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Finding Resilience, Purpose and Hope, Today and Tomorrow

Finding Resilience, Purpose and Hope, Today and Tomorrow

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 66
  • Learn how an experienced Strengths Coach has discovered resilience, purpose and hope -- personally and professionally -- during his own unique 2020 challenges.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Chris Miller, CliftonStrengths Leadership and Business Coach, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. Chris has had, in addition to the disruptions of COVID-19, some unique personal challenges to confront in 2020. In the midst of these, he has found resilience, purpose and hope. His insights included:

  • How to foster hope in your organization, as well as your personal and professional life
  • The importance of discovering your life's purpose and how you can do that
  • How your CliftonStrengths can inform your life's vision and purpose at a deeper level

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

When I define resilience for myself personally, it's about finding hope during an extreme moment of your life. ... Hope comes from lots of different places, but it starts inside yourself.

Chris Miller, 35:12

Why am I here and what do I care about most in life? If I can answer those questions now, they will serve me well for the next 20 years. And now ... the world has thrown up a pandemic to help you think about it.

Chris Miller, 27:52

Fulfillment is about living your purpose every day. And ... human beings are the only living thing on the planet that have been given the privilege of writing their own purpose every single morning, should they choose to.

Chris Miller, 22:33

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios literally around the world tonight, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on August 25, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:21

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room, and a few of you have already. Stuart, good to see in there. There's a link right above me there. You can click on it; it will take you to the YouTube page. There's a chatroom there. Just sign in with a Google account. Jump in the chat room, ask your questions live, we'd love to have you there. If it's -- you're listening after the fact, the recorded version or the podcast version, and you have questions, you can always send us an email: Anne watches that account all the time. So make sure you send your emails into there as well. Don't forget, if you're on YouTube, subscribe down there as well to get a notification whenever we produce anything new. And if you haven't picked us up as a podcast, which is really the best way to listen, on any podcast app you can just look for or search for "Gallup Webcasts" and find us there. Anne Lingafelter is our host today. Anne works as a Learning Solutions Consultant out of our Sydney office and Anne, I thought I was supposed to be there right now. You know, you guys were doing that event.

Anne Lingafelter 1:24


Jim Collison 1:24

It's just crushing my soul that I can't be with you guys right now. I got to London and I was coming out to see you guys. But maybe when it's all over, we'll get to see you. Welcome back to Called to Coach!

Anne Lingafelter 1:33

Thanks, Jim. It's great to be here. I am feeling your pain. I literally had to cancel that diary entry out of my diary, just in the last couple of weeks. And, and anyway, there will be a time when we'll finally get you out here in person. And we're all looking forward to it.

Jim Collison 1:48

I know. We're so close. So close. Well, I'm excited, I'm excited for this one. Take some time to introduce our guest.

Anne Lingafelter 1:53

Yeah, absolutely. And then Chris, I'm sure you're gonna want to get Jim over there to New Zealand if he comes to Australia, right. So --

Chris Miller 2:00

Well, if you have to fly that far, you might as well come to the land of the ...

Jim Collison 2:03

I could probably swim it. I could probably swim it.

Anne Lingafelter 2:07

Absolutely. Well, Chris Miller is our guest today. He is based in Wellington, New Zealand. He is an experienced CliftonStrengths Leadership and Business Coach, with client relationships across Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. He's undertaking an estimated 700 coaching hours per year over the last 3 years. So this is something that he is obviously a great resource for our Called to Coach show today to talk about. Chris also used to work for Gallup. He was one of us for 7 years. He worked it out of the Wellington, New Zealand, office from 2010 to 2017. And then he left Gallup to start his own business as an independent consultant and coach. And he's continuing to do that. I actually interviewed him in April of last year to talk about what it was like to make that switch because we thought there were going to be a lot of folks out there who are going to be interested to know how do you make that switch from an organization to embarking on your own business. So he shared a lot, a lot of great information with us then, in that show.

Anne Lingafelter 3:18

Before he was working for Gallup, Chris had a 12-year career as a product manager and marketing manager in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries in the U.K. Then he moved his family to New Zealand in 2007, had a few other roles as a, as a coach working for different organizations and then came on board with Gallup. And something that we were very fortunate to have him around. So today, when, when we -- what we really want to talk about, as I mentioned before, when Chris was on last year, we talked a lot about the shifts from working for Gallup to working in his own business. And he will talk about, you know, what he's been up to over the last year.

Anne Lingafelter 4:00

But when Chris and I were prepping for this call and talking yesterday, he said, "This year has been, for me, all about resilience." And today, Chris is going to talk about that on both a personal and a professional level. Certainly all of us in the middle of this pandemic are needing to talk about resilience, whether it's our own resilience, family resilience, team resilience or business resilience. So we're going to dig deep into that today, all through the lens of Chris's Top 5, which are Maximizer, Learner, Connectedness, Input and Woo. Chris Miller, welcome back to Called to Coach!

Chris Miller 4:39

Thank you very much. Yeah, a pleasure to be here.

Anne Lingafelter 4:42

There's a lot of, you have a lot of fans. Because I know that even though you're, you know, you're, you're no longer with Gallup, you still do coaching for several of our clients on a, on a consulting level. So we have -- I know I have a lot of clients who really enjoy chatting with you still. And and certainly there's a lot of independent coaches out here in Australia and New Zealand, who, who know and love you. So thanks in advance for sharing everything that you're going to share. When we were talking yesterday, and you said, "This year has been all about resilience for me," talk to us a bit about, about, about why.

