A Few Words from Paul: Renewal

shutterstock_145220275I’m not a big fan of Spring.

For some reason, I always think of this season as muddy, rainy, unsettled, and overall sort of depressing. By far, my least favorite season. Yep, very aware that I am odd at times. This more or less proves it.

What makes it even harder to understand for me is that I love baseball and spring training. Hated rain outs even though I did play in Arizona while in college so it didn’t happen often. Even more odd, right? I can be hard to figure out. Ask the staff (smile).

As I struggle through the season, I’ve been thinking a lot about my outlook toward spring asking what can I appreciate about it. Such a novel approach, I know. So, somewhat reluctantly, I’ve been focusing on this concept of renewal as it relates to spring and to my life. I do think that I have personally gone through a period of renewal. Not sure that I can recall one as vividly as this one.

I’ve been really happy lately. Like nauseatingly happy.

For the past five years, I really felt that my life was going to be LeaderShape and my kids (not necessarily in that order) and that would be it. Pretty much reserved myself to this path. Then it happened. I stopped thinking that. In a moment. I just did.

Finding someone to share your life with is amazing. Not necessary to be happy, but it doesn’t hurt either. Though she had to ask me out over 30 times (I think it was more like 15), I decided to change. Decided to stop beating myself up. I took a chance. To live.

Damn, that was scary.

What if it doesn’t work out? What if my kids hate her? What if her kids hate me? What if I do something wrong? All very inspiring questions. Then it hit me. Those moments we face are exactly what renewal is all about. Having another opportunity. A chance to start again. An opportunity to develop a new perspective. The moment to make a different decision about my life. A time to brush off the cobwebs, the mud, the weather, and begin again. This time with a little more bounce in my step. With a little more wisdom. Another perspective.

We all need renewal. The time and space to reflect, think, apply the lessons we have learned. Come out of the dark places with the intent to try again. Call it resilience, perseverance, determination, etc. It is about knowing that we have another chance. They call it a mulligan in golf or a short memory in baseball. Give it another shot.

That is the essence of renewal. Possibility.

The possibility to be happier than you were yesterday. Over the top happy. Even if you do have a rainout every now and then. Even in Arizona.

Enjoy your season of renewal and don’t forget to bring an umbrella.

Just in case.


Paul is the President of LeaderShape and pinches himself everyday for that opportunity. He is a father, son, soon-to-be-husband, athlete, avid reader, eternal optimist, and sucker for the underdog. 


Resilience: FAQs

LeaderShape’s Resilience program is a 1-day eye-opener based on the research of Dr. Amit Sood that explores resilient leadership and how it builds strong, flexible relationships and communities.LS-Resilience_color-on.white

Resilience is more than just managing stress, it’s learning the skills to take life events in stride and to grow and learn from our experiences.

Healing and strengthening, Resilience offers participants the space and time to begin to focus on how their lives impact their ability to lead, and identify tools to strengthen their awareness day to day.

Who is Resilience for?
The program was created with professionals in mind. Resilience is ideal for groups looking to invest in the personal well being of their organization as well as their colleagues. The skills learned during Resilience allow professionals to approach their daily work with increased focus and build more intentional relationships with co-workers, colleagues, and clients. Most importantly, doing this personal work will role model the importance of taking care of oneself and how essential that is to being an effective community member regardless of one’s occupation.

Why a program for professionals?
For thirty years, LeaderShape programmatic focus has been on young adults. As our organization has grown and as our graduates have grown up, we recognized a need for a program that provides the opportunity for people to come together to think more deeply about the direction of their life and how they can continue to grow and develop.

How will you spend your time during Resilience?
The day begins by talking about the science of the brain. With this as the foundation, the day is spent in small group conversations and in personal reflection developing competency in 7 areas that will help participants incorporate the concepts of resiliency into their daily lives. Those areas are: compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, acceptance, meaning, celebration, and reflection.

The Bigger Picture
LeaderShape is working towards creating a more just, caring, and thriving world. Being resilient helps individuals continue to grow as they face the challenges of life. By growing in the areas of resilience, people become better equipped to engage in making a difference in their own lives, in their communities, and in the world.

Resilience: Timeless Anchors

LS-Resilience_color-on.whiteSo, most agree that RESILIENCE is about bouncing back from adversity.  That’s an honorable description.   But what happens if there is no adversity?   Be assured RESILIENCE applies also to sameness, to boredom, to just being me. How do I be resilient with me, with or without adversity?

There are different ways to develop RESILIENCE. For physical resilience we are told to eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, no smoking, and modest amounts, if any, of alcohol. For cognitive resilience, we are told to focus on novelty or pleasure, cutting down on mind-wandering (it wonders perhaps as much as 50% to 80%), moderating our natural fears or threats. But, the most helpful to me has been to pay attention to my emotional and spiritual resilience, anchored in timeless principles which are espoused in all of the world’s wisdom traditions.

Gratitude: We hear a lot about gratitude these days. It’s a sturdy anchor for resilience … being grateful. Finding what went right within what went wrong. Taking no one nor anything for granted. Finding pleasure in the smallest details of life.

Compassion: Recognizing that everyone suffers, even though well camouflaged. The only reasonable response is kindness, trying to relieve another’s suffering, including our own. Recognizing suffering is an opportunity to practice compassion.

Acceptance: How can we accept what we have? Acceptance isn’t resignation nor apathy. It’s engaging in what is right now present in front of us, even if we want to make it better. And on that subject of better…what if we were more accepting of ourselves and others? What if there’s nothing to fix in us? What if we were perfect as we are? Perhaps one person’s perfect is another’s person’s irritant. So, maybe perfect doesn’t lie elsewhere.

Meaning: What gives us ultimate meaning? Are we doing meaningful things…meaningful to us? John Hollis wrote an excellent book on this subject: Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Our Lives. That means >35 years old. What is your soul calling you to do, he asks?

Forgiveness: Tough subject. Forgiveness is never for the other person. It is always for ourselves so we won’t be imprisoned by our resentments for another’s actions. That includes forgiveness for ourselves too, so we aren’t tied up in guilt and “poor me’s.”

And finally, play, and celebration, and fun. We are told to think as an adult, but play as a child finding wonder all around us.

RESILIENCE…easy to talk about…more subtly challenging to be … day in and day out.

Carla Paonessa is a retired founding partner of Accenture, past Chair of LeaderShape Trustees, benefactor of LeaderShape and Mayo Clinic, and lives with Russ Paonessa in Scottsdale, AZ and Chicago. They have 3 children, 5 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren. She is eternally grateful to Dr. Amit Sood of Mayo Clinic for teaching her about resilience, and she is enormously proud of LeaderShape for offering a program on RESILIENCE.