How To Truly Embrace Change And Build Long-Term Resilience

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Marketing Podcast with Adam Markel

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Adam Markel. Adam is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and resilience researcher. He inspires leaders to master the challenges of massive disruption in his upcoming book, Change Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience.

Key Takeaway:

When we think of resilience, we think of being able to “roll with the punches” and “bounce back” after uncertainty or change. But resiliency expert and bestselling author Adam Markel encourages you to aim higher. This kind of resilience—thriving versus surviving—is a skill you can cultivate, both personally and professionally. In this episode, we discuss how to truly, actually embrace change—to find the creative opportunity in uncertainty, as opposed to simply riding it out or reacting to it.

Questions I ask Adam Markel:

  • [1:33] How would you define resilience?
  • [2:36] Is resilience often confused with perseverance?
  • [5:40] What does “Change Proof” mean in the title of your upcoming book?
  • [8:23] Are you suggesting that stress needs to be a part of our daily practice in some way?
  • [13:39] How do you embrace hope when you’ve been mentally drained from the last couple of years?
  • [19:42] You talk a lot about how you can’t think big without having your basic needs met and one of the tools you talk about is gratitude for helping people – would you dive into more of what you mean by that?
  • [24:16] Where can more people find out about your work and pick up a copy of your book?

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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the salesman podcast, hosted by will Barron brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. Look, if you work in sales, wanna learn how to sell or just peek at the latest sales news. Check out the sales podcast where host will Barron helps sales professionals learn how to find buyers and in big business in effective and ethical ways. One of my favorite episodes lately, how to personalize your sales outreach at massive scale, who doesn't want to do that? Listen to the salesman podcast, wherever you get your podcast.

John Jantsch (00:44): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Adam markel. He's the best selling author, keynote speaker and resilience researcher who inspires leaders to master the challenges of massive disruption. We're gonna talk about his upcoming book change proof, leveraging the power of uncertainty to build long term resilience. So Adam, welcome to the show. Hey

Adam Markel (01:12): John, it's great to be here with you today.

John Jantsch (01:13): So do you think resilience is having like a moment? I mean, it's obviously for anyone in business for anyone going through life, it's an important skill, but do you feel like all of, of sudden there's a focus on it?

Adam Markel (01:24): Oh, I mean, I, I don't know how there, there couldn't be at this moment. People are having a moment every moment every

John Jantsch (01:32): Day. Yeah. Yeah. So, so how would you define resilience? I guess let's I always, when, particularly when that's a part of the title, I always like to get a take on it. Well, I think

Adam Markel (01:41): It's important to, to say what it's not to start with. It's not what people think it is. And so often it is people define resilience as the ability to get back up from a knock down from a, a setback or something. And often it's this kind of coming back to normal or bouncing back concept and all of my research and case studies and things that we write out in the book and, and all my years of experience, just in business as a CEO, as a dad, as a husband and, you know, a lawyer and all the things I've done in my life have proven it to be something quite different. So our research says that resilience is about how we recover, not about how we endure it's about how we bounce forward, not about how we bounce back. So again, when we think about defining resilience, it's really this capacity to leverage uncertainty and even adversity as a catalyst for long term growth. That's how we define

John Jantsch (02:36): Resilience. Yeah. It's, it's often confused with perseverance, I guess, right?

Adam Markel (02:41): Yeah. I mean, I think that's true. There's, you know, there's an element of grit experience, tenacity kind of baked into the cake.

John Jantsch (02:48): Well, so, you know, I think any entrepreneur, you know, particularly that, that has lasted for any amount of time, I think has this knack of resilience, right. It's okay. We got knocked down. I learned something from it and now that's what I'm gonna take to the next chapter. And I, I think it's something that seems to be coming more to corporate careers where I think it's always been embedded in, in somebody who's kind of done their own thing for any amount of time.

Adam Markel (03:13): For sure. The learning edge, the growth edge is so prevalent. That is endemic in what resilience looks like. I think people sometimes think that some folks are more resilient or even born more resilient than others. And again, our research is really clear that resilience is something that we can learn at any age. It is trainable. Yeah. We can be trained to be more resilient. So,

John Jantsch (03:36): So probably those people we're talking about being, you know, more resilient, you know, they just were taught at maybe at a younger age, for example, because they, they saw it modeled in, in their parents even.

