Building Resilience to Navigate Change with Dr. Steve Yacovelli

Building Resilience to Navigate Change with Dr. Steve Yacovelli

Hi everyone. It’s Jenn DeWall. And in this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit podcast, we are talking about building resilience! I feel like it’s a message that so many of us need right now. And to have this conversation, I sat down with Dr. Steve Yacovelli. And let me tell you a little bit more about Dr. Steve Yacovelli, who is also known as“The Gay Leadership Dude” and is an expert in diversity and inclusion, change management and leadership, both in and outside of the workplace. He’s worked internally for folks like the Walt Disney Company, IBM, Tupperware brands and several universities before starting his own consulting firm, TopDog Learning Group in 2008.

TopDog Learning works with Fortune 500 companies and not-for-profit organizations to bring about a more inclusive and effective workplace through onsite workshops, virtual or face-to-face keynotes, one-on-one coaching and so much more. And today, Dr. Steve and I are going to talk all about what you can do to build resilience, to navigate the uncertainty and the amount of change that we have in these uncertain times. Enjoy!

Full Transcript Below

Jenn DeWall:  Hello, Leadership Habit audience! So happy to be here today, talking about how to build resilience, something that I feel like everyone needs right now because the world feels heavy. There’s a lot of change going on. A lot of uncertainty. And there’s no better person to join this conversation right now than Dr. Steve Yacovelli. Dr. Steve Yacovelli. I am so happy. I’m gonna call you Steve. Steve. I’m so happy for you to join the podcast, especially to come and talk about what we can do because I don’t know a person that does not need a little help right now in terms of resilience. So thank you so much for joining us on the show.

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  Happy to be here, Jenn. I think it’s gonna be great.

Meet Dr. Steve Yacovelli, Owner of TopDog Learning Group

Jenn DeWall:  Well, let’s go ahead and level set. I mean, I love a basic intro story. I love the origin. So I would be curious, tell us about yourself. How did you come to be, how did you come to be where you are today and especially where did your interest in resilience even evolve?

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  <Laugh> So hi everyone. Again, my name is Dr. Steve Yacovelli– Pronouns: He, him, his. I am the owner and principal of TopDog Learning Group. I’m also known as“The Gay Leadership Dude®,” So you immediately know three things about me by using my self-proclaimed title. That I’m gay <laugh> that I self-identify as a dude. And I really like to talk about leadership and mostly inclusive leadership and what that looks like. And it really started earlier in my career. I’ve kind of always been in this space.

I had the privilege of working at the Walt Disney Company for several years as an internal leadership consultant. UI worked at IBM, which is actually where I got introduced to the concept of change management and being resilient in times of change. So I did that for many years, and then I kind of moved. I was a professor for like a hot minute. That was not my jam <laugh>, but honestly. And then, I started TopDog Learning Group as my full-time gig after having it as a side hustle about 14 years ago.

So I’ve been in this space for quite a bit of time. And at TopDog, I like to say our doghouse sits in the center of three pretty different but complementary areas. We focus on leadership and organizational development, which kinda makes sense, a leadership dude. We look at diversity and inclusion and creating that sense of belonging in the workplace. And then, of course, we look at change management and being resilient in times of change. And we do one, if not all three of those areas, through a bunch of different ways, such as formal training workshops, we do coaching sessions, consulting, always just to help folks be even more successful than they already are.

Building Resilience in the Quiet Quitting Era

Jenn DeWall:  Heck yes, you, I mean, you offer it all. It’s a full-scale organization or group, which is what we need right now. We’re going into resilience. And I’m so happy that we’re talking about this because whether it’s talking to my friends and feeling like I have so much going on right now at work, there are so many people quitting. So I’ve had to absorb so much work. There’s just the stress of how you even find people. How are we filling this? And will there be a light at the end of the tunnel of when this is gonna stop? And so I feel like I have a lot of friends going through overwhelm and burnout right now that are just ready to throw in the towel or wave the white flag.

And then I’m sure you’ve seen this. We, you know, the quiet quitter, the buzz around there that we know people are quiet quitting right now, and their organizations are just kind of being there, doing the bare minimum and ready to leave. And I’m curious too if some of those people actually don’t want to quiet quit, but they actually need to learn how to be more resilient. I don’t know what your thought on that is.

