directions that will inform, “What do we do if this circumstance that never thought about happened?” It does function the same way that we would use strategy in a business context. When we are launching a new product or service, we don’t say, “I will successfully launch by doing this thing.”

We may have some ideas of specific tactics but usually, we will have a higher-level plan, a strategy with strategic pillars and that’s how the strategy works. It will inform actions we choose to take as we move towards that goal. It’s the same idea here. I find that when I explain it this way, it connects with the work we do. The logic of it makes sense to most people.

You and I are both researchers on this topic so I’m going to ask you a question that I often will ask audiences at the outset of a talk. I’ll say, “There’s this word resilience. It gets thrown around a lot. Is it another way of saying, ‘Suck it up today?’ What does it mean to you? How do you define it?” My question for you is, do you have a running definition of what resilience or resiliency is for yourself?

You’re right. There are many definitions. We all use it in different contexts like so many other words. Resilience, interestingly, and I know you, Adam, would know this but for our conversation, in the academic literature, there are various definitions. It’s not just one clean, simple like burnout, for example, which is crystal clear. Resilience has different versions of it. The one I’ve worked with and many others have as well is our ability to go through adversity and come out even stronger. There’s this growth element from it. Keep in mind that often we think of adversity as an acute event and yes, it can be that but it can also be a chronic event. Often, it’s a combination of both.

Resilience is our ability to go through adversity and come out even stronger. Click To Tweet

I love to say that there’s a through line. Everybody defines resilience individually. They define it mostly based on their personal life and business or professional experience. The through line that we see is that it is the ability to leverage the power of uncertainty and even adversity as a catalyst for long-term growth. That is very much in alignment with what you said.

I’ve been thinking about it in a different form, in a more crystalline format of it being sustained persistence plus adaptability. Often, when we think about what produces resilience organizationally or at an individual level, it is this capacity to forever be moving forward, utilizing everything for growth purposes.

If you quit, stop, or give up, you don’t get the benefits from resiliency. If you’re not able to adapt, meaning if you’re resistant to change, as many people are, you fight it or you see it as the enemy or as something that is to be feared, you don’t gain the full benefits of resiliency. Sustained, being able to persist and persevere over long periods with this capacity to adapt to the change and the constant change that is ever present produces great resiliency.

I was going to add an element to this, elements of persistence and elements of agility. The one piece I would want to make sure we also keep in mind is that it’s not persistence at all costs. Sometimes, it has been part of how, for many people, their resilience has allowed them to persist through an event, meaning persisting in this sense is staying in the situation and solving it, modifying it, or these kinds of things. Sometimes, this is what we go through.

What is also important is that sometimes, the best and most resilient thing to do is to let it go, get out, quit, leave it, and take a bath. As we say in business, let it go. It all goes away and I move on to something else. That’s important because sometimes as highly capable, resourceful, and all these beautiful things that we may be, we get to a point where we believe that if we were to not stay here in this situation, we would be letting go inappropriately. No. Sometimes, part of the strategy is to let go. In business, if you launch something and it’s not working, at some point, they’ll drop the product. That is sometimes the best thing we need to do as individuals as well.

I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m not going to take a contrary position to that but I want to play another side of this. I have been in business myself for some extended period, a couple of dozen years as an attorney and then starting businesses, running them, and still doing that thing. I’ll add to this that I’ve done a lot of business training for large audiences of people who were in that entrepreneurial head space and wanted to start things.

It’s shocking how often it is that success is something that eludes people because they do stop, quit, or run out of gas, let’s say. While I agree that blind perseverance will never win the day, it’s why I got out of the law. I woke up every day knowing that what I was doing was harmful to my insides. I could say it was hurting my soul but it was also hurting my physical, mental, and emotional being.

I persisted blindly because I was not the kind of person who quit things easily. That led me to a very scary place. I’m very fortunate to be here knowing that I was able to pivot away from that. I wrote a book called Pivot about that journey. Blind perseverance is not going to win the day but knowing that people often will stop short of the goal. There was a book that maybe Napoleon Hill was involved in called Three Feet From Gold.

It’s this idea that people will stop the pursuit of their goals 3 feet from where it might come to fruition. To me, this idea of what enables you to sustain your performance or persistence, let’s say, and then ultimately adapt along the way is a key ingredient in resilience. Grit will not get you there. As you’re pointing out, blind grit or grinding endlessly. What you need to do is create the life rituals or habits to your word that enable you to sustain that performance.

