Burnout to Breakthrough – Part 2
How can you maintain resilience as an individual and as an organization? Can leaders help their team to be more resilient? Eileen McDargh has that answer!
Since starting her consultancy practice in 1980, Eileen McDargh has become known as a master facilitator, an award-winning author, and an internationally recognized keynoter/trainer and executive coach. Clients have ranged from global pharmaceuticals to educational institutions, from hospitals to the U.S. Armed Forces. She is the author of seven books, including her latest, “Burnout to Breakthrough: Building Resilience to Refuel, Recharge, and Reclaim What Matters.
LinkedIn: Eileen McDargh
Amazon: “Burnout to Breakthrough”
Listen to the podcast here:
Read Along as Karla and Eileen Continue to Discuss Building Resiliency
Karla Nelson: Welcome to the People Catalyst Podcast. Eileen again, part two, because we did not have enough on just part one.
Eileen McDargh: It’s true. We didn’t, so let’s rock and roll, Karla.
Karla Nelson: We talked about the big picture, right? About resiliency and it’s absolutely important, but in this situation that we’ve found ourselves in, resiliency is really a cornerstone of figuring out how do we move forward from where we’re at. With that, let’s start the beginning of this to share the definition of resiliency, right?
Eileen McDargh: Okay. My dictionary definition is not the dictionary definition. The Eileen dictionary definition. It’s my dictionary. It’s called to grow through challenge or opportunity, so we end up wiser, smarter, better on the other side. No growth, you’re not resilient. It’s not going back. It’s not bouncing back. It’s none of this back crap. There is no such thing as new normal because there is no normal. First, it’s all about-
Karla Nelson: I love it. There is no normal anymore, right? It’s what it is, right?
Eileen McDargh: No, because when we think it’s normal, we’re trying to put stuff in a box and say it’s going to stay like this. If there’s anything these current times have taught us is this stuff doesn’t stay in a box. Resiliency is a life skill. It’s not an event skill. It’s something that we grow. I think of it as cultivating. The other thing, the hallmark of resiliency is through energy management. If I don’t have energy, I’m not moving forward. I can’t grow. What is energy at its basic definition but the capacity to do work. No energy, I can’t do the work. Whether you call that paying for free or for fee. Whether it’s in the house, in the yard, whatever you want to call it. At the end of the day, resiliency is all about how do I look at what grows my energy as an individual, as an organization, and what depletes the energy.
Karla Nelson: I think you just hit on two points that I think that we can have a discussion around. First of which, the tactics of let’s start with individual, right? Then we’ll move on to the organization. What are the things that individuals can do day in and day out to build their individual resiliency? Then we’ll get to the organizational.
Eileen McDargh: Okay. Let’s talk about the individual first. Remember I said it’s building, another word that’s an ing word, which means it’s an action verb. It keeps going. It’s not built, it’s building. Another word is cultivating. If you think about cultivate, you got to garden, you got to throw up the soil. Then you got to get rid of the weeds. Then you got to plant something. Then you have to nurture what you plant. You got to feed, seed, and weed. Well, the same thing is true. The same thing is true with resiliency. I first want to say, what is the stuff that is zapping my energy? What are the things that are getting in the way that I’ve got to take the proverbial shovel and get rid of it? There are number of things. You know this, all of us know this intuitively, but unfortunately our head says, no, no, no, no, no, you have to do it. Our instinct says, I don’t think this is right. I don’t think this is right.
The first way in which we begin to cultivate resiliency is to say, what is it that I’m saying to myself? How is it that I am trying to live up to unrealistic expectations that are imposed upon me by either my family, society? And I just said, okay, okay. I have to work this way. I have to work this way. I have to work this way. It drains my energy. When we are faced with the anxiety and the confusion around here, I think what we’re seeing is we’re seeing an increase in anxiety, an increase in depression because people say, I have to work this way. In fact, the research is showing that people are working even more. I’m home, I got to do more. I’ve got to testify that I can do all this stuff. Stop. The first tactic is to say, what am I choosing to do?
