Like Johnny Lee in that old country favorite, I’ve been lookin’ for something in all the wrong places.
Not love, though! Here I am, writing a series of blog posts on resilience—and I’ve fallen into a kind of non-resilient trap. I’ve been looking for resilience in the wrong story type (emphasis on wrong for me; not for everyone).
There are no bad story types in the 12-archetype system I work with and write about—only poor ways of experiencing or expressing them. There are lots of bad story type fits, though, when we unconsciously take on a story type that we haven’t developed in ourselves and doesn’t resonate in some essential way inside us. We’re most likely to do this when that story type represents a societal norm or collective tendency, which can make it seem like that’s just the way to be in a given situation.
So my response to this now six-month long pandemic has been to try acting a lot like a Hero. That’s a highly admired, highly rewarded story type in most Western cultures—one that offers many gifts and contributions. I walked right into it, deciding it was time to get stuff done, do it now and not let things get in the way. I didn’t really think much about it consciously. I just. . . did it (like Nike says I should!).
So since March, I’ve converted all my existing trainings to online only; developed and marketed two new programs; written more chapters in my book; ramped up a coaching collective; completed two branding projects; remodeled multiple rooms in my house; re-organized pretty much everything I own and packed up a lot of it; volunteered for a voter education initiative—and committed to writing a blog post on resilience for 12 consecutive weeks.
But let’s face it. That’ a lot of activity, and none of it is particularly heroic. The real Heroes right now are essential workers, parents home-schooling their kids, ordinary folks turned social activists, people moving forward past lost jobs or businesses. I’m privileged in a way many others aren’t to choose the things I’ve done this year.
I could have brought a different energy to them, though, especially since I’m a Creator by nature, not a Hero. The “get more done, faster” approach isn’t a very high-level, fulfilling version of that story. And, it left me teetering pretty close to the most typical non-resilient state for a Hero type—exhaustion—without having the energy-shifting gifts of mastery, achievement and feeling like I was really making a difference to shore me up for a rebound. I didn’t necessarily need to do fewer things. I needed to focus on how the doing of them inspired me and how my imagination could help me re-invent my contribution in the world. That’s what resilience looks like for me.
Understanding the Creator’s Gift
I’m a Creator type (energized by inventiveness, imaginativeness and ideas) who unconsciously took on the determination, drive and action orientation of a Hero. Are those Hero qualities great things to have and worth awakening if you don’t? Definitely, and I have a variety of approaches to doing that. Should they be playing lead guitar in your existential band if you’re a Creator? Not if you want to feel as energized and inspired as you need to be.
This is the fifth post in my weekly series, and I’m shifting my approach to writing it. I’m not driving to post it by Wednesday morning. I’m not going to worry about making it 1,200 words long. I’m not going to spend a lot of time researching great well-known examples of Creator types and how they demonstrated resilience.
Instead, I’m just going to share my personal experience of being a Creator when I’m most on fire and most resilient. That happens when I’m leading with who I am—one of the three worklife “bliss” principles I’m integrating into a book, new training series and almost everything else I’m doing and being right now. I guess we really do need to teach what we most need to learn!
The bliss principles I’ve been developing, along with colleague Dana Theus, are inspired by Joseph Campbell’s invitation to “follow your bliss.” Campbell never meant you should be pursuing your pleasure (a common misinterpretation). His version of bliss was about being the person you were uniquely meant to be on a path that was purpose-built for you to follow.
When I imagine how the world would be if everyone did that—and the way people would re-invent themselves to make an essential contribution—I’m in Creator bliss. When I imagine how my work helps other people do and be that, I’m feeling charged up and alive. And that means I’ve insulated myself from the non-resilient state of lifelessness that’s most common for Creators.
So here’s the other great thing about developing worklife bliss and leading with who you are. Resilience builds in virtual lock-step with bliss. That works in reverse as well, though. The more you lead with something you’re not, the more likely you are to experience a double whammy of non-resilience (the one associated with the type you’re not and the one most common to your authentic self). This is not a two-for-one deal you want to buy!
What you want is to build resilience by tapping directly into the energy and authenticity that finding the real and most animated “you” produces. Then you need to activate it in ways that unleash the pure, unmitigated joy of knowing and being who you are; expressing it with boundless enthusiasm; and saying to the world “come and get it.” That’s how you become more resilient and more like your best, most resilient self (whether that’s a Creator a Hero or one of the 10 other story types that can shape your bliss). Speaking of those types, here’s where we on building out the resilience-by-type chart:
|Type||Non-resilient state||Resilience-building attribute or gift||Resilience-building focus||Related values|
|Ruler||Insecurity||Confidence||Progress||Responsibility, Role Modeling, Influence|
|Empathy||Solidarity||Community, Justice, Fairness|
|Caregiver||Overwhelm||Compassion||Human potential||Service, Kindness, Development|
|Innocent||Disillusionment||Optimism||Hope||Ideals, Faith, Values in Action|
|Hero||Exhaustion||Mastery||Achievement||Action, Drive, Making a Difference|
|Creator||Lifelessness||Imagination||Re-invention||Invention, Ideation, Expression|
Activating the Creator resilience quotient
Becoming a more resilient Creator involves an energetic shift from feelings of lifelessness and depletion into a different space filled with ideas, inventions and expressive approaches. Consider these questions as prompts for your next steps:
- What are you doing right now that doesn’t have much life for you—and how can you re-imagine it in a more meaningful way?
- What needs to be re-invented or re-designed that would make a difference for you?
- What do you most need to express in the world right now—and how can you do that?
- Who or what inspires you most—and what message is waiting for you in that inspiration?
- Who are you as a Creator? COMPLETE THIS STATEMENT: I am a (insert multiple descriptive adjectives) Creator who (insert an intention, an idea, a purpose or a promise you want to make).
By the way, I wrote 1,202 words in this post—not 1,200. Does that make me an over-achiever?