The Mix Tape: Ep. 2 — Grit and Resilience in the Workplace

There are some days when motivation is hard to find at work. This episode finds Mix Talent's Chad Thompson demystifying resilience with positive psychology expert and multi-industry veteran Lauren Thompson. Together, they outline what individuals and employers can do to cultivate a gritty attitude in their work environments. Equip yourself with the tools to outlast your worst days!

Transcription

Unison-

Welcome to The Mix Tape.

Valerie McCandlish:

I’m Valerie.

Maggie Painter:

I’m Maggie. Thank you for joining us for Episode 2. We’re so happy to have you back. We hope you enjoyed the conversation with Julie and Patty. If this is your first time listening to us, be sure to check out our premiere episode that debuted last week.

Valerie McCandlish:

Yeah. Since you heard from us last, we have had quite some big things happening in the Mix Talent realm. We are actually saying goodbye to our first home. We have outgrown it, so good problems to have, and we are phasing out into our new home. We will keep you posted on updates from our new podcast studio.

Maggie Painter:

Yeah. More to come there, and we also had a chance to get together this weekend for our folks in Ohio. We held a tailgate for an OSU game and it was a great time to come together and meet some new faces, see some old faces and just catch up with everybody.

Valerie McCandlish:

Yeah. I think that ties in on last week’s topic of returning to the office. Also, returning to out-of-office events. It was really great for everyone to be able to get together. Like I said, we’ve grown quite a bit over the last year. A lot of people have not even gotten a chance to meet face-to-face. Definitely a very exciting time. Then today, we have an interesting conversation from a very cool husband and wife duo, Chad and Lauren Thompson. Chad is a principal at Mix Talent leading our consulting and assessment practice. He is an industrial organizational psychologist by trade with over a decade of experience as an assessment consultant within the life science industry. His wife, Lauren, who’s basically a Jane of all trades has had a career in pharmaceutical and medical device sales. She’s been a public school teacher, a special ed teacher, a graduation coach, and a school administrator. Lauren has a Master’s of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and outside of her role in education, she works with organizations and athletic teams of all types and sizes to help build their resilience and well-being.

Maggie Painter:

Yeah, Val, and I think you really hit the nail on the head with Lauren being a Jane of all trades. It seems like she’s had her hands on a little bit of everything within the educational realm. Today, the Thompson duo will be discussing one of my favorite topics that I’ve learned about while at Mix and that is grit and resilience. They will be giving insight into the actions leaders can take to build and maintain resilience on their teams and to create a positive organization, as well as explaining that grit and resilience are something that can be developed over time and not necessarily something that you’re just born with.

Valerie McCandlish:

I totally agree, Maggie. This is one of my favorite topics that we’ve learned about too. In addition, they’re also going to be diving into the practice of positive psychology and that acknowledging when things are difficult and planning for what could go wrong is a highly adaptive strategy, which is a great reminder and especially relevant in today’s constantly changing times.

Maggie Painter:

Yes, I would say the last 12 months have certainly been constantly changing. Without further ado, let’s dive in. Here is Chad and Lauren in their take on grit and resilience in the workplace.

Chad Thompson:

I’m Chad Thompson, the head of consulting and assessment here at Mix Talent. I’m joined by…

Lauren Thompson:

Lauren Snider Thompson. I am an assistant principal and outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan and founder of Ascent Leadership Learning.

Chad Thompson:

Awesome. Topic today, really wanted to focus on perseverance, resilience, grit. Lots of different terms associated with probably a similar topic. Always important, probably even more so after the last 15, 16 months of what we’ve all been through. We just wanted to have a conversation with an expert on the topic, my wife, Lauren. Lauren, talk to me about how you got interested in this topic from a kind of an academic study research perspective.

Lauren Thompson:

I work with primarily at-risk students and before I was an assistant principal, I was a special education teacher and really started to wonder why some of my students who came from nothing could succeed and do really well in life and some of my students who were given everything in the entire world, could not in some situations. I wanted to know what was it about my students that made them either make it and be resilient in the world and what was holding them back. That’s what led me to the Master’s of Applied Positive Psychology Program at University of Pennsylvania was that question.