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  Well, you know what’s, I mean, we are in, I hate this unprecedented times in that phrase, but that’s true. And there’s, you know, the human mind can only take so much change, and that’s by definition what building resilience means is, you know, being able to adapt and change in changing times. And some people are pretty, pretty resilient, you know, with it. And, and we, of course, can. We’ll talk about ways we can amp up our resiliency, but some people are just pretty good at it. They just roll with it. That’s fine.

But even the most resilient people, I mean, there’s a lot, it’s like a fire hose of change coming at folks, you know, between, like you said, you know, the environment my workspace people leaving now I’m absorbing their, their workload or I’m just so checked out. Maybe I don’t feel that sense of belonging in the workplace, which we talk a lot about at TopDog with, you know, diversity and inclusion and feeling like I’m part of this group.

And so a lot of folks are, are really starting to see this, this huge tidal wave of changes come at them. And some people either, they, they jump in and say, I got this. Or they’re just like, Ooh, I’m out the door, man. I’m taking my toys and going elsewhere because it’s so easy to do that now depending on your job, of course, but a lot of jobs that weren’t remote are now. And so I can sit here in Orlando, Florida, and work for a New York City big consulting firm, and I don’t have to leave. And so, you know, it’s really becoming a challenge for employers to keep those folks engaged because they can just go elsewhere. So, so easily if they get fed up

Is it the Great Resignation or The Great Running Away?

Jenn DeWall:  Now. Okay. That brings up a question because I think that when I was earlier on in my career, oftentimes, you know, if I felt like I wasn’t a good fit or it wasn’t a great place for me, I feel like, then It’s like, well, I can just find another job, but is that really just resilience? Or is that running like, what’s the difference between being resilient and running from our problems?

Dr. Steve Yacovelli: It could be, it could be both. It could be absolutely both. <Laugh> you know, it, but I think that’s, that’s where people are starting to make some decisions. You know, we are also in a marketplace where it’s not taboo to pick up your toys and go somewhere else after our couple years, you know, a generation ago. And probably just, just before me and actually probably even my generation, ’cause I’m in my fifties now, but you know what, right. I know, yay. There’s a lot of gasoline on this land here, but if we, you know, if we take a step back, I mean, you, if you jump jobs, even after like four years, you’re like, Ooh, what’s wrong with you?

Where now, people expect to just hang out for a couple of years and learn what they wanna learn. And then they jump to the next job, and that’s completely okay. And there’s, you know, there’s no stigma or taboo about it. So some folks the, you know, maybe they’re running, but other folks are just like, you know what, this is what I went outta my job. And if I’m not getting it, see, I’m outta here.

Jenn DeWall:  And I only say that because sometimes it might work as a coach. People would be like, well, I wanna go to grad school, and I wanna do this. And sometimes it’s because they were running because they, you know, didn’t do the work on their own, like self to figure out, well, what is important to you? What do you want outta this? Because just jumping to the next thing isn’t necessarily going to solve or alleviate some of those concerns. And so that’s what brought it up because I think sometimes you might jump and find yourself in a different environment that maybe actually isn’t as great as your last place.

Change Means Not Knowing What Will Happen

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  Yes. And that’s what we talk about. That’s one of the reasons why, when you look at the concept of change management, overall, some people don’t make those moves because of fear of the unknown. You know, which is one of the areas of resiliency. If, if you’re comfortable with ambiguity, then you know you actually are more apt to make some of those changes during the times of change.

But for some people, they’re like, mm, the devil, I know, kind of mentality. And they’re like, I don’t want to, you know, move over there because I don’t really know what that looks like. And that’s, of course, a psychological thing from a safety mechanism, that’s kind of in our little cave brains. So, you know, We don’t make those moves because we don’t know what’s gonna happen, and that could be really unsafe, and that can make us feel icky and all those kinds of adjectives that you’ll add.

Why is Building Resilience Important?

