Webinar presenter Dr. Kimberly Miller answered a number of your questions after her presentation, More Ways to Bounce and Build Your Resilience. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: How can a manager use what you’ve talked about today to help their employees? I don’t want to steal the thunder for next week but can you kind of talk to that a little bit about how managers can use everything that you talked about in parts 1 and 2 to help their teams, especially during this time?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: Yes, and you know what I’d probably start with is I’d probably start with some questions like the ones I asked you all today. So ask people how resilient they currently feel and maybe ask what they feel like they need or what their biggest struggle is because again if you have people that are all at a one or between a one and a three, that to me would be a very different conversation than someone who is at a three or four or five that might just be looking for a boost. So I would start by asking them those questions and then, you know have the PowerPoints with you or whatever. Then say well based on what you’re telling me where you are with your resilience and based on what you’re telling me you need. Here are some concepts and tools I’d like to share with y’all and get your feedback. So I’ll just make a bit of an example. So if your people come back and on some level you’re hearing that they have a negative story. They’re like, oh man, we’re never going to make it through this. Oh, work is terrible. Oh, I’m so frustrated. Oh, I’m exhausted. Oh, this is just awful. Then you might want to say well. Let’s think about the story we’re telling ourselves. What story are we telling ourselves now? And what personal story can you tell yourself that’s better and help reframe it and even bring it to what story do we tell about our own team and how does that affect how we show up? What can we do differently with that? So I would assess where your people are, figure out what tools you feel like are going to best meet those needs, and share with them and talk with them. I think one of the best things you can do, as a leader, is say here’s what I’m doing, you know I realized I didn’t have a good story. I’m changing this because if they hear you talk about concepts, but they don’t hear how you’re practicing or that aha moment you have they’re probably not going to be super motivated to do it. If you can show that somehow are in a struggle too. This has been helpful for you. I think it really opens them up and lays the pathway for them to engage with you, talk to you, and work on it together as a team.
Audience Question: Kimberly that has to be, boy, that has to be interesting for a manager to learn how to open themselves up and share and even admit that they’re struggling. That has to be kind of a growth process for some managers.
Dr. Kimberly Miller: Certainly, but and I talked about this a little bit in the last webinar. The reality is we connect through vulnerability. Some of you on the call might be familiar with Brene Brown. I love her and all of her work. If you’re not familiar with her, I encourage you to look at her TED Talk and all of her books the one I recommended last time. I’ll take you to the page where I had references. The one thing I didn’t put on here today was Brene Brown’s book on Rising Strong. I think that’s quite the best book to read. If you’ve never read her books given where we are in a crisis. I know that a lot of leaders struggle with vulnerability and admitting that they’re in struggle or it’s hard. But to be honest with you. I don’t know any human on this planet right now that’s not in struggle. Reality is we’re all in a tough time, you know, whether you lost your job. I talked to my doctor the other day and she’s like, I love my family, but they never get out of my face. She’s like I do not like working from home because I have no personal time. She goes I’m having a hard time balancing my own needs with my family’s needs. She goes, it’s really hard. It’s the hardest it’s ever been in my life to try to take care of myself. I’m not saying being vulnerable means bringing up the biggest deepest darkest secret of something you’re working on. But when you as a leader say, you know, this is hard for me too. I’m not even as resilient as I thought and then you say and here’s what I’m doing. Here’s how I’m going to get better every day that not only connects to your people because you’re human and they get. We can act in our flaws, but it also inspires them. You’re also leading the way. I think some leaders want to have this perception of perfection, and they want to tell their people what to do or what to say or how to be, and these other people don’t feel safe to bring up vulnerability or failures or mistakes or struggles because they never see that in a leader. So it certainly might be uncomfortable and again don’t bring it your deepest darkest secrets but to show you’re in struggle, then show what you’re working on and what you’ve learned encourages them to work on themselves and for them to learn and grow first. I mean, we talked a lot about role modeling and leadership and if you want your people to be vulnerable and you want your people to grow, you have to go first.
Audience Question: Can I as a manager then be feeling burnt out? How do I still be supportive and present for my team when I’m feeling so burnt out? How does that work?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: Yeah, that is really hard and I’m glad we talked about grit today. That is gritty-gritty grittiness because you have to tap into that perseverance. So number one, assess how you got burnt out. I’m sure it has to do with long work hours and that kind of thing, but I know the other part of that is about your own self-care. I encourage you to look at what did I not do in the subsequent months or years that led me to this place? What do I need to do to build it back up and get out of burnout? Now, you might say be offered two months with paid vacation If that’s not possible, ask yourself what do you need to do to renew yourself? I’m sure a part of that will help you if you got more sleep if you had more downtime. Take that. Even if you need to take the mental health day from work or sick day from work, take that, and then I would go back to my advice about batching your day. A lot of supervisors have a lot of needy people and that’s their role right, to listen, to take care of their people, but you could say here are my appointment times. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I have three appointment times. On Tuesday and Thursday, I have one appointment time and maybe make those appointments, not an hour where your people can come in 20 minutes, 15 minutes, whatever. Make sure giving yourselves breaks in the day and I wouldn’t schedule your Darth Vader conversation on a day you’re super low energy. I would be intentional about especially if you have some positive employees some people that helped bring you up. Talk to them on a regular basis. Make sure that you are interacting with the positive people with the people who inspire you and I would also say, this is a tool I use throughout the day, surround yourself by people and things who bring you up. So for me, I watch a ton of positive videos on YouTube. I start my day with a positive video whenever I can. During lunch, I watch a positive video. At the end of the day, I watch a positive video and I will tell you no matter how burnt out, I am no matter how exhausted I am, I watch this part of the videos, it gives me just that little more energy to keep going.
