ER&L 2014 — Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.

“Nocturna” by Pedro Javier

Speaker: Sarah Durrant, Red Sage Consulting

Change and destruction can bring an opportunity, but it can also be stressful. How are we in the process of change? What tools can help us thrive in this process?

She’s been in this industry for a long time, but has never heard people stand up at conferences and talk about how we are as humans.

Resilience is a message of hope. It’s about what we all have inside us.

Resilience is recovering from or adjusting to misfortune or change; is generating supportive behaviors that help us cope when facing adversity; is bouncing back from stress and adversity and promptly take on new challenges.

Resilience is not keeping going at all costs; is not about ignoring the difficult or sugar coating it; it’s not about irritating platitudes.

Why now? We have an incredibly dynamic sector. There is always change, challenge, uncertainty, and opportunity.

Challenge and opportunity can be good and inspiring but also frustrating and draining, and it can get depleting and stressful. We have evolved to handle short, sharp time of stress, and not the low, background hum that typify our day-to-day lives now. In the UK, stress is now the biggest single cause of sickness in the working population. In the US, job pressure is the main cause of stress, and negatively impacts every aspect of your work.

When we’re under stress in the workplace, we can become disengaged, burnt out, and can result in absenteeism (or presenteeism – being unwell but showing up for work anyway).

Resilience can help. Resilience training can improve performance and productivity, staff motivation, and reduce instances of workplace stress.

We are living in a time when risk is probably good to take, but we need to be able to handle the pressures associated with it.

Resilience is not an innate trait. It’s a capacity we can build within ourselves. However, the practical stuff is hard to convey in a plenary. Workshop tomorrow.

Case Study: Illinois Bell Telephone Company
12 year study in the 1980s during the time when the US telephone monopoly was deregulated. In 1980 to 1981, they downsized by nearly half, and they didn’t get clear direction from the government on what they could or could not do.

2/3 of the staff had significant breakdowns in wellness, but the rest maintained and thrived. The more resilient cohort had powerful attitudes/beliefs about themselves and the world around them. It motivated and encouraged them.

The researchers concluded that challenge, control, commitment (connection) were the key. Being able to view setbacks and difficulties as challenges rather than threats that paralyze. Focusing time and energy on situations where they had some control and could have the most impact. Reaching out to people around them and stayed connected, committed, and motivated.

Resilience training helps us tune into our habitual thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. We practice generating genuine optimistic opportunities, reaching out, etc.

Change and disruption is a normal, expected part of our lives. These things can enhance our lives, but also negatively impact our well-being. Resilience is not innate, but can be learned and cultivated. There is a large and growing research base that can offer tools and ideas for us to use.

Let’s focus on how we’re being so we can get better at the doing.

still tweaking

One thing that I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I am an inherently lazy person.

A few weeks ago I wrote about changing some habits and workflow. Today, as I tweaked my daily tasklist process yet again, I thought I’d post an update/continuation.

One thing that I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I am an inherently lazy person, so I need to set short goals and rewards in order to not let the laziness and procrastination take over. I managed to go five weeks with the 10/15 split method of organizing my day, but when I found myself not doing the things on my schedule, I realized I needed to change it up a bit to keep at it.

Yesterday in my end-of-day wrap-up and planning for today session, I took a sticky note square and began listing attainable goals for the projects I’m currently working on. By attainable goals, I mean things I could do in a 1-2 hour stretch. That’s about how long I can work on any single project without getting burnt-out and distracted, which is why I try to always have several projects in the works at any given time.

Rather than scheduling specific times to work on specific things, I let it flow a little more organically, checking the time only to make sure I wasn’t getting too sluggish. Guess what? It worked. When I’d start to slack off a bit, I’d glance at the list again and I could see the endpoint looming, which encouraged me to delve back into the work.

I thrive and fail in structure, but mostly thrive. Big, long-term projects frequently overwhelm me because I am still learning how to structure my time to work on them, particularly when they have squishy end dates. By setting smaller goals and continuing to trudge towards completion, I will be much happier because as soon as the project is finished, it means I can start working on the next one. And the next project is always more exciting that the one I’m working on right now.


This young adult science fiction novel is a delightful read for anyone who enjoys tales of personal growth.

My review of the revised edition of Sylvia Louise Engdahl’s book Journey Between Worlds has been published on I have been meaning to read the book and write the review for some time, but eventually it became one of those things that was easy to procrastinate on. But, this weekend I had other more significant things to procrastinate over, so I read the book instead. Not the best reason to read a book, but as it turns out, I’m very glad I finally read it, because it’s something I think most everyone would find interesting.

The author dwells less on the technology and shiny gadgetry of space travel and planetary colonization, and more on the human aspect thereof. This results in a very accessible story for readers who are interested in space colonization as well as readers who enjoy stories about personal growth and relationships.

blogger burnout

Wired has an interesting article on blogger burnout.

Wired has an interesting article on blogger burnout. I take Walt Crawford’s advice and first have something to say before posting. I don’t feel like I need to post something every day, or multiple times a day. I just don’t have that much to say that hasn’t already been said, most of the time. Half the time, I’m not even sure that anyone reads this blog, much less looks to it for my opinion on stuff. (Isn’t “stuff” a great, comprehensive, and technical term?)

More problematic for Reynolds, however, is that his readers expect him to weigh in on everything. And when he’s tired or uninterested, that’s not always possible.

“There are times that people want me to have an opinion on stuff that I just don’t have an opinion on,” said Reynolds. “Because I have a lot of opinions on a lot of things, people are surprised when I don’t have an opinion.”