Chad Thompson:

Awesome. I’m familiar with obviously the concept of positive psychology. My background, as you know, of course is industrial organizational psychologist, which essentially is the study of human beings and their behavior in a work context. Positive psychology, one of the newer areas of psychology, give a little bit of background both on that as a subject and then the program at Penn.

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah. Marty Seligman or Martin Seligman is the father of positive psychology. He was the president of the American Psychological Association a while back. He’s the founder of the program at Penn as well. Basically, the gist of positive psychology is we, instead of looking at deficits, right, in normal psychology, it’s deficit-based. We’re looking at what’s wrong and then how you fix it. In positive psychology, we’re looking at what’s right, what’s going well and how can we build upon the strengths of people. There is one program in the United States and that’s at the University of Pennsylvania where Marty Seligman is still a professor in the program. I went out on the ledge and put myself out there and applied for the program a few years ago. I was a student in 2017, 2018, where I was able to study under Marty Seligman, Angela Duckworth, James Pawelski, Karen Reivich. Incredible, incredible professors at Penn. There we really look at all the different aspects of well-being, the components of it, and then the components of resilience, grit, and that type of thing.

Chad Thompson:

Got it.

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah. Now, I’m an assistant instructor in that program where I help teach positive education and also the perspectives of well-being.

Chad Thompson:

Excellent. Then your work at Ascent centers around what? What type of things are you helping organizations do, think through, get better at?

Lauren Thompson:

One of my favorite things to talk about is how you can create positive ecosystems within your organizations, as well as then make well-being a priority within your organization. Because people that are well, people that are flourishing, those are the people that are going to be your high performers. They’re going to be the most engaged people that you have in your organization. I love working on that. I also, in higher ed, really enjoy working on beefing up the resilience of our college students and improving their grit and resilience so that they can enter the organizations outside of college in a flourishing and thriving way.

Chad Thompson:

Excellent. Good. I think it’s always important that we define some terms.

Lauren Thompson:

Sure.

Chad Thompson:

Some of these, I think, are probably in some people’s minds maybe more similar than they actually are if you are deep, as deep into it as you are.

Lauren Thompson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chad Thompson:

Talk to me about grit. How is that defined? What is that? What does gritty behavior look like? Then we’ll go into a couple of other from there.

Lauren Thompson:

Right. Angela Duckworth is like the guru of grit and she would describe it as its passion and perseverance for long-term goals. Grit is more of a longer thing. You have something in mind. I knew I wanted to eventually get my doctorate and I am 39 and just now reaching that goal for myself, but it’s something that I stuck to and I really, really wanted. It’s something I was passionate about. I weathered the storm and I’m still here. Grit is that. It is having the passion for something and then sticking with it regardless of the downfalls you have along the way.

Chad Thompson:

Okay. How is that similar or different to resilience?

Lauren Thompson:

Resilience is the everyday grind of life. It’s bouncing back when things don’t go your way. When you’re in the pursuit of some kind of goal, inevitably things don’t go the way that you want. It’s the way of being able to bounce back and become, come back to the goals that you were wanting to pursue in a productive way.

Chad Thompson:

Got it. We’ve talked about this quite a bit. But one of the ways we see resilience in the pharma and biotech space, in particular on the commercial side is in sales, right.

Lauren Thompson:

Right. Yeah.

Chad Thompson:

Probably different reasons that this idea of resilience is important for different kinds of sales. If you’re selling a branded product in a heavily genericized market, probably a different type of resilience, because that’s a tough market to sell in.

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

If you’re selling a first in product or first in market product, maybe there is a buy-and-bill component that has a lot of pull through on the backend, obviously that can be challenging for its own reasons.

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah.

Chad Thompson:

You actually started your career in pharma and biotech sales.

Lauren Thompson:

I did.

Chad Thompson:

How do you think about that? Were you thinking about being resilient at that time? Did you feel a need to be resilient when you were banging out a thousand phone calls a day as an inside sales rep? What did that look like?

