Burnout to Breakthrough
Is resilience just the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties? Or is there something more? 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”
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Read Along as Karla and Eileen discuss Building Resiliency
Karla Nelson: And welcome to The People Catalyst podcast Eileen McDargh.
Eileen McDargh: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Karla Nelson: Yeah! We’re so excited to have you on the show and talking about something that’s so relevant. Oh my goodness, not only to just life, but it’s especially right now Eileen, which is resiliency.
Eileen McDargh: Yep.
Karla Nelson: So you’re going to share with us a little bit about how did you find yourself here in this entrepreneurial resiliency space?
Eileen McDargh: I had my own company, believe it or not for 40 years, which is incredible because I’m only 30.
Karla Nelson: I was just going to say, how can you have a company for 40 years?
Eileen McDargh: I don’t know. It just kind of happened. My field has always been in the area of communication and leadership development. And so, 19 years ago, when 911 hit the U.S., I became very concerned and intrigued with how do we as a nation move through this? And that started me on my resiliency journey. And so, the first resiliency book I wrote was called the Resilient Spirit: Heart Talk for Standing Right Side Up in a World That’s Upside Down. And over time, what I have come to realize, which is very different from what other people say about resiliency, is that most people say, “Well, it means bounce back. That’s what the dictionary says.” I go, “Nope, nope. Not right. Not what human beings do.” There’s no such thing as going back, you have to grow it’s to grow through challenge or opportunity so that you end up wiser, smarter, better on the other side. And I also realized that at the end of the day, resiliency is all about energy management.
And you know what, Karla? I resisted this for the longest time, because I would ask my clients. I said, “If you can describe me,” because you always try to figure out what your branding statement and all this other stuff. I said, “Well, how would you describe me? What is it that makes me different?” And they always said energy. And what energy is, if you think about it, it’s when you have good connections, you got a power grid, like right now in California, the power grid is not doing very well. It’s going out. So, the energy’s not going. Well for human beings, we create energy connections that either give us energy, which is what we’d need to be resilient or it drains our energy.
Karla Nelson: Depletes our energy, yeah.
Eileen McDargh: So, it’s been watching people and finally owning, which is interesting, because as a people catalyst, you know that sometimes we don’t own what it is that we know. And it was fine this-
Karla Nelson: I think that is more often than not, that people don’t own what they know. It’s because it’s simple and easy to them. And so, they think in their mind that it’s not special. And-
Eileen McDargh: That’s exactly right, because I want to say, well that’s so ordinary and they go, “No.” It’s absolutely extraordinary. So, it’s taken a while for me to do that. And so, my organization, which is a division of McDargh Communications is the Resiliency Group. And the reason I created the Resiliency Group is that one person does not have all the answers, so that I have colleagues-
Karla Nelson: Always a team. Always a team.
Eileen McDargh: That I have pulled it in. They each have their own enterprise, but I can pull them in to help me to help another client. So, you know the person who you really need to talk to. “I need to talk to Joe. No, over here, you really need to talk to Karen.” So, it’s a very streamlined thing, because I don’t have to pay them. If you hire them, that’s great. It’s a resource, take it, use it. I just want to know that people have enough resources for themselves for wherever they find themselves right now.
Karla Nelson: Absolutely. And pulling out and leveraging, it’s not like you leverage people. To be quite honest with you, if you put the right people in the right place at the right time doing the right thing, they’re happy to show up. But unfortunately, in corporate America and most businesses, we hold people in their smallness, not their magnificence. And so, identifying what that is and then saying, “Hey, this is the space that you need to live in. And you’re going to be absolutely fantastic here. And we love you. And we’re only going to look at you in this space,” it becomes a little easy to be more resilient, don’t you think? Of doing-
Eileen McDargh: Absolutely. You know, my new book that is just now out, Burnout to Breakthrough: Building Resilience to Refuel, Recharge, and Reclaim What Matters. One of the teaching points in there, which I think is absolutely critical is the power of purpose and alignment. And I think when we are out of alignment, when we don’t know our why. What is it? Why am I here? Why am I walking around this planet?
Karla Nelson: What am I doing every single day, right?
Eileen McDargh: Yeah, I mean why. And Viktor Frankl in the horrible Holocaust of World War II, when he wrote his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, he had this one line and I just, I keep thinking about it a lot, “Man or woman can survive any what, if you have a why? And you lose when you lose your why, you lose your way.” And then it’s really easy to burn out, to begin doing more and more and more and more and more, because I’m not, I am not connected with that purpose.
