Interviews | September 01, 2020
P2P Keynote Courtney Clark on Resilience
P2P 2020: Plugged In keynote speaker Courtney Clark is the luckiest unlucky person in the world. After a series of major struggles beginning in her mid-20s, she has built two successful businesses and is the author of two books, including her most recent, The Successful Struggle: Powerful Techniques to Achieve Accelerated Resilience.
She works with people who want to adapt faster and achieve more, and has spoken worldwide to organizations like Procter & Gamble, Dell, S&P, Humana, Cisco and Cardinal Health.
In today’s competitive world, there is no time to recover from our setbacks slowly. The research-based strategies from Clark’s new book will have your team managing change, chaos, conflict and life’s other challenges in the fastest, most productive way possible. Listen in as Clark describes where internal resilience comes from and how to let go of the plan, find perspective and be successful even in the most ambiguous situations.
At the end of this session, you will be able to:
- Recognize the benefits of connecting with the purpose of change.
- Develop new strategies to maintain personal power and a sense of control during times of change and chaos.
- Apply the “Stop, Drop and Roll” technique for chaos management.
PS Magazine connected with Clark to learn more about her and discuss what attendees can expect from her presentation.
What is your background, and how did you become an expert in internal resilience?
As someone who started life with a naturally positive attitude and innate resilience, it was a shock to me when I faced a series of major health challenges beginning in my mid-20s. At the time when I needed my natural resilience most, I found it difficult to tap into it. I started reading and researching what resilience is and where it comes from. I was especially interested to find out more about the behaviors around resilience, as opposed to personality traits like optimism, because I wanted to know if resilience was something that people could develop, or if it had to be an inborn trait. I combined the research with my background in theater to create presentations that will help people take action, not just “feel inspired.”
How would you define accelerated resilience?
I talk about “accelerated resilience” because even I was starting to feel overwhelmed by all of the articles in popular media about how to build resilience. I think the breaking point was an article with a title like “75 Ways to Build Resilience Under Pressure.” I remember thinking “75?!?! How are we supposed to know which one to try first? Are all 75 supposed to work for all people? Are all 75 supposed to work in all situations?” The thought of having to work my way through 75 strategies made me feel less motivated, not more. So, a lightbulb in my head switched on, and I thought, “I wonder if anybody has ever researched if there are specific resilience-type strategies that work better than others?”
It turns out that the key to finding the right resilience strategy isn’t based on demographics, personality type or anything like that. The right resilience technique to try is based entirely on the type of challenge in front of you. So, there are specific skills that you should try first if you’re facing change. And a different skill set you should try if you’re facing stress and chaos. To me, accelerated resilience is about applying the right strategy the first time. So, you don’t have to try all 75 techniques before you find something that works. That would be the slow way.
What are the main keys to remaining cool under chaos and pressure?
Chaos and pressure are probably never going to go away completely for most of us. What I’ve discovered is that the most successful strategies for handling that stress are all centered around being able to laser-focus on what’s most important in the situation. But you can’t focus if you don’t know what to focus on! So, if you see people out there who appear to be juggling a lot and yet remain cool under chaos and pressure, what you aren’t seeing is that they may be letting other balls drop. Those balls are the less important balls. They may go back and metaphorically pick those balls up later, but in those pressure-filled moments, they maintain their focus on what’s most important.
Showing people how to find and maintain that focus is one of my favorite things to do, because it seems obvious, but most of us struggle with it at some point. The goal isn’t to learn about focus and then do it perfectly forever. The goal is to learn these strategies, and then remind yourself of them over and over again when the pressures of the world start to creep in. Because they will.
Can you give us a teaser about the “Stop, Drop and Roll” technique?
When you were in kindergarten, did the firefighters come to your class and teach you what to do if you ever caught on fire? They taught you how to stop, drop and roll. So if your mind is on fire instead of your body, the Stop, Drop and Roll technique is basically the mental version of how to put out that fire. But I promise that no one will have to actually roll on the floor during my presentation! (Although you can if you want to.)
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way you think about adaptation and success?
The global pandemic has changed the way most of us live and work, but it hasn’t changed what most of us want out of life. For the past year and a half — well before the coronavirus hit — I’ve been researching a concept called Adaptive Thinking. Adaptive Thinking is a method for generating better, more creative solutions to challenges, which was something we all wanted even before this crazy year hit. Now, better, more creative solutions are a must in almost every industry. I’ve started working with some teams to help them build this culture of Adaptive Thinking into their work so that they can start to be more nimble and responsive. Right now I'm hearing a lot of people talk about needing to pivot, but not all pivoting is good pivoting. It’s important not to change just for the sake of change.
I’ve spent years helping teams deal with transition and challenges in smart, resilient ways. I think people are finally realizing how critical resilience and responsiveness is to both personal and organizational success. I think going forward companies are likely to factor these traits into things like hiring and strategic planning.
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Business/Growth Strategies P2P