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah. I started my career as an inside sales rep. You do. You… If you think it’s difficult having to walk into an office and have the door slammed in your face over and over again, it’s even more difficult when they can just hang up on you. It’s easier. It’s much easier to hang up a phone than it is to close the door. Yeah. I mean, that is a huge component of that. I think this might be a perception I have of drug reps, but usually you have pretty competitive people in that area. I think competitiveness drives your resilience in that way. There’s a goal, there’s passion, that you have. There is grit there. There needs to be.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

You have a long-term goal that you’re trying to fulfill. Then when you’re doing that actively every single day, resilience is a huge component of that. If you’re not a resilient rep, you’re not going to make very good progress in what you’re trying to accomplish.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

I definitely think it’s a major component, I believe, of sales, especially in pharma.

Chad Thompson:

You talked about this idea of flourishing, right, as the end goal of positive psychology.

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah.

Chad Thompson:

How would you describe flourishing? I’ve heard you say well-being in the past as well. What does that look like? How should people think about human flourishing or just well-being in general?

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah. Seligman again, defines well-being as a component. There’s, it’s called the PERMA model. You have positive emotions, you have engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. When you have all five of those things, right, there’s five, right?

Chad Thompson:

I think you’ve got five. Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah. When you have all those five things in your life and you’ve, they’re all, you’re functioning on all cylinders, then you’re probably flourishing at that point. But what’s amazing about that model is that you can really hone in on areas of your life or parts of you at work that you feel like you need to beef up to either become more resilient or to thrive or to flourish in your work. For me, relationships has always been a huge component of my ability to flourish or work, especially in pharma sales, relationships was what drove me in that profession. I really honed in on that, not really knowing about PERMA at the time, but that’s where I honed in, in order to really get the biggest bang for my buck with resilience and well-being.

Chad Thompson:

Gotcha. If you think about this traditional old nature versus nurture argument, right. I think if we were to talk to our clients or just talk to people day-to-day about this idea of grit or resilience or perseverance, as we’ve talked about, you may get some people just say, I’m just not a very resilient person. I’m just not very gritty. Right?

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah.

Chad Thompson:

I know one of the cool things that you and I have talked about quite a bit is, this is not a ingrained natural thing. Right. You may be oriented more one direction or the other, but this is a trainable developable thing in some ways. Right. If you were listening to this and thinking about how do I become more resilient, everyone, I would imagine, wants to become more resilient.

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

What things should people be thinking about in terms of things they can do, mindsets they can have, traps they can avoid that would help them be more resilient and actually build that muscle or that skill?

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah. I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions about well-being and resilience is that you’re either born with it or you’re not. It’s this either/or situation. You’ll see that in parenting, with kids. Like, oh well, that kid’s just really tough, or look at the toughness in that kid that. They’re just born with it and that’s, it’s completely false. There is a genetic component, but the majority of it is things that you can build on your own and with other people. The way that we tend to do this, or the science has shown the Penn Resiliency Program works on building the protective factors of people in general.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

There’s multiple factors that go into making somebody resilient. For instance, the main protective factor, like I said before with my own experience in pharma, was relationships. Oftentimes when people have relationships that are meaningful to them that are high quality, they are more resilient because they have that person that they can go to. Relationships is a huge protective factor. Optimism, and the way we view things is also an enormous protective factor that you can work on. Then of course, if you’re part of a positive organization itself, that’s a protective factor. All of these things, there’s multiple protective factors, but you can hit, just like permit’s a really nice thing, you can hit what you really feel like you need in your life in order to improve or beef up your resilience.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah. All right. You talked about the importance of relationships as a protective factor, right. I think most people consider relationships as almost a means to an end, particularly from a commercial standpoint, right. It allows access. It allows the ability to convey information. People don’t think about it as you described it, which is something that makes you more resilient. Right. How do people go about thinking about building more of these high quality connections? What might people do to create those types of relationships so that they can be more resilient?

