Resilience and Hurricane Michael

(c) 2018 John Thurman, Mexico Beach Nightstand

The autumn breeze carries fine drops, each on a promise of rain to come. Isn’t this a beautiful quote about the seasons shifting from Summer to Fall?

However, in my line of work, autumn means Hurricane Season, and that usually means that I will be traveling.

I work as an Employee Assistance Consultant for several federal agencies and this time of year I am usually on the road. As a matter of fact, one of my grandsons reminded me that this will be the third Halloween that I will not be in New Mexico.

Two years ago I was in Baton Rouge for the Louisiana Floods, last year I deployed twice, first toTexas and then Puerto Rico, and today I am in Panama City, Florida.

This deployment has an ironic twist to it. Mexico Beach, (pictured above) is the beach that I, as well as thousands of others from Middle Georgia, LA (Lower Alabama) and many others spent part of their summers. I think one of the reasons my family, particularly my momma loved Mexico Beach so much as it was where she spent part of her summers in WWII.

Mom and Dad’s logic was that Mexico Beach was very family friendly, no distractions of a boardwalk, or any of the tourist trap stuff. Just the beautiful, sugar-white beaches and not too far away from a pier that we would go crabbing and fishing on. There were so many good, fun memories of my youth.
I had seen the news reports, and though I was somewhat prepared, it was still a profound shock as I came through the security checkpoint manned by Florida State Police Officers to see the damage.
I pulled off what vaguely resembles a street I’d walked a few times as a boy, except this time I was wearing safety shoes and cargo paints as opposed to the cutoff jeans and flips-flops I’d worn as a boy and young teen.

The noises and smells of this disaster are not unlike others I have worked on. There is a unique and pungent smell of wet insulation and wet drywall mixed with dirt and concrete dust. On top of that is the rancid, putrid smell of 150 refrigerators that have been sitting in the sun for nearly a month brutally assaults your senses and for the first few minutes, your gag reflex can be a bit reactive.
When you look at the debris, rubbish, the piles of 2×4’s and brick scattered all around you will occasionally see a family portrait, a toy, or knick-knacks that represent treasured memories and days, now pretty much vanish except in the memories and photos that survive.

In the background, I hear the low rumble of backhoes, bulldozers, and dump trucks punctuated by the piercing beeps of back up warning signals. As I move toward the beach, the welcoming smell of a salty Gulf breeze, as well as the sound of small waves gently landing on the lonely and abandoned beach muffle the sounds of the recovery efforts reminding me of both the beauty and the awesome power of the ocean.

For a minute I allow my mind to wander, seeing myself as well as my mom, dad, brothers, and sisters spending some of our summers with other family members at the beach. Memories of crabbing, fishing off the pier and the smell of young teens with either baby oil, and Coppertone flip through my mind like an old highlight reel. In more recent years I recall, with much fondness a trip that my wife and two children made to Mexico Beach for a family reunion.

Those of us growing in this part of the country share many memories of our times in this beautiful part of Florida.

The destruction is monumental, particularly for the homes south of the beach road. Catastrophic, considering that the winds were around 150 mph and a storm surge of 12-14 feet for those homes near the water lowering to three to four feet across the highway.

As sad and devastating as this event is, I know from a place deep in my heart that the people who work, live, and vacation at Mexico Beach and the Florida Panhandle will come back, and come back strong.

In all of the work as a professional working in the arena of Disaster Mental Health and Crisis Response, I never seem to be amazed at the consistent way people react to sudden trauma. Some, who are closed-minded are easily overwhelmed by the events around them, to the point of feeling emotionally arrested and hopeless victims. Others, who have gone through the same event walk around stunned and shocked for a few hours or days but then have an opposite reaction. They are survivors who are going to make a way through the trauma. Rather than being immobilized by fear and loss, many like Tim and Cheryl, whose story I will share in my next post, do a reality check, begin the process of accepting the losses and start to think about rebuilding.

