Articles and Resources - Motivation



The Resiliency Factor - How to Bounce Back When Life Hands You Lemons

Mike and Bill graduated with PhD’s at the same time from the same University.  After hundreds of applications, they started their first real jobs in a one year contract position with the same organization.

Unfortunately, after the year was up, both were not renewed due to major cutbacks and reorganization.

Both of them took the news hard and were extremely disappointed.  Over the next 2 weeks they were feeling lost and unsure of their next steps. Mike immediately updated his resume and started to connect with his network. He told himself, “This is not about me.  The economy is down and the government is making massive cuts.  I am very well qualified in my field.  I just need to look for opportunities.”  He ended up getting 3 interviews and 6 months later, moved into a full-time positon.

Bill was bitter and held a grudge against his past employer.  He blamed himself and thought he was let go because he could not perform under pressure.  He said that it would take years for the economy to rebound and felt hopeless.

Nine months later he was depressed and lost hope of ever finding work.

He had gained over 40 pounds, was turning grey and looked 10 years older than his real age.  He struggled in short term jobs and 3 years later secured a position in another province.

Why are these people so different?  It is their ability to be resilient or bounce back.  Some people are able to get over major hurdles in life such as job loss, major change with work, loss of a loved one or serious illness, while others have difficulty coping.

Generally, over time, most people can adapt well to changing situations.It involves resilience and a series of steps which include a strategy to keep going.  The following are some bounce back strategies. 

  1. Change is Life – Get over it and go with the flow.  We cannot control what is happening.  Change is like the seasons.  We can fight the cold weather and complain or take up winter sports or if we are fortunate, go for a winter vacation somewhere warm  It is important to understand that change and resiliency is part of the natural process of life.  Learn to accept it and move on. 
  2. Reach Out and Seek Support - Resilience studies show that people are more resilient when they have strong support networks of friends and family to help them cope with a crisis and also support each other in the workplace.  But you can get an even bigger resilience boost by giving support. In a 2017  study of psychological resilience among American military veterans, higher levels of gratitude, altruism and a sense of purpose predicted resiliency. “Any way you can reach out and help other people is a way of moving outside of yourself, and this is an important way to enhance your own strength,” said Dr. Southwick. “Part of resilience is taking responsibility for your life, and for creating a life that you consider meaningful and purposeful. It doesn’t have to be a big mission — it could be your family. As long as what you’re involved in has meaning to you, that can push you through all sorts of adversity.”
  3. Perceptions – We may start out by looking at a situation, from our own point of view and may not see the complete picture.  But as we examine the situation more closely and have discussions with others, we can begin to see things differently.  Keep in mind that perceptions can be difficult to change after our first impression, so flexibility comes into play. By being open to perceptions, or ability to be resilient becomes easier.
  4. Setting Goals with a Specific Purpose – By consciously setting purposeful goals, it gives us direction and focus.  It gives us a reason to move forward.  When faced with a difficult decision, think about what is most important to me?  What am I moving towards?  Does this action take me closer or further away from my goal?
  5. How Significant Will this Event be 5 Years from Now?  Consider what you are going through.  Will this event be a mountain in your life that had a major impact, or will it be a small mole hill?  Will you even remember this event 5 years from now?  While some people tend to dramatize, and overreact to the mole hills in life, we can learn to be more resilient by thinking about its relevancy.  Rather than viewing this problem as an unsurmountable scenario, think about some creative ways to deal with it.
  6. Use Visualization – Close your eyes and visualize what it be like when your goal has been achieved. Make the goal as clear as possible.  What do you see, hear, feel, taste, and touch?  Athlete Peter Vidmar practiced his gymnastics routine in the gymnasium for years as if he was performing in front of the 1984 Olympic judges.  He visualized 13,000 people in their seats and another 200 million people watching on television.  He lived and breathed this scene each day.  However, when the actual Olympics took place, he pictured himself practicing his routine in his local gymnasium like he had done hundreds of times before.  It is not surprising that this athlete won gold!  What does your big life goal look like when you have accomplished it?
  7. Discover yourself – What activities are you interested in or attracted to?  Make a list.  This exercise will give you a chance to figure out what you need to focus on.  Does this change in life help or hinder your movement towards your focus?  When driving a car, we are told to focus on where we want to go to avoid an accident, rather than the object in front of us. By discovering ourselves, we are better able to put our attention on what really matters and bounce forward towards this direction.

By practicing these 7 different strategies, it will help you bounce back even after the most difficult situation in your life.

More details on the application of the Resiliency Factor strategy can be learned during the half day workshop on this topic.



7th Day Reboot Program

“I like being busy and juggling a lot of things at the same time. I get bored easily, so I need to do a lot,” Said Ellen DeGeneres.   Every day we are inundated with messages, meetings and social media.  Texting, e-mails and phone calls fill our day.  While we can physically rest, it is challenging at times to let our mind rest.  We try to take the weekend off, but often return to work on Monday morning, feeling tired and scattered.