Lauren Thompson:

Right. The goal is to create high quality connections, right. These mutual life-giving energizing connections where you can give your own, your own opinions. You’re going to have a lot more positive emotions in these relationships, but you’re also going to have a lot more negative emotions with these people because you are able to share yourself authentically with them. You’re able to challenge them with critical thinking. In order to build these relationships, you need to make sure that you are task enabling. You’re helping each other accomplish some kind of thing.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

Task enabling is a huge thing. Building trust, so trust in a way that conveys to the person, I trust that you’re going to do what you said you were going to do, in that way. Also, respectful engagement. Are you having respectful conversations with one another? You respect each other’s time. The entire… Respectful engagement is a huge thing. Then my favorite part of it is play. Play, especially in adults is, we don’t do this stuff anymore. Right. We think about play as acceptable when we’re kids and in school, it should be fun. But when we get out into the real world and we’re in these big organizations, how often do we really have time to play?

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

Play is where you really start to build high quality connections. I’m a huge proponent of play. I think it’s an important part-

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

… of relationships.

Chad Thompson:

That’s an interesting thing you said there, right. Because I think, you think positive psychology, you think high quality connections, it’s all Pollyanna, Rose Coloured Glasses stuff. Right. What I’m hearing you say is, no, there can be a healthy give-and-take, a healthy constructive tension feedback debate. That in and of itself is part of what makes a high quality connection. Am I hearing that the right way?

Lauren Thompson:

Absolutely, 100%.

Chad Thompson:

Cool. Then what would play look like in this context? How do you play with your co-workers?

Lauren Thompson:

Well, I think you could do, there’s this team bonding activities where you’re doing treasure hunts together, you’re doing that, but you could make your meetings more fun. There’s actually a study out there about just putting stupid toys in a meeting situation. Just seeing what people do with the toys, that people are actually more engaged in their meetings when they’re more fun. When there are more opportunities to just get up and move with one another. Prosocial behaviors, those types of things, like recognizing the need for that. Providing opportunities in organization is really huge. Or being in a kickball league together or being, playing in a softball league together. Just taking time to do something that might not be work-related-

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

… that people might have fun with.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah. That makes sense.

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah.

Chad Thompson:

Cool. Then you talked earlier about optimism as an aspect of something that’s important as a protective factor, right. There’s a balance there between being realistic, probably.

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

But if you think about someone who has this optimistic protective factor enveloping their day-to-day, what are some things that those people do or think or say that would tell you this is an optimistic person versus someone who is maybe a little more pessimistic and doesn’t have that same type of protective factor from an optimism standpoint?

Lauren Thompson:

Right. We look at that in, we call that explanatory styles. What kind of style you have when you’re explaining situations or when you’re rationalizing situations to yourself.

Chad Thompson:

Okay.

Lauren Thompson:

Somebody who is optimistic is going to look at something that went well as permanent, pervasive and personal.

Chad Thompson:

Okay.

Lauren Thompson:

Okay.

Chad Thompson:

Unpack each one of those.

Lauren Thompson:

Oh goodness. Permanent, meaning like, so if I was providing PD to a group and somebody came up to me halfway through the break and they, an optimistic person would say, this is because of the work I put into that. That’s permanent.

Chad Thompson:

You’d hear that praise as related to you and not to just-

Lauren Thompson:

Luck.

Chad Thompson:

… it happened to be, they were having a great day.

Lauren Thompson:

Yes.

Chad Thompson:

Okay.

Lauren Thompson:

Yes. A pessimistic person looking at pervasive stuff. If I had a situation where I got bad feedback or they gave me good feedback and they could say in a meeting, well, yes, the first half went really well, but the second half is bound to go bad.

Chad Thompson:

Okay.

Lauren Thompson:

Right. An optimistic person is not going to do that. They’re going-

Chad Thompson:

The good vibes are going to continue.

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

Okay.