Change Proof | Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier | Resilience Plan

The Resilience Plan: A Strategic Approach to Optimizing Your Work Performance and Mental Health

That, to me, is much more about recovery and your rituals or habits for recovering, and recapturing energy than it is about gritting it out. It’s less about endurance and more about how we restore than how we endure. We are aligned and see eye to eye there. I want to get your thoughts on leadership resilience and workplace health because I know that is a specialty of yours. Before we go there, I know the book, The Resilience Plan, is coming out. In talking about strategic resilience, is that what’s part of the content of the book? Is it how to create a strategic plan for individuals and teams or even organizational resiliency?

Yes. It brings elements from what we know from the research and practice in psychology, best practices about resilience, and structures and ways of thinking from business, specifically strategy, together to help individuals. The book is a bit more focused on us as individuals to create our customized strategic resilience plan. It is couched in the overall picture of the workplace, where our resilience does not operate on its own. It’s here and is within a team. The team is within the organization. The organization is within a country. It is very much a system.

What I’m saying is, yes, it is a system. Wherever the problems, challenges, and needs to change are, even if they’re outside of us here as individuals, to manage this situation, potentially influence it, or make decisions, we need to optimize our resilience. The book does have a chapter on team resilience as well because it is part of the system and our resilience will influence more than us, which is beautiful. This is where this book resides. It’s as concise as a book. It is designed for busy professionals and leaders and brings psychology and strategy together.

Could you share a little bit of what the research has yielded so far? Having been down that road and through that process is agonizing, I’m sure. God knows how much editing is still going on and there are a million things. It takes a village to create a book. I’m sure you’re in the thick of it. Can you share a little bit about what the research has yielded and even what the basis has been, how you conducted the research, who, or what?

The book is finished, done, and printed because it is for release on February 6, 2024.

I want to applaud then. I want to congratulate you on that. You’re out the other side.

I know. That’s what I’ve been saying to a number of people I’ve been speaking to. It’s been more work and fun than I thought but more work, even though I knew it would be work. The research for the book comes from both psychology and business. That’s why I’ve done a number of things. We do focus groups and advanced readers. Even the endorsers are coming from both sides.

I’ve got people who are coming from both psychology and business, people from the academic settings and industry. I’ve got people who are in different countries around the world. It’s needed a lot of perspectives to inform, ultimately, something that’s fairly straightforward and helps people change. It is something I’ve been using in my work for a while.

I was thinking, “Wait a second.” Not just me but individuals I’ve worked with. Audiences would sometimes comment, “I wish I had this so long ago, way before now.” Some of them said, “It saved me from my burnout. It would’ve been so helpful,” or all these kinds of things, which led me, as it often does for authors to think, “If I’m able to capture this in a book, then it can hopefully get in even more people’s hands and heads, and save them time and pain.”

Can you give us a couple of nuggets from the book? Are there certain people who are more resilient or geographies in the world where business people are more resilient individually? Is there a little bit of a recipe? It’s called a plan so I don’t want to give everything away but I want people to want to go out and get this book. Maybe you could tease us with a little bit of that.

I wrote the book for professionals and leaders who are accomplishing so much on a daily basis and at some point, they need an edge. They need something. They’ve been assuming that they are resilient and don’t need to do anything about it. They can wing it when they need it. It’s going to be there, only to realize it’s not. Everyone knows the kinds of things we should do to increase that resilience.

If only we exercised more and ate better. There are a number of recommendations that are all research-based and beautiful. What most people struggle with is incorporating anything about these things into their lives. That’s where my point is. Let’s create a customized strategic resilience plan for you at this moment. It’s not even your plan forever. It’s your plan for now in this context, which may need to evolve. Once you’ve done it, it’s very simple, then that’s what changes.

Change Proof | Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier | Resilience Plan

Resilience Plan: Create and customize a strategic resilience plan for you at this moment. It’s not even your plan forever but your plan for today in this context, which may need to evolve.

 

It is a very practical book. It is more focused on figuring out what you need to do next than bringing statistics or these pieces of research and all this. It’s all research-based. That conversation in the book is to take you where you are and help you move to point B, having your plan. I’ve extracted the types of exercises and actions that are fairly straightforward but have helped others, similar to the audience I wrote it for, move things forward, create that plan, implement it, and leave with, “This did not take an immense amount of time. I have lots of clarity. I know exactly what to do and I can start now.” It’s beautiful.