How about you, are you closed-minded or open-minded, for more information check out Dr. Caroline Deweck’s Book, Mindset.
Be sure to look out for my next post, it is an interview I had with a survivor who was picking through the rumble of his beach home. I was you to learn a little about this man’s tenacity.
Blessings from the Florida Panhandle. #panhandlestrong.

How to Handle Criticism – Abraham Lincoln

Statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC-Deposit Photos

During his presidency, Abraham Lincoln was greatly respected and greatly reviled. Blamed for plunging this nation into a civil war, he was the president people loved to hate. Those who opposed his views regarding the war and slavery, as well as his efforts to keep them united, were vocal and uninhibited in denouncing him.

One day during one of the darkest periods of his presidency, Lincoln was walking down a street near the Capitol in Washington when an acquaintance caught up with him. As they walked, the man brought up the subject of the growing anti-Lincoln sentiment growing in Washington and throughout the country.

With brutal honesty, the man related to Lincoln many of the stories outlining attacks on Lincoln and his policies. As the man spoke, Lincoln remained completely silent and absorbed in his own thoughts.

Then Lincoln stopped, looked directly at the man and said: “Yes, I have heard you, but let me tell you a story. You know that it is the habit of all dogs to come out at night and bark and bark and bark at the moon. This keeps on as long as the moon is clearly visible in the sky.”

Then he stopped speaking and continued his walk. Confused by Lincoln’s response, his exasperated companion persisted. “Mr. Lincoln, you haven’t finished your story. Tell me that rest of it!”

Once again Lincoln stopped walking and said, “ There is nothing more to say. The moon keeps right on shining.”President Lincoln is an excellent role model for managing criticism.

Although he was aware of his shortcomings and knew many highly respected and influential people disagreed with him, the president listened to the criticism and followed his own intuitive sense that his policies would eventually win over critics and unify the country.

One of life’s challenging realities is that there are always people around who are our fault- finders, people who seldom see the good but are quick to point out the negative. Like Abraham Lincoln, all of us need to find ways of hearing criticism without being detracted or destroyed by it.

Action Plan, sign up for my email and join me for my book launch

March 22, 2018

The  No Fear Entrepreneur, by John Thurman

Six Steps to Getting Unstuck

 

One foot in front of the other
All that we have is each other
One foot in front of the other

Walk the Moon

Have you ever felt stuck?

You started off the year with new goals and refreshed dreams somewhere along the way you became distracted, bogged down, and may be disengaged.

I have experienced seasons like that in my life. It wasn’t like I intended to get stuck or drift off course, but it happened.

If this sounds familiar you have only three choices:

  1. Live in denial and pretend like everything is fine.
  2. Quit, give up on the goal, the dream, the vision.
  3. Re-engage, begin to move forward again.

It’s funny how life will send you little reminders if you are paying attention. A few weeks ago I was on the road to a speaking event with the leadership team of the Gila National Forest in Southern New Mexico when some great lyrics caught my attention. It was a song by the group Walk the Moon titled One Foot in Front of the Other.

The lead vocalist, Nick Petricca in a Rolling Stone interview noted, “The song is about starting out into the unknown, being faced with uncertainty and what could be an uncertain future and to take the first step anyway.”

Petricca’s words remind me of the words about faith in the New Testament book of Hebrews 13:1, “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is evidence of things we cannot see.” NLT

The resonating theme to me in this catchy tune is the theme that one has to keep moving forward, taking one step at a time, one step in front of the other.

I believe that this is one of the key components of resilience which is the ability to resist the manifestations of clinical distress, impairment, or dysfunction that are often associated with acute stress, upsetting life events, and personal trauma.

So is it time to get unstuck? Is it time to refocus? Is it time to use your resilience muscle?

If you are sick and tired of being stuck and you don’t want to live in denial or give up, I have some excellent news for you! I have six things that you can begin doing as soon as you finish this article that will give you some energy to start moving forward again.

