Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal is the Founder and Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) of Resilience Leadership Institute (RLI), she is recognized #1 international expert on resilience, mental health, and wellbeing in both leadership and life, whose mission is to positively impact the lives of 1 billion people, by enhancing hope, healing, and health as well as enhanced consciousness through the practices of resilience.
By conducting two decades of original research on resilience, Dr. Taryn Marie developed the empirically based framework, The Five Practices of Highly Resilient People and believes that resilience is the key to individual, teams, and organizational growth and acceleration across the globe. Prior to founding RLI, she served as the Head of Executive Leadership Development & Talent Strategy at Nike, as well as Head of Global Leadership Development at Cigna. Dr. Taryn Marie earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Maryland and completed pre- and postdoctoral fellowships in neuropsychology at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center.
Her book entitled The Five Practices of Highly Resilient People: Why some flourish when others fold, and her online course, Flourish are available now!
Resilience Leadership Institute (RLI) Website
IG: @drtarynmarieBuzzsprout - Let's get your podcast launched!
Rebel HR is a podcast for HR professionals and leaders of people who are ready to make some disruption in the world of work. Please connect to continue the conversation!
In Part, I think vulnerability is really scary because we misunderstand it like to be vulnerable, like, I've got to share with you all my insecurities, my dirty laundry, the things I didn't do, right, you know, I'm going to discredit myself, I'm going to degrade myself. No, that's like reality television. You know, it's about creating genuine moments of vulnerability that are about cultivating connection where we think as much about the message that we want to share authentically as we do about the connection that's going to be created and cultivated in that moment. This is the rebelKyle Roed:
HR Podcast, the podcast where we talk to HR innovators about all things people leadership. If you're looking for places to find about new ways to think about the world of work, this is the podcast for you. Please subscribe on your favorite podcast listening platform today. And leave us a review revelon HR rebels Welcome back, rebel HR listeners extremely excited for the conversation. Today we have a legit guest with us. Dr. Taryn Marie stayskal is with us. She is a resilience expert. She's the founder and chief resilience resilience Officer of Resilience Leadership Institute, she is recognized as a number one international expert on resilience, mental health and well being in both leadership and life. We're going to be talking about a new book that's coming out here in March. So I'm really excited to have the conversation today. Welcome to the podcast.Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
Ah, thanks so much for having me. It's great to be here.Kyle Roed:
Really excited to have you here. Also extremely excited that Molly Podesta is joining us to ask all the good questions that I don'tMolly Burdess:
have can be fun, guys.Kyle Roed:
It is going to be fun. So so so Taryn, thank you so much for joining us. I I had an opportunity to connect with somebody on your staff, and I got to learn a little bit more about your work. And I thought this is just absolutely perfect for for human resources. And for us to to be focused on. So I want to give you an opportunity to give us a little bit more background on yourself, and what got you interested in resilience?Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
Yeah, that's a great, great origin question. What is the genesis of where all this started? You know, it's interesting in writing this book that you mentioned in the introduction, the five practices of highly resilient people lay some flourish, and others bowled, I actually got to reflect on that question quite a bit. What is the origin story of my interest in this work? And if you had asked me this question, a couple of years ago, I might have said, Oh, it was, you know, when I got into graduate school, and I was interviewing women that were experiencing financial insecurity or food insecurity, or both in rural areas of Maryland, and looking at like, what the factors were that amplified their resilience or detracting from their resilience? Or I might have said, you know, oh, it was, you know, later on when I was getting my doctorate, and I was meeting with people that had had brain injuries and spinal cord injuries, and I was looking at, like, what are the factors that leads to sort of a better rehabilitation and better recovery of functioning, actually, where it all started? And I think where it starts, for many of us is like, way before that, right? Because there's this perception that we have that resilience is something that occurs outside of ourselves, and that we have to go and get it, find it, harness it, cultivate it, right? And what I've learned in my work, interviewing hundreds of people and collecting 1000s of pieces of data on how we as humans effectively address challenge change, and complexity, and what are the behaviors that we can engage in those five practices of highly resilient people that will allow us to create a more positive and productive outcome in leadership and in life, anytime we face