REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Master resilience trainers from across the Army Materiel Command enterprise have teamed up to develop a 13-part virtual series that provides employees with the tools and resources to address stress, anxiety and uncertainty.
The series, entitled “How to Thrive During Life’s Challenges: Charting Your Course to Improve Performance and Resilience,” will broadcast on Thursdays beginning Oct. 7 and continuing through Jan. 27. The one-hour classes will be taught by the following master resilience trainers: Valerie Francis, AMC Headquarters; Lori Owens and Nick Osterhaus, Army Sustainment Command; Keven Hutchinson, Security Assistance Command; Patricia Hill, Army Contracting Command; and Timothy Rolfe, Installation and Management Command’s Redstone Arsenal Garrison, Army Community Service.
The series teaches “effective strategies to overcome life’s challenges, enhances performance in both personal and professional lives, and improves skills for managing everyday life,” IMCOM’s Rolfe said. “We all struggle at times and Master Resilience Training teaches us how to look at the positives and bounce back from adversities.”
Challenges, crises or adversities are all part of life, AMC Headquarters’ Francis agreed. The important thing is how people recover from setbacks, she said.
“Can we bounce back in a manner which provides growth and gives one confidence to tackle the next down turn? This series gives attendees mental toughness skills to do just that, tackle life’s challenges head-on,” Francis said. “Resilience empowers employees to accept and adapt to a situation and move forward.”
The impactful, life-changing events of the last few years and even the last couple decades have influenced modern-day views people have about themselves, each other and the world around them, ASC’s Osterhaus said. The COVID-19 pandemic, the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and numerous natural disasters along with events happening in communities and in families can have long-lasting impacts in people’s lives, he said.
“We are all in a different place than we were two years ago,” Osterhaus said. “Sometimes it helps to look at our life events from a different perspective and sometimes that perspective needs to be positivity. Even in the times where negative seems to be prevalent there will always be good coming from it. 9/11 brought us 9/12. The day after some of the most tragic events brought us together and we are stronger from it even still to this day.”
Topics in the series are all aimed at helping employees excel despite the challenges they are struggling with. Class topics range from “Gratitude: Keys to a Happier Life” to “Make Your Dreams Come True” to “Identify and Build Your Strengths” to “Good News is a Gift: Handle with Care.” Each is meant to build on resiliency for AMC employees that leads – at work -- to better support of the Army’s warfighters, stronger co-worker connections and workforce teams, and – at home – to a healthier family unit, Francis said.
“Most people already have resilient skills they may not be aware of or they just need to improve on existing skills they have previously develop,” Rolfe added.
“The hope is that AMC employees will be better prepared to face the many obstacles and tough challenges that lie ahead by taking stock in the good that already exists, and by becoming more aware of how our thought processes can be a powerful tool to overcome setbacks. In doing so, we will be better prepared to have a positive impact on the mission and improve readiness.”
Building resiliency varies with each individual, ASC’s Owens said, and affects all aspects of an employee’s life.
“Everyone can be their best selves by learning how to develop and build to their strengths,” Owens said. “Every person has a unique set of strengths that make them who they are. If they can build to those strengths and learn to use them effectively, they can live a happier, more fulfilled life.”
The same principle applies to employee teams, she said.
“If each member of the team is working primarily to their strengths, the team is stronger and the members are more content,” Owens said. “It can also build diversity within the team as each person is different.”
The classes are designed to meet employees wherever they are in their personal and professional development, and to extend learning associated with past resiliency or development courses employees may have taken.
“To grow and develop, we must continue to learn and strive to improve who we are,” USASAC’s Hutchinson said. “Humans are complex creatures and no matter how well one believes they know themselves, there is always room to learn and grow. This is why I feel these classes are important. If someone learns only one thing from the series, and that one thing helps them grow as a person, I consider this a success.”
While the series is meant to grow the mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual strength of participating employees, Francis said the lessons learned are also meant to be shared to build community resiliency.
“Everyone can learn the life skills taught in the 13-class series and enhance their resilience,” Francis said. “One can also pay-it-forward. We want attendees to take the information they learn and share it with co-workers, friends and family members. Without realizing it, attendees have the opportunity to model the resilience and performance skills to others, allowing them to tap into their own resilience.”
Building resiliency helps employees not only deal with the stresses and challenges of the work environment, but also to live better lives.
“The goal is to improve their overall quality of life. Stronger mental skills can improve every area of life – home and work relationships, and performance along with overall health,” Owens said.
Building resiliency is a matter of choice in all aspects of life, Osterhaus said.
“Stress is all around us and if we choose to be stressed we can choose how to manage it and not let it manage us,” he said. “Instead of wasting valuable time worrying about how bad things are or how bad things are going to get, let’s use our time figuring out a plan of action to change outcomes. Let’s use positive thoughts to alleviate the stress of all the negativity that surrounds us. Good things happen all around us and we need to spend time on those things that make us happy. We are very fortunate to be where we are.”
Editor’s Note: “How to Thrive During Life’s Challenges: Charting Your Course to Improve Performance and Resilience” can be viewed at 10 a.m. Thursdays from Oct. 7 through Jan. 27 at: https://dod.teams.microsoft.us/l/meetup-join/19%3adod%3a77c04642f3cc4164a72d216dee1ba771%40thread.skype/1631546976376?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%22fae6d70f-954b-4811-92b6-0530d6f84c43%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%226e4fbf4b-9846-434e-9dee-7dfd28fd6599%22%7d. Dial In: 1-571-616-7941; Conference ID: 364079350#. The series includes:
· Oct. 7: Gratitude: a key to a happier life – Learn to recognize and fight off negative patterns of thinking, which increases gratitude and optimism and leads to a happier life.
· Oct. 14: Make your dreams come true – Learn to turn dreams into goals that lead to reality using a 7-step process.
· Oct. 21: Use your mind to boost performance – Learn to become more aware of how events and scenarios trigger thoughts, and how thoughts impact our experiences. Explore thought themes, emotional responses and reactions.
· Oct. 28: Focus your energy, manage your stress – Learn to erase unimportant tasks and refocus on the important things in life.
· Nov. 4: Escape your thinking traps – Explore six common thinking traps that often decrease performance and undermine healthy relationships, and learn how to avoid thinking traps to ensure optimal performance and healthy relationships.
· Nov. 18: Don’t let mental icebergs sink your ship – Learn how core values and beliefs affect perceptions of events.
· Dec. 2: Are you missing pieces of the puzzle – Learn the 6-step problem solving process, discuss how biases impact evidence gathering; and learn how to be flexible and think accurately during the problem solving process.
· Dec. 9: Don’t fall down the rabbit hole – Learn to lower anxiety, and accurately assess situations and take purposeful action.
· Dec. 16: Get your head back in the game – Learn to fight back against counterproductive thoughts, and remain task-focused and motivated.
· Jan. 6: Identify and build your strengths – Learn to identify character strengths and how to build on them to be successful.
· Jan. 13: Leverage strengths to build a better team – Learn to create stronger teams and counter-balance weaknesses by building to the strengths of each member, leading to increased performance and higher job satisfaction.
· Jan. 20: Communicate effectively to preserve relationships – Learn to distinguish the difference between aggressive, passive and assertive communication, and how to deliver a message with confidence, clarity and control.
· Jan. 27: Good news is a gift: handle with care – Learn to build connections and maintain relationships by setting aside distractions and join in the celebrations and joy of others.