  1. Quit staring in the rearview mirror of your life. Quit focusing on the past, let go of it. If you need help with this, see your spiritual leader or get therapy.
  2. Don’t be distracted by the bugs on your windshield, change your perspective.
  3. Begin by taking baby steps. Avoid you little inner perfectionist voice and take action.
  4. Consider your purpose on this planet. Hint: It’s not your job, it’s that thing that makes you tick, your passion.
  5. Believe in yourself. You are a unique person that is fearfully and wonderfully made. You have a unique blend of talents and gifts. Rather than doubting yourself, I want to you make a gratitude list, once you finish this article. In that list, I want to you write down some of this gifts and abilities and be grateful for them. Refuse to sabotage yourself with deep-seated fears and false beliefs.
  6. Change your thinking patterns, and you will change your life and outcomes. Incidentally, I have a free twenty-minute online course that you can sign up for today. It will give you the secret to managing your thought life in such a way as to improve your health, relationships, and business outcome.

Call to action:

Pick two of these and begin moving forward.

Sign up for my 20 minutes “Brain Tricks” Class

If you need to, talk to a professional. It might be your pastor, a therapist, or even me. I do offer Life Management Consultations.

Feel free to leave a comment, or sign up for my by clicking the banner at the top.

Be Blessed,

John

Change or Die: Recalibrate or Stagnate Part 2

From Deposit Photos

 

What do Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Jamie Fox, and Viola Davis have in common?

They reinvented themselves.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, world-famous wrestler to respected film star.

Jamie Foxx started out as a standup comic, turned singer with numerous # 1 Billboard hits and Platinum selling albums not to mention the fact he is an Academy Award winner.

Taylor Swift who has made a dynamic and successful shift from being the darling of country music to a dominating pop artist.

Viola Davis who was trained at Juilliard in theart of classical theater made a successful transition from stage to television to becoming a two-time Oscar winner. One for her portrayal as a 1960’ housemaid in the comedy-drama The Help and another for her role in Fences.

Ed Sheeran who has transitioned from a Gaelic folk singer to a rock vibe, then into a very marketable alternative sound that crosses many genres.

Why do you think these individuals needed to reinvent themselves?

I believe it was to remain viable in today’s marketplace.

The explosion of social media, the Amazon effect, and other massive cultural shifts are changing the way we do everything.

What about you?

Have you ever considered reinventing yourself?

Today, using some of John Manchin’s keen insight on three type of reinvention, I am going to ask you to take a look at where you are.

So, when you are looking to reinvent yourself, you need to realize you only have two options, change or die. Maybe not physical death, but the death of a vision, death of hope, end of a dream.

I recently read an exceptional article by John Manshi, an attorney, entrepreneur, and actor who I follow on Medium..com His words connected profoundly and profoundly, and mirrored my own experience. In the interest of full disclosure, the balance of this post is an intermingling of his article with my story.

Manshi reveals the three types of reinvention people go through in their lives, strategic moves which people can choose to make or not.

The Three Basic Structures of Reinvention

Is there a distinction between change and reinvention? Yes, all reinvention required change, but not all change is reinvention.

The Reactive Reinvention

This type of reinvention is usually sudden and immediately impactful.

  • You experience a job loss
  • You suffer an injury
  • You make a colossal misjudgment or mistake
  • Your spouse, or significant other cheats on you
  • Your company’s business model undergoes an abrupt change

Each of these events can lead to a reactive reinvention.

Reactive Reinvention comes about when an external event occurs and compels you to make changes. In this type of activity, you must change to advance your life and those things you hold dear. You cannot go back because the activating event that caused this is irreversible.

I experienced this twice with my work as a ministry professional. The first being when I moved to New Mexico, the second when the Senior Pastor left the church I was serving in New Mexico.

At that point, I had an epiphany. I needed to go back to school, obtain my counseling degree, and become a licensed professional counselor.

