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Episode #13 - Resilience: It ain't what you think! with guest, Eileen McDargh

February 01, 2022 Garry Schleifer
Episode #13 - Resilience: It ain't what you think! with guest, Eileen McDargh
choice Magazine
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choice Magazine
Episode #13 - Resilience: It ain't what you think! with guest, Eileen McDargh
Feb 01, 2022
Garry Schleifer

In this interview, we talk with Eileen McDargh about her article "Resilience: It ain't what you think!

We will take a look at why resilience is not a crisis-only skill but a life skill that will help us to grow during challenges and provide us with opportunities to becomes stronger and wiser in the process.

Eileen McDargh is the CEO of The Resiliency Group. She is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, Hall of Fame Speaker, master facilitator, and award-winning author with expertise in resiliency and leadership. The British research firm of Global Gurus International ranks her in the top five of the 30 Communication Masters worldwide. Her articles have appeared in countless publications and two of her books have been awarded national recognition, including the Ben Franklin Gold Award. Her eighth book is Burnout to Breakthrough: Building Resilience to Refuel, Recharge and Reclaim What Matters.

Watch the full interview by clicking here. 

Show Notes Transcript

In this interview, we talk with Eileen McDargh about her article "Resilience: It ain't what you think!

We will take a look at why resilience is not a crisis-only skill but a life skill that will help us to grow during challenges and provide us with opportunities to becomes stronger and wiser in the process.

Eileen McDargh is the CEO of The Resiliency Group. She is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, Hall of Fame Speaker, master facilitator, and award-winning author with expertise in resiliency and leadership. The British research firm of Global Gurus International ranks her in the top five of the 30 Communication Masters worldwide. Her articles have appeared in countless publications and two of her books have been awarded national recognition, including the Ben Franklin Gold Award. Her eighth book is Burnout to Breakthrough: Building Resilience to Refuel, Recharge and Reclaim What Matters.

Watch the full interview by clicking here. 

Speaker 1 (00:03):

Hi, I'm Gary Schleifer. And this is beyond the page, brought to you by choice the magazine of professional coaching, the ultimate resource for professional coaches in this wonderful arena of professional coaching. We're more than a magazine choice, a community for people who use coaching in their work or personal lives. We've been building our strong passion for following in the coaching industry for more than 20 years. Yes. Next year is 20 years. Um, in today's episode, I talk with speaker master facilitator, coach and author Eileen MCAR. Her recent article in choice is entitled resilience. It ain't what you think. And you're gonna find how funny this lady is really in serious and in, yeah, just wait. Eileen is the CEO, the chief energy officer. You also figure that out real fast of the resiliency group. She's an internationally recognized keynote speaker. She's a hall of fame speaker, a master facilitator, and award with author with expertise in resiliency and leadership.

Speaker 1 (01:07):

The British research firm of global Drew's international RAs rates, her ranks her blah blah. In the top five of the 30 communication masters worldwide. Her articles have appeared in countless public publications and two of her books have been awarded recognition, including the Ben Franklin gold award. Woohoo. Awesome. Well done her eighth book burnout to breakthrough building re resilience to refuel recharge and reclaim what matters is the most recent who better than to have miss resiliency of the resiliency group. Write for choice magazine and talk with us today about this topic. Eileen, thank you so much for joining us today.

Speaker 2 (01:52):

Wow. Thank you for asking me. I'm delighted that, uh, we're gonna be kicking off 20, 22 looking at these topics.

Speaker 1 (01:58):

Yeah, no kidding. I think, uh, we'd love to see the rest of that stuff behind our rear view mirror. So let's bring us forward now. Okay. I have to admit if I'd read all of this, I think I might have been a bit more nervous about our call, but you are just when we met, you are like just so simpatico and awesome and funny, like you said, and I believe what

Speaker 2 (02:24):

I said, I am in this earth for comic

Speaker 1 (02:26):

Relief and she is, she makes me laugh every time. <laugh> so get ready. Buckle your seatbelts. Let's roll. Okay. I have to ask so coincidental or not. How long, like what drew you to creating something called the resiliency group in the first place? Like, did you see the writing on the wall? Has this been something,

Speaker 2 (02:48):

Uh, actually I'm a slow learner. Hmm. And when I say that, is that, um, without me actually putting those words to it, I have been fascinated by what I now know is resiliency, looking at organizations and people who go through some dramatic changes and end up staying Rightside up in a world that's upside down. And I really started writing about that topic, uh, right after nine 11 here. Oh wow. Yeah. And my, my first resiliency book there was called the resilient spirit, heart talk for staying right set up in the world. That's upside down. And they were, um, small, um, observations that I wrote about and had a wonderful woman who did original watercolors on every page. And the way people told me, they used that book is they put it on their nightstand or on their desk and they would open it up to whatever page it opened and say, okay, this is what I'm gonna work on today. And over the time that has passed, when I ask people, you know, how do you see me? And what's going, the word that was always connect with me was energy. And I realized as I went back and looked at all things that ultimately at the end, at the end of the day, resiliency is about energy management, which is what I finally agreed. That is what I'm about. It always sounded, so Gary sounded sorely, so smoosh.