Jenn DeWall:  Yeah, absolutely. Well, let’s level set. I mean, I already know that this conversation’s great, or I hope it is for our audience because we’re talking about, hopefully, some of the things that you might be thinking about in your brain, right? Resilience has so much to do with obviously our own mental mindsets that we have, and then ultimately the behaviors which create our outcomes, but let’s level set. Like why does it pay, or why should they care? Why should someone really harness and deepen their skill sets or ability to manage resilience or to, I guess, understand how to be resilient?

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  Well, because change isn’t gonna stop. You know, the only constant is change is often quoted. It’s Socrates, but there are some other folks who claim it as well. Yeah. And you know, it’s, it’s so true. And, and if you just look at the rate of change in society in, in, we’ll just say in the workplace, but of course, it applies to the work society overall, the amount of change that’s happened is crazy. And, and it, and it’s not stopping.

I mean, you know, there’s the theory of I forget who is logged, I should know, but it’s, it’s the exponential ability for a computer processor. It’s like every, every, every two and a half years or something like that, it like doubles and, and so change is happening quite quickly. And, and I think if you’re going to be successful in the workplace, you need to be resilient because it’s not gonna go down. It’s only gonna increase.

Jenn DeWall: Yes. Oh my gosh. I wish that you and I could both name that theory cuz I actually wouldn’t say That I’m educated enough to actually define it. But what Dr. Steve Yacovelli is talking about is that there is going to be a prescribed notion of change, and businesses can use this formula to understand how to adapt and change their businesses to make sure they’re relevant and successful. And it can also predict the future, which, which brings in, I think in the same thing, and maybe we’re talking about it, we could have predicted the great resignation. It was already in the numbers that were there. This is not actually a big surprise.

Building Resilience in the Four Rooms of Change

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  No, <laugh> no, it’s not. I think, you know, COVID just really exasperated the, it sped it up, I think quite a bit, but there really was this reckoning of what do I wanna get out of my work life, you know? And you really beautifully see this with folks who are, are, are just really entering or newer into their professional lives. And it’s just like, I don’t wanna be tied up to X, Y, Z company for the rest of my life, or, you know, they’re really not fulfilling my soul, or I don’t like what they’re doing. So boom, I can go to go elsewhere.

I can maybe make those career changes because that’s, again, another resiliency opportunity. And I love that this is happening. I think it’s fantastic. I think it, at the end of the day, people are gonna be hopefully happier with these different moves and ability to just really embrace the changes that happen

Jenn DeWall:  Well. And as you said, people will be happier, and ultimately then, organizations should likely yield the benefit of that happiness. I know that it feels painful right now. I can only imagine. I’ve seen it in a variety of ways, but ultimately if we’re, we’re supposed to be leveraging our strengths talents, you know, what’s, we’re passionate about happiness, but so let’s get to the definition. How do you define, like, from your experience, how do you define resilience?

The Room of Contentment

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  So, you know, I happen to have slides because I teach this class <laugh>. So for the rest of you who are watching, you’re benefiting from like my free class or a class that is now free for you all, but that’s okay. So we talk about resilience and, and you know when we think about resilience, you actually have to really put it in the framework of change overall. And there are a lot of cool theories out there. My favorite is the four rooms of change or the change house by Klaus Jennsen, who I think is a Swiss psychologist. So basically, the idea is that you know, when change happens, we’re all we’re we go through these four rooms. And so the first room is the room of contentment. Did you ever see the Lego movie, Jenn?

Jenn DeWall: I actually haven’t.

The Dungeon of Denial

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  Okay. For those who have, you’ll know that there’s a song that’s kind of annoying. It goes: Everything is Awesome. And it’s like played throughout the whole movie because that’s the theme song to the room of contentment. Everything’s awesome. We don’t need to change. Everything’s great. You know, it’s kind of that the little proverbial head in the sand kind of ostrich thing. If we’re so content and like ignoring everything, we’re on like the little sun lounge, like just basking away, not really that not realizing that change should be happening. So something kind of gets us out of our, and then we’re like, you know what change has to happen? You know? And we’ll make this an organizational change. We’ll say, you know, oh yeah, change has to happen because, you know, we need to update our technology.

