5 Ways To Build Career Resiliency

Bad things happen to good people. Karma doesn’t always show up in time. Even good people may find that the knife in their back sports their own fingerprints. Even the most well-intentioned leaders do stupid stunts from time to time. My time in HR gave me a front row seat to such tragedies. It’s not a matter of if you’ll need career resiliency. It’s when.

Sometimes I could help. Many times, even the most energetic HR fairy dust couldn’t save them. The best I could offer suffering souls during these times was resiliency support.

If all’s well in your world, amen. Please contribute to this community by sharing your own lessons and stories. Brilliant recovery stories strengthen anguished adversity.

5 Ways to Build Career Resiliency

Resiliency is hardly ever about “returning to the original form after being bent, compressed, or stretched.” Chances are that original form had something to do with current predicament. It’s about gathering up the lessons and energy from the potentially crippling scene, and emerging stronger, wiser… knowing you have the fortitude to recover the next time. There’s always a next time.


Your career is a story. Tragic events by nature scream “ending.” Rewrite them as the critical turning point… just before everything got better. Become the author of your own story. _________ happened. That sucked. But then _________. If _______ hadn’t happened I would never have ___________. Spend time considering the possibilities for the next chapter.


Okay, allow yourself to grieve, throw things, and yell at your mirror for a few minutes. Then work on interpretation. Why did this happen? Grab the lessons with eager fists. Hit yourself in the head with them if that feels better. Then try alternative views… “On the other hand, this is great news because____________. Generate as many answers to that question as you can. Put an asterisks next to the ones you most believe.


When the wind is at your back, there’s little need or energy to adjust the compass. Don’t waste this scarce opportunity to let the sails flap for a while and consider your best direction.


The natural scramble is to look for more of the same: a similar role, or industry. Consider all your gifts. Diversity builds future resiliency. Look for opportunities to pivot toward a role that will strengthen and stretch.


Assume you’ll land on your feet and get ready for next time. You’ll face tricky situations again. Take some time to write down your key learnings. Build your network (by giving first). Save some money once you’re able.  Having some cash in the bank is the best way to reduce frenetic grasping and slow down for better options.

Your turn.  Share your ideas, advice and stories on resiliency.

Effective Networking: 6 Secrets Your Kids Know

We’d spent the last 5 days reconnecting as a family, completely dark from any semblance of social networking. Alright, I’ll be honest… all networking…each night my husband and I requested a table for 4 on this 5 night cruise to Mexico. It’s cool to meet other travelers… but not this time, we needed family and rest.

The final evening’s entertainment was a magic show.

My son, Sebastian, was lucky enough to be selected as the “assistant.” I wasn’t shocked by his hammy performance (he comes by that naturally). What happened next intrigued me.

As we exited the auditorium, people approached my son and began waving and congratulating him from across the room. He had stories about everyone. “Oh those are the women who taught me Mexican dominos at the pool, they live in Bri-ain,” trying to work his Liverpudlian accent, “but are really from Daaaalllas,” adding a draw. “You remember Abe, he calls himself the sausage king, he’s half deaf but likes to play the drums.”

The pattern continued as we hopped on the elevator…. “She’s the mommy of the girl I played ping-pong with on Tuesday.” And then on the way to dinner… and then again in the customs line the next day… This kid had connections.

The truth is most kids make friends more easily than grown-ups. We start being open to new connections and grow ourselves out of it.

What Kids Can Teach Us About Networking

Kids can teach us a lot about networking. Try working a few of these approaches into your networking.

  1. No agenda – Kids connect with no agenda. They don’t think, “gee, if I meet this girl, maybe she’ll introduce me to her brother with the Pokemon shirt…he may have a card in his collection I need…” Nope, they just join in and see what happens. They build relationships for the sake of relationships.
  2. Are open to new relationships – If someone introduces themselves, they don’t question motive.  Kids don’t wonder, “what’s this guy really want?”  They get past the small talk sooner. “Yeah, my math teacher’s really mean too… but maybe it’s me, I hate math.”
  3. They play – You’re going to meet a lot more people playing in the pool than on the deck. Kids get in the pool. Play leads to natural interaction and builds relationships.
  4. They share toys – Kids are taught to share their toys, and doing so leads to friendships. Grown-ups lose this instinct. I’m always amazed in my fitness class how grown-ups fight over weights (that don’t even belong to them). You can only use one set at a time, but everyone likes to have choices in front of them, just in case. Asking the person one mat over to “borrow” their weights typically leads to a dirty look. No one proactively offers. Most grown-ups don’t follow the same rules they teach their kids.
  5. They follow-up – When they meet someone they like, they attach more quickly. “That was fun, are you going to the kid’s club after dinner? Wanna meet at the pool again tomorrow?” They don’t call it networking. They have no system, they just ask.
  6. They bounce back. – No one likes to feel rejected. But most kids seem to accept casual slights for what they are. They don’t over-analyze. “What happened to John?” “Oh, he didn’t want to play any more.” They move on.

Help Your Team Become More In 2014

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
~ John Quincy Adams

My eyes are crossing and my neck is twitchy after 27 conference calls to finalize our 2014 Performance Agreements. We’ve debated what defines a “balanced scorecard” and negotiated performance objectives down to the decimal point. As is par for the course in big companies, standardization is vital to ensure we’re fair and consistent. But nailing the perfect performance formula alone won’t inspire game-changing ideas or grow deeper leadership.
If you’re mired in similar new year, performance activities, be sure you take time to engage deeper conversations. Encourage your team to become more.

Questions to Help Your Team BECOME More

Start by disussing specific behaviors to ensure your team will nail their KPIs. I’ve watched far too many leaders miss this step. Then go deeper. B.E.C.O.M.E. more.

B- Boldness: Scary dreams, deeper challenges, courageous moves and daring decisions

  • What could you accomplish this year if you had unlimited resources? What’s a different means to similar ends?
  • Where (and with whom) are you playing it safe? At what cost?
  • What dreams are you saving for later?

E- Energy: Passion ignitors and life-force zappers

  • When, where, and with whom do you feel most alive?
  • Which aspects of your work exhaust you?
  • What will you do to renew your energy this year?

C- Callings: What or who is calling for more

  • What work would you pursue, even if you weren’t paid?
  • Who most inspires your professional life? How can you attract more people with those qualities?
  • Which of your gifts lie dormant in your current role?

O-Openness: Possibilities, awareness, and receiving the unknown

  • What possibilities are you ignoring?
  • How and where will you find creative inspiration?
  • How will you invite input and feedback?

M-More: Seeing bigger, broader, and giving more

  • How will 2014 be categorically different from last year?
  • What do you most want to be known?
  • Who will you serve?

E-Execution: What actions matter most (and least). Envision breakthrough success.

  • What would make this year the best in your career?
  • Who else can you invite to join your leadership pit crew?
  • What could get in the way of your success?

Invite each member of your team to choose 2 or 3 questions that would best serve them this year. Discuss the questions in your one-on-ones. Encourage the team to pick a few questions to discuss as a team. Set the stage for a breakthrough year of becoming.