Learn how you can become a resilient leader who doesn’t just bounce back but like a rubber band bounces back even stronger from challenges and adversity from a leader who has led multi-national teams of men and women on 60 life-transforming expeditions to more than 20 countries including Antarctica.
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Julie Lewis works with organizations that want to create resilient next level performers who will succeed in a challenging and changing market place.
She is a seasoned adventurer and entrepreneur who challenges and changes the way people think, act and dream.
Her keynotes and programs use stories gleaned from real life adventures and 20 years in business to create memorable and actionable strategies that can be applied immediately to take people to the next level in their careers and lives.
She is a high-energy catalyst for personal and professional transformation tapping into her diverse experiences in business, sports and life.
She has led multi-national teams of men and women on 60 life-transforming expeditions to more than 20 countries to include the Arctic and Antarctica. On a personal level she has climbed several high-altitude mountains to include the highest peaks in the Middle East, Europe and Africa and is currently training to swim the English Channel.
Her extensive experience in challenging environments make her the ideal speaker for teams and organizations facing challenges or going through major changes.
Julie is an accredited Resilience Consultant through one of the leading business psychology groups in the UK (Nicholson McBride) Julie is also a certified Stress Management Facilitator, an Emotional Intelligence Practitioner and is currently in practice with the Institute of Zen Leadership.
Her C-Suite Best Seller book ‘ Moving Mountains ‘ is a personal development book packed with leadership lessons for 21st Century business and life.
Lead by example – be present – be authentic – stay laser focused – take action – make a difference!
Exclusive Resilience Quotient (RQ) link for Keep Leading!® podcast listeners!
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Welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast, the podcast dedicated to promoting leadership development and sharing leadership insights. Here’s your host, the Leadership Excelerator, Eddie Turner.
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast
, the podcast dedicated to leadership development and leadership insights. I’m your host, Eddie Turner, the Leadership Excelerator. I work with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact.
We are all faced with difficult circumstance and challenges in our lives and our exercise of leadership. Would you like to be a more resilient leader? If your answer is yes, then you’re going to want to listen to this episode. My guest today, Julie Lewis, will explain how we can become a more resilient leader who doesn’t just bounce back but like a rubber band bounces back even stronger from challenges and adversity. Julie Lewis works with organizations that want to create resilient next-level performers. She is a seasoned adventurer and entrepreneur who challenges and changes the way people think, act, and dream. She has led multinational teams of men and women on 60 life-transforming expeditions to more than 20 countries, including Antarctica. She has climbed several high-altitude mountains, including the highest peaks in the Middle-East, Europe, and Africa. Julie is an Accredited Resilience Consultant through one of the leading business psychology groups in the UK. Julie is also a certified stress management facilitator and emotional intelligence practitioner and in the practice with the Institute of Zen Leadership. Here with me today, all the way from Abu Dhabi, the amazing Julie Lewis.
Julie, welcome to the Keep Leading!® Podcast.
Thank you so much. I’m super excited to be sharing the information and connecting with you and supporting your Keep Leading!® Podcast. As you know, we met through the C-Suite couple of years ago and I’m just loving seeing you go from strength to strength and it’s an honor to be on the show and support it. So, thank you so much.
Yes, we met some years ago and I believe your book which we’re going to talk about in the second half of the show, Moving Mountains, was just released at that time and you would achieve the C-Suite Book Club Bestseller designation and all that fun stuff. So, yeah, it’s been a joy to be connected with you and watch your travels. You’re a living travel channel all in yourself.
It builds resilience. The more experiences we have, whether they’re good experiences or not so good experience, it really does build that resilience and gives you an open, more flexible mind to different terrains, different business values, different cultures, different beliefs. It’s very super powerful experiential resilience, definitely.
I can imagine. Now, there’s a lot of talk about resilience. Everyone is talking about that these days. What really is resilience, Julie?
