Category Archives: Resiliency

William Stafford’s three-part solution to our problems

Prolific poet William Stafford wrote a poem a day for over forty years – over 20,000 poems. In his poem Allegiances, he wrote these words, seemingly written for these times: “While strange beliefs whine at the traveler’s ears, we ordinary beings can cling to the earth and love where we are, strong for common things.” – William Stafford We can’t be where we want to be today – whether on vacation, out to a movie, out to eat, seeing family, physically at work. But we always have an opportunity to love where we are. What other options do we have? There are strange, troubling beliefs whining at our internal-traveler’s ears, especially if we are tuned in to the news, to Twitter, to Facebook.  The solution? Cling to the earthLove where we areBe strong for common things Here’s the poem it’s from: Allegiances by William Stafford from “The way it is: new and selected poems” It is time for all the heroes to go homeif they have any; time for all of us common onesto locate ourselves by the real thingswe live by. Far to the North, or indeed in any direction,strange mountains and creatures have always lurked—elves, goblins, trolls and spiders — weencounter them in dread and wonder, But once we have touched the far streams, touched the gold,found some limit beyond the waterfall.a season changes, and we come back, changedbut safe, quiet, grateful. Suppose an insane wind holds the hillswhile strange beliefs whine at the traveler’s ears,we ordinary beings can cling to the earth and lovewhere we are, strong for common things. Learn more: Resiliency: Five Keys to Success – Leverage the five principles of resiliency, engagement, efficiency, endurance, flexibility, and loving the game, for peak work performance and enjoyment.

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How Huey Lewis wrote his biggest hit The Power of Love for Back to the Future

In 1985, Steven Speilberg and Bob Zemeckis asked for a meeting with Huey Lewis. They wanted him to write a song for their upcoming movie Back to the Future. Zemeckis said, “the character Marty McFly’s favorite band would be Huey Lewis and the News. How about writing a song for the film?”  “Wow, I’m flattered,” he said, “but I don’t know how to write for film and I don’t fancy much writing a song called Back to the Future.” They told him they didn’t need that, they just wanted one of his songs. He said, “great, I’ll send you the next song that we write.” “Chris Hayes (the News guitarist) wrote the music initially, the chord progression, and I strapped on that Sony Walkman and went for a little jog. And I wrote the song on that jog and I sent it to Zemeckis.” Of all their hits – I remember being thoroughly sick of hearing Huey Lewis in high school with all those hits – the Power of Love was their biggest. Here’s the video. All from a request and a jog! It helps to have someone tangibly need what you have to offer. That focuses you.  And when you’re stuck and unable to progress on something that matters, get your Sony Walkman (or your equivalent) and go for a jog (or your equivalent). 

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Huey Lewis has lost his hearing, now what?

