Stories of Resilience: Part 3

COVID-19 has shocked our healthcare systems, our systems of government, and our social systems. Resilience is the key to recovery right now.

We’re not just concerned about our health, we’re concerned about our relationships, our jobs, and the future. In just a matter of weeks, the coronavirus has stretched us all thin and forced us to become incredibly resilient.  

Right now, the one thing we’re all in search of is guidance. 

That’s why over the past few weeks, I’ve reached out to thought leaders, founders, and executives to share their stories of resilience. Some of these stories are from people I’ve worked with.

Some of these stories of resilience are from people I’ve reached out to for this piece. The one thing these stories all have in common? Each one of them is told by a person I admire and look up to. 

These tales of resilience are a guiding light that can lead us through a dark part of our shared story that feels bleak right now. 

I hope they impact you as profoundly as they’ve impacted me. 

Kim Kaupe, Co-Founder & CEO: The Superfan Company, Keynote Speaker & LinkedIn Learning Instructor

kim k.png

“It happened again a few weeks ago. 

The question I get asked too many times in too many meetings and at too many events, “So, where is your boss?” 

Actually, sometimes it’s “When did you start working at the company?” 

Or there is my personal favorite, “Are you helping to take notes today?” 

When I started The Superfan Company, I was young with just the right touch of pure optimism. Day after day sitting at my kitchen table, eating free pizza and not going out because I couldn’t pay for anything slowly turned into a working business. 

Nine years later we have worked with everyone from Paul McCartney to Oprah to the NY Mets, we’ve been featured on Forbes Lists and primetime TV Shows like Shark Tank. 

And yet, no matter how much success we find, this all-female team constantly gets asked if we are the assistant, the note taker, the “marketing girl” or some other off-handed branding. As if it is an incredulous thing that women could run a successful company.

That it is so out of the ordinary and rare it seems almost impossible. But this, this is actually where our greatest strengths are. I used to wrestle with the idea of being categorized as less then. Now I’ve realized, you put the wrong baby in the corner!

Resilience Takeaways From Kim:

  1. Keep Underestimating: I love when people underestimate The Superfan Company. Great, it means they will never see us coming! It means we can plot and work and surpass expectations in peace.\ I’d rather be underestimated any day of the week. I don’t need your validation to know our worth.
  2. My Opinion Matters, Not Yours: I have learned to rely less on outside approval. The gold stars and awards don’t matter as much to me as what I think of our work and our team. The opinions who matter are yours and your client/customers.
  3. Work Hard In Silence, Let Success Be Your Noise: If you had to tell people you were the cool kid in high school you were probably not cool. Same goes as adults, if you have to tell people how great your company is beware! Work hard, double your efforts, play to win and do your best. Let the chips fall where they may. If they fall in your favor, bask in the accolades, enjoy the moment and then by all means move on to the next challenge! Don’t chase accolades, chase hard work!

To learn more about me, follow me on Instagram!

Jeff Gothelf, Founder, Author, Speaker

“When I initially went to college, I planned on being a music major. I didn’t audition to get in, but I ended up getting into the music program and I spent that first year working alongside a piano instructor who taught me a ton. I rehearsed, practiced, and worked harder than I ever had in my life. 

At the end of the second semester, I took a final exam where I was playing a nine foot grand piano in the thousand seat concert hall. Every single note resonated and there were four people in the audience — my teacher, her colleagues, and 996 empty seats. 

I played scales over five octaves, arpeggios, and a couple classical pieces from memory. 

And I choked. I didn’t just blow it in front of my professors, I derailed my entire collegiate career. I wasn’t going to be accepted into the music program. I wasn’t going to study music for the next few years. I got the final grade back and it was abysmal. 

Additionally, I was told that the department wouldn’t even be able to find me a piano professor for my sophomore year, so I wouldn’t even be able to minor in the subject. 

I was upset. I was depressed. I didn’t know what to do. 

What I learned in my sophomore year, as I started to discover music and audio production, is that my piano playing stopped becoming so formal and rigid. 

No longer was I spending hours and hours practicing scales, arpeggios, or memorizing classical music each week. I focused more on the aspects of the piano that I enjoyed. I started discovering improvisational music, jazz music, and jam bands. 

Eventually, I met a group of people I started playing with and came across what can only be described as enlightenment. I learned that I could have a foundation in rigid, classical theory and take these same ideas and apply them in a different context. 

I ended up playing in bands for the next fifteen years and having the time of my life. I took these skills I learned and didn’t just apply them in a new way, I also formed some of the closet relationships of my life.” 

Resilience Takeaways From Jeff:

  1. The things that may seem like disappointments today will often look like opportunities tomorrow.
  2. The skills we learn in one area of our lives are often applicable to other areas as well.
  3. Feeling directionless is natural and is often a part of development. 

Check out Jeff’s upcoming book, Forever Employable, coming out soon

Michael Rucker, PH.D, Chief Digital Officer of Wellness & Fun Expert

“In 2016, after a string of good fortune, I was hit with a trifecta of crushing blows. My younger brother unexpectedly died, the victim of a pulmonary embolism. 

Fifteen years of identifying as a runner, logging dozens of marathons and two Ironmans, I was told I would never run again. 

Then, while still processing the first two challenges, my wife got a fantastic job offer, but it required us to leave all our family and friends 3,000 miles behind and move to North Carolina—to a place where we knew no one. An early charter member of the International Positive Psychology Association and amid my doctoral practicum helping physicians with burnout, I had a firm academic understanding of resilience. Yet, common practices like scribing in my gratitude journal and mediation just weren’t cutting it. I was trying a lot of what I’d been told would work, yet I remained unhappy.

What pulled me out of despair was shifting my mindset from being results-oriented to being process-oriented. It wasn’t a smooth process. As an entrepreneur, needing results was in my DNA.

However, there is an inherent flaw in thinking with the “end in mind,” especially when in distress. You perseverate on the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

For that specific period, life was drudgery and focusing on happiness—the “goal”—made me identify as unhappy, making things worse. 

Then it dawned on me, I might be miserable right now, but I still have the agency to have fun. Instead of anticipating the joy happiness might bring someday, I started to savor the things I knew I would find fun even though there were things I still needed to sort through emotionally. 

Avoiding overthinking things and putting my energy where I had agency was more powerful than I could have ever imagined, and I am back to being as happy as I’ve ever been before.”

Resilience Takeaways From Michael: 

  1. Consider being process-oriented, contrast to results-oriented. 
  2. Measure your gains, not the gap.
  3. Even in times of distress, you have the agency to have fun.

Yes, things look bleak now. The future is extremely uncertain, but it’s important to keep in mind that as bad as this pandemic is now, it will eventually end. And we will all be more resilient when this is over. 

During the meantime, though, we must continue to distance ourselves from others, extend a hand to those in need, and share our stories. 

For Thought Leaders
Bryan Wish

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