Leading a Resilient and Peak-Performing Life that Supports the Common Good

Climb to the TopAs I have said multiple times throughout the different sections of this site, one does not have to have a paying or nonpaying job that is traditionally thought of as a Common Good job or work for what is traditionally thought of as a Common Good employer to be contributing to the Common Good. One can also lead their lives in a way that supports the Common Good—that is, provides positive benefits to the greater community and not just to yourself. Again, you can see why that is the case, if you go back to the definition of the Common Good:

Common Good refers to any idea, plan, or actual deed that will benefit a community as a whole, and not just help a select few.

This section identifies ways that individuals can stay healthy and energized and working at peak strength in Common Good activities. Each of these sections will begin with a slide from programs I have done on Peak Performance Living.

The Peak Performance Mindset

  • Identify your volition
  • Your Mission Statement
  • Relaxation
  • Seeing with the mind’s eye: mental rehearsal
  • Creating an expectation of success
  • Letting go

Peak Performance: Mental Training Techniques of the World’s Greatest Athletes – Charles Garfield PhD

I have used Charles Garfield’s *** Peak Performance: Mental Training Techniques of the World’s Greatest Athletes for much of my career to help job seekers and others I have coached understand the importance of mental preparation for anything one does. Garfield introduces the power of volition, making a choice and engaging your will to make it happen through the creation of a Mission Statement. Garfield describes a Mission Statement as follows: “By developing what peak performers call a sense of mission, a passionate belief in a personal philosophy that establishes the basis for setting goals, you can control your own energies and generate that special drive essential for excelling in your sport.” It is a purpose, a passionate belief—not a simple goal. I had to create a Mission Statement when I graduated from my Master’s degree program in Counselor Education in 1977. The statement, which I still have on the wall in my office, is: “To help as many people as possible to live a life with which they are satisfied.” That statement has shaped my decision-making around career and other choices I have made in my life, with my moving away from a choice if it did not allow me to be consistent with that Mission Statement. I would encourage you to create a Mission Statement using what you know about yourself along with what you might have learned about yourself as you moved through this site.

Garfield then provides suggestions about how to relax one’s mind, visualize success, and slow down so that one can move ahead.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

  • Be proactive
  • Begin with the end in mind
  • Put first things first
  • Think win/win
  • Seek first to understand, then to be understood
  • Synergize
  • Sharpen the saw

You may be familiar with Stephen Covey’s best-seller, *** The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The key for me in his 7 Habits is the first—to be proactive—which he defines as, “The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value…proactive people are driven by values—carefully thought about, selected and internalized values.” Go back to Question Four in the Why You and Why the Common Good section: What are your values and how do they connect to the Common Good? This exercise is related to Garfield’s challenge to create a Mission Statement. The clearer you are about your purpose and your values, the more likely it is that you will make decisions that support your Mission Statement. Covey’s remaining 6 Habits can be just as powerful as you look to move ahead in your career.

Training Your Brain & Body for Health and Success

  • Why physical exercise grows the brain: Bring on the endorphins
  • The brain needs High Grade Natural Fuel: What you eat affects what you think and remember
  • Because Gray Matters: Daily workouts in the World Brain Gym
  • How sleep enriches the mind
  • How can you make stress work for you?
  • Letting go

The Brain Training Revolution – Paul Bendheim MD

There has been an explosion of books and other products that talk about enhancing brain functioning. That is a great development. The book I have chosen to use as a focus of my work with people who want to create a healthy body–mind regimen for themselves is called *** The Brain Training Revolution: A Proven Workout for Healthy Brain Aging by Paul E. Bendheim, MD. The suggestions he makes impact not only the brain, but your body and your outlook on life. He outlines in a very clear and thorough way how physical exercise, diet, mental exercise, sleep, and the lessening of stress through multiple means, including changing one’s attitude, can work toward increasing the health of your body and mind. Whether you read Dr. Blenheim’s book or one of the hundreds of others that are out there, creating a lifestyle designed to enhance your physical and mental functioning will obviously increase your ability to contribute to the Common Good more effectively and over a longer period of time.