Elements, to your question, exercises like making sure you collect in writing your values so that you start from there. We’re not starting from everything the research is saying. We start with you because if we’re going to get customized, then a way to link it to each of us individually at this moment is going to be a central part. It doesn’t take time. I guide people in how to do it but that’s one part of it.

We want to have good and honest visibility about our current sources of supply and demand. Don’t move too quickly from this. It’s very important. Usually, when I ask people, “What kinds of demands are you facing,” they give me their top three things they’re facing at work, which is great. I say, “Give me the top three in your personal life.” I then say, “Add as many as you want on both lists.”

By the time we get there, that’s when they start seeing the size, amount, and weight of all these demands because often, extremely high-performing, capable, and fabulous people tend to be a bit more on the optimistic side, almost to the point of minimizing the demands they’re facing. “That’s not going to be too long. It’s not even on the list.” How many times have you seen it and I’ve seen it, Adam, where you think this next thing that someone asked you to do will take you half an hour? Four hours later, it’s not done.

That optimism is very positive but sometimes, it’s paired with a degree of minimizing that is not. That’s one of the main traps that keeps us from being able to implement anything else. The reality is we’re more jammed than we acknowledge for ourselves. That’s one of the exercises. There are others to also gain even more clarity on your overall context in a very realistic way. That’s in part what I do in the book, making sure you catch yourself and not just skim over this minimizing a number of parts of this picture because then you’ll stay stuck. Once you’ve got good clarity, you can make a plan.

Let’s talk about burnout at the moment. People are certainly aware that there’s plenty of burnout or they’ve been told there’s lots of burnout. What’s your take on the state of burnout in the world? You could be in any region if you like. What is the state of burnout post-pandemic in your worldview?

We do know from research that the rates have increased. Certainly, they have in North America and a number of other countries as well. Every country, of course. Overall, they have increased across various industries and roles. Just so we’re all on the same page, burnout is not a diagnosis like depression or anxiety. Burnout has been defined by the World Health Organization. It is one where we have one definition and it is clear and we’re using it. That’s simple in some ways.

It’s an occupational phenomenon with three main characteristics. We’re exhausted, which is often how we use burnout but that’s not the only thing. We’re also cynical. We’ve given hope that anything’s going to change. It’s impacting our performance. That’s where burnout is at in terms of definition. Rates are increasing. It is interesting that in some ways, we’ve probably heard more about it in the past few years than ever, in part due to the pandemic. That’s the thing. It’s not because we have information that leads to changes in actions. It’s better to have information than not having information but we have a lot of work to do. That’s where it’s at.

It leads to changes in actions. Click To Tweet

The other piece that’s useful with burnout is that it’s not something that appears suddenly. It builds over time. It’s going to connect with the benefits of being proactive in trying to mitigate our risk. We don’t get exhausted, or cynical, and impact our performance like this one day. You may notice it like this one day because you didn’t look at the signs before but it did not just happen there. Before being exhausted, you were overextended. Before being cynical, you were disengaged. Before your performance was significantly impacted, more things started falling through the cracks.

Back to the earlier part of our conversation, if we are paying attention, in this case, to our resilience on a more daily basis, almost, then we will identify these signs and hopefully be able to take action sooner, not leading to a more severe form of experiencing all these signs, like full burnout. That does lead some to depression, anxiety, and other health challenges, whether they’re on the mental health side or the physical health side.

It’s important the idea that people are tracking or creating some personal awareness of these things each day because they don’t manifest overnight but we can often feel them in one shot. That’s itself quite overwhelming and can lead to that sense of, “How did I get here? This is hopeless.” For me, that one shot or that moment of awareness happened in a hospital, lying in bed or on a gurney, thinking, “I’m never going to see my kids again. I’m never going to leave the hospital because I’m about to die.”

That fear feeling was so real and visceral. In my mind, even though it’s a while ago, I can still feel some of the bodily sensations when I talk about it but I can’t take myself mentally back to that moment because it was surreal. At that moment, I experienced what was like an approaching death kind of awareness. That didn’t happen overnight. It happened as a result of ignoring lots of signs along the way. It’s important that people are tracking and taking some stock of how they are feeling. Your book would do a great deal of good in that area alone for that sense of awareness.