Karla Nelson: It’s that alignment with going, why do I wake up in the morning? Why do I do what I do? Because when you think about it, Eileen, we spend more time at work than any other thing that we do, and what’s incredible to me is, Gala for the last 30 years has been doing a… There are polls that they’re famous for, and in one way, shape or another, between a couple of percentages is that 70% of people hate their jobs. I mean, think about that. What is that doing to your relationships, your financial, your every, because they’re basically saying, “Hey, I’m selling my soul for a paycheck versus living out my why. This is my dent on the universe. This is what I want to do.” And I think there’s so much associated and connected with resiliency and your why. And so, what would you communicate in how can individuals make sure that their why is in alignment so that they can have more of a bolstered resiliency?
Eileen McDargh: I’m going to answer that in a number of ways. And I want to do a little caveat here too, because we can also burn out when we are single-mindedly, doggedly into that why that the rest of our life falls away. And so, people who are devoted to whether it’s a cause they’re devoted to… Look at the doctors and nurses that we have right now, who find, they cannot say no. And yet for their own sanity, for their family, for their wellbeing, they need to pull back and say, “I can’t right now. I can’t right now.” And you know that they’ve got a purpose that’s bigger than they are. So I just want to make sure that people understand you can also burn out when you are single-minded about that one purpose, at the expense of the rest of your life, because we’re multifaceted people.
Now, your other question was, how do we know that we have this why. I’m intrigued by this, because frankly I’ve become acquainted with an organization called the Why Institute. In fact, right now, probably within the next week, I’ll be certified as an agent with the Why Institute. And they have a process, which I hope to help them refine on how do you help people discover what’s the why? Then how do you do it? And then finally, what do you do? You say, “What? Well, who are you? What do you do?” You say, “Well, I’m a lecturer. I’m the CEO of The People Catalyst.” Well, that’s what, but there is a why that proceeded that, and how you operationalize that, and therefore this is what you do.
Karla Nelson: Yes, absolutely. Well, and even with that, and I even think about with The People Catalyst, and I’m a huge, our assessments based off of 110 years of marketing research, the Law of Diffusion of Innovations, which is Simon Sinek, start with why-
Eileen McDargh: That’s exactly what this gentleman started down the road. He said, “I don’t know how many years since Simon Sinek.”
Karla Nelson: Yeah, and so, the whole thing, our focus is to revolutionize the way work is done, because we focus on work. We’re in the 21st century with the 19th century work style. I mean-
Eileen McDargh: Oh yeah.
Karla Nelson: That makes no sense, right? So, I totally get that, and I really think Eileen that when, and you can go overboard, right? And to go, be so obsessed with one piece of this, and then you can also not understand what your why is and then kind of feel like you’re a fish out of water a little bit. What are some things that individuals can do so they have that why underneath…? And the first thing I would think is make sure if you’re a team member, aligning yourself with the organization, if you have that opportunity to do so, right? Because at the end of the day, a lot of people have to eat, but how could you, especially being a business owner, entrepreneur, make sure that you’re balancing those two things so that you understand why you’re getting out of bed every morning, why you’re working as hard as you are, because that really resonates with your dent on the universe.
What are some of the things that the organization and, or you work with your clients to work them through that process of owning it and just being in love with why you’re doing what you do every single day?
Eileen McDargh: All right, I’m going to answer that in two ways, there’s the individual way and then there’s the organizational way.
Karla Nelson: That’s a good, it’s-
Eileen McDargh: So, and I think those two are intertwined much like the DNA, you’ve seen that the DNA helix?
Karla Nelson: Oh yeah.
Eileen McDargh: At some point it’s personal, then it’s organizational, it’s personal. So, you can’t separate them, just like you can’t separate the DNA. And I think one of the first questions is what brings you to joy? What brings you to joy? So, for me, I’ve realized over time, what brings me to joy is the ability to make a contribution. To feel that what I say, what I do helps you helps your viewers, your listeners find something that gives them this slight edge. So that’s why. So, if I can’t get up in the morning and feel like I’ve made a contribution, it’s not a good day.
Karla Nelson: You know what? That’s so brilliant. Oh my gosh. Not only is that brilliant for you individually, but all the leaders out there think about that for the people that you’re leading, because they want to feel that too. So, understand it for yourself, but then think about that, right? For if you have a team of 10 or 20 or 100 or, because they want to find that too, right? So, digging deep in that I think is so, it’s such a critical part of a, not only as a leader, but then also your job as a leader is to bring that magnificence out of other individuals. So, if you can… And it’s harder for us I think, to do it for ourselves than it is for other individuals.
Eileen McDargh: So true.
