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Resilience Redefined | Marie-Hélène Pelletier

Resilience Redefined | Marie-Hélène Pelletier | 559

Learn How to Build Resilience in Today’s Fast-Paced World

A conversation with Marie-Hélène Pelletier about her book The Resilience Plan, how you can build resilience in your everyday life, and the road to writing and publishing a book.

In this podcast episode, Dr. Marie-Hélène Pelletier, author of “The Resilience Plan: A Strategic Approach to Optimizing Your Work Performance and Mental Health,” shares insights into resilience and its profound impact on work performance and mental well-being.

Dr. Pelletier discusses how her background in psychology and executive coaching led her to focus on resilience as a proactive opportunity for influencing outcomes earlier in individuals’ lives. She emphasizes that resilience is not merely a personality trait but a skill that can be developed over time, influenced by factors such as emotional intelligence and optimism. By translating academic research into actionable strategies, Dr. Pelletier aims to empower professionals and leaders to enhance their resilience in practical ways that positively impact their work and personal lives.

Drawing from her diverse experiences as an academic, clinical practitioner, executive coach, and business consultant, Dr. Pelletier provides valuable insights into navigating the journey of writing and launching her book. She highlights the importance of creating space and energy for intellectual creativity and resilience-building, ultimately aiming to prevent burnout and enhance thought leadership effectiveness.

Looking ahead, Dr. Pelletier hopes that her book will not only inspire strategic thinking and action but also foster greater trust and opportunities for executive coaching and speaking engagements. Through her work, she seeks to empower individuals to embrace resilience as a strategic tool for success and well-being in both professional and personal spheres.

Three Key Takeaways:

  • Resilience as a Strategic Focus: Dr. Pelletier emphasizes the proactive nature of resilience, highlighting its potential for influencing outcomes earlier in individuals’ lives. By reframing resilience as a skill that can be developed rather than a fixed personality trait, she encourages listeners to invest strategically in its cultivation.
  • Translating Research into Action: Dr. Pelletier discusses the challenge of translating academic research on resilience into actionable strategies for practitioners and leaders. Drawing from her diverse background, she offers practical insights and approaches to resilience-building that resonate with her audience’s experiences and needs.
  • The Journey of Writing and Launching a Book: Dr. Pelletier shares her personal journey of writing and launching her book, “The Resilience Plan.” From creating space and energy for creativity to navigating the demands of publishing, she provides valuable lessons learned and insights into the process of bringing her ideas to fruition.

If you need a strategy to bring your thought leadership to market, Thought Leadership Leverage can assist you! Contact us for more information. In addition, we can help you implement marketing, research, and sales. Let us help you so you can devote yourself to what you do best.



Bill Sherman I thought leadership idea that seemed simple and easy to you may seem difficult, or even impossible to someone who encounters your ideas for the very first time. So how do you simplify an idea and encourage people to take their first steps towards making change real? Well, that work is at the heart of thought leadership. Today I sit down with Dr. Marie-Hélène Pelletier, who is the author of The Resilience Plan: A Strategic Approach to Optimizing Your Work Performance and Mental Health. In today’s episode, we’ll explore distilling ideas, encouraging action, and creating impact. I’ll also speak with Doctor Peltier about her multidisciplinary approach and how it impacts her thought leadership work. I’m Bill Sherman and you’re listening to Leveraging Thought Leadership. Ready? Let’s begin. Welcome to the show, Marie-Hélène.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Thank you. Bill. Pleasure to be here.

Bill Sherman It is an exciting conversation that I’m looking forward to specifically, not only on the topic of resilience as it relates to individuals, but also the intersection of resilience with the work of thought leadership, because I think there’s a beautiful overlap of what it takes to get an idea out into the world.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Yes. Agreed.

Bill Sherman So my first question for you is how did you come to the theme of resilience? How did this build from your areas of interest and work?

Marie-Hélène Pelletier It came from a number of directions in my brain, certainly coming from psychology and that lens. What’s wonderful with resilience is that there’s a strong, proactive opportunity so that you can catch things earlier, influence them earlier, which is something I’ve always been passionate about in various ways in my work. So there’s that. It’s also a term that tends to resonate well with a lot of people I work with in my executive coaching and speaking, who tend to be high performers, professionals, leaders, entrepreneurs. And that’s a term that they tend to connect with really well. So yeah, these are some of the forces that brought me to. Yes. Resilience is, a useful focus.