challenge is recognizing that resilience was actually here the whole time. Right? Resilience is the essence of what it means to be human. Because if you think about it, you know, the two of you, right, Molly, and Kyle and all of our listeners here with us today, you have effectively faced, you know, to some extent, or to a large extent, every disappointment, loss, rejection, unexpected turn of events. And what that means is, is we're all resilient. And I think when we start to flipped this flip the script on its head, that resilience maybe is only for the privileged or only for the people who get to cultivate it or only for, you know, a certain subset of our population, and we say, Oh, we are we're actually all inherently resilient as humans. And then what that conversation evolves into is then How do we tap into harness and amplify the resilience that actually exists naturally within all of us?Kyle Roed:
I love that. You know, it's, it's funny that you mentioned that it's, you know, the perception is it's outside of yourself, because so often we talk about, like, finding resilience, like it's this, like this quest. And we have to go, you know, it's like, it's like the origin story out to play off the like the hero's journey, right? It's like, you have to go on this quest to go find this external, like, thing. So I so I think it's really fascinating to think about that, you know, this is actually internal. So as you think about the, you know, some of the research that you've done, I'm curious how you settled on the five practices, like was it? Did you find that was that like, the, like, the journey to find the five practices? How did you how did you discover this, this framework?Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
Yeah, I love that. I love that question. Well, you know, qualitative, qualitative research, where we interview people, and then we code the spoken word and written data. There's some similarities between qualitative research and quantitative research. And quantitative research, as many people know, focuses on, you know, crunching the numbers and the statistics and that kind of thing. If you do mixed methods, it's, you know, a mix of qualitative and quantitative. In quantitative research with numbers, it's like you don't you're very clear hypotheses about things rarely does x influence why and how, essentially, with qualitative research, I used a framework called grounded theory, more specifically, like modified grounded theory. And what that is really about, is not coming in with a preconceived notion around what this concept is, or the experience, but instead, dropping in with the hundreds of people that I interviewed, and trying to see the world through their lens, and then explain this concept based on what I felt I learned from all of those interviews. So I went in with the idea of seeing, you know, what are the common threads? Or is there even a common thread that exists between all of us as humans, behaviors that we can engage in that are going to create a more positive and productive outcome? Anytime we face challenge, change, and complexity are the three C's we can call them, right? And so I went in with the idea of like, looking for a common thread that exists between all of us as humans, but I didn't have preconceived notions about what those things are, or were and how many of them there were, you know, so, you know, what, what evolved in sort of the process of the qualitative research is reviewing and coding the data, and then starting to find what we call organizing themes, right? So so what are things that people are seeing that sound like they have something in common? You know, and so if we just take the first practice of particularly, or highly resilient people, the first practice is the practice of vulnerability, right? So I started noticing, when people told me about the ways that they effectively addressed challenge, they were telling me about opening up to others in the midst of that moment, and sharing with them what was going on, they were talking about the discomfort of allowing people to have a view of what was going on in their life, and how that actually ended up helping them because people knew what were what was going on could support them could offer knowledge and resources and that kind of thing. So we're starting to think about like, you know, okay, what are the what, what are the commonalities, then hearing and those become kind of the organizing concepts. And so what emerged from the data is the five practices of highly resilient people, and those are really the five organizing concepts that emerge, but not from me from really sort of diving into the perspectives of others and looking at this work through that lens.Kyle Roed:
That's fascinating. You know, I think it's even that first practice, you wouldn't necessarily assume, and I think it's, it's, you know, resilience is such an interesting topic, because, you know, a lot of times it's the, I mean, at least, you know, the theory that I was brought up in is, you know, don't show your emotions at work. You know, you gotta you've got your work person and you've got your home person, you know, don't show vulnerability at work, because then you know, somebody will remember that and then you'll then you won't get that promotion because they think you're, you know, there's, there's all these kinds of underlying cultural themes that even the idea that vulnerability actually makes you more resilient. is a little bit provocative, I think with some of the some of the way that the business world operates, at least in my experience.Molly Burdess:
