How to Lead Your Life with Resilience

Are you feeling tired or frustrated chasing elusive happiness? A full life does come with setbacks. This is a reality we all face. The better able you are at handling these setbacks, the more stable your level of happiness will be. This is why learning how to move through life’s many adversities is important. You can experience consistent happiness while overcoming your life’s challenges by leading your life with resilience. Below are the six holistic essentials from the Circle of LITE[1] personal leadership framework to help you do so.

1. Self-esteem is at the center of the Circle of LITE, and your work and life. This area of your life can run very deep and require some inner healing. Your beliefs have been shaped and formed from a very young age based on the life experiences you’ve had. Some of your beliefs may be serving you and your potential, and others not so much. Breakthrough moments in life coaching are co-created by transforming your self-limiting beliefs. While healing can be an outcome of life coaching, it is important to note that life coaching is not therapy. Life coaching can help rebuild and maintain a healthy level of self-esteem that is fundamental to leading a life of resilience, by bringing out your strengths, passions, interests and innate gifts. Revisit every milestone in your life, every obstacle you overcame, and every mentor you admire to discover what you are made of and what more you want to develop in yourself. By knowing who you are in essence and your life purpose, you can then begin to envision your possibilities and potential, and lead the way.

A powerful question for self-reflection
How do the circumstances in your work and life affect your level of self-esteem? Notice and describe the triggers and your self-talk in these circumstances. Self-awareness is the first step in creating positive change.

2. Leadership starts with an inspiring vision that you believe in and is reflective of your purposeful life, values and essence. Knowing your personal life vision will enable you to make choices that are in alignment with who you are and what matters to you. Aligning with yourself first helps you align with other like-minded people, cultures, and opportunities. Shared visions are what guide and mobilize people to synergistically co-create exceptional outcomes. When a stressful problem arises, finding the common ground in a shared vision can also be a healthy and effective way to solve it and keep moving forward with clear focus.

A powerful question for self-reflection
What is your work/life vision five to ten years from now? Journal how your future self will be living life, what your future self’s surroundings and community will be like, and the meaningfulness of it.

3. Intellect is a medium with which you can lead effectively and creatively. How you use your mind in your leadership can elevate or stagnate your growth and performance. A mindset that is open to learning from experiences (including failures), integrating new knowledge and information, and listening to shared wisdom, will outperform a closed mindset. Cultivating an open mindset begins by noticing and transforming your self-limiting beliefs. Your self-talk is a good indicator of the transformation called for. Journaling your negative self-talk can point out the underlying feelings and beliefs that drive your habitual patterns in certain situations and block your progress. Exposing yourself to new situations with different habits can help renew your feelings and beliefs, liberate your mind, and propel your progress.

A powerful question for self-reflection
What changes to your self-talk, if any, do you need to make? Journal your daily self-talk to notice its impact on your work and life’s outcomes, and the underlying beliefs that need renewal.

4. Teamwork will sustain the unity you need to fulfill your vision. No matter what your endeavour is in your work and/or life, the people you surround yourself with can help you drive its manifestation. To sustain unity, keep your eyes on the big picture, seek the higher ground, and honor your mutual values. When conflict arises, return to these basics to get back on track. Keep in mind, that as each member of the team evolves, a misalignment can surface that makes it difficult to sustain unity and get back on track. Every relationship has its arch. Progressive leaders accept this and normalize parting ways amicably as a viable and dignified option.

A powerful question for self-reflection
What values do you share with the people in your work and life? Write down your top 10 values. Notice the ones that are shared with others in your life and how they support your vision.

5. Expression that is a real reflection of who you are and who you want to become takes courage and confidence. There are many forms in which to express oneself authentically, responsibly, and respectfully; speaking, writing, and drawing are just a few. The form you choose can be an extension of who you are and a stretch into who you want to become. The most important step you can take is to stop holding yourself back. Every voice counts and has a positive ripple effect when expressed constructively in an encouraging environment. Often, it is where many coaching clients hold themselves back, out of fear of rejection from any tense discourse. Yet, the best ideas and solutions to problems come from open and healthy communication. Revisiting some of the learnings from the previous four essentials of the Circle of LITE and asking for support or facilitation can help foster greater expression.

A powerful question for self-reflection
What would you need to do differently to fully express yourself in your work or life? Think of a time you held yourself back and wish you hadn’t. What would you do differently today?

6. Work-life balance and stress management support the entire Circle of LITE. To experience balance, priorities need to be set. Priorities are best set when you have worked through all of the other essentials in the Circle of LITE and gained the clarity you need. Clear priorities can then help shape your calendar meaningfully and hold your focus on the key milestones that need to be completed with renewed determination. Having a better handle on your time also helps reduce your stress. Other stress reducing activities include breathwork, yoga, massage therapy, exercise, a good night’s sleep, healthy nutrition and positive social interactions. Including such self-care activities in your daily, weekly and monthly routines can help you recharge and increase your productivity. Improving your work-life balance and better managing your stress will enable you to respond proactively to your life circumstances instead of reacting to them.