Bill Sherman You mentioned your audience here. So I think from an executive coaching perspective, it’s easier for someone to say, I need to figure out resilience, or I need more resilience than it is to say I’m struggling and I’m worrying about being able to carry forward at this pace or handle these problems. Right. And so that first step of getting someone to identify. With your topic is a huge one. How do you do that? How do you get people to lean in and say, tell me.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier More? Yes. I think it’s coming from this audience of high performing individuals knowledge, like constant quest to find their edge or the next edge, the next thing that can allow them to bring even more of what they love to bring in their particular area. And it’s probably even more connection now, possibly more than ever, possibly in part with the pandemic that we’ve gone through, possibly more with artificial intelligence coming in our lives, personal and professional, and therefore making us look even more at what’s my human contribution versus an artificial intelligence contribution. So it comes in different ways, but ultimately it often lands on some version of that’s your edge.

Bill Sherman That leads to an interesting question. Is resilience a skill, a strategy? I know the title of the book leans in unplanned. So. Or is it even a trait from personalities? So let me throw that question to you. Is it something we’re born good at? Is it something we develop over time? How have you seen that? And where do people respond?

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Yes. So it is not a personality trait. We tend sometimes to think of it this way. It’s actually a trap if we do. Because if we think it’s innate in us as part of our personality, then of course there’s no reason to actively nourish it or invest in it. Right. And that’s when we’re actually even more at risk. But we know from research that, no, no, it’s not a personality trait. It is influenced by I could.

Bill Sherman See a tied to emotional stability, for example. Right.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Yes. Connected with emotional intelligence, emotional stability. Yes. It’s connected with openness also. So the more we’re optimistic, the more we may tend to be more resilient. But our resilience, the reality is that it’s not a personality trait. So therefore it will fluctuate in time. And therefore it is something we can influence. And that’s, where I’m coming in and saying we need to be strategic about it. The same we were strategic about. Any important goal. We have seen our business launching a new product, launching a new service. So these same approaches work very well for us to look at our resilience on the personal level.

Bill Sherman And there’s an intersection there that you just presented that I want to call out. One is the academic side. What does the research what does the literature say on resilience? What do people need to do to be successful? But often that information gets trapped in an academic journal versus the poor practitioner who’s out there running a business, or they’re in the organization somewhere and they just feel the weight of the world on them. And so there’s this researcher, practitioner and user divide. Yeah, that often happens.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier There is. And you know what gets trapped also. So yes, I agree some information gets trapped in in the journal. That’s one. But also what happens is whatever is written in that journal most of the time does not also take into account the context that we may be in here, where that particular thought leader, in the individual, in charge of a team, in charge of an organization or whatever, in that context is extremely important. You can have the most wonderful recommendations here in the academic literature. Valid, supported. Solid. Yes. And you’ve got you and I here. I’m trying to knowing at times actually this information but feeling so stuck in how do we actually bring this in the reality of our context. So these are two pieces that need to translate well.

Bill Sherman And as you mentioned that I think about the challenge of recruiting populations for research. Right. And so how so much research literature is based on university students because they’re an accessible population. Whereas if you talk about context for you or I or anyone else who’s further along in their career, the stressors that we have are not the stressors that a typical undergraduate in their early 20s face.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier That’s right. So very different stressors. And there are there is also research about these types of stressors even then. So even if we know and understand, let’s say the stressors that are more particular to people in more senior leadership roles. And all this also very helpful. And we do have some good knowledge there. Ultimately, here we need to digest all this in a way that allows us in an extremely busy and demanding schedule. How do we make this happen? And that’s where in my work with professionals and leaders, I started saying, you know what? We’re going to use the same approaches we’re using in strategy in business, because that makes sense to you. It’s also useful in a practical way and allows us to lend these observations, recommendations, more clarity on what stressors you may be facing. All of this allows us to bring it in a way that then we can use to make a difference for ourselves and people around us.

Bill Sherman So I hear multiple hats that you’re wearing right at the same time. I’m hearing an academic and a clinical hat. I’m also then hearing sort of the executive coach or business consultant hat, but sort of reassuring of, I can speak your language, right? Rather than forcing your audience to try to understand your language.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Right. And also the hat of having been in those senior management role. In fact, all of the levels of management roles in junior, like managing a call center, it’s like getting into a fire every single day. Middle management is truly middle management, where you’ve got people in your responsibility, but you’re managing up to and then the most senior levels as well. So, understand that. Yes.