I have a lovely quote for this. It’s Lao Tzu’s quote and it’s “Stand like mountain. Flow like water.” So, basically, I think it’s the ability to stand strong like a mountain but also to be like water and go with the flow and weave around obstacles. There are several definitions – the ability to bounce forward, to bounce back higher and stronger, to deal calmly and optimistically the challenges, to be agile, to adapt swiftly to changes. And, really, in a rapidly changing complex and dynamic world which we’re living in, I mean, if there’s one word to describe it, it’s fast, it’s digital, it’s diverse, dynamic, disruptive and dispersed and with, obviously, technology, there’s a very, very strong need to be able to adapt swiftly to change. So, the more resilient an individual is, the more resilient the team and the organization is. So, it’s absolutely critical and essential to success in the 21st century business scenario really whether it’s in your business or your life. And I’m a great believer that, obviously, what’s going on in business impacts your life and what’s going on in your life can also impact your business. So, they’re very, very much intertwined. It’s super important. I mean, in a lot of the business groups now, it is often referred to as a soft skill and nice to have. Now, really, if you have a business, [inaudible][06:30], this is essential. It’s not nice to have. It’s absolutely critical, basically.
Yes. Thank you so much for that answer, Julie. And you’re right, it is no longer nice to have but it is an essential quality, essential skill that we have in today’s world as leaders but now here’s the question. How do we develop it?
Great question. And, basically, resilience is built through experiences. And the more experiences we have, the more resilient we become. And the more resilient we become, the more able and capable we are to manage change and manage stress and anxiety. I use the mountain as a metaphor quite often. And the base of that mountain is optimism. If you wake up in the morning and you say “It’s a great day and I’ve got an opportunity to make a difference” versus “Oh my gosh, it’s another day.” So, the base is really optimism. And then, obviously, the higher you climb up a mountain, there’s less oxygen, it’s harder. The higher you go up in the career or in the business where you have more responsibilities and you have to have that helicopter view, a higher perspective, then that’s really important to be able to manage that stress. So, really, the business case is having resilient leaders, resilient leadership and having teams and organizations that adapt swiftly to change, stay calm and optimistic, and ride with the change. A major shift, when you look at trends and technology and the way the business scenario is going with mergers and acquisitions and now the global market, we really do have to have this open mind, a flexible mind focused on solutions and be able to take action, remain optimistic in a pragmatic realism and manage that stress and that change.
Now, you talk about climbing mountains, and I mentioned this in the intro, but you use a very nice illustration there that I would not have thought about before because unlike you, I have not climbed a mountain. I’ve only looked at them.
I’m going to get you on a mountain one of these days.
I can only imagine what you said but it is so apropos.
Yes. I mean, I run programs called Corporate Oxygen. It’s breathing new life into your business. Basically, whether it’s an entrepreneurial journey or a director on the board, the more complicated the business comes or the more responsibilities that you take on a role, then it’s the higher you’re climbing up the corporate ladder or the organizational ladder. So, this is really important to be able to adapt to that change and to be able to breathe and be comfortable being uncomfortable. So, the metaphor of the mountain that you’re either on base camp on a plateau or a high or a low, how do we respond to those changing circumstances, to unpredictable circumstances sometimes in business? Is there a storm, do you have to sit and wait out something, do you need extra resources, etc.? So, there’s a very strong parallel to climbing a corporate ladder or leading a team at high level to actually reaching the summit of a mountain – the higher you climb, you need to lighten your load, let go of things, delegate things that you don’t need to carry so that you can have that higher perspective and you can breathe more easily and play also a supportive role as well to that leadership role.
That’s powerful. I really like that. And I could never use this illustration because I have not climbed a mountain. And I know you said you got to get me out here but I’m not sure about that, Julie.
Maybe a little hill.
That’s what makes you so unique and also so fascinating. I mean, you’ve not done this just once. Just go ahead and tell us. I was going to ask you later but go ahead and just tell us now exactly how many mountains have you climbed?
