Resilience: It’s not what you do – but what you do next that counts

My Marco, Polo; adventures have been wonderful. I loved working with CrisMarie and leading the Living Alive Phase ( a 25 day program focused on helping people heighten their awareness of their physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual selves and to live more fully.

The group was awesome, as was the leader team. There is always so much learning and richness added to my life when I get to be a part of such a transformational process in other people’s lives. Plus, this time I was working all month with CrisMarie and that has been a dream of mine for a long time. So it was quite amazing.

One of the lessons that really stood out for me this month was a simple reminder of an old quote I love to live by: It isn’t what you do – but what you do next that counts. When I was in my Masters program in Family Systems Counseling almost 20 years ago, this was a quote given to us by one of the faculty members. I can’t remember the author or even the story shared at that point. But I do remember thinking that this really is important when it comes to resilience.

We all make mistakes. Say things that we see impact others differently than we expected. Act in a way that results in unintentional negative outcomes. It is so easy when that happens to feel guilty or quit because of the belief that everything has been ruined. However, resilience is that moment when I have fallen or made a significant mistake, but instead of focusing on what happened I shift to what happens next. I don’t hang out in self-hate, pity or feel guilty. (Unless, of course I do. You know, I’m not perfect. More material for another blog.)

Resilience is when I pick myself up and get right back in the game.

Maybe it’s because I played sports most of my life, and in sports it is pretty clear that extra time taken to dwell on any mistakes results in the score just getting worse. Or may be I simply wasn’t born with a perfectionist gene. I came into the world curious and determined to try things and made lots of mistakes.

When working with people in a human, real way, it’s pretty important to be able to be a good enough leader not a perfect one. Things happen. Plans get changed. People are dropping into themselves and at times are terrified, angry and resistant. Sometimes I am open and compassionate and have no issues holding the space. Other times I hate that my best laid agenda/plan gets blocked, or I am not so willing to take the anger coming my way. It’s in those moments when I am less than my ideal self, that I say things or act in a way I don’t like. Often the group dynamics get worse or more challenging. I try to tell myself, “It’s not what you just did, but what you do next that counts.”

There were more than a handful of rich learnings like that this past month for me. Thankfully, I did remember and spent much less time making a bad moment a lot worse! I think even some bad moments turned into miracles.  That’s the thing, you never know.  Sometimes the mistake is really the greatest opportunity. Best to stick around and stay open to all possibilities.

Leadership takes a lot of curiosity, courage and humbleness. Mostly though, it takes resilience. Taking action, seeing the results and being willing and able in the moment to self-correct as needed.

Now, back home I am aware that my travels and detours have resulted in some important projects and relationships being left unattended. I have no regrets or guilt. I just need to step back into this game and clean up any mess made in my absence. I am on it!