Lauren Thompson:

Yes. Then personal, like I said before, it’s because I worked my butt off on this.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

In bad situations, optimistic people don’t look like, it’s not permanent in a bad situation if you’re an optimistic person. They’re not pervasive and they’re not too personal. Right. If we were going on this professional development feedback example.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

Right. A optimistic person’s going to look at say, you had maybe got some bad feedback. You might think to yourself, well, sometimes I am going to get bad feedback and then what’s the opportunity for me to learn there?

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Then, they would look at it in not too pervasive way, which is, we still have the second half to get things turned around. Right. If we’re getting some bad feedback halfway through, we can still grow from here. There’s still opportunity.

Chad Thompson:

Okay.

Lauren Thompson:

Does that make sense?

Chad Thompson:

It does. That’s permanent, that’s pervasive and then the personal piece would be what?

Lauren Thompson:

If I had bad feedback in the half of my presentation and I’m an optimistic person, I would say, okay, well, okay, that’s on me. What can I do to make it less confusing for these people?

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

You’re going to go immediately, and you are going to work.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

You’re accepting that this is on me. I’m going to make this less confusing for people or I’m going to work to fix the poor feedback at this point.

Chad Thompson:

There’s an agency associated with it from an individual perspective, right?

Lauren Thompson:

For sure.

Chad Thompson:

If you think old school locus of control stuff, right.

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

I have an internal locus of control. Meaning, I impact the environment around me. Good, bad or otherwise. Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

Versus an external locus of control, which is, I’m a passive recipient-

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

… of things that happen and it’s just-

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

… I hope it goes well, because I don’t have a ton of capability of actually impacting that.

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

Okay.

Lauren Thompson:

Yes.

Chad Thompson:

Got it. Got it. Then you mentioned goals, right, as really the root of what, how grit is defined. Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chad Thompson:

The long-term nature of those goals. How should people and leaders, executives who set goals for others or I should say, hopefully involve their team in setting their own goals. Right. What advice would you have for those people who are setting goals, maybe working with other people to set their own goals? What kind of goals should they be setting? How should they be thinking about those goals? How they define them and how they go about accomplishing them?

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah. Everybody talks about SMART goals and definitely that there’s a lot of value in creating SMART goals.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Right. But there’s some fairly new work by Gabriele Oettingen, who does a lot of work with mental contrasting and setting goals. WOOP is her way of setting goals and Angela Duckworth fully supports this as well.

Chad Thompson:

What is that acronym? What [crosstalk 00:22:47].

Lauren Thompson:

WOOP means you have a wish.

Chad Thompson:

Okay.

Lauren Thompson:

What is your overall wish? What is your outcome that you’re looking for out of this wish? The other O is obstacles. This is the different piece to setting goals, is that then we’re going to lay out and we’re going to think about everything that’s going to go wrong along the way. Because inevitably, it’s, things are going to happen. Right.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

That’s life.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Then the P part of WOOP is plan. Then you make a plan for all of those obstacles. For instance, if I’m trying to lose 10 pounds, right. It doesn’t mean-

Chad Thompson:

That’s your wish.

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah. Yeah.

Chad Thompson:

Okay. Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

That’s my wish or my wish could be that I want to be more healthy. I want my cholesterol to decrease. My outcome is that I lose 10 pounds and the obstacle is I’m not going to get up in the morning. Right. I’m not going to get up to workout when I’m supposed to. Cooper is going to have activities that we need to drive him to and we’re not going to have that. There’s going to be a gajillion things when you’re trying to lose weight. But I go through and I make a plan for every single one of those. Then that turns my brain on so that when those things happen, I automatically go, I already have a plan for this. I can do this. A lot of the research shows that if we don’t do this mental contrasting, those goals are less achievable. There’s a lot of work on losing weight, stopping smoking, how people come back from hip replacement surgery.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

There’s a lot of research around this that simply just visualizing how we want it to go and how we want it to work, is it effective?

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

We have to add the mental contrasting component to. My thing is, have the SMART goals, but then add that mental contrasting in it. What’s going to go wrong?

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Then, how are we going to prepare? That’s how you become more resilient. Right.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

You have a plan for when things go sideways.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah. If you’re working with an organization and they have maybe an overarching corporate objective, right.