Oh, gosh! I think around 19, which doesn’t sound very much because there’s a mountain in every single country. So, there’s more than 190 odd, lots of lots of mountains. The first mountain I climbed was for my 40th birthday, which is now 17 years ago. So, work that one out. And that’s really when I had my epiphany because prior to that I had been very much in traditional sports. And it was just really this Love of the outdoors to take that to a new level basically and seeing a whole new world from the summit and then thinking “Oh gosh, if I can do this and this is how I feel, so elated, alive, at one with nature, complete new perspective, that would be a really powerful offering to clients to be able to experience that.” Now, that mountain could be writing a book, running a marathon, starting a business, moving to a new country. So, really the mountain as a metaphor can be anything that really challenges you, takes you out of your comfort zone and builds your strength and your resilience and gives you a different perspective. So, that could be just hanging out with different geeky people that are completely different from your own industry sector. So, I talk a lot about this in a mountain and what is your mountain, what are the mountains that you need to climb, what are some of the challenges in your business or in your sports or in your life that you really do need to take those first steps and keep taking steps, daily action to reach that personal or professional summit.
And what made you want to start even, especially at the age of 40, climbing mountains?
Gosh! I think age is a number and, basically. I call them zero-limit birthdays, anything with a zero at the end, whether it’s 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, because I still intend to be climbing, swimming, pushing boundaries well up into my 80s and 90s. And it was just really this milestone moment “What can I do? Yeah, of course I can have a party but let me go and do something that stretches me and I can use as a growth opportunity, a growth experience.” And living at sea level in Abu Dhabi just to climb a thousand meters is different. So, to be up at 4,500 meters on my 40th birthday in that rare air was really an epiphany, an aha moment, basically. And then the following year I took a team of 18 women to Everest base camp in Nepal. And really that was the tipping point. And I came back and I thought “This is what I need to do. This is a great opportunity to share these experiences and how you can learn and grow from them by connecting with different cultures cross-generational, people that are in their 20s, people that are in their 40s and 50s, and cross-cultural.” And this is how you build resilience. And when you look at business now, you’ve got millennials and you’ve got baby boomers. How do you bridge the very, very strong experience with a tech savvy millennial? So, it’s really about building bridges of connection and realizing that as in nature, we’re an ecosystem of support for each other. So, whether you’re a mountain, a forest, a river, a desert or a tree, we all need each other. You talk about social resilience, financial resilience, mental emotional resilience. So, the word ‘resilience’ covers quite a broad scope but it’s the ability to ride with the changes and adapt swiftly and stay calm and optimistic. It’s a must.
So, you climbed not just one mountain but went on the climb 19 mountains. And how many expeditions have you led? Because you don’t just climb them yourself. You’ve brought others with you. How many expeditions have you led?
Yeah, I’m very, very big on team. So, literally, since I started Mountain High back in 2003, we’ve run just over 60 expeditions now to 20 different countries, nine expeditions to the Arctic, the top of the world, and then two the bottom of the world, Antarctica. So, this is really taking people out of their normal environment, out of the concrete, fluorescent lighting air-conditioned offices into vast open spaces. So, it’s a leveler, basically. So, whether you’re the CEO of a company, a senior, a junior, or the office boy, it’s a real leveler because all of a sudden, you’re in a different element. And it really brings out different skills and strengths and test the human spirit to a different level. And it just gives you that time to think about what’s important, what’s not important, how you can relay some of those skills, some of those learnings from people that you meet along the way back into your business.
Very nice. And so, you went from the age of 40 to your current age, you said over the next 17 years, completing 19 different mountain climbs. You’ve led over 60 expeditions in more than 20 countries. And when we talk about being global, you really mean the globe. You’ve covered the top of the globe as well as the bottom of the globe, going down to Antarctica. So, that is really fascinating and I must say, especially for someone who lives in a desert in Abu Dhabi, touring to those cold places, I mean, that talks about stretching your comfort zone.
I think we thrive on challenges. Are we looking for contrast? Yes, of course. You can say I like living on the beach, I like living in the desert and that’s great for so long your body and your soul are seeking something else, so whether that’s the forest or the mountains or the snow and ice. And when things become same-same and you don’t feel you’re being stretched, then that’s the time to make a move. And that could be a mental emotional move or it could be a physical geographical move that really gives you a new level of experience and builds on your resilience, basically.