Yeah, that's hard to do. It's absolutely hard to do. And especially, you know, as a leader, I guess, my question to you, what advice do you have for someone in a leadership role that struggles with that?Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
Yeah, I love I love that common Kyle, in that question, Molly. For me, when I uncovered vulnerability as the sort of first or foundational practice of what it means to be resilient, right, in, in leadership in length, right, kind of talking about that, that home person, that work person that you mentioned, Kyle, to your point, I was, I was both surprised by that, because there is this kind of cultural ethos that like vulnerability and resilience are opposite polls, you know, not something that goes together. So I was surprised, and I was also convicted by personally because I was like, Oh, darn it, right. Like, now now I get to, you know, practice this. And to your point, Molly. It's, it's very uncomfortable. It's very scary. And I had really, I had really built a career on being invulnerable. You know, I had built a career and the opposite of vulnerability, which was like, perfection, having it all together, right to like, you know, facade of, you know, what it would it what I wanted people to see, as opposed to what was more authentic. So, that's sort of the groundwork for that. So then, if, if we dip into vulnerability for a moment, it's worth defining, it's worth defining vulnerability, because if there's a word that's as misunderstood as resilient, it's probably vulnerability. Right? So vulnerability is not about discrediting yourself. It's not about being self effacing. It's not about degrading or downplaying your accomplishments, or what you bring to the table. A lot of people think that's vulnerability, like we're all back in middle school, and we're gonna like point something out before anybody else can, right? So vulnerability is about allowing our inside self as humans our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, to as closely as possible match the thoughts, feelings and experiences that we're sharing with the world. Right? Now, this is a lifelong process. In psychology, we call this congruence, right? The closer that that inside self is to our outside self, the more congruent we are, and that and the more vulnerable, right, the less vulnerable we are as like when there's more and more and more space between that inside itself, thoughts, feelings, experiences, and our outside self that we share with the world. So that, in sort of a nutshell, is vulnerability, and then there's a couple of things that are important to know about that rates. So one is that vulnerability is the fertile ground from which authenticity and empathy, grow, in leadership and in life. So we talk a lot about I think, in business, wanting to cultivate authenticity, wanting to cultivate empathy, wanting, wanting to create deeper connection with ourselves and with others will vulnerability is the fertile ground from which, you know, these things spring because we can't just think about this for yourself, right? We can't be authentic or empathetic without first tapping into the kernel of something that's vulnerable for ourselves, right, that we're choosing to share. The second thing is, why would vulnerability be related to resilience? Right, like, like, how does that connection work? Right? And it's connected, because when we go through challenges I mentioned, and we're able to show up and share with people in our lives, like, what's really going on or a view into what's really going on, then we have more support, we have more knowledge, we have more information, more tools and resources to help us right in that moment. And the further apart or inside self is from our outside selves. We're running to human operating systems, right? Like, on the outside, I'm like, hey, everything's totally by like chill it. Don't worry, any of that. I'm like, Whoa, like stuff is like falling apart is like not good over here right now. Right? So at the time when we need the most energy to hone in on this challenge, when we split ourselves into two human operating systems that requires a lot more energy to run, you know, two separate programs, if you will. And then the third thing is, okay, so we've heard from a lot of really illustrious thought leaders just take Brene Brown, for example, who talk about vulnerability as being a key element and living like a wholehearted kind of flourishing life. Right? So if we know vulnerability is good for us, right? If Dr. Brene says, so Dr. Taryn Murray says, So, you know, why are we all running around living our most fabulous, vulnerable life? Right. And so that's the difference really, between I think, knowing and doing, right. And I asked people this question, because I wanted to understand exactly what you said, Molly, like you just laser beam honed in on it, it's like, it's really hard. And so what's the, what's the sort of chasm that exists between knowing this and actually doing it because we know it's hard. And the thing that I uncovered about that is something called the vulnerability by it. And what the vulnerability bias tells us is that anytime in our minds, we say, Okay, I'm going to be vulnerable, right? The vulnerability bias appears to be like a hardwired cognition in our heads, it's like, that's a terrible idea. Don't ever do that. Right. And the vote and the voice in our