So then, you can go into what’s called the room of denial, and that’s just where some folks say, you know, no, that’s not applied to us. We don’t need to. We’re perfectly fine. That’s just for the competition to deal with. Some people get so locked into denial. They go into the dungeon of denial where they’re just like shutting that door, LA LA, LA LA, like refusing to acknowledge that they have to make some change as an organization. Something happens.

Jenn DeWall: People I wanna ask, and people even live there right now, because how do you, like, I’ve noticed organizations being forced out of denial because people are continuously leaving, and they’re just hammering talent that you can’t just pretend that what you’re doing right now is effective. Well, like, I feel like people are being thrown out of denial right now. Even if they want to stay there.

The Ballroom of Confusion

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  <Laugh> I think that’s, I think that’s very true. I think, you know, some organizations, so let’s take it about equity and justice, you know, when 2020 George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, you know, a lot of companies thought, this doesn’t apply to us. This doesn’t apply to us. We don’t need to create a more inclusive workplace. You know, this will pass over, this will blow by or no, <laugh> it didn’t. And it won’t.

So that’s kind of where folks, you know, they finally acknowledge that, okay,  I can’t ignore this anymore. We do need to do something. And that’s when you go to the room of confusion. And, and I, I jokingly say, if you’re looking at the visuals, these four rooms look equal. They are not. The room of confusion is like a ballroom of confusion. It’s massive. And that’s where during a change process, a lot of folks kind of stick around, you know, confused—what’s going on here?

The Room of Renewal

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  What do we need to know? There are lots of question marks. We don’t understand what, how we’re gonna get this change done. And this is where for some folks, if the change is just overwhelming, there’s an exit door in this particular room where some people are just like, I am out of here. I’m not dealing with this change anymore. This is the folks who are low in resilience. And we’ll talk about that in just a few moments.

Some people get into what’s called the Pit of paralysis, where they’re just frozen. They know they have to change, but they don’t know what to do. They’re so shocked and confused that they just freeze. So something happens as, as time progresses, we learn things. We do things; communication strategy comes in here. And then we move to what’s called the room of renewal, which is like, oh my gosh, why didn’t we do this change like five years ago?

And, and so you, you acknowledge that the change happened or it’s at about the end of the change. And like, yeah, we’re much better off than we were before. And then I like to think between the room of renewal and the room of contentment, there’s like this unknown little airport, you know, moving walkway that you don’t realize you’re on because you slowly go back from renewal to contentment. And so I, I bring this part up because, you know, that’s kind of changed, but in the dead center, what gets us through the rooms is resilience. And the speed at which I move through those rooms can vary greatly between individual and individual.

You know, some people who aren’t resilient get stuck in that confusion room where others are just like shoop, And they go from contentment, denial, confusion, renewal. I got this. I’m good. And that’s why it’s so important because according to at least this psychologist and this model, we have to go through all those rooms in order to get to that renewal, that success part, and that getting us through that in as quick and as painless manner as possible is individual resilience in times of change.

How Can Building Resilience Impact the Speed of Change?

Jenn DeWall:  So what impacts our speed, our ability to do it? Because I know that is it situational and, you know, meaning that I can go through it faster if I’ve seen it before. What impacts our speed in terms of going through the rooms? And for those that can’t see the visual, what you can see onSteve’s screen is that it starts with contentment, goes to denial, then to confusion, then to renewal. And it’s just this process. But what, yeah. What influences our speed or ability to be resilient?

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  Yeah. Fantastic question, Jenn. And so, you know, I like to think about it. There are a couple of things at play here. So I showed you one little house, and we were talking about one little change. Well, depending on where you’re sitting, you might have a whole cul-de-sac of little houses of change that you’re dealing with. And in one specific change, you might be in the room of confusion in another specific change, based upon the context and maybe your experience, and you might be in renewal, others. You’re like, Nope, I’m content. I don’t even need to deal with this right now.

And so change isn’t like a one-house thing. Because there are so many changes happening, it could be my career. It could be my relationships. It could be the job I’m doing. It could be, you know, maybe I’m studying something or learning something new.