JCH: Kimberly, that’s a really good point. You’ve been sharing a lot of really great videos on LinkedIn and Facebook, and we’re sharing those back out to the Justice Clearinghouse Community as well. So folks, check out the social media channels because if you want to bite-sized versions of the kid of advice you found in this webinar it’s there in Kimberly’s social media.
Audience Question: How do the media reports factor into our resiliency? So for example, you know, we’re hearing about all the COVID cases, all the deaths but rarely the recoveries which you know could affect resiliency because they got through with it. So, how does the media feed our lack of resiliency or the potential for more resiliency and hope?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: Well, I would say, and this is not a slam on any channel or whatever, but I would say more often than not the media of any kind, print, social network broadcast, whatever, reduces our resiliency because and the phrase everybody knows if it bleeds it leads. If it’s bad news, it’s first. They are going to tell you throughout the broadcast on any channel. What’s bad, what’s wrong, how you should be afraid of, what you should worry about, etcetera. Most times when you watch television, news television you end up in a negative emotional state. You start panicking, worrying, stressing, fretting, etc. Now they all have been better in the last several decades by having like one story on hope. I mean, I don’t know why they don’t talk more about resilience and people who have overcome the virus or those good things are happening. But a lot of new stories that you notice is the very end. So if you survive all the trauma that they dragged you through here is just one little thing on hope. So I’m not saying you know, right don’t look at TV, but don’t watch it 24/7. Because really there’s yes, there’s information which you need to consume but most of the other stuff is fluff and stress and not good. So I suggest that you limit yourself to two sources of information and you watch it once or twice a day no more. Your resilience needs to be practiced and is going to be there no matter what happens. So are we going to open up at the end of April in Colorado? Well, yes supposedly, but if we don’t I’m still going to be happy and fine, right? So yes that might change my day-to-day living a little bit but I really don’t worry about what’s happening in the world. I stay informed but I try to limit social media and television and news because I don’t think there’s a lot of good there. On this flip side if you hunt the good like I brought up about watching those positive videos, do you hunt the good be intentional hunting the good, there’s a lot of negative videos on YouTube. I don’t watch those. I watch the good ones. I’m also as Chris said I’m trying to put out good in the world right? I’m trying to focus on what I control and put more stuff out there but you have to -that’s a boundary for yourself. You have to shut it down and not get stuck into the vortex.
JCH: That’s what that’s a really great piece of advice. I remember I was talking with an older friend of mine who lived through Vietnam and I asked him what it was like watching all the civil unrest and the news that was happening at the time. How did he deal with it? Of course, I was looking at it from the perspective of how we have 24/7 news all the time now. He said, there was a newspaper and there was Walter Cronkite, and at the end of 30 minutes, the evening news was over and you went about your day. And it’s I think you raise a really good point, Kimberly, that being plugged into that 24/7 news cycle can create an emotional roller coaster in a lot of ways.
Dr. Kimberly Miller: Yeah, and it’s just like with any TV, right? I want you to still limit your tech time regardless. When we are growing up, Chris, the TV went off. There was no more TV. There are only three channels and you are the remote control. That TV went away. So we have to do other things. We didn’t have cell phones or computers or all of that either but that’s why the toughest thing. Because I said work on yourself is the toughest thing, setting boundaries with yourselves, saying I’m not That TV on is hard to do. It’s a habit. It’s comfortable even though it’s not healthy. So that’s probably one of the hardest things to overcome in terms of resilience.
Audience Question: Can you explain something? What is the difference between self-care and wellness? Those two terms seem to get used interchangeably. Is there a difference? Are they synonyms? What’s the difference?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: So I think it depends on who you ask. I look at my own definition. I’m not saying I’m right or this is the best. I look at wellness as a holistic approach that includes spiritual, mental, emotional, physical well-being. It’s what we eat, it’s how much we sleep. It’s how much work-life balance we have etcetera. I see self-care again, my definition, as a component of a wellness holistic lifestyle practice, etc. For me, self-care is things that helped me fill my bucket back up, help me rejuvenate myself. So for me, that’s things like massage, exercise, spending quality time with friends and family, having my annual retreat where I go to the mountains for two weeks, and I don’t talk to anybody. Oh my gosh, that’s one of the best things I do ever. Just being in the mountains, hiking, being in nature that helps fill me up. Sometimes it also is sleep. I am so much better when I get to rest and I sleep. So those kinds of things, I put in my self-care. Wellness overall would include in my mind, my diet getting regular medical check-ups making sure that I exercise in the right ways and I’m consistent with exercise. Yes, exercise is a self-care thing but to me, it’s a required part of my wellness component as is my own spiritual practice. So I think wellness to me is a bigger, holistic concept, and self-care to me is a part of that got it.
Audience Question: Could you explain the difference between grit and resiliency, they seem to be interrelated again?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: Yes. So again my definition it’s not necessarily the best one or the right one. I see grit as a component of resilience. That’s why in this class, I’ve covered these two classes. I’ve covered eleven components of resilience. I think grit is a part of that. Like I think you can have a purpose and you can be persistent. But to me, it’s hard to have a purpose and be persistent if you don’t have a good mindset if you’re not doing self-care if you’re burning yourself out if you’re not getting enough sleep, all of those kinds of things, and if you’re not managing your negative emotions. You still are tied into anchors of the past because any of those things could be a speed bump that derails you. To me, I think grit is an essential component of resilience, but I don’t think grit is the only thing you need for resilience. I think it’s a multi-faceted concept that requires a full variety of things. Now in every challenge, you don’t always need coping skills or relationships because right sometimes you just got to get it done. But I think to me it’s grit is a part of the resilience toolbox and you can pick, given that you’re given the challenge or situation pick out the tools you need. I don’t think it by itself. It’s a complete resilience solution.