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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

Do You Remember What You Were Doing on September 11, 2001?

I remember what I was doing on September 11, 2001 and I bet you do, too.

I was getting my kids ready for school. They were still pretty young so only one was in elementary school. I remember being glued to the TV and feeling incredible fear about what would happen next. I stayed home that day and held my kids tighter than normal. My neighbor was at her daughter's dance class after school and a man got angry at her over a parking spot. He chewed her out and later keyed her car. The world seemed unsafe, unpredictable, and angry. It was an unsettling feeling. Just like my parents used to tell me the story of where they were when Kennedy was assassinated, the story of where I was on 9/11 is one I will tell my children. Retelling the story is a coping mechanism that enables us to be more resilient. Staying in the Smart Zone is NOT about the crisis you are facing, it's about how you think and respond to the crisis. People in the Smart Zone are resilient. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back, to get up after you're knocked down, and to improve yourself after a tragic incident. Let September 11, 2011 give you a sense of renewal and resiliency in your personal and professional life using these Smart Moves:

  • Reframing. This is the process of shifting from the cup half empty to the cup half full. Some call it serendipity. We have all had bad experiences in our life. When something goes wrong look carefully at your reaction, learn from the experience and do things differently the next time.

  • Make Work a Calling. In his book, The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People, David Niven, Ph.D. says "If you see your work as only a job, then it's dragging you away from what you really want to be doing. If you see it as a calling, then it is no longer a toiling sacrifice. Instead, it becomes an expression, a part of you." What can you do to find meaning in your work? How can it become an expression of who you are?

  • Be a Little Organized. A recent study showed that people who claim to have "very neat" desks reported spending 36% more time looking for things than people claiming to have "fairly messy" desks. This implies that there is a productivity cost to neatness. While it isn't realistic for everything in your life to be completely organized, it is imperative that you develop structured approaches to manage the unknown. Be focused on your life goals to head off potential barriers.

  • "Expect Things to Work Out Well," says resiliency expert Al Siebert, Ph.D. Worrying about failing increases the likelihood of failure. For example, a salesman who is so concerned about his falling sales that he can't bring himself to pick up the phone guarantees that his sales will fall even further. When optimists interpret events, 8 out of 10 times they see the positive aspects. Last week a reporter interviewed me about my "Meredith experience" on my first day working for Dr. Phil and how I expected things to work out well.

  • Express the Right Emotions Openly. The shift in our culture to becoming more compassionate can be tricky at work. Since 9/11 I think we all feel more compassionate and are able to share emotions more outwardly. Click here to read what this reporter has to say about crying at work. Keep in mind the same emotion that causes crying can also cause yelling. Sometimes it takes more courage to cry than to yell. If you tend to be a "yeller" watch my video on how to handle anger instead of hiding from it.

Just for fun take this Resiliency Quiz to find out how resilient you are. If you let a crisis define you, then it will be in control of you and affect almost everything you have in your life. If you manage the crisis and don't let it define you then you will have an opportunity to grow because of it. A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

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