Karla Nelson: Well, and I love that. I love the power of just stating that, what am I choosing to do?
Eileen McDargh: I choose it, right? I have to do this. This sounds…I am so big on language.
Karla Nelson: It’s not reactive, it’s proactive.
Eileen McDargh: That’s it.
Karla Nelson: It’s proactively stating.
Eileen McDargh: I think language, language creates a reality. When I say, I have to, it says, I have no choice. You just gave up all of your power. When I say I’m choosing to, and what we want is we want multiple ways to choose. Multiple ways. Sometimes we have to ask somebody, help me, I’m stuck. I can’t figure out another way.
Karla Nelson: Maybe part of that is individuals just listing that out, right? I choose to blah, blah, blah. Right? This is what I choose.
Eileen McDargh: Then here’s the other thing, Karla. When you say I choose to do this, ask yourself why five times. Why am I choosing this? Why am I choosing this? Think of it like peeling an onion. You want to get that or better so maybe an apple because you want to get to the core. Because one of the people that I spoke to as a case study in my newest book, Burnout to Breakthrough, he worked three jobs, solid for three days two hours’ worth of sleep.
Karla Nelson: Oh my god.
Eileen McDargh: And walked into the restroom of the office, the corporate office, fell on the floor and woke up 12 hours later in a pool of vomit.
Karla Nelson: Oh my god, so he basically almost worked himself to death.
Eileen McDargh: He got up and tried to convince himself, that never happened. He still didn’t learn. The voice in his head kept saying, I have to do this. When it finally became clear, because when I met him, I kept saying, why do you have to do this? Tell me why. Tell me why. Tell me why. When we got down to the fifth why, he realized, I don’t have to do this. There are other choices. I said, what do you choose? Why are you choosing to work this way? Why that? Why that? It is helpful if you have someone who loves you dearly and who won’t let you off the hook and asks you why.
Karla Nelson: Yeah. I love that. Being able to ask yourself, number one, why are you doing what you’re doing? Personally, right? Then how can we apply it and use the tactics organizationally as well when you are aligning yourself with a company or not? Because I think one of the iconic companies that has done this is Zappos, right? They recruited individuals that thought that customer service was the number one thing. They did some crazy things because the why brought, the personal why of each individual that said yes, we want to make sure we are taking care of our customers. But then the organizational why, right, that they set on the foundation and then had their teams reaching out in that way that they believed that same thing that the company believes.
What are some of the tactics or things that individuals can do to make sure that with their resiliency, because I think understanding your why is a lot of the resiliency. Because it’s almost like what’s stamped on your heart, right? To be able to figure out who am I, what do I want to do, and what’s my dent on the universe, but then finding an organization or building an organization that’s in alignment with that same thing. What are some of the things that people can do to ensure and or tactics that they can do to ensure that that’s an alignment as well as putting it through a little bit of a litmus test.
Eileen McDargh: There’s two parts to that question. One is you said, what can I do? You’re back to the individual. The other one is, what is the organization doing? I got two things going on here. One of the things I think we’re seeing happening right now is organizations are waking up, that people don’t walk in there to make sure you have a 10% return on the bottom line. That is not why they’re walking in there. They want to know that there is a three-pronged part. It’s people, planet, and profit. I got to take care of people. I got to take care of the community, the planet. Then of course, we have to make money doing it. Otherwise, it’s not good. You can’t just focus on that one thing. I talked to one man; he is so miserable. He is so unhappy. He’s working for a financial institution that is insisting that he has to put, he has to put in 50 hours a day and he’s sitting at this computer.