A powerful question for self-reflection
What personal habits can you incorporate into your life with consistency to maintain your vitality? Schedule them in your calendar.

You can experience unwavering happiness when you know how to coach yourself through any of life’s circumstances. The Circle of LITE is a personal leadership framework you can lean on at any time. When faced with a challenge, crisis or change, you can revisit the above six essentials to determine the shift you need to make to move through it. You can also revisit it to monitor your own progress and celebrate your successes. With it, you will be able to tap into your inner resources and transform your well-being.

About the Author

Helen RoditisWorking with progressive business leaders for over 15 years, Helen Roditis helps co-create sustainable high-performance, and retain top talent by delivering customized, blended, and holistic leadership development programs that engage team members and their customers. She also brings forward her diverse experience in finance, marketing, talent management, and consumer experience best practices to offer a balanced approach that links people and business strategies. Wellness practices for stress relief and high-performance are also integrated throughout her coaching programs. Helen is the author of LITE Up Your Work and Life, and the creator of the Circle of LITE personal leadership framework.


[1] For more information on the framework, check out this video: “LITE Up to Express Your Full Potential” at

Creating Kinder, More Productive Workplaces: Ongoing and Everyday Conflict Engagement

 Ongoing and Everyday Conflict EngagementConflict is tough for most of us. According to many physiologists, we tend to tap into several simple strategies when faced with conflict: fight, flight, or freeze. As a result, we likely aren’t reducing unnecessary conflicts, and effectively dealing with necessary conflicts in productive ways. So many opportunities are lost because we aren’t engaging well. Being effective at conflict, both in a proactive and reactive way, demands that we work at it as an ongoing and everyday activity. In essence, it is a lifestyle choice in how we talk, problem solve, inquire with others, and arrange our processes and teams.

There are a number of choices, activities, and strategies that can be used to enhance your organization’s ability to handle conflict in a better way. The following are just a few:

  1. Hold People Accountable for Negative Behaviors and Celebrate Positive Behaviors
    In working with organizations and leaders in many fields, I have found a few common missteps in conflict. One is the mishandling or lack of dealing with toxic people in our workplaces. They often get passes because they are good at their jobs or they are retiring soon, among various other reasons. The trouble is that they are doing grave damage to our teams and they also are setting a norm that bad behavior is allowed. Ultimately, we create workplace monsters by allowing the negative behaviors. Therefore, skills are needed to hold people responsible and foster realistic change.Additionally though, we also must praise those team members who collaborate, share work, ask questions, are kind and gracious to their peers, and participate in a culture of radical candor (the topic of an outstanding book by Kim Scott). It can be as simple as saying “thank you” for asking a question or providing well-informed constructive feedback. It may include features of a performance review and therefore financial incentives for sharing work and helping others with work. The key is to celebrate those times when people are exhibiting positive conflict behaviors.
  2. Ask More Questions. Ask Better Questions
    Experiences in our youth do little to promote the use of questions as a leadership tool. Therefore, it can be difficult to ask thoughtful and strategic questions “on the spot” when we are struggling with problems. Questions are such an important tool in conflict and any problem-solving activities. They lead to better problem identification and therefore more robust problem solving and even relationship building. People feel honoured, trusted, and included when they are involved via good questions and responses.Brainfishing: A Practice Guide to Asking Questions by Gary Furlong and Jim Harrison, is a particularly helpful book that provides tools for improving the strategic and relationship-building use of questions. It provides ideas and steps for improving how you ask questions. First though we must disregard any natural tendencies to think that asking questions is a sign of weakness or dimness. We need to admit we don’t understand or that we need to understand more deeply. This leads to curiosity, which can lead to better outcomes for the people on our teams and on our projects. Just think about the last time you asked someone a genuine question. I imagine that thoughtfulness on your part led to a great discussion and an enriched relationship.
  3. Involve People Strategically
    The pendulum can swing really far when it comes to collaborative decision making and processes. Some organizations have embraced the principles of collaboration and yet they aren’t using it strategically enough. Signs of this include: people speaking disparagingly about meetings, people not implementing plans and decisions, and process fatigue (“Are we ever going to get anything done?”). Great leaders are thoughtful about the when, how, and who of inclusion. I liken it driving a stick shift; it takes practice and you have to push, release, and shift at the right moment for the transition to be smooth. The parts need to be moving together in a coordinated fashion at the right moments.It is important to ask people how and when they want to be involved, and then respond when you can’t meet those needs and include them in the ways they want when possible. Additionally, team members need to advocate for themselves and their peers when they need to be included in an important plan or project decision. People don’t need deep involvement in each and every step typically, yet we need to consider how we involve them in order to provide the opportunity for their voices to be heard and our processes and final products to be that much better.
  4. Provide for Various and Dynamic Conflict Modes
    Conflict competent teams are part of conflict competent organizations, meaning that every person in the system has some degree of conflict-engagement skills and there are clear avenues for handling conflict. The modes have to work for the people in the system. Some systems include online features, clear policies and processes, more ongoing and consistent performance review channels, training workshops, committees/boards, purposeful interpersonal interactions, policy/procedure reviews, one-on-one conversations, coaching, formal processes (e.g. mediation), and disciplinary processes. By no means is this list exhaustive but it gives a sense of the many moving parts of a conflict competent organization.Identifying the appropriate modes for any organization involves steps; talking with people to identify the right ways of handling conflict, designing how these processes will operate in your organization, building awareness around the modes, experimenting with the modes, correcting any inadequacies, and evaluating in an ongoing way are just some of the steps. These steps can take time and may need outside help, but they are invaluable in having a conflict competent organization.