Five Levels of Resiliency

  • Level 1 – Optimize our health and well being
  • Level 2 – Develop good problem solving skills
  • Level 3 – Develop strong inner gate keepers: self-confidence, self-esteem, self-concept
  • Levels 4/5 – Develop high level resiliency skills

The Resiliency Advantage – Al Siebert PhD

Part of this section on Resilience was also in the Approaching Organizations of Interest section under The 7th Key to Success. It is repeated here because developing resilience is becoming increasingly important, as pressures on individuals mount in our increasingly interconnected world.

As I had mentioned earlier, Dr. Al Siebert wrote one of the most useful books on this topic, called *** The Resiliency Advantage: Master Change, Thrive Under Pressure, and Bounce Back from Setbacks. His research on resiliency is available at *** www.resiliencycenter.com.

Let’s look at each of the 5 Levels of Resiliency on the previous slide.

  • Level 1 – An optimal health plan is laid out in detail. Siebert says, “To remain healthy, your body needs time when your heart rate slows down, digestive processes increase, and the complex activities of your immune system increase…You will manage your emotional reactions in emotionally competent ways, gain control over events in your life that affect you, and be able to create a positive, supportive, healthy environment for yourself.”
  • Level 2 – Three kinds of intelligence and how to use them are outlined:
    • Analytical Intelligence: logic, reason, and abstract thinking used to solve familiar problems
    • Creative Intelligence: used to invent unusual solutions in new and unfamiliar circumstances
    • Practical Intelligence: applied to solving situational, real-life problems. People who are ‘street smart’ are individuals who have practical intelligence, although they may use logical and creative thinking as well.“When you follow steps for effective problem solving, you not only solve problems better than most, you develop self-confidence about your resiliency and sustain better health.”
  • Level 3 – The point is made that the 3 gatekeepers to resiliency—your Self-Confidence, Self-Esteem, and Self-Concept—control your access to higher-level resiliency abilities. A major reason for that control is that they are tied to physiological components connected to your physical actions, your feelings, and your verbal, conceptual thinking. A number of activities are suggested to strengthen these three critically important gatekeepers.
  • Levels 4 & 5 – There are separate chapters on the 7 ways to develop increasingly higher level resiliency skills. In the first of these chapters, titled Unleash Your Curiosity: Enjoy Learning in the School of Life, we are taught to use the three ways we are born to learn—attending classes in school, imitating effective role models, and self-managed learning from our own experience—in a way that lets us optimize what happens daily by taking advantage of optimistic or pessimistic thinking as we choose.

In the second chapter, titled The Power of Positive Expectations, Siebert explains how “optimism and pessimism both tend to be self-fulfilling prophecies. If you expect a good outcome, your brain spots little events and momentary opportunities that can lead to that outcome. If you expect a bad outcome, your brain will have you thinking, feeling, and acting in ways that lead to that outcome.” He soon follows that point with the critically important fact, “A person’s attitude cannot be replaced by telling him or her to change what to think, but by choosing to practice thinking in a different way, a person can change an attitude.” He makes suggestions about how to do that, with the caveat, “It takes a long time to develop an attitude, and it takes conscious, applied personal effort to undo or change an attitude—as with any habit.”

In the third chapter, titled Integrating Your Paradoxical Abilities, Siebert states that “highly effective people can engage in optimistic and pessimistic thinking as they choose to.” He outlines how paradoxical complexity increases both resiliency and emotional intelligence.

The fourth chapter is titled, Allowing Everything to Work Well: The Synergy Talent. Siebert explains how highly resilient people create optimal situations for themselves and others, while adding positive synergistic energy to a situation rather than lessening the energy by creating destabilizing and discordant conditions.

The next chapter is titled, Strengthening Your Talent for Serendipity. In it, Siebert explains that serendipity is the ability to convert life-disrupting events into good luck. It is “an advanced-level resiliency skill where individuals with many basic resiliency strengths are often able to convert a life-disrupting experience into one of the best things that ever happened.” He describes ways to develop that strength.