Research has shown that we need to take the time to restart and refuel when our tank is low.  However, at times, our tanks can be running on empty.  We simply cannot operate at optimum 7 days a week.

In a recent review of research, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang of the University of Southern California and her co-authors, agree that “when we are resting the brain is anything but idle and that, far from being purposeless or unproductive, downtime is essential to mental processes that affirm our identifies, develop our understanding of human behavior and to make sense of what recently happened.”  Resting the brain is an essential quality for rejuvenation.

According to Devian Franklin, we need to take one day off each week, to recharge ourselves.  It will help us recharge, refresh and prepare for the next week, while reducing stress. 

Hence the 7th day reboot program was started in which participants take one day off each week and do 4 activities:

  • No work
  • Nix shopping or errands
  • No cleaning or chores around the house
  • Nix social media - it keeps us connected and can cause stress

Does this sound too good to be true?  Now that we have all this free time, what do we do with it?

Use this one day to recharge and renew for your week.

  • Take 1 hour and do anything you want to do for yourself.  Spend time with family or friends to reconnect, watch a movie, learn something new or exercise.
  • Spend 1 hour outdoors and enjoy nature.  Go for a walk, hike or run, ride your bike or play mini golf with the Grandkids.
  • Enjoy a power nap.
  • Read a book or meditate.
  • Cook with love and experience 1 new ingredient.  Good health begins with good food.
  • Write in your journal – Who I am, what do I want to do and plan how to get there.

A friend of mine started the 7th day reboot program last Sunday.  After worship, she went out for breakfast with friends, walked outdoors for an hour, followed by a 20-minute nap.  Upon waking up, she read a best seller book for an hour and then cooked a recipe using the spice mace.  She watched the classic movie, Anne of Green Gables in the evening and did not touch social media.  There were no problems sleeping and she felt refreshed and energized on Monday morning.

Try it out and see how it works for you!


5 Easy Steps to Use EI (Emotional Intelligence) Rather than IQ For Success

Sammy was a fierce leader in an executive position. He had a clear direction of where he wanted his organization to go and how to get there.  He was surrounded by the best and brightest people. But he had a problem, his staff could not relate to him.  He operated in the old command and control style. Do as I say and do not question anything. Sammy believed that there was no place for emotions in the workplace. He was a "screamer" and it was common to see grown women and men leave his office in tears. It did not take long before his senior managers resigned and it trickled down to his middle and junior staff. The organization was facing a downward spiral and major changes were required to offset a disaster.

Sammy needed to have a close look at himself and his style of leadership to bring this organization back on track. It was essential for him to make some drastic changes to his management style and use emotional intelligence to gain the support of his staff.  But there is help out there ... Enter the world of emotional intelligence (EI).

These are the 5 steps of EI which will have more impact in your personal and professional life.

  1. Self Awareness – This is the foundation in which you listen to your inner dialogue (how you talk to yourself), look for patterns and tune into these patterns. Recognize and be more aware of your physical symptoms. For example, I get a queasy stomach before each Monday morning meeting. Be honest with yourself. Why is my stomach getting upset?  Are you getting the responses that you expect from different interactions? Sammy thought that he was approachable, but most staff members did not feel that way.
  2. Self Regulation – This is about being able to manage your thoughts, assess your response to an action or behavior and act appropriately. For example during a difficult conversation, take a deep breath, take a break or go for a walk, then respond assertively. EI users are able to recognize stressful symptoms and are able to manage properly and "let go" at the right time.
  3. Self Motivation – Set and work towards specific goals. Build a network of supportive friends, family and peers. Have a sense of purpose as to what drives you and work toward these goals.
  4. Empathy – Understand where other people are coming from and put yourself in their place.
  5. People Skills – Strengthen interpersonal skills by using assertive language and "I" statements. Know and respect boundaries of others and handle conflict constructively.

By using the EI approach, rather than only IQ, Sammy will be able to get back on track with his employees, exert his leadership role and meet the goals of his organization. Staff will be more engaged and actually want to be at work.

Do you want to know more about how EI can work for you and organization, contact Helen Dyrkacz for a workshop or coaching program near you.

More details available at Emotional Intelligence at Work.



Did You Know That Managing People Is Like Running A Marathon?

Over the summer, I have run in two half marathons. The first one was the Fargo Rocks Marathon (complete with live bands at every mile) and the second one was in hometown, Winnipeg. We were fortunate to have ideal conditions. The skies were overcast and temperatures were in the mid-teen’s or mid-60’s for our American friends. Each run was fast, flat and friendly. Two years ago, I actually ran (and successfully completed) my first full marathon. But that is a subject for another blog.

As I reflect upon the races, I believe that running is similar to managing people.

In order to complete a marathon in a reasonable time, runners need to get in shape. I remember my first attempt. I ran the distance of 1 street light to the next and then walked to the next one. It took me 3 weeks to run around the block without stopping! When managing, we need to develop the necessary competencies and skills to do the job. It might consist of working with a coach or mentor, taking formal or informal courses or training to bring up our skill level. Even seasoned runners constantly look for ways to improve their times. Personal and professional development is a necessary part of life.