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  And so what gets us through, and what gets us that comfort? I did a lot of research on this, you know, I didn’t write the book on it, but I was creating a class for a client. I wanna say it was like maybe 10 years ago or so. And I just started gobbling up every resilience book I could. And it was like 22 of them that I ended up reading through. And it, I mean, like all these different theories, but then I started seeing a pattern and like, all these experts are recommending, oh, do this to increase your resiliency, do that to a do it.

And, and so what I kind of found was there are the top three that I kept seeing over and over and over again. You know, about how to beef up your own resiliency in times of change. And so if I can, I’ll share these with, with the group, because I think it’s, as you think about building up your own resiliency, and you’re like, where do I start with these three? Because these are what experts say really can help you move from that room of denial to that room of renewal in the least painful sort of way. So the first one is,

Jenn DeWall:  Before we jump into these three strategies, I wanna acknowledge because what you just shared was I feel like a big piece that we all have multiple houses going on at the exact same time. And I think that really warrants that stat that I saw this year, that people’s ability to navigate change has dropped by 50%.

So we have maybe, you know, let’s even call it five houses in motion, right? Even though it might be more than that. So if you’re listening to this and you’re feeling burned out. Or you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, no, that these are some of the things that are in play and give yourself some grace. And we’re gonna go into the strategies shortly, but even just how you described it, that we basically could have like a small block of houses of change going on.

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  Yeah! A cul-de-sac!

Give Yourself Grace When Navigating Change

Jenn DeWall:  I think it’s helpful for people to know that, to just know that there’s a lot going on right now, give yourself some grace. There are reasons why you are tired and just feeling like hair, pulling moments. Like you’re not getting it wrong. You haven’t missed the playbook at life. I think that what you just shared there is so helpful to understand, you know, what’s actually happening in our backyard or in our neighborhood. Maybe there’s our neighborhood that we’re in.

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  We have a whole New York city of change happening

Jenn DeWall: Seriously.

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  No, I was gonna say, but like, I mean, just think about the pandemic. I mean, that was one house that every single one of us was thrown at, thrown at. We weren’t even prepared for it. And then your individual work role that’s a new house, you know, oh, now I’m working remotely, or I have to go to this hybrid thing, boop-boop, new house built, and then you, oh, my family or my kids are now, you know, remote working or schooling and boop-boop, another house popped up.

So yeah, it’s a lot of change happening. And even the most resilient folks have had challenges this last, you know, couple of years. So I love that. You said, give yourself grace, absolutely give yourself grace. And sometimes acknowledge I’m in confusion, and we’ll take a break and take a breath and kind of go from there. And that’s actually the third strategy that I saw worked pretty well, but the first one is having a positive perspective, having a positive attitude and, and, you know, I’m a former Disney, people are just like, oh, whatever, Mickey, oh boy, you’re great.

Jenn DeWall:  No, I mean, it’s the happiest place on earth. I like someone that helps teach that.

Building Resilience with Positive Thinking

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  Right. Right. But when, when we, when experts say have a positive perspective, it’s saying, you know what, even in that children’s book,  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I used to love that as a kid. But even when we have those days where it’s like, wow, that was a really crappy day, resilient people will say, you know what, but there are the things that went well for me today. And still being able to see that, that, that that silver lining, it’s not the rose-colored glasses kind of thing, or I like to say rosè-colored glasses!

But it’s really being like, you know, it is what it is, and let’s kind of take a breath and move forward. And, so folks who can harness that attitude, even with the most challenging days, are much more successful in times of change than others who don’t. And, And it’s things like, you know, just really seeing the value in the situation, you know, being okay with setbacks and learning from them, you know, really looking for that silver lining and that good, you know, that glass half full kind of mentality. That’s the first strategy in order to be more resilient when change happens.

Being Positive Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Have Bad Days

Jenn DeWall:  And I love that for that as a starting point to really think about how do you wanna approach this. Because I mean, and maybe even the starting point is:  it’s okay to feel discouraged, overwhelmed, all those things. You can’t pitch a tent there. We’re not, you know, we can’t, we can build the house, but we can’t keep the house there. We don’t need to put cement, maybe some like iron siding on it. We don’t need to have that. Yes. We can also choose the perspective of looking at it in a different way.