Adam Markel (03:47): Yeah. I mean, that's where leadership comes in, right? Yeah. Because your Le, you know, the first ex example of leadership in your life would be your parents, for sure. And or any of your guardians or the people who are in influential on you. And then obviously later on it's, it might be your first boss at work. And later on beyond that, it's the person that, you know, is mentoring you in your career or the, the way that you're mentoring others, but you really have to model resilience for others. That's yeah. Where resilience becomes contagious. And that's actually, when we get a greater organizational benefit out of it is the exponential benefit is in when we're, when leaders are modeling it. And then others are able to see that model as something that they aspire to. So there's actually permission granted for being resilient and doing the things that lead to greater mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual resilience.

John Jantsch (04:38): Yeah. Cuz I, I, I, I suspect there are, so of organizations that have that, no, that's not your job. Put your head down, you know, do your work, you know, you don't need to come up with the new learning from this. And so that's obviously something that gets squashed, right?

Adam Markel (04:51): Yeah. I mean, I think there's no doubt. There's not always permission. That's granted. Yeah. I, I, I speak to organizations globally. So everything from, you know, a startup to a fortune 50 a company and both in the private and the public sector and, and, and even to the military, I I've recently delivered some workshops for the, the Marine Corps and in military terms, you know, there's not a lot of permission for vulnerability. Yeah. You know, like the culture is about having each other's backs, but there's a simultaneous culture of side. And that's where we, we see there's so many mental health challenges with veterans and with service members who are, who are still, you know, in active duty.

John Jantsch (05:30): So, so let's, uh, tackle another idea that comes from the title itself change is something that a lot of people struggle with. Uh, obviously, I mean, I'm guessing that's a hint of the word, you know, proof, but I mean, being change proof, I guess helped me understand that a little bit because I, I find just a touch of confusion and maybe that's what you wanted, uh, from that term to kind of make it like you don't change or you won't change. And obviously, I, I know you're saying change is growth.

Adam Markel (06:00): Yeah. No, I'm so glad. That's such a great question, John. It it's like if you would think of what waterproof looks like, what does waterproof mean? It, it means that you are resilient to water that, that somehow, or another water doesn't penetrate what doesn't damage the shoes or the boots, or, you know, the jacket or whatever it might be, or the watch or something. So when you're change proof, you're sort of agnostic to change in the sense that any change can happen at any time. Yeah. The only question that's a variable is how do you respond to that change? So many people, I think, live their lives unconsciously or without, yeah. I'll say unconsciously thinking that things will stay the same. That's what we actually intend that somehow or another, the status quo is the thing that we're after. Even though we'll complain about our situation, you know, that my job, isn't what I want it to be. I'm not earning enough money or, you know, my team isn't performing or whatever the things are that we wanna make better. But often the, the, the idea of changing something brings greater fear than the fear of, or the issue with leaving things as they are the status quo. In other words. So it's the devil, you know, versus the

John Jantsch (07:08): Dead. I was, you took the words outta my mouth. That's, what's exactly what I was going to say. And it greats a great amount of stress. And there, there is one dunno if there's a quote directly from the book or, or something I just picked up, but researchers have found that our negative perception of stress is more dangerous to our health and happiness than the stress itself.

Adam Markel (07:26): Oh yeah. I mean, there's no question stress is the stresses and kill us. It's the, it's our, our impressions about stress. Our opinions are feelings about stress. That's what makes us, that's what really makes us sick. Often. If we see stress as something that we can utilize, leverage that we can reframe, even that we can, uh, address before it becomes chronic, then stress is actually the kind of thing that, that helps us to get larger muscles in the gym. It helps us to grow in our personal lives and our relationships. And in so many areas, the stress is the catalyst for our

John Jantsch (08:04): Growth. Yeah. There was a book years ago called stress for success. And I think that was, I don't know if you're familiar with it, but, uh, that, I think that was the basis of that argument was that it's something that you maybe ought of not seek out in a negative way, but be very open to practice for, you know, just as you said, kind of build that muscle. So, I mean, in some ways, are you suggesting that this is actually needs to be a part of our, our daily practice in some

Adam Markel (08:29): Ways? Absolutely. Yeah. The idea that somehow we can make ourselves resistant to stress that, that we can avoid it. We can hide from it. I mean, that's just not, it's not real. I spent 18 years as a lawyer before I, I started authoring books and speaking to organizations and doing trainings and things, and there's just, no, you know, that's, and I'm a very practical, you know, I'm just practical by nature. So you can't avoid stress. It's the question is what do you do with it? And to me, the, the truism, and, and again, based on research and based on experiences, well, personal experiences that it's far easier to recover from stress in the first place, or I should say it's far easier to prevent stress or prevent fatigue or prevent exhaustion in the first place than it is to recover from it later, people ignore it, or they, again, sort of try to live in a way that, that, that avoids it.