Karla Nelson: If you’ve got words of wisdom around that, because you know, it’s so much easier to see the beautiful, amazing talent in somebody else and their why and what you think, but they might not even have it that clear, even though you think you see it clearly for them.
Eileen McDargh: So, what this means organizationally for the manager? First and foremost, you cannot give what you ain’t got. So, for the leader, for the manager, it’s really saying, what is it that gives me joy? Now, for me, it has to do with contribution. For someone else, what brings them joy is finding a better way. I’m always looking for how can I find a better way? It might be what brings someone to joy is when I can create relationships based on trust. That’s the first thing. That’s the first thing. I want to work on those relationships. I want to make sure that we have trust. For someone else, it could be mastery. I want to study this all the way down, down, down, down, down, down, down, until I become a master master, master, master of this. And that’s what brings them joy. So, everyone can be very, very different. So, the first thing is for the leader themselves is what brings you to joy?
There are times would you have to do this all the time. That’s the way life goes. Life is not equal. That’s why years ago, the very first book I wrote was called Work For A Living and Still Be Free to Live. And it was the first book, it was 1984. And it was the first book, as far as we can figure that ever looked at this notion of balance and authentic work. And I put balance in quotes because balance is not attainable. It’s the wrong word.
Karla Nelson: It’s not. Especially if it gives you such joy, right? Everybody laughs at me and I’m like answering my phone late. Like, “Why are you answering the phone?” I’m like, “Number one, because you called. And I really appreciate you. And number two, because it gives me joy to do that.” So, everybody’s balance is actually quite different, right?
Eileen McDargh: It is.
Karla Nelson: Off of what does bring you joy, because solving problems brings me joy. So, if somebody’s calling me is a problem, it brings me joy to help them solve their problem. So, to me, it doesn’t feel like work. To somebody else, it might be absolutely different. And to you, Eileen, it might be different as well.
Eileen McDargh: Well, and this notion of, I want to push back on the word balance too, because I think that really is word that is misused. Just like I think resiliency is. It’s not bouncing back. Because if I think about balance, I think about a pan scale where everything’s equal. Well, life is not equal.
Karla Nelson: Almost nothing is ever equal. I always say even fair was never equal, right? It was never.
Eileen McDargh: So instead of saying, how do I balance my life? I really think there’s a better metaphor. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a metaphor is worth a thousand pictures. So instead of thinking of balance, which is like a pan scale, if I think about sailing and if you sail, if you had a little sailboat, when the wind shifts in that boat, what do you have to do?
Karla Nelson: Adjust?
Eileen McDargh: You have to adjust. You have to come about, you have to change where the sails go, right? So, the wind shifts in our life all the time. So, my idea, my notion is to be resilient as I pay attention to, I can’t control the wind, but I can congest the sails. So how do I make these adjustments? And so, when we feel like we’re out of the sailboat is when we have ignored parts of our life, our physical, our emotional wellbeing, our spiritual, our work. And of course, then there’s the material, because let’s face it. I’ve met people who it’s all about stuff, stuff, stuff. So, they get, they burn out, making sure that they have stuff. In the meantime, they’ve abandoned their physical, their emotional, their… But it’s all about stuff.
Karla Nelson: Yeah. I think the buckets are the same. The amount that we need to be fulfilled in each bucket is slightly different based off of, as you would state it, our joy, right? What gives us joy in each of those buckets?
Eileen McDargh: It is. And there are times in which the adjustments, we might not pay as much attention to one thing over here because what this phase of life, what this wind is calling me to do, I’m choosing, notice that word too, I’m choosing. Really important word.
Karla Nelson: Yeah. Not responding always, right?
Eileen McDargh: No, it’s not I have to. It’s I get to. It’s a real big difference. I’m big on language. Language sets up a big picture in our head. I get to. So, when I cared for my mom for the last six years of her life, my business, what brought me. I chose, I’m not working that way. I wouldn’t take assignments unless my sister could come and be with mom. I never would have gone offshore ever, ever, ever, because at that point in time, my choice was the care of mom. So, that’s the notion then of building resilience, is learning how to consciously respond to the events of our life. And sometimes we’re more successful than others.
Karla Nelson: Then sometimes putting the controls on them, right? Like you were saying, so it’s like responding. But then also realizing at this point in time, these are the controls that I have to put on my life. And you brought up your mom and you shared just an amazing story of resiliency with me. So, you’ve got to share it with our listeners and viewers.