I wrote a book about resiliency that came out right in the middle of the pandemic. It was called Change Proof, how to leverage the power of uncertainties as a catalyst to create long-term resilience. Resiliency, in my view, same as yours, is something that you can build, develop, learn, and train at any age. That’s why it’s a magnificent tool for us in our lives but also a way to impact the people around us, whether it’s our family, the people we lead, the teams, or the folks that we’re associated with.

We can be a positive influence in that area. Often, the leader is ignoring their well-being. They’re a team player, which means they’ll miss important events in their family, recitals, and other things because work is taking precedence. They’ll ignore their body and the rest that they need and other things because they’re trying to be that good team player or they’re built to somehow grit things out.

They have this impact on everybody around them as well, especially if they’re senior-level leaders or even managers, frankly. When your habits are that way, it’s hard enough for you that you are going to go through some inevitable depletion and ultimately move in that direction of burnout. Whether you get there or you don’t, you are by what you do and don’t do giving permission or denying permission to the people that are around you.

They take their cues from a leader. If that leader is eating at their desk, makes no time for themselves, and is in first and out last, that’s the signal of success in that environment. Other people may not take the time for their therapy sessions or seek out therapy. They might not take the time to sit and find time for rest during the day. I’m not talking about nap pods or things like that. It’s fine if there are nap pods and people need a nap.

You and I have done similar research to find that resilience. Developing resilience is a micro activity. You take your PTO, it makes sense. Take time off, vacations, and all that thing. You build resilience moment by moment. When you schedule those moments throughout the day, you are constantly refilling your tank so that you don’t end up in that place where you are already on that path to burnout because you’re exhausted and cynical, and your performance is showing signs of it. It’s vital that not only do we do it for ourselves but we’re modeling it for other people.

Change Proof | Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier | Resilience Plan

Resilience Plan: Developing resilience is a micro activity.

 

That’s where I use it as a hook with books because we’re taught that somewhere along the line, taking care of yourself is selfish. It’s not from a psychological standpoint. You could say more about this but people will deny themselves because they think it’s being selfish. Women, in particular, are more even susceptible to that because they’re caregivers to everybody around them first. Is what I’m saying on point or am I way off base?

No. There are different ways in which we will trap ourselves in not paying attention or not taking action. You’ve named a number of them. One of the angles that I discussed that sometimes helps some people shift their perspective is that along the lines with some of the perspectives and beliefs you’ve talked about, it gets to a point where people assume that this is a bit of an all or nothing type of situation, a dichotomy.

Either you are this high-performing, constantly working person here, or you are this constantly taking care of yourself, thinking about nothing else than meditation and your next run or your salad over here. I’m exaggerating them a little bit. For people in category one here, this is not how it works. Sometimes, one of the ways to think about it is to think of your best work challenges. If you’re a leader, you’ve solved complex situations. If you are a professional or whatever the work you do is, there are situations where something happens and you have to solve it.

Sometimes, we find brilliant solutions to things like this. My invitation would be to do the same thing here. You are this assuming, hardworking, high-performing person who has way too many demands, and not enough time to create some source of supply for yourself here. Don’t give up thinking this is an all-or-nothing. You’re not going to become this person who does not work and only eats salad over here. Therefore, you let it go. No.

See this as a fabulous puzzle for you to solve. You’ve got this. You’ve solved complex things before, brilliantly. Do the same thing here. If you are a bit stuck as I’m saying this, as Adam was saying, maybe it’s time to connect with someone else who will help you figure it out, whether it’s the therapist, talking to your coach, or maybe your coach will refer you to a therapist. If you’re not sure, you can talk to different people. Read books, Adam’s book or my book. Do something. Don’t stay there stuck. Keep searching for the book or the person that will help you shift your thinking like you did when you found brilliant solutions before to find your brilliant solution here.

Change Proof | Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier | Resilience Plan

Resilience Plan: Don’t stay stuck. Keep searching for the book or person who will help you shift your thinking just like you did when you found brilliant solutions before to find your brilliant solution here.

 

It’s important as well that we have advocates. Our company is called Work Well. When we do more consulting work with organizations, we often will say what you said, which is that people left to their devices, we know where good intentions sometimes lead and where resolutions lead. How about that? It’s simple. We all get it. People create a resolution at the end of the year and by the middle of January, they’re already breaking whatever that resolution might have been.

Have advocates, people that will hold space. I don’t love the word accountability in that context but people who are there for them to have their back and have each other’s backs is important. Often, we’ll partner people up and they’re each going to try to create or work on a more nuanced approach to their recovery during the day. It is not this all-or-nothing situation but rather it’s much more nuanced than that.