And I say this as someone that I feel like lately, there’s just been so much going on. I mean, I just had a relapse in my multiple sclerosis, so that’s just so much uncertainty there. And, you know, I got a few rejections that obviously never feel good. Air conditioning just went out, like I can name it. And I know That I’m just one of many people that have this constant state of like heavy and that we do have to find that starting point. I love that. How can we look at it in a different way? Yep. It doesn’t have to define us. It doesn’t have to limit us. Like how can we look at it in a way that helps us?

Rewire Your Brain for Positivity

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  What’s fun, too, Jenn, is that psychologists have realized that we can actually wire our brains to see the positive, to see the bright spots. And there’s a thing I teach in my classes, kind of share everybody, you know, at the end of the day, get out your phone or get out, journal whatever. And you identify the five things that went well for you during that day. And some days you’re like five. That’s easy. Some days you’re like, I can’t think of one. Yeah. Like, yay. My socks matched. Yay. Right.

So when you, when you have those days, what you’re actually doing is forcing your mind to look for those bright spots, especially when it was hard to find those. And it’s the same concept of when you buy a car, and it could be a new car to you or a brand new car, and you drive it off the lot or wherever. And you’re so excited, and you’re like, wow, everybody has a Mini Cooper. What the heck?

It’s not that, you know, everyone out and said; Steve has a mini. I have to be cool. I can, no, they, you have this heightened sense of awareness. And that’s actually what you’re doing with your mind. You’re rewiring it to look for those bright spots. And, and they, they say that if you do this, what went well journal for about two to three months, depending on your starting point, you actually will start to rewire your brain for positivity. And so that’s a little, little strategy to help folks.

Building Resilience Takes Practice

enn DeWall:  I love that the neural pathways are starting to open those up new. I mean, I guess it’s easy. I get it. Like if you’re going through, I’m trying to think of back in my twenties, when I would say I got my first big career failure, you know, didn’t get the promotion. I thought I was, you know, super successful. I was successful. And then all of a sudden, I hit the pieces of, you know, kind of the personality pieces. And I really had to learn emotional intelligence, and heck, I started to, like, I was stuck.

I couldn’t get promoted, and I couldn’t even leave because they were paying for my master’s program. <Laugh> so I didn’t want to absorb that. Yeah. And it just really forced me to have to think, like, how can I do this differently? But yet it wasn’t immediate because I went through that self-judgment place of like, what’s wrong with me? Why, you know, everyone else somehow has it. Right. And I like this anecdote of just starting with a positive perspective, like that’s a starting point and talking about how, if you do that over time and consistently, you will start to see more positive things.

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  Well, what I love, Jenn, is you just made a gorgeous segue into number two <laugh>, which

Jenn DeWall: Let’s do it!

A Healthy Self-Concept is Essential to Building Resilience

Dr. Steve Yacovelli: This is actually having that healthy self-concept, having that self-esteem. And so, you know, with experts say that when I can look at my experience and, and know, what I’m capable of doing also know that, you know what, I’ve done this before. I will proudly say I’ve been fired from many jobs in the past. Some were budgetary, and some were, you know, oh, we ran out of the grant that was paying for your salary, Dr. Yacovelli, blah, blah.

Some were my stupidity <laugh> and maybe making wrong choices that, you know, some in Florida’s right-to-work state – to this day, I have no idea to this day, many, many years later. Why? But what those experiences taught me is, you know, what I’ve been here before, a healthy self-concept. I can bring it to the next group, you know, a door closes that window opens and, and what can I do to kind of keep rolling with those punches?

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  And, And it’s you know, folks who have this healthy self-concept, don’t feel like they’re a victim of change when change comes happening. It’s like, oh, woe is me. How do I do this? It’s like, oh, okay. That stinks. Well, what are we gonna do about it? You know, because if we all think about it, we have been at low points already. And something happened that got us from that low point to that high point. Use that knowledge to say, I’ve been here before, I’ll probably be here again, and I can do this. I can move up and have that healthy self-concept. I’m not a victim when change comes.

Learning to Validate Yourself for a Healthy Self-Concept

Jenn DeWall: I like that perspective because the self-concept, I think, you know, it’s really easy. And maybe the work that, or how I like to think about it, is so many of us are conditioned to rely on that external validation of someone else telling us whether we’re getting it right. Whether we’re doing enough, whether we’re a good person and, you know, looking at resilience, like that’s learning how to internally validate yourself. Yes.