Huey Lewis was in Dallas January 2018, heading to the stage with his long-time band the News when he says, “I heard this huge noise. It sounded like warfare was going on in the other room. I yelled, ‘What is that?’ They said, ‘It’s just Pat, the opening act.’ I put in my in-ear [monitors] in and couldn’t hear anything.” Once the opening song began, “I thought the bass amp had blown a speaker,” he says. “I just heard this horrible noise and I couldn’t find pitch or even hear myself. It was an absolute nightmare. The worst thing. Just horrible.” This was not new for Lewis. In 1987, at the height of his Top 40 success, something happened in his right ear. “I felt like I had been in a swimming pool and my ear was full,” he says. “I couldn’t shake it out or pop my ears. I went to all kinds of doctors and an EMT finally said to me, ‘Get used to it.’ I said, ‘Get used to it? I’m a musician!’” He got used to it. Now, thirty years later, this – the other ear. “I was suicidal,” he says. “There was literally a roaring tinnitus in my head. I just laid in bed. There was nothing I could do. I’d just lay in bed and contemplate my demise.” Would you rather win the lottery or go for a walk every day for a year? Everybody says the lottery, right? It’s smarter to take the walk. It turns out that we adjust as humans relatively quickly to really good things (winning the lottery) and really bad things (losing your hearing). It’s called hedonic adaptation. Blips up, blips down, for the most part (not with extreme things like abuse or PTSD) after something happens we return to near our original level of everyday happiness. We’re resilient. “It turns out you can get used to almost anything,” Lewis says. “I told myself things like, ‘At least I don’t have pancreatic cancer …’”  His hearing varies daily now. “Ten is what it was before this happened,” he says. “I’m at a five now right now, which means I can hear speech fine with hearing aids in. Under a three, I can’t even hear the phone ring.” But music is of course harder. “Music is much harder to listen to than speech because even one note occurs in all frequencies with harmonics and overtones and undertones,” he says. “I call it distortion. When I hear a bass part that goes ‘bump, bump, bump,’ I just hear [imitates the sound of loud, crunchy static]. I fight for pitch and I can’t find it. If I can’t find pitch, I can’t sing. It’s horrible.” He hasn’t done a full gig since that night in Dallas over two years ago.  Now Lewis is focused on his health. “The inner ear is one of the things that medical science knows the least about,” he says. “It’s cased in bone and there’s no surgery. But I’m taking stem-cell stuff and trying everything. With my hearing always fluctuating, my body is doing something itself. What I have to do is stay healthy, exercise, and hope my body will slowly take care of itself.” I’ve noticed this from tearing my PCL in my right knee while skiing just over a year ago. It’s never going to get better, and that continues to be hard to fully let in. And yet…I’m at probably a similar level of happiness than I was then. And I’m about as active – just now I wear a brace and choose activities that won’t trigger too much pain. I’ve adjusted, and will continue to adjust. So when you lose something you care deeply about – and you have, and you will, we all will – there will be a time for a descent. Like Lewis lying in bed contemplating his demise.  And then there’ll be a time when your resiliency kicks in and like Lewis says, “it turns out you can get used to almost anything.” And lastly, if you’re willing to do the work, you’ll return to the level of happiness where you usually live. Like Lewis, clearly a naturally ebullient person.  “I have a great life,” he says. “I’m a lucky guy. No matter what happens, I’m a lucky guy. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that. But I am.”

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William Stafford’s three-part solution to our problems

Prolific poet William Stafford wrote a poem a day for over forty years – over 20,000 poems. In his poem Allegiances, he wrote these words, seemingly written for these times: “While strange beliefs whine at the traveler’s ears, we ordinary beings can cling to the earth and love where we are, strong for common things.” – William Stafford We can’t be where we want to be today – whether on vacation, out to a movie, out to eat, seeing family, physically at work. But we always have an opportunity to love where we are. What other options do we have? There are strange, troubling beliefs whining at our internal-traveler’s ears, especially if we are tuned in to the news, to Twitter, to Facebook. The solution? Cling to the earthLove where we areBe strong for common things Here’s the poem it’s from: Allegiances by William Stafford from “The way it is: new and selected poems” It is time for all the heroes to go home if they have any; time for all of us common ones to locate ourselves by the real things we live by. Far to the North, or indeed in any direction, strange mountains and creatures have always lurked— elves, goblins, trolls and spiders — we encounter them in dread and wonder, But once we have touched the far streams, touched the gold, found some limit beyond the waterfall. a season changes, and we come back, changed but safe, quiet, grateful. Suppose an insane wind holds the hills while strange beliefs whine at the traveler’s ears, we ordinary beings can cling to the earth and love where we are, strong for common things. Learn more: Resiliency: Five Keys to Success – Leverage the five principles of resiliency, engagement, efficiency, endurance, flexibility, and loving the game, for peak work performance and enjoyment.