Runners constantly set goals for themselves. The goal might be for an upcoming race, running for charity or running a few minutes longer without stopping for a walk break.  Managers set short and long terms goals for themselves and their staff. The goals could relate to their current position and how they want to strengthen their management style or longer term in their career path or profession. Goals give us a sense of direction and purpose.

When running it is easier to focus on an object and run towards it. It is easier to say, "I need to run to the next street light or the next tree," rather than, "I need to run 10 more miles." They focus on the smaller objects, but every so often they need to look at the horizon. A manager has overall objectives to accomplish which is the broader horizon. Why are we here? What do we need to accomplish? Then they break it down into smaller, manageable chunks.

It takes a team to run a marathon. Thousands of volunteers are along the route, handing out water and cheering the runners. Police make the route safe by blocking traffic. Family and friends provide support so that runners have the time to train, eat properly and rest before the big event. It also takes a team to get our work done. We could try to do everything by ourselves, but many hands make the load easier.

There will be challenges along the way. That’s life. Injuries will happen, shoes will get worn out and temperatures will vary. If we are committed to our goals, we will find a way to deal with the obstacles. Management is not always easy. There will be difficult decisions to make and not everyone will agree with us. But like the runner, focus on what is most important and take one day at a time.

At times training for a marathon may feel like taking 2 steps forward and 1 step backwards. Not every day will be a Personal Record (PR) or Personal Best (PB). As my 91-year old Uncle would say, "The most important thing is to keep moving." One step at a time for a runner or manager. 

We would love to have your feedback! What has been your management (or running) experience? What has worked for you? We would also like to know what have you learned in your journey. Tell us what you have done and the results that were achieved!



A Bit of Inspiration During the Holiday Season

Today I went to a celebration of life service for a 99 year old women. I did not know her, but for some unknown reason, I was drawn to the event. They say that a person is best remembered not for who they knew, but who they inspired. I knew her Grandson, whose life was totally changed, due to her inspiration (in a good kind of way).
Alice Carpenter grew up in a 16 x 24 feet house. (That is the size of my deck.) There were 7 other children living in the home. No running water, no electricity, no furnace for the cold winter nights, just lots of love.
Alice married and became a hard working homemaker. She was an accomplished seamstress, gardener and painter. She cycled into her 80’s and bowled into her 90’s.
She lived until she was 99 years old and has a t-shirt with #99 to prove it. She was affectionately known as Grandman Caribou in the family – not sure how she got that name. But the thing that stood out for me was her devotion to her faith and strong family values.
I heard that she inspired many people, but the one in particular was her Grandson Kevin. It is no wonder that Kevin is now a parish priest in a thriving part of south Winnipeg.

The holiday season is a difficult time to deal with the loss of a loved one. But it is also a good reminder of what is most important to us. As the family stated, during this festive season, spend time with family and friends, as Grandma would have wanted. Talk, listen, and learn from others around you. Connect and reconnect with people that you have not seen for awhile. I have never met this woman, but somehow she has inspired me. Perhaps she will inspire you too.



9 Tips To Motivate Staff When The Going Gets Tough

Develop Your Motivational Skills

In some organizations, April can be a difficult time of the year. The Easter break has passed and it is a few months before summer vacations begins. Staff are working hard to meet deadlines and can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. But in the process, they are getting stressed, worn out and just plain cranky. So, how managers create the right kind of environment to motivate and keep them motivated?

There are two types of motivation; extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is when someone else tries to make you do something. These actions do not work in the long term and staff will leave an organization. Intrinsic motivation if when you want to do something. The motivation comes from within.

9 tips to create the right environment that enhances intrinsic motivation:

  1. The Future - Find out the interests of your employees. What are their career aspirations? What motivates them? Where do they see themselves 5 years from now? This will help them focus on their career, seek out meaningful work, and help managers point them in the right direction.
  2. Choices – Give employees choices, such as their hours of work and conditions.
  3. The Work – I worked on projects for many years. At the beginning of each year, our team brainstormed and planned the upcoming projects, based on the goals, objectives and priorities of our organization. Then each team member selected the projects they wanted to work on and its timing.  Employees appreciated the ability to work on areas of interest, within the broader mandate of the organization.
  4. Challenge – Work needs to stimulate their intellect. Employees wants to learn and have daily successes. Goals need to be tough but attainable.
  5. Interpersonal relationships – Development of good working relationships with the boss and other co-workers makes the work place an enjoyable place to be.
  6. Work life balance – Employees need to have a balance between their personal and professional lives and feel that they have a sense of control over how much time they spend in each area.
  7. Trust – When employees trust each other and their managers, work becomes easier. Employees do not have to watch their back, because they know that others will look out for them and they will do the same.
  8. Thank you – Show appreciation and recognition for a job well done.
  9. Create a happy, positive working environment where employees can self motivate and have fun doing it!

Be using these 9 tips, employee engagement, retention and motivation will be enhanced.

We would love to have your feedback! Tell us what you have done and the positive results that were achieved!!


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