Since it is a new thing they’re creating, it’s a new muscle and habit, then support is key. The last question I have for you is when it comes to your recovery and what you do to be resilient. It’s a work question we like to ask. What is your favorite personal resource for your resilience like how you recharge, reset, and restore yourself?

It’s interesting because there’s more than one end. We know from research that the more you combine them, you get more than the addition of the various forms. It multiplies. There is more than one but you’re asking for one. The one I will tell you is meditation. I am not meditating all the time, all day, long durations. Sometimes, I’ll be sitting in an airplane about to take off and there will be two minutes there.

The more you combine the resources for your resilience, the more you get the addition of the various forms it multiplies. Click To Tweet

Sometimes, there will be a two-minute standing outside of the airplane in the lineup before we board. There is nothing magical or huge about it for me, to your point. It’s part of where it happens every day. The combination of these very small ones and the ones I love the most is when I can get to say fifteen minutes I’ve built towards this. Seriously, it probably took me a few years. For the longest time, I was more like a two-minute type of person. That would be the one.

I so identify with what you said. I was on a TED stage and I declared to the world apparently that I’m a crappy meditator. I’ve never been able to do it for long periods. It’s like I’m standing in line and my flight got canceled. I’m in a line at customer service and I’ve got to get somewhere. I travel a lot and straight. It’s like, “Can I meditate in this line as opposed to getting ready to bark or inhabit my old New York personality when I approach this customer service person within this situation?”

To have a go-to is important. I agree. What we advocate is that our day is filled with these little micro resets that you intend ahead of time because they don’t happen as easily if you don’t think about them ahead of time. I schedule them. I tell people, “If you come and look at my Google calendar, there are breaks for walks or use my standup desk.” I’m sitting at the moment. I hit the button, make it go up, and stand up. It’s things that will create those resets.

If you don’t think about them ahead of time, plan for them, to your point, in a resilience plan. My guess is even with all good intentions, they don’t happen. I have so enjoyed this conversation, MH. I can’t wait to get your book myself. We will certainly advocate for that with our community so that people get out and sink their teeth into it, especially since it’s practical, tangible, and short. The busy on-the-move person is going to be able to digest it and utilize it quickly. I want to say thank you so much for your insights and for your time.

Thank you, Adam. It was a pleasure.

As promised, I hope you would say that was an impactful conversation. It was insightful, meaning things that we discussed or things that will have an impact I believe that people reading, and hopefully you and the people that you might share this show with, would take action on some of the recommendations that were shared.

MH, as she is called, Dr. Pelletier, has a wealth of experience. I found myself leaning in hard to listen to some of the things that she was sharing, the nuances from her research, and her new book that’s coming out called The Resilience Plan, which I highly recommend that you pick up for yourself and your teammates. We talked about a number of things that were important. We both defined resilience, based on our experience as researchers and people who teach in this space.

We also had some room there for healthy disagreement, talking about those nuances, the differences between how we apply resiliency in our everyday lives, both personally and professionally. I so enjoyed talking about how we can avoid certain things like the all-or-nothing trap. I’ve given it that name. She was talking about how often the psychology around resilience is that people see it as something that you have to be all in. You’re meditating and taking long walks. You’re hardly ever working. You’re preparing your salads and greens all the time. There’s that side of the pendulum and then there’s a side that says, “I got to get in, get my stuff done, and get out.”

The more I can be able to grind effectively, do my grind, be gritty, persevere, and persist at all costs, the better and faster I’m onto my personal life. That all-or-nothing mentality and dichotomy is a trap because, in actuality, resilience is created in a nuanced or a micro-step approach that does not involve it being one way or the other exclusively but rather it’s a blend or a combination. This didn’t come up in our conversation but it’s like the dichotomy between work-life and balance. I’m often calling BS on that concept because there is no work-life balance.

What we can hope for at best, or I shouldn’t say at best, is what we can aspire to have, which is work-life harmony. We’ll never have work-life balance, at least not anything that we could say is a sustainable state of balance. It’s the nature of balance that it is temporal. It is temporary. Something more ephemeral, lasting, and sustainable is what we’re after. That is to create harmony between those things. A blending, in other words.

It’s the same thing with our resilience rituals, the habits that we undertake to create more moments to reset, recharge, and replenish ourselves. Those are things that we do in a moment-to-moment setting. These are things that we have to consciously and intentionally design. They are something that we can plan for. There are things that we can think of almost in terms of there being a strategy that enables us to continue to sustain our energy. Things that deplete our energy will ultimately deplete our performance.