Speaker 2 (04:22):

And uh, I said, no, you know what? That is exactly what it is, which is why, um, the top, the title of the, the article I wrote for the publication was resiliency. A what you think it is mm-hmm <affirmative> cause everybody defines it as bouncing back. Oh,

Speaker 1 (04:40):

I know when you, when I was re rereading the article and right in the beginning, you said the definition isn't meant for humans.

Speaker 2 (04:48):

Well, that's true because we talk about bouncing back, which is the, the number one dictionary definition. If you look at Webster, it is the ability of a strained organism, an object to recover. It's a original size and shape following de formation caused by stress. Well, excuse me, that's a piece of steel that bends. That's a Willow tree that is not human beings, right? Because we do not go back to our same place. There's never any, we never go back. Gary, whatever experiences we in our life, we are forever changed. Mm there's that wonderful saying you cannot enter the same river twice. The river's moved on. Yeah. Every experience that we have, we are different because of it to be resilient as, than how given where I am now. Not yesterday, can't go, it's done. It's done. What is it that I need now? And where do I find the emotional, physical, mental hardiness, the energy to move forward?

Speaker 1 (05:54):

Yeah. Well said, you know, when you say that it brings to mind. I, I, I always laugh when I hear people say the new normal. And when you talk about you can't enter the same river, the river the same way twice, or, you know, we, like we talked about, what do you mean new normal? Today's a different day than yesterday. Every day is a new normal know. You have like, to your point of you have these experiences and they alter your life and you, you may bounce back, but you're never gonna bounce back to the same way you've been impacted by what you saw, what you experienced, what you heard. So, you know, I always laugh when I hear the new normal. It's like, you could say that every day of your life.

Speaker 2 (06:35):

That's true. And again, say I try not to use that word back back is backwards. Um, I believe that if in fact we, we cultivate and I'm very deliberate about using that word. Gary cultivate, as we cultivate resilience, it's a matter of growth, no growth. You're stuck. Yeah. If you think about the word cultivate, um, are, are you, are you a gardener by any chance? Do you grow

Speaker 1 (07:07):

Anything? Yeah. Balcony. We have a,

Speaker 2 (07:08):

Well, balcony works, balcony works. I know

Speaker 1 (07:11):

<laugh> little bit, little bit.

Speaker 2 (07:15):

Well, whether you have a pot or whether you have a plot.

Speaker 1 (07:18):

Oh, well said,

Speaker 2 (07:20):

Um, if you want something to grow, you gotta get the soil ready. Right. You gotta take out the weeds, you gotta get rid of the bugs, whatever. And then you plant a seed or your little green plant. Mm-hmm <affirmative> you have to water it. You have to weed it mm-hmm <affirmative>. Um, and if you want it to grow, you keep have having to do things in order to cultivate. So in our lives, there might be times in which, you know, the dirt that I'm trying to, I got a whole lot of crap. I gotta get rid of <laugh> before I can grow forward. Then I have to say, what will water me? What will feed me? What are, you know, and bugs can come in the theoretical bugs in our heat.

Speaker 1 (07:59):


Speaker 2 (08:01):

So it's an, you know, cultivating is an ongoing process. And if you're a gardener, if you're a putter, <laugh>, you know, you, you don't stop.

Speaker 1 (08:11):

Yeah, no, I'm always looking outside and it's like, okay, cuz it's windy up here. Things move around. What needs to be adjusted? Oh, my moms told me that this plant needs more sun than this one. So I rearrange the pots on the about. Yeah. And

Speaker 2 (08:24):

Sometimes you get, you get rid of that pot, that rid of your plant and see, you know, I'm gonna try something different. Mm-hmm <affirmative> if you think about it for coaching, sometimes in coaching, what we help individuals do is to move from going this way. Mm-hmm <affirmative> to totally jumping off and going this away. You're a new, you're a new plant where you're trying to grow. Isn't helping you. Mm-hmm <affirmative> where we move to another place,

Speaker 1 (08:52):

Right? Yeah. Yeah. Well said, well said I, I wanna go back to the resiliency conversation, so, okay. It's not a human definition. And yet would you say there's some people that are genetically wired to be resilient?