Very nice, very nice. So, we’re talking to Julie Lewis. And, as you can hear, she’s quite the adventurer. And she’s talking to us about how her adventures have built in her a spirit of resilience and we are focusing on how can we do that as leaders, how can you and I develop resiliency.
So, we’ll continue this conversation right after this word from our sponsors.
This podcast is sponsored by Eddie Turner LLC. Organizations who need to accelerate the development of their leaders call Eddie Turner, the Leadership Excelerator. Eddie works with leaders to accelerate performance and drive impact. Call Eddie Turner to help your leaders one on one as their coach or to inspire them as a group through the power of facilitation or a keynote address. Visit EddieTurnerLLC.com to learn more.
This is Dost Can Deniz. I’m the Principal Founder and Chief Consultant for MareFidelis Coaching and Consulting Firm, the first and premier boutique consulting company in southeast Europe and the Middle East and you’re listening to the Keep Leading!® Podcast with Eddie Turner.
Okay, everyone, we’re back. We’re talking to the amazing Julie Lewis. And I say amazing because she has done some things that are not even on my bucket list and I’m just not sure climbing a mountain is within my reach but she’s climbed several mountains literally across continents, led expeditions, and then uses that experience of mountain climbing to help audiences around the globe understand the analogy between climbing a mountain and climbing in a career in a corporation.
So, let’s pick back up our discussion right around that point, Julie, because you talked about that analogy and you were answering the question about how we develop resiliency. Now I’d like to understand what are the essential elements and dimensions of resiliency and resilient leadership.
Great question. Several years ago, somebody said “Julie, you’re so resilient.” I thought “What does that actually mean?” So, I studied resilience and became an accredited resilience consultant with a group of business psychologists in the UK, who’ve done lots of science-based research and kind of really come up with five elements which are absolutely essential. And the first one is optimism. This is essential because it impacts all of the other elements. So, Solution Orientation, Individual Accountability which is a big one, Openness and Flexibility, and then Managing Stress and Anxiety. And it’s interesting out of over 40,000 reports from CEOs, top athletes, surgeons, people in the financial world where they’re continually kind of under pressure and stress to manage, basically, Individual Accountability and Managing Stress tend to score the lowest. This came up with something called an RQ or resilience quotient. So, this is something that’s measurable. So, I offer online testing and reports. And then we map it on to the dimensions of resilient leadership. And then we’re looking at Vision, Effectiveness, Empowerment, Responsiveness and Supportiveness. So It’s very, very tangible to actually have your personalized report and say “How am I doing with these elements?” and then mapping it onto the dimensions of resilience and how the high and the low scores could impact the way that you manage yourself, that you lead yourself, that you lead others and, obviously, then the organization.
Very intriguing. So, when it comes to physicians, when it comes to attorneys, I’m seeing more stress and, as you said, burnout in that audience specifically and, obviously, they have high-stress roles and wanting to leave the profession after all the years of study and research they’ve done to attain the level they have in their careers, feeling like “I just can’t do this anymore.” So, resiliency and doing an RQ test, give me a little bit more information on that, please, for my listeners who might be interested.
Basically, an RQ test is a very short test. It takes around four minutes and then basically over the last 12 years they gather data. So, it looks at these five and measuring it. It comes out as a percentage, whether it’s Established, Developing, Strong or Excellent. And really this just gives you a level of self-awareness that you may have not had before so that you can actually work on some of these elements. And then the RLQ, Resilient Leadership Quotient, is the next level. So, Optimism links to Vision – What’s the long-term vision. Solution Orientation is an element linked into Effectiveness, taking Action, the ability to be solution focused and action orientated. Individual Accountability then leads to Empowerment – Do you empower others, do you take their hand and then let them go and say “You need to be accountable.” Openness and Flexibility – If you’re dealing with different technology, different cultures, different systems, then you need to be responsive to those instead of saying “No, no, no, we’ve always done it this way. We need to continue doing it this way.” Then Managing Stress, as we mentioned, is a really big one and you’re hearing more and more about C-Suite burnout, decision fatigue, adrenal fatigue and people really having to take a break, mental health days, to recharge because when people talk about resilience and keep on keeping on, then the other part of resilience is actually knowing that you need quality recovery time. You can’t keep sprinting. We have times where we’ve got deadlines, we want to finish a project, we have high intense times. And then we just need to balance that out so that our life doesn’t become one dimensional and it’s all about work and we forget our family, our health, our friends, our social side of things. So, it’s really about creating harmony within the life to know that sometimes resilience means taking a break and recharging those batteries, taking a walk and actually reflecting on and being more conscious, basically. I think that’s the thing to actually say “I need a break. I’m not quitting. I need a break. I need to make sure I’m eating, thinking, moving and sleeping well.” Sleep, for example, is essential. And if people aren’t getting quality sleep, then they’re going to make not so great decisions, foggy brain, running on autopilot, multitasking, instead of laser beam focus. Decision Fatigue. Mindfulness now is big. Offsite retreats. It’s really to not get to the point where somebody literally burns out, collapses, hard issues, lifestyle diseases because they’re really not got that balance right between work, rest, play, thinking, eating, moving, sleeping, and high performance but then quality recovery.