While the event shook me to the core, it caused me to take an intense and serious looking into my vocational call as a people helper. The lesson gleaned from this experience is you core calling will not change, but the way you live it out may be radically different from what you thought it would be.

The beauty of this type of reactive reinventions is even though it can and most likely will be an arduous task to start, the person you become will often be better and stronger than before.

The Proactive Reinvention

  • You want a new job or a promotion
  • You want to start a new business, write a book, or share your art
  • You want to improve your health or finances
  • You want to develop a new skill
  • You want to have a new adventure or experience
  • America is the land of dreamers and entrepreneurs who believe there is a better way to live

I have traveled the world in the past several years, and I can tell you from up close and personal experience, there is no other country in the world today which gives its citizens the freedom to fully pursue your dreams.

Proactive Reinvention is when you purposefully and intentionally change to take advantage or a trend or an opportunity that is in front of you.

On a personal note, one of my proactive reinventions was to become a Crisis Response Specialist.

As an ordained minister, chaplain and mental health professional I have been involved in helping people with events ranging from automobile accidents, natural disasters, acts of terrorism for some years. Also, I have served as a Stress Management Consultant Team for international agencies.

Early on I was keenly aware of how people respond to natural disasters; human-made disasters, mass casualty events and other disruptive events. Intrigues by my observations and reading, I began some independent studies in the field of Psychotraumatology, humans resilience, stress reactivity, and post-traumatic growth.

This proactive reinvention has opened the doors for me too as a specialist in both Disaster Mental Health and Employee Assistance Consultant who helps companies with Disruptive Workplace Events.

The crazy things about proactive reinvention are the power to condense an incredible amount of training into a relatively small, intense amount of time if you desire to transform is strong enough.

The third type is a by-product of failure. As mentioned before, I experienced this when I failed to be accepted into the counseling program all those many years ago. Also, the job loss in Albuquerque and the intense financial struggles for the next short season intensely confronted me on the need to rise out of the ashes of what I perceived as some of my miserable failures

The Reflective Reinvention

Reflective Reinvention occurs when you fail at something, but you still have a strong desire to continue on a particular path.

You may have failed numerous times. You may feel like a complete loser because of the number of times you have eaten the bitter tastes of failure. Nevertheless, something deep inside you will not go away.

The key to reinvention and transformation at this point in the game is to change something about yourself.

The only way to change yourself is to reflect on your situation. A simple way to do this without going into a negative spiral is to ask yourself three questions. What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? What can I do better or differently? After spending some time of honest reflection and counting the cost to make the changes, you will have clarity as you make the necessary adjustment and changes in your life.

Manshi proposed a question: Why do I care if there are three varieties on the theme of reinvention?

He continues, being able to identify the one you find yourself in is the key to determining the strategies you will need to move forward.

Why?

First, each style of reinvention calls for distinct, calculated strategies actually to make the necessary changes.

Second, when you utilize the correct strategy to the type of reinvention you are going through you immediately accelerate the desired outcome.

Third, if you fail to implement the suitable strategy/s, you will, no doubt, waste precious time and might not reach your desired outcome nor reach your full potential.

Here are some of very insightful thoughts Manshi shares about reinvention strategies.

The Reactive Reinvention Strategy

When you are trying to reinvent yourself reactively, you have an enormous amount of energy and motivation. Not all of this is positive, edifying energy, much of it can become detrimental, life-sucking energy, destructive power.

That negative energy comes from self-doubt, self-loathing, anxiety, depression, loss, and possibly physical pain.

Here are a couple of “must do’s” to make this transition go forward:

  • Learn to manage the energy, both internally and externally. By doing this, you can use the positive, kinetic energy to propel you forward. If you fail to do this, there is a possibility the negatively could consume you.
  • To reinvent, it is imperative you use this burst of energy and transform it into your burning purpose.