Speaker 2 (09:08):

No. And I will say that.

Speaker 1 (09:11):

No, no, hold on. I'm not quite clear on what you're saying. Uh, are you saying no <laugh>

Speaker 2 (09:16):

I, I, I am saying no. The research from the last 20 years says that while there are some people who seem to have an easier way of making the, uh, the, the brain click into action, mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, it's as though the, the neurotransmitters <affirmative> or faster, the truth of the matter is our brains are mobile. You know, we used to say that at the age of five, that was it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> now brain is, as it is, it's hardwired in a sentence. We now know that we can train our brains to develop new neuro trans neuro pathways mm-hmm <affirmative>. And in those pathways, it's in that learning that we, that we learn different and better ways of responding. So to say that, well, I'll never be resilient cuz genetically, you know, my mother and father were a mess. Um, that's best in your side to a, you know, to a world of blackness, we can be, some people can train easier than others. For example, Gary, do you work out? Oh yeah. Okay. So when you go to the gym, the first time you went to the gym and do you lift weights? Yes. Okay. And the first time you went to a gym, if you can remember back that far, how much did, how much did

Speaker 1 (10:30):

You lift? Oh, okay. Let's just talk post COVID. How much did I lift? Cause it was way less than before. COVID it? So not a lot. It's

Speaker 2 (10:38):

Not a lot. It's the circumstances change. So as you grew, you said, you know, I can do more than this. I, and literally you were retraining your training, your muscles. Right? So I, I had this cataract surgery and I have not been able to exercise because of my eye except for walking. I'm the person that goes to the gym. I do the machines, I do the StairMaster. I run six miles a day. I can't do any of that today. Gary was the first time in two weeks, I got to go to the gym. Wow. I am so sure. I can't believe <laugh> and I couldn't do what I normally would. Right. So I'm going to have to read, train my muscles, have to be retrained. Well, think of your brain as being this, this, this muscle, if you will, in which we train it to begin to develop patterns that allow us to grow forward.

Speaker 1 (11:33):

Oh, okay. Yeah. So something else is coming to mind. I love how my conversation always deviate from the plan <laugh> um,

Speaker 2 (11:45):

Deviation is good right now. Deviation is

Speaker 1 (11:48):

<laugh> is re is the ability, oh, I got to cultivate resilience in a way that you just described with that example. Is that just another way of saying, working with change?

Speaker 2 (12:06):

I, I think that could be what's important in both of those words is the, I N G word it's not work done. Turn page it's work, cultivate ting, which makes it an ongoing process. I like the word cultivating because of the metaphor. Yeah. That allows us. I mean the feed, seed water, you know, those things we have to do working can go anywhere. But no, you could use that if you wanna use

Speaker 1 (12:39):

That. It's yours. Yeah. Because when I think about it, change is what's what happens all the time. Uh, resilience is individually is a word not necessarily appropriate, but cultivating it in a way that works for humans to deal with change. And what it's it, you know? And maybe it's the severity of the changes we've been seeing over the last few years. Um, like nine 11. You, you know, when you were dealing with that, um, when you started your company and then COVID pandemic and social unrest and political unrest.

Speaker 2 (13:16):

Yeah. I, I think what we're experiencing globally is, um, it's the fact that, okay, we had this experience and our, our nervous system is set up. Okay. I can respond to it. All right. You know, put all the energy out and I'll take care of this. And then I happens again, mm-hmm <affirmative> and that happens again. And it's called allostatic overload, right? Where you keep getting beaten up, over and over and over. And it's, you know, the post traumatic stress syndrome versus post traumatic stress growth are two different ways. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and both of them are difficult. And I think what we're experiencing globally, as well as here in the states is this allostatic overload. It's like there's too much here. Yeah. So where we find ourselves now, Gary is, to me, this is, this is how I'm talking to myself right now. Okay. Eileen, where is your point of control? Mm. Where is your point of control? What do you choose to do in that? Cause I can't, there's so much of this. I have no control over. Oh yeah. And we have a limit because memorize that energy, we have limited amounts of energy. So there are times in which our wisest course of acts is to say, I need to sleep

Speaker 1 (14:44):

<laugh> I laugh only because that's sometimes exactly just like, oh no, no, I, my body and everything just says, okay, you need to restore mm-hmm <affirmative>

Speaker 2 (14:57):

Mm-hmm <affirmative> yeah. Yeah. Which is absolutely valid. And the other thing is that to me, the cultivating of resilience is not a one and done mm-hmm <affirmative> because things will happen. Yeah. And go, oh, what do I do here? When I've, um, when I've had some groups, um, and we talk about resilience, I ask, I put them in groups too, you know, talk to each other, think of something that you experienced in your past life that you did not think you were gonna get through and you did mm-hmm <affirmative> and then when they shared with each other, what that is, they said, what allowed you, what strength did you find? What happened that got you through that? Because the learning point is you still have that. You forgot,

Speaker 1 (15:50):

But it's like the muscle memory.