Now, I’m saying, why are you choosing to do this? Right now, his choice, he’s still looking at other and he’ll leave. They’ll lose some great talent when he can find another place that matches his heart because this place is not even close. What’s being required by the institution takes no account to the human being that’s sitting there. I think it’s number one, what does the individual say? Like right now. We go through phases. I mean, there are times of which I will choose to do one thing. I have multiple choices, but I’m going to choose this because at this point in time, my life requires this. But there are other things at which you said, but I’m not going to choose to stay with this organization because it doesn’t match me. I just talked to somebody else today. He’s got a design company. I loved my conversation with him because he said, I only want to work with people who want to make sure that they’re making a difference.
At the end of the day, I have my first-born baby coming in February and I want a world that looks really different. I only want to work with companies that want to do that. Haven’t heard that much. I’m thinking now, we’re going to hear that a lot. It’s having that conversation first with yourself and then-
Karla Nelson: I love that, be able to communicate it because, number one, to be able to understand it. But then just communicate it so somebody else can connect with it.
Eileen McDargh: Well, that’s it. It’s also for the leader or the manager.
Karla Nelson: How many times did that happen?
Eileen McDargh: Well, it takes a couple skills. Number one, oh my God, I have to listen. What do you mean? I’m used to talking. Well, I listened but I’m not really listening. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to answer you. It is listen without judgment. It is listen to understand rather than to be understood. Listen to understand. Ask reflective questions. As my colleague Marcia Reynolds says, you’re coaching the person, not the problem. Tell me more. What does that feel like? It’s the ability to be empathetic. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of models at higher levels around us that model both active listening, empathetic listening, and understanding. Cut off everybody, just do what I say and that’s it. You know what? You’re not going to create a resilient organization. You’re going to create an organization that looks like this with people going in, in, in, out.
Karla Nelson: That’s what we grew up in though. I mean, seriously it’s because I’m the boss and I said so, right. I mean, that’s literally what in the past has been done. That’s changing, moving forward, thank goodness. Because a lot of the work that we do, which I love about the why, how, and what that we had talked about in the previous podcast. And then, the work that we do is really the who and the when, because at the end of the day, the object of the exercise is to get something accomplished. That’s in alignment with somebody’s goals in life, both personally. If we can make those personal goals, then attached to an organizational goal and then have a process by which we make those things happen. I really think it’s cool identifying the why, the how, the what, right? Because those are the first and then…
Eileen McDargh: Let me give you an example. I told you in a previous conversation that my why is that I have to contribute. I have to contribute to create an environment that nurture, supports, and transforms the life of business in the business supply. If I’m not involved doing that, I don’t have the spark. Somebody else’s why might be to find a better way. While the organizational goal could be let’s say it’s customer service. All right, let’s use Zappos, its customer service. For my why, I want to figure out the role I play. How could I contribute and make my customer’s life better? For this person over here. If their why is to find a better way, they’re going to look at how do we “sell shoes,” and is there a better way that maybe we could match with the customer and give them… What’s a better way to do what we’re doing? That feels their why, and the other one feels my why. Under this larger umbrella that says, how do we create the most amazing customer experience?
Karla Nelson: Yeah, and I love that in conjunction with what we do in identifying individual’s core nature work that’s based off of 120 years of marketing research, the law of diffusion of innovations, right? The largest body we have had of marketing research, and if people are thinkers or doers, and to identify and say, that’s the part of the work that you do well. With every core nature of work, I can always guarantee you, they’re going to have a different why. Because they’re going to apply that strength in the thing that they need to be held in their magnificent board, completely different across that entire body research. Right? Then how do we then make a relay race between them? How do we put the right people in the right place at the right time doing the right thing? My gosh, if you align the why and do that, you are just like in the middle of…
Eileen McDargh: We can do that. You can do that organizationally. You can start with a small team. You can run this through this process. What we have, we want to have is conversation. Oh my goodness. We’re going to talk to each other. We’re going to take time out. We’re going to sit and talk to each other.
Karla Nelson: Of course they are in their cubicles. Right? Let’s actually have this conversation with the process.
