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Mary T. O’Sullivan, MSOL
is to give light must endure burning.” – Viktor Frankl
famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning, tells the story of how Viktor
Frankl survived the suffering and degradation of the Holocaust by finding
personal meaning in the experience, which gave him the will to live through it.
his book he says, “Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: The
last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of
circumstances. After enduring the torment in the camps, Frankl validated his
conclusion that even in the most absurd, painful, and dehumanized situation,
life has potential meaning and that, therefore, even suffering becomes
so it can be for us, in this time of our great adversity, fear of the pandemic
the years, scientists have studied people who have survived adverse situations,
from Holocaust survivors, to veterans with PTSD, to children who survived
crushing poverty, and abused women. There were several common qualities that
the studies found each of these groups possessed to make them resilient.
these qualities are no less applicable to making sense out of the pandemic of
2020. There are six steps involved in developing and keeping resiliency.
research has shown that we can train ourselves
to be resilient, we can consciously practice these steps over and over
during this time and learn to become more resilient for the rest of our lives. Human
nature shows us that it’s only when we are faced with obstacles, stress, and
other threats that our resilience, or our lack of resilience, comes to the
surface. What do we do? Do we succumb or do we learn to overcome?
modern studies have found is that resiliency is all about our mindset. Neuroscientists
at Columbia University demonstrated that: People can be taught to think of
worries and concerns in different ways—to reframe them in positive terms when
the initial response is negative. And we can be trained to react less
emotionally when the initial response is emotionally “hot”—And the training
changes how we will experience and react to the negative situation. Believe it
or not, people can be trained to better regulate or control their emotions, and
the training seems to have lasting effects.
like Lamaze training or even training our dog to obey us. The same goes for
changing our central or core belief system: A more internal focus is linked to
perceiving less stress and performing better. Changing our center from external
to internal leads to positive changes in feelings of well-being and work
performance or productivity. Mission Health conducted an analysis of 20 years
of studies that verified that people can be trained in practicing behaviors
that enhance feelings of well-being — just like we train our bodies to
achieve better physical fitness. The results of the training directly
correlated to the study subjects’
overall safety, retention, customer experience and quality improvements.
in the face of our current crisis: What’s the Answer? Practice proactive
behavior versus reactive – focus on what we can control. Work on developing emotional
intelligence – situational awareness. Make a point of building a supportive network.
Support Networks: Work at increasing the breadth and depth of our support
networks. Networks help us maintain or regain balance in the midst of
Purpose: Focus on understanding our values, passions, vision, mission, and goals.
We can develop our sense of optimism, a sense of positive thinking. Align our
behavior with core beliefs. Take realistic, manageable action.
Self-Awareness: Build awareness of our thoughts, emotions, and where we need to
get better. We can improve our ability to consciously manage our behavior.
Self-Care: Improve our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being to
increase our energy and protect or inoculate ourselves against stress. Use
appreciation of beauty and nature as beginning avenues to self-care. Practice
our strengths Work for us. Build confidence, gain the courage to take
risks to achieve more effective results.
our coping skills: Strengthen
the skills we need to reframe this challenge we are experiencing now.
Make intentional choices that lead to growth and thriving, not just
surviving. Ask what we can control, what is realistic and what can we maintain
Can We Ask for Help? Men and especially women both continue to face unique
challenges that block success and confidence. Resiliency is an important ingredient for happiness
and well-being, when we proactively develop resiliency resources. There are six
resiliency strategies that will help us thrive in an adverse situation by
protecting ourselves against future difficulties or regaining our resiliency
after a major setback.
today, we’ve really only scratched the surface. My mission is to support you as
you work to refine your skills and get even better at what you are already good
at. Nobody overcomes adversity alone! We all need help, we just have to admit
it, and ask! And get the right expert to guide you through it. We have to
convince ourselves that it’s okay to ask for help!
Next? You’ve begun the work to gain power over adversity and learn to be more
resilient. But let’s step back and take a look at the whole picture, you know
it’s not all resolved in a one essay. Where
is that missing piece of the puzzle and how to you get it in place?
O’Sullivan has over 30 years of experience in the aerospace and defense
industry. In each of her roles she acted as a change agent, moving teams and
individuals from status quo to higher levels of performance, through offering
solutions focused on changing behaviors and fostering growth.
a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac University. In
addition, she is also an International Coaching Federation Professional
Certified Coach, a Society of Human Resource Management Senior Certified
Professional and has a Graduate Certificate in Executive and Professional
Coaching, from the University of Texas at Dallas.
In her leadership and executive coaching, she
focuses on improving the executive behaviors that slow down performance and
lead to growth, such as soft skills, communication, micro-bias awareness, etc.
She has successfully helped other professionals, such as attorneys, surgeons,
pharmacists, and university professors, make career decisions to lead to
success in their chosen careers. In
addition, small business owners have sought Mary’s services to bring their
companies into greater alignment, working on their culture, vision, mission,
values and goals as well as organizational structure. Mary’s executive coaching
has been mainly with large organizations
among them: Toray Plastics America, Hasbro, Raytheon Company, Lockheed Martin,
CVS Healthcare, Sensata Technologies, Citizen’s Bank, Ameriprise, BD Medical
Devices, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, (Newport, R.I.), General Dynamics,
University of Rhode Island, Community College of Rhode Island, etc.
Mary has facilitated numerous workshops on
various topics in leadership such as, emotional intelligence, appreciative
inquiry, effective communication, leading in adversity, etc. She has also
written extensively on similar topics.
also a certified Six Sigma Specialist, Contract Specialist, IPT Leader and
holds a Certificate in Essentials of Human Resource Management from the Society
of Human Resources Development. Mary is also an ICF certified Appreciative
Inquiry Practitioner, and a Certified Emotional Intelligence assessor and
addition, Mary holds a permanent teaching certificate in the State of New York
for secondary education with Advanced Studies in Education from Montclair
University, State University of New York at Oswego and Syracuse University. She is also a member Beta Gamma Sigma
and the International Honor Society.
dedicates herself to coaching good leaders to get even better through positive
approaches to behavior change for performance improvement.