head, right goes on to say, if you are vulnerable, right, if you share with people that thing if you allow yourself to be seen and known, three things will happen. In fact, they're called the three L's people won't like you, they won't love you. And they might leave. And you're like, ah, snap vulnerability by as you went to go throw a band of men on there, folks. Okay, I'm out with this vulnerability. Right? So how do we, you know, we talked about like, really wanting to drill down on things that are practical and tangible for our audience, like, how do we do this? Right? So the first thing is like, recognizing that the vulnerability bias is that thing, right? And it's an irrational fear. And so what do we do with an irrational fear? Well, we still feel afraid. And we get to think that irrational fear, right, but like dipping our toe into the vulnerability water. And the way that we do that, first and foremost, is recognizing the difference between what I call genuine vulnerability and performative vulnerability. So genuine vulnerability is about being able to look within ourselves and recognize that we're sharing something deeper about our lives, that's coming from a place of generosity. And it's genuine in the sense that it's about creating meaningful connection with others, right? performative vulnerability is about reputation management, right? It's about leveraging or using something that yet feels vulnerable or, or authentic, but like toward a goal, that doesn't necessarily point to a genuine connection. Right? And so here's like, a tangible example. So I was meeting with one of my executive coaching clients, who was a high potential leader in her organization. And she was taking a cross functional position, she was moving out of marketing, and over to operations to learn this part of the business. And so we were talking about how, how was she going to introduce herself to her new team? What was that going to look like? And she was like, you know, what, I'm just gonna be vulnerable. And I'm gonna tell them, I have no idea what I'm doing. I don't know anything about operations. I'm not totally sure why they gave me this role. And I'm gonna need a lot of help. Right? Because that's how she and so many of us conceptualize like, what vulnerability actually is. When we peel back the layers, it was like, That's performative vulnerability, that's vulnerability from a place of fear. That's vulnerability from like, reputation management in the sense that like, I'm trying to keep expectations low. It's, I'm trying not to be threatening to to anyone, and in the process, you know, she was discrediting herself, right. And so I was like, Okay, let's think about this from a place of like, genuine vulnerability, right. So then the message that we came to was, she's super excited about this role. She's been with the organization for two decades. She's won awards. She's a marketing expert. We see synergy and transferable skills between the operations and the marketing parts of the business. She's there to bring those elements together. And she's excited about working with his team building new relationships. She's got a lot to learn. She wants to lean on other people's, you know, institutional knowledge and know how and really come together as a team to achieve great things. Right? So which message do you like better? Molly? If you were if you were sitting in the room and you had a new leader, do you like the first message of the second message? Oh,Molly Burdess:
the second one is completely fabulous.Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
Amazing. Yeah. How does that how does that land for you?Molly Burdess:
It's a different feel. It's all about confidence. Yeah, that's just a much better message.Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And so, you know, that's, in part, I think vulnerability is really scary. Because we misunderstand it. We're like, oh, like to be vulnerable. Like, I've got to share with you all my insecurities, my dirty laundry, the things I didn't do, right. You know, I'm gonna discredit myself, I'm gonna degrade myself. You know? It's like, no, like, that's not that's like reality television. Right? Not all reality television. Reality tells us, right? But, you know, it's about creating genuine moments of vulnerability that are about cultivating connection, where we think as much about the message that we want to share authentically, as we do about the connection that's going to be created and cultivated in that moment.Molly Burdess:
Yeah, wow. Great, great stuff. I guess my biggest takeaway from me, and when I'm sitting here thinking as an HR leader in my organization, like I have a responsibility, and I can elevate my team by creating a safe space for my team and for my leaders to be vulnerable. So I definitely think that's an opportunity for us in HR specifically.Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
