The American Psychological Association gives this definition of resilience:
"The ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, and even significant sources of stress.”
If life didn’t come with lots of stress we wouldn’t need to focus on resilience so often.
Since there is no shortage of stress, never mind adversity and trauma, we need to be actively engaged in increasing the behaviors, the thinking and the emotions that support us being able to bounce back to full functioning.
If you leave an elastic (the very definition of bouncing back) in the freezer long enough it becomes brittle.
June 28-30 we are offering a small group women’s retreat weekend at The Cedars Ranch focused on resilience - a chance to do the work that increases your capacity for living life and a chance to gain some tools! It's going to be a beautiful, inspiring and rejuvenating weekend at our new wellness retreat space in the gorgeous Texas Hill Country. Tickets are limited, so make sure and purchase yours today! What better gift could you give yourself than a chance to increase your ability to be well regardless of what is going on in your life?
Now, to an everyday story of resilience.
Alyssa Duty is my step-daughter and lives in Houston, TX. She is an inspiration in so many ways but I wanted to capture her new insights and self-awareness after running her first marathon recently. They point to resilience in so many ways.
Q: Alyssa, what was it about doing a marathon that appealed to you?
A: It was a huge challenge I wanted to take on after I had my second baby. I ended up having an emergency C-section. The surgery and recovery were so difficult. It helped me to realize that I’d been taking my body and health for granted.
I made a deal with myself that once I was recovered I would start training for a marathon.
Q: So it was about giving yourself a challenge or was it about caring for your body.
A: It was about both - more about giving myself a challenge and pushing my body to its limit. It was also about setting a goal to see what it would be like to push myself to a physical limit. Training for a marathon came with very strategic layouts that I could use from starting all the way to the marathon. That appealed. A lot of my other future goals have a less clear path with less predictable outcomes.
The training for the marathon, although extremely difficult, was do “A” plus “B” and get to “C”. Even though it was hard it worked.
Q: What did you learn about yourself in the process?
A: I learned I could stick to a training plan - that I can be dedicated and driven. I could see my determination and then once the actual race happened I saw myself the most. It was THE hardest thing that I had to push myself through in terms of physical pain and mental toughness.
My body wanted me to stop but my brain was saying to keep going even though I was in an extreme amount of pain.
I learned how tough I can be.
Q: How does that new self-awareness translate in to other parts of your life.
A: I think it has given me more confidence in myself because I learned that I can handle more than I thought I could.
Q: What lessons did you learn in the process that you would love to share with others.
A: I want people to believe that they too can set a goal and set steps to get there. It is about how much time and energy and effort you are willing to put in to it. Sometimes these goals can take years.
Q: You mentioned earlier how the laid out steps supported you in reaching this goal. How do you plan to use a similar strategy of bite-size goals to reach other goals in your life?
A: By looking at the end goal of what I want and then coming up with ideas for steps I could take to get there. Also creating a timeline for what might work and finding ways to keep myself accountable. At the end of the day I need to be willing to change the plan.
One of the other things I learned was that things often don’t go just the way we think they will.
During the training for the marathon I got sick quite a bit. In the 5 weeks leading up to the race I was sick every week with something, including strep throat the week before. The plan that I was using didn’t work but instead of giving up I made adjustments and pushed through. I felt underprepared.
Q: So beyond the step-by-step goals, what other supports did you make use of?
A: I had to coordinate with my husband and he’d have to be on “kid duty” when I was training. So, I had to communicate when I needed help and offer time to him. It forced me to communicate more clearly and helped us as a couple make sure we were both getting time to do what we needed to do for ourselves.
Q: What else do you want to share from this to inspire others?
A: The human potential is so amazing. We never really give ourselves the opportunity to tap in to it.
Q: After achieving such a big goal, what did you notice about pushing yourself after?
A: I noticed that I am much more likely now to not take things so seriously. If things are going wrong, like a bad day at work, I don’t take it as personally. Life is difficult and there are opportunities in those problems. It isn’t about stressing about the problem but about figuring out what the solutions are.
Q: So, having learned more about yourself, what are some of your future goals?
A: One of the big ones is that I want our family to go on a 6-month road trip where we can visit all 50 States. The scary part of saying it out loud is that we could fail. We are planning towards that though.
Q: Pain keeps us from doing a lot of things - be that physical or emotional. How did you push through the pain?
A: I told myself to just lean in to the pain - embrace it. I told myself “I like the pain”. It was the opposite to what we usually do - run away from the pain. It flips things in our brain.
Q: Last question. in summary, what are your top take aways?
A: 1) There is a level of determination inside each of us that is surprising.
2) Human potential is so much more than we realize so much of the time and we can push ourselves further than we think.
3) Like anything difficult in life we need to know when to ask for help from others.
4) It is not about the finish line but the running of the actual race. The journey to get there. The benefits come in the pursuit of the goal. That’s where the lessons are!
Among other talents, Alyssa is a photographer and videographer! Here is an inspiring 7-minute video of her doing the marathon!
Alyssa’s video on the marathon - amazing resilience!
Until next time,
Marilyn Orr, CEC, PCC is a leadership and mentor coach with Capacity Building Coaching, and training partner on EQ-i 2.0 with MHS. She is also co-owner of new Texas Hill Country eco event center and wellness retreat, The Cedars Ranch.
Marilyn provides professional coaching for executives and business leaders, mentor coaching for coaches, and leadership development support in the form of coaching skills training, soft-skills development, facilitation of key discussions and team coaching. Would you like to work with Marilyn? Reach Out to her today.
Marilyn is author of everyday resiliency workbook “How Absorbent Are Your Shocks?”, and is hosting an intimate Resiliency Weekend Retreat in June at The Cedars Ranch for women who want to increase their capacity for living life well. Register today!