Lauren Thompson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chad Thompson:

If you think about how people cascade goals, then the person is then trying to understand how their goals align with what the organization-

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

… wants me to do. Right. If my goal is to be promoted to a manager, right. I think what I’m hearing you say is, maybe my wishes I want to be fulfilled in my career-

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

… right, the outcome that would help me get there is contributing at a broader scope, having more of an impact, whatever.

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

Right. Maybe getting promoted is being part of that. That’s maybe one outcome along that way by being more fulfilled. The obstacles might be, my manager isn’t actively involved in my development. I’m not getting the opportunities I need to demonstrate my capability.

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

It might be the job description says you have to have three years and I only have two. Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

What I’m hearing you say is, person who’s engaging in this WOOP-oriented goal-setting would walk through all of those-

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah.

Chad Thompson:

… and already have the discussion with themselves-

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

… around how those obstacles can be overcome or may be temporary. Then they plan for how they’re going to get around them so that when their manager goes, yeah, that’s great, but I need you to get this report done immediately. They’ve already thought about how that is not completely in the way of their goal. They’ve developed a plan for that. Am I hearing that the right way?

Lauren Thompson:

Absolutely. Absolutely. For all the parents out there, from itty bitties, all the way to college kids, this is a super amazing tool for parents to be able to have real life conversations with your kids in a very un-Ted Lasso or Pollyanna way.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

Right. Where you’re preparing them. It’s not always going to be great.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

There are going to be things that happen and, but we need, let’s have a plan for them. Just a side note for parents, it’s a really great thing.

Chad Thompson:

But we do like Ted Lasso.

Lauren Thompson:

Well, we love Ted Lasso. But I’m just saying, you might need to have a little bit of a plan.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah. Very good. Okay. Cool. Then, just the long-term versus short-term nature of the goal-setting.

Lauren Thompson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chad Thompson:

Talk to me about that. Because you could have a… Are we talking 10 years? Are we talking five years? Are we talking two years? What is a long-term goal? Then, is this common wisdom around setting incremental goals to get to the long-term goals, is that consistent with what the research and best practices are from a positive psychology standpoint?

Lauren Thompson:

Absolutely on the setting incremental goals for the long-term.

Chad Thompson:

Okay.

Lauren Thompson:

I don’t think there’s any set rules on what constitutes a long-term goal. It’s just some passionate area for you that you feel like you can tackle and that you need for you to be fulfilled and feel like you have accomplishment. That’s the goal that I need to have.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

When they’re younger kids, a goal that’s two weeks could be long-term. As you get older, long-term might be defined in a much different way.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

I think it’s only, that’s going to be up to the person.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

I don’t think there’s anything in research that says exactly defines what long-term is.

Chad Thompson:

Okay.

Lauren Thompson:

But I think the key is the incremental goals to reach that long-term goal.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

For me, getting my doctorate, that was crazy long-term. Right. It’s been 10 or 12 years of me talking about that. That’s a long, that’s a very long-term goal.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

But there’s also long-term goals that are a month or two months.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah. Makes sense. Then I imagine someone listening to this might go, well, this feels a lot like picking a college major and I’m going to get locked into this long-term goal for the rest of my life. That’s probably not true.

Lauren Thompson:

No.

Chad Thompson:

Right. How, how do you think about changing goals, abandoning goals? How do you think about ways in which these goals might evolve or change or shift, and is that okay-

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

… from a perseverance standpoint?

Lauren Thompson:

Well, I think when you have a goal that you’re having a really difficult time achieving, maybe you have all of these plans, right, to help with your obstacles that you’re going to inevitably experience. When that really starts to ding your well-being, when you are having major life negative reactions to that, it might be time for you to adjust your goal-

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

[crosstalk 00:29:00] to change your goal.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

That’s okay. I mean, I know, I know we’re talking about organizations, but in parenting, right.

Chad Thompson:

Sure.