Yeah. Can I can I offer a perspective on something that you just said? Yes, please. Okay. So you said the word you said the word safe space? Right. And I think in HR, that something that we often say, without maybe really unpacking what we're saying and what we're promising to people. And this is something that I talk about a lot. Because as someone who formerly led executive leadership development at Nike, a talent strategy and Global Leadership Development at Cigna, right, like I've sat in some of those HR seats. And what I realized was, I can never promise anyone a safe space. Like we can put more guidelines around it, we can have agreements, you know, and processes and structure. But if someone says something intentionally or unintentionally, that's inflammatory and hurtful, I can't promise you that that is not going to happen. Right? And so the conversation I like to talk about is, how can we create a safer space? Right? Because then we're not promising people like, total safety. And then if something happens, or like, oh, my gosh, you promised me total safety. This is awful, right? Like I feel betrayed. So how can we share with people a safer space? What are we going to put in place, and then invite people in that safer space to meet us there? By also being braver, right? Like we're going to create a safer space and a braver space, where there's more guidelines and expectations here and agreements? And then I'm also going to invite you to be a bit braver in how you step forward in the world.Molly Burdess:
Yeah, that's a fantastic point. Absolutely. agree with that. Okay, so we talked about one practice, what are the other four? Yeah,Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
a couple, like a couple, like super tangible things that you can do. Because if you're like, Hey, maybe I don't have like a cross functional rotation that I'm gonna jump into, right, quick. So how else could I practice vulnerability? Sometimes it's saying things like, I don't know, you know, I'm not certain. I feel concerned or scared about like, how this is going right, like really kind of tapping into some some of those honest emotions. I like to also think about, holistically to your point, Molly, like as a leader, how can we role model vulnerability and also invite the people that we work with in our teams to be a part of this kind of resilience movement, if you will. And one way that I've really found this to be incredible. And this is not like my own exercise that I developed, and I really love it is just taking, you know, maybe 90 seconds to two minutes for each person at the start of a weekly meeting, right to go around the table or to go around the the virtual call, and to share this exercise activity that you might be familiar with called Rose, but in store, right. And the rose is about something that's exciting and successful, that I'm excited about in my life, top five or 10%. Right. The thorn is something that's like not going so well. Something that I'm worried about maybe the bottom five to 10% of my life. And then but it's something that is beautifully sort of emerging into our lives that's creating anticipation or expectation or joy. And that's a wonderful way, like sort of as we dip our toe in the water, because vulnerability can be scary to create sort of a level playing field for everyone to get to share something that's happening in their lives in the meeting that's already occurring. And, you know, it only takes sort of an additional like 90 seconds to two minutes for each person.Molly Burdess:
Okay, carrying so great, great stuff here. We're gonna switch over to our flash round of questions. Are you ready for this?Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
I'm ready. Okay. Great.Molly Burdess:
First question. Where does HR need to rebel?Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
Yeah, um, gosh, where don't we get to rebell? Right. You know, I've always been someone who really thinks about language and the words that we use. And so when I think about this sentence, what comes to mind for me is not so much like, where do we need to? But where do we get to? Right? And I think for me, it's challenging old paradigms and, and notions about what we mean about what it means to be resilient in the workforce, what it means to create and foster and engender mental health and well being. And I think it's, you know, like we talked about with both resilience and vulnerability, getting to unpack those things in a way that feels more intelligible and accessible for people, so that it sort of makes make sense, right. And that's, you know, convenient, because that's, you know, my life's my life's mission, right. But one idea here is that, you know, I didn't share that definition of resilience with you. The definition of resilience after this, you know, two decades of qualitative research that I've conducted, is effectively addressing challenge change and complexity, the three C's in a way that allows us to be enhanced ultimately, by our challenges not diminish, right? And so, when we look at that definition, it's powerful, in part because of its simplicity. And there are also words that are not there, right of phrases, and one is like bounce back, you know, we've made bouncing back synonymous with resilience. And so instead, we can think about every experience that we have, fundamentally and forever changing us. And if you're familiar with neuroplasticity, it's like down to the cellular level, the neurological level, because every experience that we have influences how our brain is organized and wired, sort of relative to our to our neurons. So I think where we get to rebel is like really pressing into new concepts, and also re looking at concepts that we've heard before, and asking ourselves, does this serve us? Right? We're like, What could this actually be like? Resilience, like vulnerability, like how can I create a safer space instead of a braver space? Or a safer space and a braver space,Molly Burdess:
I should say, yeah, absolutely. I love that. Just changing that language. I get to oh, gosh, it's so empowering. You're brilliant. You did bring something up. I didn't ask you earlier. And I want to touch on quick just because mental health in the workplace is a huge area of concern right now for everybody. Do you have any advice for HR professionals or leaders to help our employees help our help our workspaces with that topic?Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
Yeah, absolutely. I am a huge believer, I'm writing an article on this right now. That one of the keys to wellness and mental health and you know, buffering against burnout actually exists in the context of our teams. Right. And so, so many people I talk to, you know, they feel guilty about taking care of themselves, right? I'm speaking with like a CHR OHS like, Well, I haven't been able to work out well, why not? Well, I usually go at lunchtime, but my team sitting outside my office and I feel like I'm like letting them down or sloughing off. Because if they see me walk out of my office with my exercise bag and go to the gym, that I'm not like working as hard as they are, right? And I'm like, no, no, no. This is an opportunity for you to role model this right. So then, rather than us sort of like in our teams and communities and organizations like doing our wellness, often science sort of feeling guilty about it, it's like let's get together as a team and say, Okay, what is each one of us going to commit to you relative to elevating our wellness, our mental health resilient, you know, if you will go around the room, right? Like, you know, someone might say I want to take a walk at lunchtime. You know, the seizure is like I'm gonna work out in the gym at lunchtime, somebody else is going to take a swim before work or drop their children off a couple of days a week at pre K to spend that extra family time, right. And then we get to in community, cheer for each other when we're meeting those goals and hold one another, accountable toward that, right. So now as a car, I want to walk into my office with my gym bag, I say to my team, doing my wellness goals. You know, you guys are you know, I hope you guys are doing yours. You know, we'll see at the next check in, you know, kind of thing. And I think in our teams to really create those communities of support and appreciation, that is one of the greatest untapped resources that we have inside of business today.Molly Burdess:
Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. Okay, that's our questions. So who should we be listening to?Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
Yeah, um, well, I don't think you don't think you have to where shouldn't be listening to anyone? If I was going to make some recommendations, I mean, there's a lot of people that are just so powerful. That, you know, I think are on many of our radars, you know, Simon Sinek, and, you know, other folks like that, um,Molly Burdess:
Simon Sinek is always good one. With that, Simon Sinek is always a great one, it's great recommendation.Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
I'm gonna you're off highlight someone who I listened to recently, who I think might be like, sort of lesser known, lesser well known in the HR space. His name is a young, Pueblo, y ou and G and then webelo, like, sort of the Spanish word for like a home construction. And I really, his work is really beautiful about mental health, physical health, finding balance, spirituality, connecting deeply with ourselves. And he said, recently, I was interviewed by Maria Shriver, and he said, You know, I really think miseries going out of style. You know. And I think I think we're in a place right now, where young pueblos where it gives is one of a chorus of voices that's coming together to say, we understand so much about mental health and wellness and healing. Many times it's not, it's not that we don't know what to do. It's feeling worthy enough to take care of ourselves and prioritizing that work. And yet, we don't prioritize that work. You know, we're not being the best version of ourselves, we might even feel miserable. And that's not a good luck. So how can we be more empowered to love ourselves enough to care for ourselves? IMolly Burdess:
love that. I love that message. Okay, and last question, how can our listeners connect with you?Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
Yeah, you know, you're welcome to jump on over to our website resilience, Dash leadership.com. It'll probably be in the show notes. We've got a nice presence on LinkedIn, Dr. Taryn Marie stayskal, Instagrams, also a great place to find at Dr. Taryn Murray, and my TEDx talk, how resilience breaks us out of our vulnerability cage. Just hit a million views on YouTube. That's a great sort of, you know, 12 to 14 minutes in a bit that really gives you like, a nice overview and allows folks to go deeper.Molly Burdess:
Yeah, congratulations. Hey. Okay. Well, this has been so fun. I can't thank you enough for joining us today. And thank you so much.Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal:
Thank you. It's an honor to be here with you, Molly. And Kyle, thank you so much for having me.Kyle Roed:
All right. That does it for the rebel HR podcast. Big thank you to our guests. Follow us on Facebook at rebel HR podcast, Twitter, at rebel HR guy, or see our website at rebel human resources.com. The views and opinions expressed by rebel HR podcast are those the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any of the organizations that we represent. No animals were harmed during the filming of this podcast. Baby