Speaker 2 (15:52):

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Muscle memory.

Speaker 1 (15:56):

Wow. And my <laugh> and I think my muscles don't have as good a memory as they used to let tell you, uh, post COVID was a lot of work, but I'm

Speaker 2 (16:03):

Back. I gotta tell you, but I got outta the car. I thought, oh my God was this on my, there was cause I was using something different. Right. In two weeks, I've not been able, able to use. And uh, as I shared with you before the podcast began, uh, I gotta go back and have some more surgery, which means I'm gonna have another two weeks, which I cannot right. Do stuff I normally do. So.

Speaker 1 (16:25):

Yeah. Ah, but now at least, you know, and you have that memory and you'll be like less you'll, won't be as hard on yourself, you know, brings

Speaker 2 (16:32):

A, let me just interrupt because you bring out a really good point, right. There is that when you have built this up and let's use the example of you going to the gym, while it might be more painful to try to go back and do what you did, you'll recover faster, your muscles do remember it right. As opposed to somebody who's never done this at all.

Speaker 1 (16:53):

Explain a that's an interesting point because I didn't feel as much pain as I would've thought it was just a matter of the muscles. Um, couldn't handle the same amount of weight as they did pre COVID mm-hmm <affirmative> and now, now it's actually gone beyond what I used to do pre COVID. So I'm like, I'm kind of like what's going on. Um, you know, and that brings up a really good point. What role does physical wellbeing play in cultivating re resilience?

Speaker 2 (17:26):

Uh, I think it plays a big, a big deal. Mm-hmm <affirmative> in fact, uh, when I think about energy management, which is what resilience is about, is how we take care of our physical body is the most obvious and easiest way to begin to reclaim that energy mm-hmm <affirmative>. So I am a big believer in diet, exercise, nutrition, and sleep things that take our, our physical body. This is the engine that drives the locomotive. Yeah. So if I'm not caring for this, I can't care for this. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so much of what I happen, happens here and here, head in my heart. My body is the, is the engine. It's the thing that drives it. So, um, you know, sometimes in order for people to feel that they can, you can even see responses in your body faster, then you can sometimes in, in your heart or your head mm-hmm <affirmative>. So if I see, okay. Um, my all is to at least walk, pretend, um, twice a week mm-hmm <affirmative> and every time I walk, I'm gonna put a gold star on my paper calendar. <laugh> that sounds really

Speaker 1 (18:40):

Silly. No, no, not at all. It's a, it's a recognizable reward and Hey, how I like to have fun with those kind of things. That's, I'm laughing cuz it's right. My alley, I would do something like

Speaker 2 (18:51):

That. <laugh> if you ever looked at, cause I still have a paper calendar. I have a daytimer right. And just before we went on the air, I went through and I looked at my, have a Fitbit and I went through and marked, how did I too, up until the time I have the surgery. Wow. And I have, I think, I think my stickers this time are, let me see if I, I think they are and here it is. It is. Um, I think it's supposed to be a hedgehog. Is that a hedgehog?

Speaker 1 (19:20):

Um, yeah, I'd say it would be hedgehog.

Speaker 2 (19:23):

That was cause I have to find 'em small enough to go on the little square button <laugh> I have the Funt calendars over the years and you could ever imagine, but there's something about looking down at these stickers, even if it was too, you go, I did

Speaker 1 (19:36):

Too. Yeah. Good now. Yeah. Well, and it's acknowledging that too. And that, you know, I think, well, I'm gonna guess that from this conversation, that cultivating awareness is also about recognizing what's going on, the changes that are happening and back to your point about what do you really have control over mm-hmm <affirmative> like when this whole pandemic started and everything was locked down, it was, and especially in Canada, we stayed, locked down a lot longer. And it was, you just had to, you, you get lemons, you make lemonade kind of thing. You had to let go of the fact that you couldn't control lineups at a grocery store or, you know, going outside without a mask or all of that sort of stuff. Right. You're just out of our control. Yeah. That was very, that was, is that so, you know, we have a, primarily a coaching audience was the control question. The question that a coach might ask to help a client begin to cultivate resilience, or do you have a, a bigger one?