Lauren Thompson:

It’s really, really important for our kids, for us at least, if you start a sport, you start an instrument, you’re going to be doing that sport or instrument for the duration you signed up to do it.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

We’re not… that’s how you learn grit, right. But then there’s also a moment when you can say, okay, we tried guitar, that wasn’t great. Now let’s sample other things because when you are sampling other things, that’s when you have, you widen your perspectives, you have more experiences in life that then you can bring to other situations.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Sampling is also a really important part of life too. I don’t think anybody’s saying you have a goal, you have to stick with that thing, regardless or you’re not gritty.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Modifications need to happen. Just like life sends us in different directions sometimes, we can be fluid in our goal-setting too.

Chad Thompson:

Right. Point is you have a goal that you are working towards at some point in time.

Lauren Thompson:

For sure.

Chad Thompson:

Right, and it can change.

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah. Got it.

Lauren Thompson:

Absolutely.

Chad Thompson:

Good. Then, actually I just wanted to circle, maybe try to connect that to the high quality connections piece. I would imagine, if you’re having this conversation with yourself about, oh, I maybe need to change this goal. Or I think maybe my interest have shifted or whatever.

Lauren Thompson:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chad Thompson:

Presumably, these people with whom you have high quality connections would maybe be the kind of people who you would talk to about that. Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Oh, 100%.

Chad Thompson:

[crosstalk 00:30:30] could maybe check you and go, well, have you really actually really focused on this enough? How would you connect the goal-setting with the high quality connection piece?

Lauren Thompson:

Well, I think your person, the people you’re going to have high quality connections with, are the people that you can go to and say either, I am crushing this goal, I’m doing really, really great and I want you to celebrate this with me.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Or they’re also going to be the people that are going to say to you, okay, well, let’s look at this. What are your interests? What are your strengths? How could we adjust this? There’s somebody that you can be completely authentic with-

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

… and collaborate on your own life-

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

… at the same time. They’re going to be your sounding board for creating goals or adjusting goals in that way. That’s that collaborative piece too of high quality connections is, having it not just be a solo event.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Right. That you’re actually in the moment with each other to better each other in the situation that you’re in.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

Does that make sense?

Chad Thompson:

It does. Those people might say to you, it sounds like you might be taking that too personally.

Lauren Thompson:

Oh, for sure.

Chad Thompson:

Or you might be seeing that as more pervasive than it actually is.

Lauren Thompson:

Right.

Chad Thompson:

Right. Or you might be seeing it as more permanent than it actually is.

Lauren Thompson:

Right. Absolutely.

Chad Thompson:

You can have that discussion dialogue with them.

Lauren Thompson:

Yes.

Chad Thompson:

Got it.

Lauren Thompson:

It’s actually a really good exercise and I think it’s on the Michigan, Positive Organization website to do a high quality connection audit for yourself and just go through and look at, who are my high quality connections in my life? Are those satisfied? Do I need to have more? Would that be more fulfilling for me? Who are they in an organization?

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Do I have any in my organization, for one? Then, if I don’t, how can I go and get them? Where is a place in an organization that I can start to foster those?

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

It’s really important to be self-aware and understand if we have them, if we don’t and if we do, let’s celebrate them.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah. As you know, one of the most important questions that get asked on these engagement surveys, tends to be the most predictive of an individual’s level of engagement is, do I have a best friend at work? Yes or no?

Lauren Thompson:

Yes. Yes. There’s a ton of research on that.

Chad Thompson:

I mean, that’s pretty much shorthand, I think, for some of this high quality connection stuff you talked about.

Lauren Thompson:

Absolutely.

Chad Thompson:

Cool. Parting words of wisdom around, around developing grit, perseverance, resilience, before we ask you the same questions we ask all of our guests here to wrap things up.

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah. I think it’s important to know that in order to do any of this, in order to be better at anything, whether to have more grit or be more resilience, be more resilient. Sorry, it’s been a long day. You have to be self-aware. You have to understand what is it about you that makes you go, what motivates you, what things in your life you need to work on yourself, what things that you can offer to the world. Then understand that life is not going to go the way that you want. Oftentimes as parents, the one question we get all the time is, what do you want for your child?