Bill Sherman So talk a little bit about your journey in thought leadership and how did you get to this point yourself? When did you cross into the world of thought leadership, and what were the key points where you had going, oh, this is something I’m actually doing.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Yes. It often in the various points at which it has occurred for me, they tended to appear seriously. I was following my nose. I was following what seemed to be missing. I think it probably happened because. I had training. In my case. Sometimes it comes from just reading people have or other experiences they have. In my case, I did go to school quite a bit and so it was combining sometimes some of those ideas together. And that’s when I’d look at this and say, oh, here’s the next thing that could happen. Seriously, it probably felt to me like what sometimes artists describe when they emerge with something that comes from a number of ideas, expositions and different things prior it incubate and at some point comes out. That’s probably how it happened for me. It was not a deliberate intention to be that or do that or make that happen now. It just then was there.

Bill Sherman So you are at a point where as we’re recording now, the book just launched less than a month ago. Right. And so your book, The Resilience Plan, is out. It’s being in the world. We were talking about the reviews coming in. Talk to me about the journey itself, from knowing what you want to write on, to getting the book out into the world.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Hmhm interesting journey that required me to use some of the things that I talk about in the book, for sure.

Bill Sherman How so?

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Yeah, because, a number of. Ways in which we can proactively and strategically plan to increase our resilience, is having a realistic read on the sources of supply, where energy comes from and sources of demands, where things that demand your energy are, and that this being my first and probably only book I had didn’t have book writing specific experience. And so there was a lot of conversations with as many people as I could on figuring out how long could this take me? How does one protect enough time to do this? And then realizing, okay, it it’s significant and therefore some things need to be taken out of my schedule. It’s not like, you know, how do you fit this in? Well, I did not fit this in. I changed the whole thing so that there would be a space for it and all that. Just that the planning required for this to happen in a context where, like you and others, it’s not like, you know, your work is a one time action with, say, a particular client. Often it has multiple touchpoints. And so getting to a point where a space is created takes a bit of lead time really. And so yeah, so that that was one of the things, many discoveries, wonderful ones along the way, like the writing community, which did not even cross my mind, existed and would be as rich and supportive and one for me to support as well. Wonderful to discover this. But what I think helped the most was for me, particularly in this case, was being realistic about the demand that this would be as much as I could. Of course, you can’t plan for everything and then creating this space, and I’m glad I did. And I also created the supports around me. Also. Glad I had that.

Bill Sherman So I want to ask a question on behalf of our listeners here, many of whom are practicing thought leadership, either for themselves, independently or on behalf of an organization where they work inside a larger organization. My question is this if I practiced thought leadership, what should I know about resilience that will help me practice thought leadership better? So what can I take from your expertise to become better at practicing thought leadership?

Marie-Hélène Pelletier To be good at practicing thought leadership, you need to be very creative intellectually, bringing ideas together and giving them your voice or a different angle or something like this. There are elements of just what I’ll call for now intellectual creativity. And therefore for the brain to be available. To do this, you need to have taken care of creating that availability. I’m using this word right now in a Broadway, not just in a time and space way, but in having the energy to do this. And so given that resilience has many definitions, the one that I use mostly is our ability to go through adversity and come out even stronger. And given that all of us, regardless of, say, our particular role right now, we have demands in all areas of our lives personal, professional, some demands we’re really excited to have. There are still demands. Some areas we’d rather not have that are still demands. And so the more you build your resilience, it’s almost like you’re increasing your baseline in a number of ways and such that when these events come, you’ll be able to navigate them, grow, and come out even stronger. And with this, what this means is you’ll have more availability. Going back to this word for the creativity you need to have. If you don’t, your resilience is much lower then your resources are going to dealing with all the demands and all this. There is not much left to be creative over here.

Bill Sherman You spend more time firefighting on demands, rather than being performing at your best, or having time to think, or to sharpen an idea or communicate it well.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Firefighting and going on empty on those demands. So not only your firefighting, but okay, I still have some left over to be fabulously creative later this afternoon. No, you’re fighting these things. You deplete and so you sit down to try to do something you can’t even focus. And so.

Bill Sherman And that’s how you wind up binge watching on Netflix or doing whatever you do just to sort of recover some energy then.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier That’s right. Yeah. If you had a resilience plan and notice you needed to recover, maybe the plan needs to be adjusted such that in a moment of feeling drained like this, maybe instead we turn you to a meditation which may be a better recovery for your brain, better preparation for being creative than Netflix, which I know it’s always there for us, but it’s not always the best option.

Bill Sherman Right? Right. It’s sort of like potato chips in some ways. We know they’re not healthy, but they still have appealing characteristics. Yes, I.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Agree with that.