Good. Thank you very much, Julie. And so, here you talk about the importance of the RQ test, the RLQ test, and the ability to recover is based on how well we’re sleeping, resting, and mindfulness. Is this part of the strategy for how we bounce back and not only bounce back but bounce back stronger?
I would say bounce forward, really. I mean, don’t look back. You’re not going that way. I mean, that’s a lovely quote, isn’t it? It’s actually bouncing forward with a new level of understanding of what works, what’s not working. I mean, I’ve learned from lots of experiences from being blown off mountains from, last year being pulled out of the English Channel after four hours the swimming in the dark and you think “What did I learn from this? How could I make this different? What are the lessons to share?” So, I think by having experiences of business, sports, and life enables you to be more resilient and also help others become more resilient as well because you can share the lessons and the learnings and the growth from that, which is super, super important.
Wonderful. So, thank you for correcting me. It’s not about bouncing back, ladies and gentlemen. It’s about bouncing forward. I like that. Very good.
So, we’ve made several references now to your book Moving Mountains: Discover the Mountain in You. And for most people, if they call a book something about mountains, they will put a stock image photo of mountains on the book. Not you. You have a photo of you in front of one of those mountains you climbed, on the book, and I just love the cover. So, tell us a little bit about the book.
The book really is a combination of stories, my own stories but around 29 clients that have moved their mountains, whether that’s been a physical relationship or career or financial mountain. So, it’s really stories and insights, lessons that they’ve learned along the way and it’s really about building courage and confidence, what brings you joy and gives you energy. Chapter Seven is all about resilience. It’s about bouncing forward higher and stronger, about having clarity, looking at your values, your waypoints, using the GPS as your inner compass and really what’s the first step, how are you going to get there, how are you going to make any difference. So, it’s packed with kind of practical insights, bright ideas, stories, inspirational quotes. So, it’s not your kind of how to climb a mountain in the literal sense, get your hiking boots, get your gear, etc. It’s really stories of real people that have experienced a mountain and that could be, as I mentioned, a mental, emotional, physical, financial, relationship, career mountain, and how they overcome that, moved through it, climbed it, gone straight through it and how has that changed them and how has it transformed them that would be a great inspiration to another person that’s either starting to think about starting their own business, running a coaching practice, writing their book, running a marathon, moving to a different country, all of these things that are experiences that are pretty universal. We’ve all lost somebody that we’ve loved, we’ve all had failures, made quirky decisions in business, had to change our strategy very quickly. So, these are all experiences that add to that resilience account. So, I would be very happy to create a link for your listeners to actually experience that RLQ, happy to do that. We could do the KeepLeading/RLQ report. And if that would be useful, I’m more than happy to do that for your listeners.
We would be delightful. Yes, I’m going to take you up on that. Please create that and then you send that to me, we’ll put that in the show notes and anyone listening can discover their RQ. I’m actually going to take it myself. So, please send. I thank you for that offer.