Lauren Thompson:

I would guarantee 90% of the time, the first thing parents say is, I want them to be happy, which yes, that would be nice. But I think it’s also, it also sets a precedent for them that they have to be happy all the time. Right. Or in an organization, what do we want for our employees? Well, we’d like them to be happy. We’d like them to be fulfilled at work maybe. But then are we backing that up with the way that everything is organized, right?

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Are we setting a precedent that then they have to be that way all the time.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

Life’s not that way.

Chad Thompson:

Right.

Lauren Thompson:

I think being open to opportunity, understanding that things might not go the way that you want and be willing to grow from those experiences, those are all life hacks, I think-

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

… for resilience.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah. One of the questions we ask all of our guests is, from an interview standpoint, what is the best question you’ve asked or been asked around this concept of resilience and grit? Has this ever come up in an interview when you’re hiring teachers? Is that something you think about?

Lauren Thompson:

It’s something I think about, but unfortunately, and I think this is what I’m doing my doctorate on, teacher resilience is really not something that we focus on and I think it’s a shame. But at Penn I was asked once to describe a time when I was at my best and to do it in a way where I was discussing my character strengths that I demonstrated in that moment, and whether it’s personally or professionally.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

In that moment, you can really, when somebody, it’s like a positive introduction for yourself, right. You’re describing yourself in that moment and it’s really, really eye-opening and can really connect people in the interview when it’s done well.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah.

Chad Thompson:

Then the second question, this is, couldn’t be any more up your alley as a music person.

Lauren Thompson:

Yes. I am.

Chad Thompson:

What is your favorite song and what song should go on The Mix Tape?

Lauren Thompson:

This is a tough one for me. I am a music person. Just for people that didn’t know, my parents have a music, a actual sound recording room in their house. I don’t think I can narrow it down to one song, maybe I can. I’m a Motown girl at heart. So-

Chad Thompson:

Detroit.

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah. Right.

Chad Thompson:

Yeah.

Lauren Thompson:

I really enjoy anything. Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle, a huge fan. For Once In My Life by Stevie Wonder, you can’t go wrong. Signed, Sealed, Delivered, you can’t go wrong. It just jazzes you up. But if I was going to hit it from the other side, which would be my rap, hip hop, when I need to be pumped up on my way into school, I would have to go Juicy by Biggie.

Chad Thompson:

That’s an excellent choice. I can’t argue with that.

Lauren Thompson:

Huge contrast, but, but such his life, right?

Chad Thompson:

Yeah. All right. Good. Thank you so much for sharing all of your wisdom with us. Appreciate it.

Lauren Thompson:

Yeah. Thanks for having me. It was fun.

Valerie McCandlish:

Thanks so much to Chad and Lauren Thompson for sharing such great insight about grit, resilience, and positive psychology. Maggie, this is such a cool topic for me to listen to the two of them because they both graduated from Wittenberg University and that’s my alma mater as well. Want to give a little Tiger up, shout-out to the Witt world and you know what, hopefully one day we can go record in Lauren’s parents’ house, since they have such a cool sounding recording studio.

Maggie Painter:

Yeah, Lauren, can you hook us up in the Thompson household to find a new podcast home while we’re between offices? That would be great. Sounds like it would be a great environment since you have such great taste in music. You threw a little Motown out there and threw Stevie Wonder in with Motown, and then we also touched on some rap. It sounds like you’re going to have an awesome playlist for us to get into our podcast with. Be sure to check out The Mix Tape on Spotify with her recent additions.

Valerie McCandlish:

Yeah. Lauren definitely gave us some contents so that we can sign, seal and deliver this week’s episode to you.

Maggie Painter:

Be sure to check out the show notes for resources and links to learn more and subscribe to this podcast and follow us on LinkedIn, @mixtalent and on Instagram, @mix-talent.

Valerie McCandlish:

Thanks for being in The Mix. We’ll see you next week.

 

Subscribe

Scroll to Top