According to the World Health Organization, ultimate depletion results in burnout when we are exhausted and cynical, and our performance is impacted by what we’re experiencing. What we understand is that burnout doesn’t happen overnight. We don’t discover it overnight. It happens incrementally over time. Mostly, it’s the thing that we’re ignoring until it’s right there in our faces and we can’t face it because we feel that way.

We know that there are a lot of people who are feeling exhausted, distanced, and disengaged, and feeling that their work might even be suffering. Certainly, their level of happiness and their mental health are the things that are suffering and that are causing great pain. These things are avoidable both from the standpoint of understanding that they don’t happen overnight, that they happen incrementally, and by focusing, strategically speaking, on developing greater resiliency mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually, what you do incrementally moment to moment throughout the day.

My suggestion in our conversation was that you schedule these things. We like to refer to that scheduling as a reset map. When we work with individuals and organizations, we help people create their reset maps and then create buddy systems so that we’re not in it alone. There are those around us that have a stake in our success. They are our advocates. They are truly our buddy system so that we can be successful as opposed to when we create resolutions at the end of the year and typically are not successful in those endeavors.

Our conversation talked about that optimism trap. Often, people who are very high achievers think, “I can do more than I think I can. I don’t think things will take a long time. I’m always optimistic about the ability to take on more.” Ultimately, that becomes a trap in and of itself, because in the end, there is no getting around the fact that we must have time to recover. We need to be able to recharge, restore, and replenish our energy. That’s how we can sustain our performance, be adaptable, and ultimately succeed. That’s the recipe for success in any endeavor.

We persist long enough and adapt effectively enough to be able to succeed in the end. If you fall out at any point, if you become depleted, you quit, and your performance falls off because of that depletion, exhaustion, or burnout even, then you cannot succeed in the end. We have to set ourselves up, in other words, for success in these areas. These are things that we can plan for and train. These are things that we can learn and model for others at any age and in any organizational setting, and that’s the beauty of it.

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed what you’ve learned from MH, from her research, and from our discussion. If there were valuable nuggets or things in the conversation that you would believe would help other people, please share this episode with those. I ask you that in part because I know that the ripple effect is why I do this and why our team is committed to doing it. It also helps in terms of the algorithms and everything else that this show makes its way out into the world.

More people will find it when you do these two things, you share it with other people and provide a rating. In whatever platform you are consuming this, if you could provide a five-star rating or whatever rating makes sense, then that is super helpful in terms of how the algorithm will introduce this content to other people. Thank you for doing that. If you’ve got questions for me or Dr. Pelletier, please feel free to go to AdamMarkel.com/Podcast. Leave your comment or question there. We will be the ones to respond.

She and I agreed that that resilience is a thing that is moment to moment. If you’d like to find out at this moment how resilient you are or how resilient other members of your team might be, you can simply go to RankMyResilience.com. In three minutes, you’ll get that answer mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. You’ll get a snapshot in time of how resilient you are. What’s your capacity level at this moment?

Is your container 50%, 75%, or 100% full? Where are you in this moment? Three minutes is all it takes. It’s entirely free. The resources that you’ll get as well are our gift to you. Thank you so much, as always, for being a part of our community, for following, for listening, for sharing, and for being a support to us. Thank you so much. Have a beautiful day.

 

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About Dr. Marie-Hélène Pelletier

Change Proof | Dr. Marie-Helene Pelletier | Resilience PlanThroughout her career in business management and psychology, Dr. Pelletier has spearheaded a dialogue on the crucial issues of leadership resilience and workplace health. Drawing on her extensive background in corporate, insurance, governance and public sectors, she brings national and international perspectives and expertise on mental health and resilience as a key pillar of overall health. She is a bilingual practicing psychologist with over 20 years of experience in clinical psychology and advisory workplace psychology and holds a Ph.D. and an MBA from the University of British Columbia.

Marie-Hélène is a Member of the Global Clinical Practice Network of the World Health Organization, and past Director on the boards of the Canadian Psychological Association and the International Association of Applied Psychology. She has presented, authored and co-authored a number of industry and academic publications and has won numerous academic and industry awards. In 2024, Dr. Pelletier will release her new book, The Resilience Plan: A Strategic Approach to Optimizing Your Work Performance and Mental Health.