Adam Markel (09:22): And because of that, when it hits, when the stress hits, when the disruption hits, when the change shows up, they're then kind of knocked down in a way that they wouldn't be, if they had been for it all along and the time to be working on your resilience is now before you'll need it next. Because as I often will say to audiences, you know, as I know my own name is Adam, and I know you guys can't see me now, but I don't have any hair in my head. So I'm bald, you know, handsomely, bald, I have a good head for that, but, um, this is not the last time we're gonna be called upon to be resilient. And this might not even be the greatest disruption. It's been a good one. I mean, when it comes to disruptions, you know, two, two plus year pandemic, the world's shutting down. And every other thing that that's existed, you know, in the middle of this has been a challenge for sure, but I don't even think this is the greatest challenge that most of us will face in our lives.

John Jantsch (10:16): Yeah. And I, it's funny because I, again, I don't have the camera on either, but you might see that I have actually a little gray in my hair and I think you, you go through some of these, you're like, yeah, the world actually didn't end, you know, and I think you really do build up some of that ability to be more, uh, resilient. I think because you see on the back can sometimes actually something much greater comes out of, of some of the things that we see, you know, as, as change.

Adam Markel (10:45): Well, I mean, this is something we cover in the book we have to learn from the future. Yeah. And, and the future is a great teacher to us. And I, it's kinda kind of sounds tongue and cheek, you know, how do you, like it's becoming future proof, right? Because the future proof or the future will teach us in the present that the present provides the greatest opportunity for our growth. It always does. It always will. And so that's a lot more concrete for me than just the idea that everything happens for a reason, or it'll all work out or, you know, it'll be fine in the end. And, uh, you know, alls, well, that ends, even though of course, Shakespeare, it's hard to improve upon Shakespeare. So yes, alls, well, that ends well. And there's a, you know, parentheses, it ends, well, that's the story.

Adam Markel (11:28): You wouldn't be here. And I wouldn't be here. And the people who are listening to this right now, wouldn't be here if it didn't end well. And by that, I mean, the thing that caused them that shook them, you know, shook their core rock. Them, dropped them to their knees five years ago, 10 years ago, or five minutes ago when they, you know, got worried, got nervous, got anxious, got angry, got upset, um, with something that, that represents a threat to their safety in, in the present moment. So I think this book in many ways really addresses the root causes of what depletes us and how we are depleted. Typically in four, four areas, we're either, you know, sort of mentally, emotionally, physically, or even spiritually depleted. And when we work on up the tank, if you will on recharging and re regenerating ourselves in those four specific zones, then collectively and holistically, we are more resilient to any form of change.

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John Jantsch (13:21): I know a lot of people, um, right now that are actually pretty charged up because I think, and I think you're suggesting this is that you sometimes see changes opportunity rather than, oh, you know, it's not gonna be like it all always was. And I, I think there are a lot of people right now that feel like this is gonna be one of we're gonna come out of one into one of the most fantastic periods of growth and opportunity that probably ever existed in many people's lifetimes. But how do you being worn down, you know, run down kind of mentally drained from the last couple, you know, how do you embrace that kind of, of hope

Adam Markel (14:00): Or, or even have the energy to seize the opportunities that are there, John? Yeah. Uh, you know, you've asked a really poignant question because yeah, people who are exhausted or are depleted are incapable of thinking big, it's not a personal, you know, for anybody is listening to this and says, yeah, I'm just, I really am. I'm just so I'm tired of it. I'm frustrated with it. I'm exhausted from it. I can't find myself, you know, I don't find myself getting enthusiastic or really geared up for what's to come well, that's, that's the bigger challenge. I mean, the fact is that, and, and it's also the good news because to recognize you feel that way to recognize your own exhaustion levels means that you have at your, at your, at your disposal a way to, to turn that around. And I mean, everybody can do that.

Adam Markel (14:49): It is. So again, easy to prevent the exhaustion from becoming debilitating or prevent the exhaustion from turning into burnout in the first place than to try to recover from it after it's happened. So in our book, what we talk about are rituals, crafting and creating rituals for resilience in those four specific areas and too many rituals to kind of count, but rituals for, you know, my, my life, I think my life is really built on rituals. And I think that our lives are the equivalent of the quality of our, of the rituals or the things that we ritualize. And by that, I mean, the things that we do consciously a habit is something you might do consciously, but you might do it unconsciously. Great example is picking up your toothbrush again. And we talk about this in the book, we call it the toothbrush, you know, just try to for the next week, hold the toothbrush.