Eileen McDargh: Well, that’s one of the good things that we have to say and this is another thing about being resilient is you reframe. Reframe is where you take what at face value looks terrible and you say, how can I look at that in a different way? Instead of saying it’s horrible. If we’re stuck here, you and I, Karla, and we can’t go have happy hour. The reframe is you and I get to spend some really quality time together.
Karla Nelson: Yeah, and I don’t have to spend 15 minutes driving to you and 15 minutes riding back. Right?
Eileen McDargh: Actually, I think either of us would have to get on a plane, which right now we’re not going to do.
Karla Nelson: Yes, exactly.
Eileen McDargh: All sorts of things. Right? That’s the reframe. If I were really smart manager and I wanted to create a resilient organization, the way I would reframe it is this is the way we do stuff. I want to reframe it. How is a better way we do this? Let’s look at it. Can we step back and say, how can I… Everybody hates to do this one thing. How can we reframe this and say, what’s the opportunity? And that the manager invites, invites all those stakeholders, all those team members to say, tell me, if you were me, what would you do with this? Do you make it better to throw it out? Do you find a different way to do this? Tell me what makes you crazy at the end of the day you say this is gross. When I say gross, it’s a process that I think we need to use, and it’s called get rid of stupid stuff.
Karla Nelson: I love that for more reasons than one. But one of the things that you stated that I think is brilliant is so many times, and so many corporations that we’ve had the opportunity to work with, it’s the boots on the ground. Get their input because they are frontline dealing with the challenges. When they’re heard can give you not only the best advice ever to solve the problem, just given the opportunity, but it makes the biggest wave of-
Eileen McDargh: Absolutely. Absolutely. Mike Abrashoff who was the Commander of the USS Benfold until he left, and he could have been Admiral and he decided to leave. One of the things he always did with his sailors, not the ones that rank and file. He said, if you were commander of the ship, what would you do? He would listen to them. Then if he couldn’t do it, he would tell them why. Many times they came up with great ideas. Here’s what we had. This was years ago when Mike and I first met. There’s one of the things in the Navy, they call it paint and chip. They’re always chipping up the old paint and they’re going back and repainting it. Paint and chip. He said, what a useless waste of human creativity, talent, and energy. He went, it’s down here in San Diego.
He found an organization, a company down there that could actually paint the battleship and use the kind of paint that is not going to go out the end of the year. He got whatever he needed to do to get that through the powers so that the sailors were not wasting their time paint and chip, chip and paint, paint and chip. It was done. That one simple idea. Do you know how much energy was released for the sailors that were on board that ship instead of having to do this menial stupid thing? Now here’s what’s interesting. I haven’t heard any other commander of a ship saying they did that. Maybe they did, or maybe they ignored that.
Karla Nelson: I love it, love it. No, exactly. Some of the best clients we’ve had the opportunity of working with because each group becomes, not on purpose, because most people if you ask them, their biggest thing is, hey, I want to help others. I think that’s written on our hearts from the beginning.
Eileen McDargh: It is the number one. In this why, how, what, and the why institute, there are nine why’s. Contribute is the largest group, it is, but it’s not the only group at all.
Karla Nelson: Then you have to get specific around it. It’s like, well, if you really want to do that and say, okay, I want to help people. Well, the first thing you have to do is listen to them and say, what is it they want and or need, and then how do you…
Eileen McDargh: Well, and how. You just used the word how. If what I want to do is to contribute, if what I want to do is to find a better way, how do I go about that? What is the next skillset that I have that allows me to contribute? That allows me to find a better way and putting that how in. Then at the end of the day it’s, okay, so this is what I do with that. Then see when you said the who and the when. If I become clear on that, then I can say, oh, John, this is a perfect task for John. When we get to this part, this is when John needs to step in here. You could see is this continuum that never stop, of conversation. Here’s what it’s going to take. Courage. It’s going to take courage on the part of the individual and on the part of leadership and management, because that means that both of us have to be vulnerable.