In order to do all of the above, there is a fundamental characteristic of the organization and it is to:

  1. Gain Executive-level Support for a Collaborative Culture
    It is entirely possible for a team in an organization to do #1-4 in an organization that doesn’t, but they are limited by their surroundings, policies, norms, and executive leadership that foster those surroundings, policies, and norms. In order for conflict competency and collaboration to occur in every team and in every meeting, disciplinary process, and strategic planning session, the executive team must support the principles and build and use the skills themselves. This doesn’t mean simply setting policies and changing the hierarchical structure. It means diving deep into the organizational culture in order to create new systems, structures, and therefore relationships. Too often, this isn’t the starting point but it should be.

The “why” of this is important. People are demanding this type of interaction in their workplaces, communities, and other team-oriented activities more. This is particularly true of our emerging generations. Each of these helps people to feel more connected to their employers and fellow team members. Rather than mistreating one another over unnecessary conflict, coworkers can work alongside each other while also engaging in problem solving (i.e. conflict resolution) in a more robust way. People can start solving the problem that their organization is having. Numbers 1-4, in particular, provide a clearer path to helping our workplaces become kinder, more collegial spaces. Work can be tough at times, often because of how we interact with our colleagues. It is so much better to work in an environment in which there is the expectation that we are supportive, collaborative, and kind to one another through even the most difficult of times. This frees our time at work to be more productive and doing so in a collaborative and supportive way.


About the Author

Joan Sabott

Joan is a facilitator for the Queen’s IRC Strategies for Workplace Conflicts program. Joan Sabott is a practitioner, consultant, trainer, teacher, and coach in conflict engagement and resolution. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty at Creighton University in Omaha, NE, USA, on leadership and conflict.  Joan is an Affiliated Practitioner and former Senior Program Manager with The Langdon Group. She has consulted on various projects in the organizational sector for businesses and public agencies, and on environmental projects in the substantive areas of water, transportation, and land use and planning.  From one day (or hour) to the next, she is mediating, facilitating, coaching, advocating and providing impromptu training sessions on conflict-related topics. Joan holds a B.S.B.A. in History, a Certificate in Secondary Education, and a Masters in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution, all from Creighton University.


If you are interested in custom training on this topic, please contact Cathy Sheldrick at



Furlong, G. T., & Harrison, J. (2018). Brainfishing: a practice guide to questioning skills. Place of publication not identified: FriesenPress.

Scott, K. (2019). Radical candor: be a kick-ass boss without losing your humanity. New York: St. Martins Press.

The Power of Cognitive Behavioural Techniques in the Workplace

The Power of Cognitive Behavioural Techniques in the WorkplaceFor many years I have been interested in, and excited by, the strong evidence of the effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to treat a host of symptoms and behaviours commonly associated with depression and anxiety disorders. These symptoms include lack of motivation, feelings of being overwhelmed, feelings of inadequacy, and loss of interest in activities and relationships that used to bring joy and fulfillment to a person.

These symptoms can have tragic results to an individual’s personal and professional life. As someone who has worked in the field of labour relations for the past 25 years, I have often observed how these symptoms impact individuals in the workplace, and the rate of that impact appears to be increasing in recent years. I believe that a basic understanding of CBT, and its practical application, is valuable to union representatives, HR professionals, and anyone who is handling mental health or mental illness issues in the workplace.

In this article, I will discuss the application of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques to both return to work and performance improvement plans, for individuals whose work life has been impacted by these issues.

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