Adam Markel (15:38): In the other hand, brush your teeth with the opposite hand, see what a creature of habit you really are. But more often than not, you pick it up. You don't even think about it. So that's a habit that's done unconsciously. You don't think for most of the time that you're in the car driving, you just don't about it. But a ritual is something you, you are consciously creating and doing for a purpose and it will eventually become a habit. But at the beginning, it it's something that you ritualize in order to habitualize. And so what do you ritualize? Well, you ritualize how it is that you can give your mind some break time, some downtime, some reset time. How is it that you regulate your emotions and where is it that you can actually regenerate emotional strength? And what do you do to do that?

Adam Markel (16:20): It's a separate set of rituals for that physically. I mean, we all kind of get that piece. It's a lot more than just getting eight hours of sleep. Eight hours of sleep is a good start. If you're actually resting when you sleep. And a lot of people aren't, it's the water you drink, it's the food. It's how quickly you eat or don't eat. It's the energy that you exert exert in certain areas and, and where you, where you, don't, how you move your body. It's so many things. And then on the spiritual side, which is not religious, but really our sense of connection, what we find in, in the studies that we've done. And, and we've now gotten the data from more than 3000 leaders from across the globe with this simple assessment tool that we call the resilience rank. So resilience, is a, a site where a free assessment can be had by people takes three minutes.

Adam Markel (17:08): It's 16 questions. It's super simple, not like a lot of these assessments that take forever to, to fill out, but people go to resilience, They spend the three minutes answering the 16 questions. They get a report with a score in each of these four areas. And on the side of the spiritual, we find the most amazing thing across organizations all over the globe that people often feel like they're engaged in a livelihood that is alignment with their core values and beliefs. Now that's question 13. And then question 14. The very next question is that. So, so people are green in that area. People are engaged in things that they feel good about, but then the next question is there are significant gaps between what they say is important to them and how they're actually allocating and spending their time. And that's routinely in the red zone.

Adam Markel (17:58): People are often like 85% of the time, not spending their time, not allocating their time in alignment with the things that are most important to them. And you know, when you have a connection like that, again, it can make you feel weak on the inside. It can deplete you of your hope of the things that that would otherwise help you to be more resilient in the face of uncertainty and adversity, even. So, you know, to know that is brilliant. I mean, it's, it's li it's game changing to know that because when you know that, well, then you can do something about it. And the things you can do about it are not big changes. When, and I, I wrote a book previously called pivot, which is a book about small changes, a book about how it is that we reinvent ourselves through our careers, through a series of small changes.

Adam Markel (18:42): And so even when it comes to your alignment, the, the kind of changes you can make to feel more aligned and more congruent are not things like quit your job, that you don't have to jump ship in order to make these kind of changes. And, and that's really important, John, because when people think that they have to do something drastic to fix something, then they have the fear of the drastic change on top of everything else they're dealing with. Yeah. And it usually just leads to sort of a pro paralysis and a depression, even because they feel helpless and, you know, that just feels hopeless, honestly.

John Jantsch (19:18): Yeah. You, I think you nailed that, that idea of that. And that's in a really important, I, um, idea, I think for a lot of people, that idea of this, um, unconscious incongruence that, you know, people, you know, your 5% of the people realize exists when they examine it, but don't realize it exists and causes so much stress when they don't examine it, I think is a really powerful idea. So one of the things you talked about was to me, when you were talking about, you've gotta get these, you've gotta get these base things nailed. I mean, I I'm, I'm hearing, you know, Maslow's hierarchy of needs. You can't think big, you know, without having the, the basic needs met. One of the things that struck me and I was really pleased to see is that, you know, one of the tools that, that you talk about is gratitude. The four actually helping people, cuz you know, a lot of people went through the changes we went through and said, oh, this is terrible. It's not what it used to be. I've gotta change these things. I think if you were true, many of us were being very true to ourselves. We turn around and go, but I don't really have it that bad actually. And I think that's a tool that probably helped, has helped a lot of people the last couple years.