Speaker 2 (20:42):

Obvious, actually that's a great question. Uh, but before, you know, describe how you currently see yourself. Mm-hmm <affirmative> where do you find yourself? And then you constantly say, what is it that you have control over? I have control over that. Keep talking because at the end of the day, Gary, we do have control over how we interpret those events. We have control how I feel about it. Is there a hear is another, is there another way of reframing it that instead of saying, oh crap, this is, you know, oh, I didn't just, okay. Maybe there's another way I could look at this. So instead of saying, I, um, let's pretend back at when the COVID thing started. Uh, and I'm I relegated to my house. Um, oh, that terrible, horrible. Is there a way to reframe it? Well, the truth of the matter is my kids and I are gonna learn how to bake cookies.

Speaker 2 (21:44):

Uh, we're gonna reframe it and say, I'm gonna clean up the garage. I have a clean, yeah, look, how fabulous is that? Yeah. There's so, um, the idea of reframing is so important. In fact, one of the classic from long ago, um, Apollo 13, which was the, the moonshot where they thought they were never gonna bring the Astron back mm-hmm <affirmative> when they made the movie about it with Tom cruise in it, the gene Krantz was the head of mission control in Texas. And in the story of, of that, that Apollo 13, um, everything they tried and it is a traumatic story. Everything they tried, they could not, there was one thing after another, after another and the engineers went to gene Kratz and said, we've done everything. We, we, we dunno what to do. I mean, we tried everything, gene Kratz looked at them and said, and this could be our finest hour. Mm we're not given up. Yeah. He reframed all of that horribleness to say that I had the, the wonderful opportunity of, of flying back, uh, with a seat mate, who was actually the captain on about 13.

Speaker 1 (23:09):

Oh my goodness.

Speaker 2 (23:12):

And it was, it was, uh, amazing. Wow. So if, if in the middle of all of that, and really it's such a dramatic story mm-hmm they did, they tried everything and they did bring the astronauts back

Speaker 1 (23:28):

Cause they were committed to, uh, post reframing. They were just, they had a different,

Speaker 2 (23:33):

They re reframed. This could be our finest hour. We're not giving it

Speaker 1 (23:37):

Awesome. So much to think about Eileen, thank you so much. I, um, we're coming to end of our little chat together today, but I always like to ask the author and you being coach, master facilitator, author, author, author, author. I could say that eight times. <laugh> um, what else would you like our audience to take away from this, your article and this conversation?

Speaker 2 (24:03):

Wow. I hope there's a lot. They took

Speaker 1 (24:05):

Away, uh, you know what? You had steps in there. Like you really, you, you really walk the talk. I have to say, obviously you named your company for a reason. You're passionate about it. It comes out in your article, then there's so much in there. I mean, we could just leave it there, but I just thought, Hey, if anything popped into your head, this is your opportunity to

Speaker 2 (24:28):

Okay. I'm and this could be that a coach shares with their, with their client.

Speaker 1 (24:36):


Speaker 2 (24:36):

Yeah, yeah. Not from me. It's from Howard Zin. Who said to have hope one does not need certain only possibility.

Speaker 1 (24:52):

I love possibility because an unfulfilled expectation leads to upset. An unfulfilled possibility is just another possibility.

Speaker 2 (25:02):

<laugh> marvelous. Golic Marvel.

Speaker 1 (25:05):

Yes. And I didn't say that. I got that from my land mark training. There we go. <laugh> thank you so much for joining us for this beyond the page episode, what's the best way for people to reach you?

Speaker 2 (25:16):

Well, if you can spell my name, you can find me. Um, you can Eileen with a E the good old Irish spelling. E I L E E N MCAR M C D a R G H or the resilience C group. And actually my name is easier to spell than the word resiliency. <laugh> that's why it's both me. You can, you can find me on LinkedIn. Uh, you can find me on Twitter. Um, and certainly all my books are there. They're both on the website as well as at Amazon. And I would dearly love to, to talk to and communicate with any of your viewers and readers.

Speaker 1 (25:49):

Oh, thank you so much for your generosity being here today. That's it. For this episode of beyond the page, please sign up to our email to find previous episodes or subscribe via your favorite podcast app so that you don't miss any of our informative episodes. Uh, if you're interested in getting a free issue of two choice magazine, head on over to choice and click this signup now button I'm Gary Scher, the journey to mastery.