Knowing that we, you know, focus on what you can control. Like, as you were talking about some of your rejections and, and firings, you know, right. Like I’ve been rejected because of this word on the back of my screen. People said I don’t like that. You have love. And I don’t think, yeah, I know. And I was like, really, this is now a polarizing thing. And I can’t do anything about that. And I don’t get me wrong at first.

Like, I was really upset because I’ve gotten, you know, feedback like Jenn, you wore jeans, what? And men can do it, but you can’t do it. And I, you know, it’s frustrating, but you have to be able to pull up. And I was, was talking to a mentor today about this recent rejection. Because obviously, it hit me hard, and you know, they had shared with me like she was rejected from things because she had too big of hair!

And I listened to it, even in my workplace, like in my former workplace people, I had peers that were told like, Hey, if you wanna get promoted, lose 15 pounds. Hey, if you wanna get promoted, make sure you don’t wear leggings with this. Hey, you wanna get promoted? Make sure you look more like this person. Yep. And so these things are happening in today’s workplace. Yeah. But all of those examples are trying to modify yourself to someone else, like how that do you PR or how do you practice your own self-love, Dr. Steve? How do you do that?

Don’t Spend Your Energy On Negative People

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  Well, you know, I mean, I’m a bit older now. You know, and I just realized that when people challenge me to not be my authentic self at work or, or clients or wherever— that’s a relationship that’s not meant to be. And I just say you know what, for every one of you who doesn’t want me to, you know, put “The Gay Leadership Dude” out there, for example, there are 20 others who do and honor that and value that and make that sense of belonging for me as a, as an external vendor.

And so I’ve just learned that, you know, there’s a lot more of folks who will appreciate that love that’s behind you than there are who don’t. And so let’s channel our energy toward working and being with those relationships in a workplace, as well as a friendly place with those types of people than wasting our time on, on the other. I was just saying to one of my coaches the other day, you know, she was, she was having something very similar, and I said, you know, Pareto’s parental principle.

And she’s like, no, like the 80/20 rule. I said, don’t spend 80% of your energy trying to move the 20% of the people who don’t like you! That’s— it’s just a waste. Channel that 80% of your energy on the 80% of the people who do love you, who do wanna work with you, who do value you as a leader and forget those outliers. And she’s like, thank you. I’m like, yes, because we all do that.

You know, I know standing in front of a training room when we could do such things or you even virtually, and you know, I would find myself really focusing my energy on the person who was totally “voluntold” to be my session. You know, their hands are crossed. They don’t wanna be there. And I’m like, stop. I’m just gonna look at the learners who are totally engaging and getting it. And they’re throwing me the love. I’ll throw it right back at them to heck with the people who are just tourists in my class. And it’s, it’s wonderful. It’s a very freeing feeling.

Don’t Create a Confidence Hangover

Jenn DeWall: I love that. And I mean, you just reminded me of something that maybe will be helpful to some of the people listening. If you’re going through change, maybe you are changing a job and moving from one industry to the next new company to the next. Just remember your ability to be resilient. Sometimes we’ve gotta let go of some of that feedback that might have happened in that past job and not use it to limit who we’re gonna be in this next job or don’t create a confidence hangover.

I don’t know if it will help someone because I remember for years after not getting that promotion, it took me, after leaving that company, probably a good two to three years to actually feel like I had value. I constantly kind of told myself, well, because that company didn’t think that I had value or they didn’t move me up, then I’ll never be this. Right. Right. And like, so maybe, you know, if you’re going through something similar, you are amazing. You are fantastic! Honor who you are and discard the stuff that doesn’t work.

Build Resilience by Getting Comfortable with Ambiguity

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  Absolutely. And, and that’s, that’s kind of the third strategy that, that really helps build resilience is getting comfortable with that uncertainty, that ambiguity, those big giant question marks that are out there. And, when you think about why most people hate change, this is the reason why. They’re not comfortable with those big question marks that are out there.