Adam Markel (20:26): Yeah. I mean, I'll just myself as an example, I was recently on a vacation, a beautiful vacation in, in Mexico with my wife. You know, we had done a speaking gig the day before we left to go to Mexico. And then I had a speaking gig. There was virtual actually while I was there, there was supposed to be in person. It got changed. So I got to stay another couple of days in Mexico, which is wonderful. And on the very last day, as we're getting ready to head home, I was in the water. I'm kind of a Waterman. I love being in the ocean. I was a lifeguard. I tell a lot of lifeguard stories and I went in the ocean and in the shore break, got taken up to the top to the crest of a wave. And then the wave broke was kind of a big wave and slammed me down into either the, the, the sand or a Boulder that was buried beneath, you know, was under the water line and uh, and slammed my knee.

Adam Markel (21:15): And I just found out from an MRI that I've got like a double fracture in my knee go, okay. Now on the one hand I was in a beautiful place. I was enjoying a vacation. And then you, 10 minutes later, I'm flying back to the United States and getting seen by a doctor, finding out I have a double fracture and I gotta be off kind of like inactive the way I'm normally active. My activity's gonna change for the next six to eight weeks. He go, well, what do you do with that? You know, and it's a classic example of the things that happen all the time unexpectedly. And the question is, what do you make of that? What do I make of that? And I'm grateful. And, and that's the thing, John, that I, you know, it's not just, it's not just words I gave a Ted talk some years ago.

Adam Markel (22:00): And, and the premise of the Ted talk was this concept of loving your life. And I told my story of having been a really miserable attorney and having an anxiety attack one day that I thought was a heart attack. So I ended up in the emergency room and all this and that. And I said, and I came out of this whole experience, feeling gratitude for my life and to the point where now, when I wake up in the morning, I put my feet on the floor instead of feeling that anxiousness and that dread, even that I used to feel, I, I feel love. I feel love for my life. If I say out loud, those four words, I love my life. And, and so people took exception of that. Some people loved it, they thought it was great. And some other people said, you know, if you only were living my life or lived where I live, you could never say that.

Adam Markel (22:42): Like, that's a really audacious thing to say. And the concept here is one of loving your life, no matter what, and being so now to the point where we're talking about this in connection with resilience and how gratitude practices are so powerful, it's being grateful no matter what, that doesn't mean that I don't wish it did. You know that I wish it didn't happen. I would be happy if it hadn't happened. I didn't need it to happen. I don't need to be in a cast or whatever it is, but it did happen and I'm grateful for it. And I'm, I'm not just grateful for whatever learning I'm gonna gain out of it. And I've already gained so much learning. I mean, my level of, of understanding of what it means to be wheeled around in an airport, in a wheelchair. I had no frame of reference for that.

Adam Markel (23:26): I've been walking around on crutches for several days now. I, I, my level of compassion and empathy for people that are routinely dealing with things like this has changed entirely. But I also know in addition to the growth of, for me as a person, I also know that it could have been my, I could have broken my neck. I could have broken my back. I could be paralyzed. There could be so many other things that could have happened. So the fact of the matter is that as to the event itself, the only way I see it is through a lens of gratitude. And I also know, you know, tongue and cheek to say it this way. I know that where my resilience comes from it will, I will be far greater, are more likely to be resilient over the next few weeks and months, coming from a place of gratitude than coming from another place that we don't even need to discuss.

John Jantsch (24:13): Yeah. Adam tell people where they can find out more about your work and pick up copy of change proof. And then we will definitely have resilience, in the show notes as well.

Adam Markel (24:25): I'll love it, John. So they can simply go to change and, uh, get the book there. If they're interested in finding out more about it, there's some really beautiful bonuses. Like I did an audio recording of a walk with me when I was wa when I was walking. So that's actually really valuable now, but the idea that, um, we walking is so important and I love to listen to things when I walk. So it's a little bit different than an audible, cuz I actually am walking with them as it's happening. And there's a few other really cool bonuses too, for organizations as well as individuals. So change is the place to be. And of course, Adam for folks that are, are wanting to maybe see video of me, you know, doing my thing as a speaker and, and, and all that is there for our folks as well. John, it's just been a pleasure to be on your show.

John Jantsch (25:09): Oh, well, I really appreciate stopping by the duct tape marketing podcast. And hopefully we'll be able to run into each other one of these days out there on the road, Adam.

Adam Markel (25:16): Oh, let's do that.

John Jantsch (25:18): All right. That wraps up another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. I wanna thank you so much for tuning in, feel free to share this show. Feel free to give us review. As you know, we love those things. Also, did you know that we had created training, marketing training for your team? If you've got employees, if you've got a staff member that wants to learn a marketing system, how to install that marketing system in your business, check it out. It's called the certified marketing manager program from duct tape marketing. You could find it @ and just scroll down a little and find that tab that says training for your team.

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