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Bill Sherman: So you seem to put your own IP to use as you were tackling the book project and you said, look, I know I don’t have the reserves to just add this to my plate. What comes off? Talk to me about the process of applying your own insights with you as the mentee, or you know the person that you’re coaching because you almost have to wear two hats simultaneously, right?

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Yes, yes. I’m used to doing this, because. Even say in other areas of my work. One of the things that will make. So I still have a small practice as a registered psychologist. Part of what makes a psychologist. But that’s also true on the leadership front. Completely different, but part of also what will make a leader even more influential and effective is that degree of authenticity. Are you walking your talk? Right. So I’ve always challenged myself to do this at times with success, at times realizing, well, look at that. Walking that talk is easier said than done over here. And that’s also how it has felt here. So it has felt very aligned to look at implementing the same things I would encourage someone else to do. It has felt in some ways. Fabulous because the intention behind implementing this process is to lead to positive outcomes. And it did so. Yay! Thankfully it worked. Bill.

Bill Sherman Right, right. Yeah. It’s amazing when you follow your own recommendations. Right.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier And yes. And they work. So thank you for that. But the yeah but more seriously so but there was this aspect that’s true. And also realizing that it does require some deliberate attention which is true from for you know, anything new we want in life really.

Bill Sherman So combination I want to underline here the importance of being able to turn inward and to look at yourself and what you were talking about, that ability to not only just have the theory and say, oh, this is good for others, but let me use myself as my own test case. Does this help me? Where do I struggle now? You can’t generalize from a population of one, but at the same time, it’s absolutely essential for you to do that deep thinking and digesting through. And then, like you said, whether you’re doing clinical practice as a psychologist or you’re doing executive coaching that allows you to increase the sample size and see where do people thrive, where did they struggle with these concepts, and what did you think was easy for you? Where then they scratch their heads and say, but I don’t get it, or I’m struggling here, right? That process of refinement of the idea begins within. I think first and foremost.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier It has to come. I agree. It definitely has to come from that part of it. In this case, for me, in the book, there were also focus groups where, you know, some of the we’re tried with many of the people and it’s all research based anyway. So there’s data points thankfully behind at the same time. Ultimately you can have all of these data points behind. To your point, if it’s not coming from here. Then the communication of it and the authenticity with which you bring it forward will just not have the same, the same level. That’s just a fact.

Bill Sherman Well, yeah, you could write a book which could be a summary of the literature, but not be reflective of your journey, your purpose, the work that you’ve done either in word or helping others. And that’s going to be a much more oral sterile, I would say book rather, it might be empirical, but it’s sterile.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Yes. And in my case, would not have connected this much with the leaders and the professionals here.

Bill Sherman And that goes back to your audience. Yeah, absolutely. If your audience of leaders is not sitting down and saying, what journal articles should I read from applied psychology, for example?

Marie-Hélène Pelletier No, they’re not there. I don’t have time for this overloaded. We need to get to the point.

Bill Sherman Yeah, exactly. Give me something. Maybe a one pager or a summary that I can take, apply and use now rather than stick me in the land of theory and complexity. I’m looking for tool. I’m looking for solution. And I think that hunger or appetite for help is often that first hurdle you have to cross with an audience that you can say, hey, here in 60 to 90s, here’s something that can help you. Yes, and it’s worthy of more attention from you.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Yes. Yeah. No. Absolutely agree. So, the book is, in that sense, very concise. And even the nine chapters that that are in there have summaries. They have reflection questions so they can be used for ourselves in our own reflection or with others, or even as a way to skim it if.

Bill Sherman Right, someone.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Wants to start with. Yeah.

Bill Sherman Well, and I think even the title, The Resilience Plan, signals that it’s an approachable sort of thing. It’s a tool that leaders are used to using. If you said the resilience model or resilience framework or something like that, you’d be speaking to a different audience, probably more theoretical and academic, rather than I need a plan to put this in action today.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Exactly. Yes. That’s all. Exactly. That was part of the reflection because I did consider many titles and ultimately what made me land on this one was not what MH feels like the title should be. It was what resonated. I’ve tested it. I’ve done all kinds of things to see what would connect. And so that’s how I got there. So, you’re completely right.

Bill Sherman Well, in the old days, we would have asked the question of what book title would cause you when you’re browsing in a bookstore to pull it off the shelf. Now it’s the question of, would you click on this if you’re browsing through Amazon to actually read the description. The title is the first interaction and touch point, and if you don’t get that click, you’ve missed the opportunity for even a 32nd conversation.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Yes. Agreed.