In the sixth chapter, titled Mastering Extreme Resiliency Challenges, we are introduced to a number of individuals who had to deal with severely traumatic experiences. The point is made that each journey to recovery is different and that many of them include some or many of a six-part process.

The seventh and final chapter in the book is titled, Our Transformational Breakthrough. In it, we are introduced to the 5,000-year-old I Ching, the oldest continuously used book in human history. “It communicates that (1) change is constant, (2) change is the only stable reference point in life, and (3) the never-ending process of change can be simple, easy, and natural for us.” Siebert stresses that we can choose to either adapt or not to this constant change. “When we choose to flow along with the energies of change, we can often get good outcomes by choosing when to act or not act in certain ways.” He provides some very powerful final thoughts on how to live this way, focusing on dozens of ways to move “from” and “to” new and effective ways of being.

A final person I would like to bring to your attention who has done powerful work in the areas of resilience, perseverance, and ways to live a Common Good life is Meg Wheatley. She has done some of the best writing available about how individuals who want to support the common good can do so while staying energized and effective in an ever-changing and challenging world. Her book, Perseverance, is in her words, “My offering to you if you seek to be one who perseveres, if you hope that your work and life contribute to making things better, not worse, for the people, issues, and places you love.” In this inspirational book she provides dozens of illuminating quotes and practical and realistic suggestions about how to continue to move forward effectively.

In So Far From Home: Lost and Found in our Brave New World, she has written a book that in her words, “describes how we can do our good work with dedication, energy, discipline, and joy by consciously choosing a new role for ourselves, that of warriors for the human spirit.”

I have never met Meg, but have been inspired by her writing ever since, in my role as a leadership- development consultant and executive coach, I read her best-seller, Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World. Immersing yourself in her writings and possibly attending one of her workshops that are outlined on her website—www.margaretwheatley.com—would be a gift to yourself that might help sustain you in your Common Good work, life, and leadership.

I would like to close out this section with a Resilience Resource listing I have used in workshops. It includes an additional reference to an Al Siebert book on this topic and to three other Meg Wheatley books.

Key Resilience Researchers

The Resiliency Advantage, Al Siebert, PhD

The Resiliency Center – www.resiliencycenter.com – includes a Resiliency Quiz and other material from Al Siebert, PhD

The Survivor Personality: Why Some People are Stronger, Smarter, and More Skillful at Handling Life’s Difficulties…and How You Can Be Too, Al Siebert, PhD

Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman, PhD

www.authentichappiness.org – The Positive Psychology website of the University of Pennsylvania and Martin Seligman, PhD. It contains a number of online assessments that measure Authentic Happiness, Optimism, and 24 Character Strengths, among others. The site requires you to register to take these assessments.

Seligman, Martin. “Building Resilience.” Harvard Business Review, April 2011.

The Survivor’s Club – Ben Sherwood – www.TheSurvivorsClub.org – provides access to an online Survivor Profiler assessment

The Resilience Factor – Karen Reivich, PhD and Andrew Shatte, PhD

http://adaptivlearning.com – Contains access to a demonstration version of the 60-item Resilience Factor Inventory

www.margaretwheatley.com – I mentioned three of Meg’s books above. She has also written four additional ones: A Simpler Way, Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now, Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future, and Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time.

Meg’s publisher, Berrett-Koehler, is another Common Good Resource, and I would encourage you to go to their website, www.bkconnection.com. They are, in their own words, “An independent publisher dedicated to an ambitious mission: Creating a World that Works for All.” They have created the BK Community on their site, which is, in their words, “A virtual meeting place where people from around the world can engage with kindred spirits to create a world that works for all.”

Select Harvard Business Review Articles on Resilience

Coutu, Diane. “How Resilience Works.” Harvard Business Review, May 2002.

Goleman, Daniel. “Resilience for the Rest of Us.” Harvard Business Review, April 25, 2011.

Hamel, Gary and Liisa Välikangas. “The Quest for Resilience.” Harvard Business Review, September 1, 2003.

Margolis, Joshua and Paul Stoltz. “How to Bounce Back from Adversity.” Harvard Business Review, January–February 2010.