Dr. Deborah Gilboa, How to Strengthen Your Resilience When Things Get Tough – InnovaBuzz 402

Deborah Gilboa

Dr. Deborah Gilboa, Resilience Expert

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, resilience expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa, aka “Dr. G”, who works with families, organizations, and businesses to identify the mindset and strategies to turn stress to an advantage.

Renowned for her contagious humor, Dr. G works with groups across multiple generations, to rewire their attitudes and beliefs, and create resilience through personal accountability and a completely different approach to adversity. She is a leading media personality seen regularly on TODAY, Good Morning America and The Doctors. She is also featured frequently in the Washington Post, The New York Times, Authority Magazine, and countless other digital and print outlets. She is a board-certified attending family physician and is fluent in American Sign Language. She lives in Pittsburgh with her four boys.

In our discussion, Deborah talked to me about:

  • The 8 skills and 8 attributes to develop and enhance to improve resilience
  • How to reframe “stress” in a way that it can serve us, just like exercise
  • Why empathy is critical for resilience

Jason Van Orden in episode 275 and Michael Roderick in episode 328 introduced us to Deborah.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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Resilience is the ability to navigate change and come through it as much or more than the kind of person we want to be. @AskDocG on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Show Notes from this episode with Resilience Expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • How we teach children helps them to grow and not only to learn more but to be able to learn more.
  • It is almost always possible to be different if you want to.
  • All changes are stressful. Every experience and every change that we go through is stressful. 
  • Resilience is the ability to navigate change and come through it as much or more than the kind of person we want to be.
  • We learn from every experience that we go through. We either learn to solidify more behaviours that are damaging to us or we learn to try new behaviours and strategies that are helpful to us. 
  • Look back and define what your new normal would be. Ask your team and clients what have you done that don’t want to let go of.
  • Disruption is difficult. It is upsetting and implies a lot of pain, but there’s plenty of opportunities that come with it. 
  • All changes cause 3 predictable reactions in our brains – loss, distrust, and discomfort.
  • Our brain has one overarching mission and that is to keep us alive. It is suspicious of all change. It is meant to protect us.
  • Losses are real. Distrust is understandable. Discomfort is accurate. But, as soon as you remember that you have choices amidst the change, you can begin to act in a resilient way. 
  • Entrepreneurs are change agents. We talk about change to our team and our clients. If you don’t understand how change impacts people, what they need to be resilient, and how you can help them to be more resilient, then you will often feel shocked and betrayed by people’s reaction to your announcement about the change.
  • Change is hard. When you understand the natural reaction to all change and how you can develop the skills in yourself, in your team, and in your clients so that they can navigate it more easily, then, change gets easier and less stressful. You can use the stress to become the kind of person or organisation that you want to be.
  • The 8 Critical Skills to Develop and Enhance Resilience
    1. Build connections. 
    2. Be open to change. Be open to the idea that the path you are on or the plan that you had is not the only option.
    3. Set boundaries. Decide what you will and will not do in light of a particular change.
    4. Set goals.
    5. Find options. Recognise that every problem has more than one solution.
    6. Take action. Choose one choice from your viable list. Try it and see how it goes. 
    7. Persevere.
    8. Manage your own discomfort without putting yourself in danger.
  • You are more likely to take action when you know how to manage discomfort.
  • It’s good to talk about your ideas. It’s also good to have mentors who can give you a sense of that, but often, you just have to try it and see if it works.
  • Stress is a leadership technique. Too much stress without the right support is damaging. If you want yourself or your team to be able to handle more of it and be less negatively impacted by it, it is actually facing stress that will get you there. 
  • Stress is to resilience and mental health, as exercise is to body fitness and physical health. Stress and exercise are both terribly uncomfortable and can be harmful if you overdo them, but they are also both the only way to get stronger.
  • Just like exercise, stress can be fun. It doesn’t have to be miserable. You can be intentional with these things. There’s a bunch of ways that you can manage your discomfort by doing things that you genuinely enjoy. 
  • Rewarding yourself is all about managing discomfort. You can manage your discomfort by focusing on a later goal. 
  • Every change that you suggest to your clients will cause them to feel loss, distrust, and discomfort. Recognising that it’s not about you or their trust in you will help form your approach.
  • “WHEN” builds resilience because it assumes the difficulty and asks people to think past it. “IF” implies that you didn’t do a good enough job.
  • When you sit with your clients and help them navigate change, you make them more resilient. You are moving them from a place of loss, distrust, and discomfort to a place of choice, engagement, and reunification. 
  • Reunification is where you feel much or more than the person you wanted to be as you move through change.
  • Empathise with your clients. Recognise that they may still feel loss. Let them know that you’re interested in how they are feeling and that you want to support them through their loss, distrust, and discomfort.
  • People have a harder time being resilient when they are pressured for a decision and to take action. Give your clients time to process the change. Let them sit on it for a day or two instead of pressuring them. Ask them if you can make suggestions about the choices they have, given this change.
  • Autonomy makes a big difference in people’s ability to be resilient.
Stress is to resilience and mental health, as exercise is to body fitness and physical health. @AskDocG  on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Dr. G’s answers to the questions of our innovation round. Listen to the conversation to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Be more curious especially when you are frustrated. Frustrations are unmet expectations. If you can tie curiosity to frustration, that will change your outlook.
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Lateral thinking, connecting the dots between seemingly disparate things.
  3. Favourite tool for innovation – To-Do List app
  4. Keep project/client on track – Let them know beforehand that you are going to do that and ask them when you can hold them accountable. That level of not only reminding but communicating an expectation beforehand is a really supportive, resilience building way to approach your clients.
  5. Differentiate –  Knowledge translation. There is always some field or area that you understand better than most people do. If you can highlight the knowledge that you can translate and make it attainable, understandable, and useful to your audience, that will really set you apart.

To Be a Leader

When you experience stress, it doesn’t mean you failed. However you’ve handled that stress or others in the past, is an opportunity. You can choose to take resilient action. It doesn’t mean you have to stop feeling the way you feel about it. Shoving your feelings down is not being resilient. You don’t have to like it, but you can think about how you can use it.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Dr. G through her website.

Suggested Guest

Deborah suggested we have a conversation with writer and storyteller Deesha Philyaw. So Deesha, keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Dr. Deborah Gilboa.


Cool Things About Deborah

  • She is fluent in American Sign Language.
  • She’s the author of “Teach Resilience” and three other titles. 
  • She developed the “3 R’s of Parenting” to empower parents to raise respectful, responsible, and resilient kids.
Every change that you suggest to your clients will cause them to feel loss, distrust, and discomfort. Recognising that it's not about you or their trust in you will help form your approach. @AskDocG on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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