Bill Sherman Getting the details and testing that is huge. Absolutely huge. So, I want to ask you a question based on your journey in thought leadership. Okay. And you’ve been on this journey for a while, but you made a comment and you said, this is my book. It may be my only book. Yeah. Okay. First off, I want to unpack that. What do you is that it’s like this is the definitive piece, or I don’t have another book in me. What’s the thought there?

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Well, I it’s. I mean, we’ll see. Of course, the door is not closed. So, it can change. There’s flexibility there. Still, having seen the years of investment, to get here and the choices that therefore I had to make for it to happen. Now, these things that I’ve put in parenthesis for these years, I really want to bring them back in now, and I don’t think I will want to put them in parenthesis again anytime soon. So that’s in part what makes me look at this and say, and you know, I very much enjoyed one big challenges. Only ones, one PhD, one marathon, one child. And I’m thinking that’s may very well be one book. So, we’ll see how it goes. But that’s sort of the positioning where I’m thinking right now.

Bill Sherman And that makes a lot of sense in terms of allocation of resources and time and energy. It also from a if you think about the book is an asset, if you will, that you’ve created in the 6090 days of a book launch, which you’re in now because you’re only 30 days in on the book. This should be an asset for you for five, seven years at least, that you can recoup some of the time, energy, and effort that you put in. This should be on the harvesting side rather than the hey, let’s jump to create the next book and leave this one behind.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Yes, yes, that makes sense from that perspective as well.

Bill Sherman So let’s flash forward a year. If you were to define. And success on the book. What would it be either from doors open doors or other pieces? What are you thinking about? Success.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Yes. So, first for the book itself. I hope it just brings even more people to really think strategically, talk strategically, and act strategically about their resilience so they can have it for themselves and also even help others do the same thing. The book itself, I guess you’re asking also from my perspective, what I yeah.

Bill Sherman The book, the thought leadership, the whole body of work.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier The whole thing. So, from the book perspective. So some of that I think it will hopefully enhance, even more the, the trust that some groups that would have taken more time to, to trust bringing, you know, this kind of expertise into their, their teams or for themselves and even more enhance that perhaps increase also some that some of the work I do on the executive coaching and the speaking side of things and, you know, yes, opening doors also, which in my experience, when I think of that, it often means opening doors I did not even see. And that’s in part what’s exciting. I think it’s the same thing that happens at times in thought leadership where you don’t know yet what is the next door you’re going to open as you carry on, and it feels that way. In that sense, already feels like this. Even the fact that I’m having this conversation with you today, had the book not been there, would probably not have had that. And from my perspective, how amazing is this? So just looking forward to all of this.

Bill Sherman Fantastic. So, my last question is what advice would you give your younger self-regarding thought leadership? So knowing what you know now, what would you whisper back to yourself in the ask?

Marie-Hélène Pelletier I probably would say trust it even more. Keep going and have fun. Because there were times where it was interesting and all, but there was a lot of, really, and, and so I’m making faces here, but if I could add these pieces of advice, I would.

Bill Sherman I think a lot of work of getting the idea out there and repeating it again and again. You’ve got to remember to have those moments of fun and joy, because if you’re speaking to the same topic again and again, especially at an introductory level. You could easily just go through the motions. Having fun is also a way of reminding yourself. Be present. Yeah. Make it fresh. Because for your audience, this may be the time that they encounter that idea for the first time. And if you’re present, they are more likely to receive the message.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Exactly. It’s important to reconnect if that’s to stay connected or reconnect with the energy, the excitement that brought you originally to this topic. Sometimes we need to act to restore that. Sometimes it’s there on its own and it’s fantastic. But yeah, if you work on something for a long period of time, maybe you need to find that flame again. And if it does, it does translate in in conversations in the work you do. And so, it’s worth investing in and not. Yeah. Absolutely. Not. Just going through the motions because that is unlikely to be inspiring to anyone really.

Bill Sherman Exactly. Exactly. So Marie-Hélène, I want to thank you for joining us today for a fantastic conversation around thought leadership and resilience.

Marie-Hélène Pelletier Thank you Bill. It was great. Thank you so much.

Bill Sherman If you’re interested in organizational thought leadership, then I invite you to subscribe to the OrgTL newsletter. Each month we talk about the people who create, curate and deploy thought leadership on behalf of their organizations. Go to the website, and choose ‘Join our Newsletter’. I’ll leave a link to the website as well as my LinkedIn profile in the show notes. Thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing what you thought of the show.

Bill Sherman works with thought leaders to launch big ideas within well-known brands. He is the COO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Bill on Twitter

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