Both of us have to be willing to speak up. It means most people don’t speak up because nobody ever pays any attention to me. Why? I’m just ignored. Honestly, or I’m put down, that’s dumb, stupid… I can still remember walking in some who knows where, a corporation. Then this manager said, yes, I have an open-door policy. I’m standing there talking to him in his office and then comes an employee. The manager looked up at the employee and said, “Well, this better not be another stupid idea.” Well, so much for an open-door policy.
Karla Nelson: Yeah, no kidding. Why even have an open door if you’re not going to listen? Right? Man.
Eileen McDargh: That’s why we coat…
Karla Nelson: Half the majority. Here, Eileen, literally last 30 years, Gallup Poll, 70% of people in the U.S. hate their job. Not don’t like it, no, literally feel like they are trading their soul for a paycheck and hate what they do every single day. Think about what that does to their financial life, their relationships, all of it, it just seeps out into it. I think you hit on a point there that makes a lot of sense to just let them know that they’re valued and listened to. How hard is it?
Eileen McDargh: You know what? To be able to tell people, because just at face value, let’s say this is a job I do not care for. Okay. How can I individual bring something into that that allows me to see it more than what at face value. Okay. Looks like I don’t want to do this. There are two things. Last year I was in a cancer center, cancer hospital. There was a children’s wing. On the children’s wing were painted these wonderful, fanciful, imaginative characters. One was a giraffe. When I found that out is that one of the quote, environmental, not science. We used to call them housekeepers. We don’t call them housekeepers anymore. Janitorial staff. She loved to paint. When she would have free time, she asked for permission to paint these characters on the windows, on the children’s wing.
Karla Nelson: That what started all those pictures in kids’ hospital?
Eileen McDargh: When she’d go into a patient’s room to do work, she might’ve painted a picture for them. She might’ve scrawled something over and left it if they were out having treatment. A little note for them. I remember being in another hospital where one of the women in housekeeping, she would go in and she would sing to them. She’s singing. What song would you like me to sing?
Karla Nelson: I lost my first husband in 2011. There were so many people that touched so many lives in that way. I’ll never forget the person in the ICU that was playing the harp. I had tears rolling down my eyes. Just out of the goodness of that person’s heart and that’s what they wanted to do.
Eileen McDargh: What they did, their job was ICU whatever. Their why, and in this case probably sounds like contribution and how they did it was to make hearts joyful with music, brought the music in. It’s finding places to allow that to happen is where we can begin to transform. I think what we have now, as we come together in this virtual world, where now, instead of being in cubicles, I actually can look out at my team. Here’s my office. Welcome to my office. If I had a dog, I’d probably have a dog on my lap. If my kids were still little, I might have a baby over here. We get to actually become human beings instead of a name on the table.
Karla Nelson: I actually loved, in this whole weird odd time, see my blue screen, even though I can make it whatever I wanted. I have my blue screen behind too. Eileen, you are just a breath of fresh air. How can our listeners and watchers get ahold of you and share a little bit about your new book?
Eileen McDargh: Well, thank you. All right. My new book is called Burnout to Breakthrough: Building Resilience to Refuel, Recharge, and Reclaim What Matters. You can find it on Amazon. It’s both print, it’s Kindle. It’s also in auditory. You can Google my name. You can come to the website. There’s my email. There’s my phone. We don’t hide anything. We don’t make you go through all kinds of hoops before you can contact us. There is a form, if you want me to come and talk to you about what we can do for your organization. As long as they can spell my name, they can find me. I am to my knowledge, since my grandmother died, I think I am the only Eileen McDargh in the universe.
Karla Nelson: Thank you so much for your time today. We super appreciate it. Resiliency is something that is absolutely important, not only in life, but I think in current times as well. Thank you so much for sharing your brilliance.
Eileen McDargh: Thanks, Karla. You’re the best.