The Proactive Reinvention Strategy

If you are going to reinvent yourself proactively, you must spend some time reviewing and analyzing trends. You must become opportunistic in the art of seeing what others cannot or will not see. You need preparation, education, and focused learning.

You will have to create margin in your life so you will have free, unencumbered time to prepare, learn and move towards the new opportunity to trend.

Finding time in the nooks and crannies is the most critical aspect of proactive reinvention.

For me, it meant working on my second Master’s degree while working full-time and being deployed for Desert Storm.

The Reflective Reinvention Strategy

When you engage in reflective reinvention, you have experienced multiple failures of something. As for myself, I had this crazy idea I should write. I attended some small writer’s conferences and workshops and began to submit to various magazines, online journals, as well as local outlets.  I received many more rejections than acceptances, while these dismissals slowed me down, they did reveal I had something to say.

If your best effort and knowledge does not result in success, then the problem is easy to diagnose; you need information and input from a source outside of yourself. This might come through a mentor, a friend, a personal business coach or consultant.

This step can be a difficult one for many people because it may involve swallowing some pride to realize you are having trouble figuring things out. Being prideful will not allow you to see the back of your head. You need a mirror, a camera or someone else.

There is no shortcut. It is the only way to succeed. You need to consider finding a mentor, coach, consultant, or some source to help you with this step. They may be able to provide a missing or overlooked piece of the puzzle that you are trying to solve.

In my own, small but growing journey as a writer I have been so workshops, seminars, writer’s groups, mastermind groups, as well as critique groups. I have submitted proposals, received multiple rejections, while at the same time, having some things published. I have had friends make helpful suggestions have helped me improve in this area of my life.

So what am I doing to help with this reflective reinvention strategy:

  • I am learning about my blind spots and am finding workarounds
  • I am lowering some of the gates of my self-pride and am allowing others to speak to me.
  • I am growing an accountability group to help increase my effectiveness as a person, spouse, and people helper.

What about you? Are you either entering into one of these reinvention phases, in the middle of it or coming out of it.

I would love to hear about your journey in the comments.

 

 

Recalibrate or Stagnate: The Choice is Yours!

How are those New Year’s resolutions going? In the interest of full disclosure, I am at about 60%, which, at least for me is not too bad.

The New Year is a time when so many of us consider making some changes in our lives; some people are looking to make some small changes others are looking to recalibrate, to reinvent themselves.

On the downside 80% of us will abandon most of those resolutions by mid-February, but what about the 20% that do keep them. So what are some ways to maintain those decisions, to recalibrate?

Resolution makers who have a measure of success move from thinking about making some changes to doing what it takes to make them hold. They intentionally move from a contemplative stage to an action stage.

Most of us have excellent ideas, ideas that will work. It might be to write a book, start a business, make some personal changes, or to suggest some changes in the workplace. The issue is that most of used a pretty lousy job of doing what it takes to execute those ideas. I know in my life, this has been an area of struggle.

I recently read an excellent article on medium.com by John Manshi titled, Only Three Ways to Reinvent Yourself.
He says, “When you are looking to reinvent yourself, you need to realize that you only have two choices, change or die. I will not be physical death, but the death of a vision, or the end of a dream.”

Manshi discusses three types of reinvention, recalibration and they are the reactive reinvention, the proactive reinvention, and the reflective reinvention.

In my personal and professional life, I have experienced all three of these. Some of these recalibration phases were very difficult resulting in job loss, a dynamic loss of income and some short-term personal challenges. Other recalibration phases have led to positive, kinetic changes in my life, business, and marriage. I hope that some of my life experience, as well as my years of working as a professional counselor, will give you some insight and tools to help you make the changes, rekindled the dreams and move forward.

In this series, I am going to show you how each of the recalibration strategies work and how you can take this information and continue to make the positive changes in your life, your business and your relationship.

So, what will you choose to do? Will you choose to stagnate or recalibrate?

Let me give you a personal invitation to join my email list to follow me in this series.