So yeah, you cover a lot in your book and I got to tell folks, it is really well written. You give action steps. You have these wonderful stories that you alluded to, including your own. You show some deeply personal things. You talk about love. You talk about the loss of your first spouse, job changes, changing homes and changing countries multiple times throughout your life. And so, you have a lot to offer people. I just love your perspective, truly a global perspective. And I’d love for you to share some advice for our leaders who are listening, who are interested in knowing how they can make changes, explore possibilities, and have new beginnings.
I think the key leadership advice is start with yourself. Look in the mirror – what’s important to you. So, lead by example. I’m very, very big on that. And be present and be with yourself because if you can’t be with yourself, how can you expect others to be with you. I talk about authenticity, actually living your values, being aligned with your values and also Awethentic, what is awe-inspiring for you, what are you really excited about, to have that laser beam focus because it’s very easy to get distracted. There’s information overload. So, laser beam focus to take action. And then my final one really is to be MAD – Making A Difference. And I do talk about that in the book. I talk about MAD Love, MAD – Making A Difference. LOVE – Lots of Valuable Experiences. So, how, as an entrepreneur, as a corporate, as an organization, can we actually make a difference? Corporate social responsibility. Do we want to make the earth cooler, greener, cleaner? Do we want to empower micro-finance businesses? Do we want to plant more trees? Do we want to educate children? What’s the noble goal? What’s the why we do what we do so that we create a legacy and impact and influence on the next generation of leaders as well.
Very nice. So, I think what I’m hearing in our discussion today, Julie, is that resilience and resilient leadership is important in life and in business.
Oh, my goodness, definitely. And certainly, in sports. If you’re running a marathon or swimming across the English Channel or writing a book, whether you’re fighting for your life in a hospital, whether you’re moving to a new country, starting a business, or going through a merger or an acquisition, it is vital.
Thank you. In the Keep Leading!® Podcast we like to always help leaders keep leading. What quote or advice would you have for our leaders listening?
As I mentioned at the beginning of our session today, one of the quotes that I really love and it’s by Lao Tzu, it is “Stand like mountain. Flow like water.” So, looking at the nature of your business, what comes natural to you, when do you need to be a mountain and when do you need to flow. My next book will really all be around flow and lessons from water because when you think about water, it always finds a way, it weaves its way around obstacles, it knows it’s leading to greater things, it adapts to the environment. So, the concept of water and being like water, which is very Yin, the Yin and Yang, the hot and cold, up and down, I think, when we can actually say “Yes, there are times when I do sound strong and there are times when I’m more like water” is a very powerful nature-based metaphor for living a full and fulfilling life and business.
And the title of the next book is?
I’m kind of deciding whether it’s going to be called Flow: Life Lessons from Water or H2O: Leadership Life Lessons from Water. So, I’m playing with a few ideas and it will flow.
All right. Well, I like both of those titles and I can’t wait when you land on it.
Julie’s, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much. And I really appreciate having you on the Keep Leading!® Podcast.
Thank you so much. It’s really lovely to give you, as you mentioned, a different perspective from the great outdoors and through experiences that we’ve had that we can apply to business. So, it’s always interesting to get that different perspective.
And thank you for listening. That concludes this episode, everyone. I’m Eddie Turner, the Leadership Excelerator, reminding you that leadership is not about our title or our position. Leadership is an activity. Leadership is action. It’s not the case of once a leader, always a leader. It’s not a garment we put on and take off. We must be a leader at our core and allow it to emanate in all we do. So, whatever you’re doing, always keep leading.
Thank you for listening to your host Eddie Turner on the Keep Leading!® Podcast. Please remember to subscribe to the Keep Leading!® Podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen. For more information about Eddie Turner’s work please visit EddieTurnerLLC.com.
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The Keep Leading!® podcast is for people passionate about leadership. It is dedicated to leadership development and insights. Join your host Eddie Turner, The Leadership Excelerator® as he speaks with accomplished leaders and people of influence across the globe as they share their journey to leadership excellence. Listen as they share leadership strategies, techniques and insights. For more information visit eddieturnerllc.com or follow Eddie Turner on Twitter and Instagram at @eddieturnerjr. Like Eddie Turner LLC on Facebook. Connect with Eddie Turner on LinkedIn.