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How to help yourself

Ask yourself what you need.  There’s lots of advice out there to help you through. But only a very small slice will work for you.  Start by asking, “what do I need right now, this moment, this day?” The quick answer may come back that you need something out of your reach – a trip to Aruba, a paycheck, to be able to get out of the house, for your home to clean itself, for everything to go back to normal. If that’s what happens, keep asking.  Keep going until you find something you need right now that you can do something about. Even unattainable things outside of your control have a seed of metaphor in them.  Aruba might symbolize some break in the action and sunshine on your face, even for five minutes. A paycheck might mean finding a feeling of safety in the middle of the fearful moment.  The fields of resiliency and wellness have a lot of universal principles that are research and experience-tested. It’s great to be informed.  But you’re you. There’s no-one like you. And the ways you help yourself are yours alone. So, what do you need?

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Is it social distancing or physical distancing?

We’ve been calling it social distancing. But I hope it’s not for you. I hope it’s just physical distancing. We need our social fabric more than we may have ever needed them.  So get closer – virtually – to the people you care about and the people you interact with. Get closer – again, virtually – to your social support.  It’s physical distancing, not social distancing.

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Thank everyone who helps you

Social support and society’s gifts to us (in exchange for our money of course) have gone from assumed to questionable. Uncertainty is shaking everything up. But we can still go to food stores when needed. And when we do, what is it like for us? We can be worried about other people being too close, touching things, getting everything on our list, prices rising with supply chain disruption. And we can unconsciously go about it the way we always have, in a world of our own, chafing at the lines or still not being able to buy toilet paper. There of course is an alternative, the antidote to fear. Appreciation.  Thank each and every person who helps you – the cashier, the bagger in the supermarket, any clerk anywhere. Of course thank any health care worker who helps you – virtually or in person. But the food providers we come in contact with are risking their health and their lives so we can eat. And they’re doing it for very little money, less money than we make, or used to make. See how appreciation, just like fear and just like the virus, is contagious. And see how unlike those two it helps, both them and you.

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Eye contact isn’t contagious

COVID-19 is highly contagious. But not from eye contact. Visit any public place and you’d be forgiven for assuming that indeed eye contact is dangerous.  We go out in public when we must and treat any others as the enemy. They might have and might get us sick. They aren’t taking this seriously enough.  So the big question is, are we all in this together or not? If we act like it’s every person for themselves, then we’re not living ‘we’re all in this together’. We’re living ‘us vs. them’. And that’s an old game that has no winners. Try making eye contact. If you’re wearing a mask, raise a hand in greeting. If you’re not wearing a mask, give them their space, make eye contact and smile. They, just like you, are afraid. They’re not going to go first. It’s up to you.

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Four articles to help your resiliency

I’m thinking of you, home and with a world turned upside down in two weeks. I feel energized to be helpful and of use to you. Here is one way. I looked back and found these articles I wrote that may be help you today.These articles focus on resiliency. Quix Tip: BreatheSquirrels don’t do daylight savings timeQuix Tip: Stay in the GameHow to Savor the Moment

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Charge or recharge?

You have a very important meeting to drive to. It’s about an hour drive and you just left late – behind already. You drive faster than you usually would, trying to make up some time. As you get nearer your destination, your car splutters, coughs and stops. You forgot to look at how much gas you had. You’re out of gas. You abandon your car and start running on foot to the appointment. Or you get behind your car and start pushing it towards your destination (let’s say you’ve got two members of the high school football team with you that stopped to help you). That’s what I often see on stressed teams. And most teams are stressed. And most team members are stressed. It’s all charge and no recharge. We’re behind on endless deadlines. We hurtle from one thing to the next trying to go faster. We hit the wall somewhere along the way. Distance athletes also call this ‘the bonk’. And we keep trying to go on, keep pushing past our limits. We forget about working smart. We just work harder. It’s our habit. The car is out of gas and we’re running. Or we’re pushing the team car. The ‘charge’ is the only part this culture values. The ever-upward line on the graph. If you’re sick of that game, play the ignored game. Head down instead. Recharge. “When water gets caught in habitual whirlpools, dig a way out through the bottom to the ocean.” -Rumi

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