And, and you know, we’re, that’s a wiring thing from us, you know, that’s our little, our cave mind self-preservation and safety thing happening like, oh the devil I don’t know, kind of mentality that we talked about earlier, but it’s really thinking through with when it’s ambiguous, or there are uncertain things that you’re able to kind of organize information as quickly as when you get it, you really can start to see those patterns of what’s happening and just really be okay with those, those unknowns that happen.

Especially in times of change, we didn’t know what the workplace was gonna be like. As we got to the end of 2020, and even into 2021, you know, you might be in your workplace now, and people are coming back, or now it’s a hybrid, or maybe, maybe your workplace went a hundred percent remote going forward. And, And it’s like, what does this look like? Being able to get comfortable with that is one of the best ways to really amp up your resiliency.

Don’t Worry About the Weather, Learn to Dance in the Rain

Dr. Steve Yacovelli: And I love to end this part with this quote about that uncertainty:  don’t be consumed worrying about the weather; instead, spend your time learning to dance in the rain. Some unknown person said that, but I absolutely love that. Because we tend to focus our energy on the things we have no control over whatsoever. So channel it to the things you can either control or at least influence. And don’t worry about the weather, it’s gonna happen, whether you like it or not, learn how to dance in that rain.

Jenn DeWall: Yeah. I mean the ebb and flows of life. I wanna go back to even one of the subpoints that were on your last slide, which is finding order in the chaos. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> like what would be any tips that you have to find order? I know that there are definitely people that are like, what do you mean everything is just working against me right now? Like how can you even start to find order in that?

Finding Order in the Chaos

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  Know, if, if you are struggling to find the order yourself, this is where having someone else be a thinking partner can come into play because, you know, the diversity of perspective and diversity of thought, they might be able to see things that you’re not. And, and, and this is where if, you know if you focus from a workplace perspective, have the team start to help you have that work spouse.

If you have one, start to help you see those different patterns of behavior because the more divergent our perspectives are, the more we’re gonna see stuff. And so you know, as you start to think about the patterns of what’s happening, if you’re not seeing them yourself, leverage someone else to help you, and then you kind of do the same for them.

Jenn DeWall:  I love that. Just the reciprocal trade of let’s brainstorm, let’s look at our lives, and that’s why people get coaches, right? So they can broaden that perspective to see what’s working and what’s not. What potentially could be changed? Or what faulty information are we using to observe our life? Right. Because I know I have a, I had full of head trash <laugh> any final tips that you would share with our audience as it relates to building resilience?

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  You know, I would actually go back to what you had already said, Jenn. And that’s usually my, and my last point is yeah. Have patience with yourself, give yourself grace, take a step, take a breath and really be like, you know what? You got this. It might be bumpy, and that’s totally fine, but you have done this before. You will go through it again. You’ve succeeded in the past; know that you got this, and you’ll be okay.

Where to Find More From Dr. Steve Yacovelli

Jenn DeWall:  I love that. I mean, we all need that reminder! Dr. Steve Yacovelli, I loved our conversation. How can our audience get in touch with you?

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  The easiest way to get ahold of us is to head to our website, which is, of course,, that’s B-I-Z. There, you can find out all about our leadership programs and our resiliency programs, see about all my books, and meet my Top Dogs, my team. And also, get in touch with us and look at our blog for some free stuff.

Jenn DeWall:  Fantastic. Thank you so much for being on the show. Thank you for dropping the knowledge. I know that people need this right now. So thank you so much for just donating your time to share your expertise in the subject.

Dr. Steve Yacovelli:  Of course. Thank you so much for this.

Jenn DeWall:  Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of The Leadership Habit podcast. If you want to learn more about Dr. Steve Yacovelli, or building resilience, you can head on over to And, of course, if you know someone that could benefit from hearing this message to be more resilient, share this episode with them. We want to make sure that they feel that they’re not alone and that they have the tools to succeed.

And if you’re looking for more tools to succeed, head on over to We offer a comprehensive leadership development program that’s focused on converting and developing your leaders into effective people, leaders, not just managers. We would love to talk to you or even offer a two-hour complimentary leadership skills workshop. So thank you so much to everyone for participating, for listening and heck, just showing it for yourself today. I’ll see you next time.