Eileen McDargh: It’s a wonderful example of resiliency about growing through challenge or opportunity. My mother was one of the 1,076 women Air Force, service pilots, or WASP as they were called in World War II. Someone asked me, “Does that mean White Anglo-Saxon Protestant?” I said, “No, not, not.” These were women who took over all the domestic military flying so that every able-bodied pilot could fly combat missions in the European and the Pacific theaters. They were told that they would be rolled into the Army Air Corps, but they were needed right away. These women paid their way and converged on an air base in Sweetwater, Texas. They did everything that the male cadets had to do, except they paid for the privilege of doing it. Before the war was over, those women collectively flew 60 million air miles of domestic war time duty, collectively flying every single plane in the U.S. arsenal.
t was not without hazard. 38 of them died in the course of duty. But because they weren’t considered official military yet, because it didn’t move through Congress yet, there were no benefits. And in at least one case, Karla, they had to pass the hat to send the body home to the parents. And when they were disbanded shortly before the war was over, they were called onto their air bases. Mom was in Miranda Air Force Base in Arizona, and they heard Colonel Hap Arnold say, “Thank you for flying wing tip to wing tip with your brothers. Your service is no longer needed. Please find your own way home.”
Karla Nelson: Wow.
Eileen McDargh: And women were not allowed back in the cockpits of military planes again for 30 years. So, what gave them joy, they could not do, but they were determined when they did it, they loved it. They loved their country-
Karla Nelson: I’m married to a pilot. They’re a special sort of people.
Eileen McDargh: They are a-
Karla Nelson: They can find each other. There’ll be 200 people in a room and it’s like a radar, “Me, me, me, me, me, me, me,” and they find each other. They’re a special sort of people that just want to be in the sky.
Eileen McDargh: They really do. And they, and so they had to go find whatever is in this, because mom went to Italy with the Red Cross for the rest of the war, because she was awesome, amazing. She was one of three women in med school, in the thirties. So, she went-
Karla Nelson: Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from me.
Eileen McDargh: Yes.
Karla Nelson: You know, it just keeps on going down generations and generations. This has just been amazing. I think resiliency, not only do we need it day in and day out, but my goodness, just during the current situation and current times, it’s like, what does bring you joy? What do you want to do? Look at the opportunity. Figure out how can you align yourself not only internally, but externally? This has just been absolutely amazing Eileen, and so how can our listeners get ahold of you and purchase your book?
Eileen McDargh: Okay. They can purchase the book. Am I allowed to hold it up? There it is, Burnout to Breakthrough: Building Resilience to Refuel, Recharge, and Reclaim What Matters. It is in Kindle version, it is the Trade Paper, all on Amazon is also in Audible, so if you’re a listener instead of a hold the book kind of person it’s there.
Karla Nelson: I am so in between there. I’m like, I don’t know. I love to listen to him, but I also love, I’ve been reading business books for so long and highlighting them and writing notes. I’m right in the middle. I think I should listen to it and then read it. I don’t know.
Eileen McDargh: You know what? Being a former English teacher too. I am a book, give me a book.
Karla Nelson: I just love it. I love it in my hands. I think I just got used to that for so long. And you know what I love Eileen? Is to go back and look at my notes of where I was at when I read the book. Because there’s so many books, right?
Eileen McDargh: Yes, yes, yes.
Karla Nelson: You’ve read. And you’re like, “Oh wow. I read that so long ago. And that was my perspective. And that was my takeaway. And I’m completely looking at this from a different version.” And so-
Eileen McDargh: See that’s because Karla, we can’t step in the same river twice. It’s all about growth. So, you pick up a book that five years ago, you highlighted certain things. Where you are now? You’re a different Karla.
Karla Nelson: Yeah.
Eileen McDargh: Something’s going to call to you. And then somethings were so powerful, you forgot them, and you need to be reminded of.
Karla Nelson: Ah, you just gave me goose bumps! That’s awesome Eileen, and then can you share your website as well, so we know where to get your book, but share your website and how-
Eileen McDargh: First of, they can spell my name, because you’ve got it down there. It’s www.eileenmcdargh.com, or take you to the same place, theresiliencygroup.com. And I’m amazed how many people can’t spell the resiliency. I even spell it wrong at times. Whichever is easiest way, you can find me there, you can sign up for my, for my e-sign. I do a weekly blog. Haven’t gotten as brave as you are Karla, to do a podcast, but we are going to do a series of little vignettes, a video that’s all about resiliency, so people can tune in and get them.
Karla Nelson: Well, that’s fantastic. We are so excited to have you on the show. Thank you so much for sharing. And everybody go out there, everybody needs a little bit more resiliency. As resilient as I am, I still, you could never have enough resiliency. So, I mean, thank you so much for being on the show and sharing your brilliance with us.
Eileen McDargh: Thanks, Karla. My joy.