Chris Miller 5:17

Yeah, I think the, the world obviously finds itself in a, in an extremely unusual position, with, with what the pandemic has created. And I feel very fortunate to be in New Zealand, where the management of COVID-19 has been exceptional. We locked down our borders very quickly. We were in lockdown, but that lockdown period was limited to a very distinct set of weeks. And what was interesting was that the relative robustness of the New Zealand economy and the New Zealand small-business sector where I spend a lot of my time felt better than expected. It felt like we were coping, very much coping.

Chris Miller 6:03

But I guess what, what then happened for us as a family was we had an unusual event. March and April were locked down for New Zealand, and then May, I was kind of recalibrating my business and, and reengaging with clients. And most of my clients were on Zoom or phone and I had moved away from lots of my face-to-face work. And so I was starting to reengage in a really constructive way. And I was feeling comfortable with how I was rebuilding both my, my own fulfillment as well as the -- my revenue.

Chris Miller 6:37

And then what ended up happening on the day that New Zealand went from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 1, which is our most relaxed status since the beginning of the year, my wife collapsed at home. And she very quickly -- we took her to emergency, and, you know, in a very quick sequence of events, she was diagnosed very quickly and operated on very quickly. And in the middle of June, a tumor was removed from her brain. That was a big shock for us as a family and, and a big, an immediate disruption to kind of our stability, because she and I both work, and my ability to both look after her and look after us as a family was challenged as a result of that diagnosis.

Chris Miller 7:31

So it's -- from a personal resilience point of view, the year took on new meaning in a way that I wasn't expecting, like I was, I was managing the, the pandemic, and then a personal health scare hit our family very quickly. And that has led to further treatment, and, and my wife's been brilliant through it all and is very strong. And, and things are -- we're very optimistic about how things will turn out. But the, but the, the scale of the resilience for me, personally was, was different than I expected, let's say.

Anne Lingafelter 8:09

Yeah, I can only imagine. And, and it's, it's, interesting, because for those of us who are in the midst of this pandemic, and that's the primary focus, when, you know, speaking to you and hearing your story, immediately, you know, our, our situation of just, just the pandemic feels -- it pales in comparison. And I'm sure that there have been amazing lessons that you've learned, both personally and professionally, about resilience through this time, and I'd really love to be able to dig a bit deeper into that, you know, both as from, from a strengths perspective, from an engagement perspective, and, and some of the lessons that you've learned. So where would you begin?

Chris Miller 9:01

That's, that's tough. I think what, what was remarkable about the process was how I, how I evaluated lots of different futures and lots of different scenarios, and almost in the moment, eliminated the ones I didn't want and focused on the best outcome I could think of. And I used that to focus on the relationship with my -- our boys and my relationship with Fiona and the recovery process and the -- her positive energy. And so she and I both have Positivity in our Top 10. That certainly played a part. My, my Strategic, which is way down at 14 or 15, yeah, 14 -- my Strategic went crazy. I was coming up with lots of different options of what the future could hold, and, and I had to very quickly eliminate those options.

Chris Miller 9:58

And, and my Connectedness which is at No. 3, it definitely played a role. Because I kept thinking there, there's a bigger picture to this; there's a bigger reason for this. There, there's some, there's some lesson, there's some insight, there's some learning that, that we're all going to have through this process that I can't even see yet. So that gave, that gave me some, some positivity and some hope around how it could, how it could evolve as a, as a situation. So that, that, yeah, that's been a big part of -- my own internalization and self-awareness was very much about OK, how have I navigated this?

Anne Lingafelter 10:38

And Chris, did you just naturally go to that, you know, sort of thinking about your strengths and thinking about, you know, dialing those up in order to deal with the tasks at hand? Or do you have a coach? I mean, was there somebody else who was helping walk you through this and sort of guiding you, and -- or is it just, you think, because you've been around this sort of thing for so long, and then coaching others, that it just came naturally?

Chris Miller 11:04

Yeah, it's, it's a bit of both. I -- because I live it and I teach it and I coach it, I have, I have to live it really at a high level, right? So so my awareness, my ability to go through an experience and then retrospectively assess which strengths did I use? How was that helpful? How can that be helpful in the future? That's a that's a natural thing I've built up over the last 8 or 9 years of knowing my profile. But I also have a colleague in Wellington, Antonia Milkop, who is an Accredited Strengths Coach but is, is also a good friend who supported us as a family through that period but also reminded me of accessing my strengths.

Chris Miller 11:47

And that was enough. So like, she didn't need to coach me; she just needed to remind me to focus on the positive, focus on my strengths. And, and, and it would, and it would contribute to the recovery process. And it did, it did.

Anne Lingafelter 12:00

You know, it's -- at the beginning of COVID, I remember, I did a show on strengths in times of a pandemic, or something like that, a Called to Coach show. And I remember thinking, before going into it, that strengths wasn't enough to deal with something as, as terrible as a pandemic, you know; that, that it was like a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. And then I started talking to people. We interviewed a whole lot of independent coaches in Australia and New Zealand. I started talking to other people who are working in healthcare in different areas.

Anne Lingafelter 12:35

And actually being able to focus on what people have and what, what they're already empowered with; what they, what they have at hand to deal with, you know, an impossible situation was actually really powerful, right, to remind people that they, they, they were equipped. And in going through that process of doing that show and talking to so many people actually helped me realize, Yeah, no, it's not a Band-Aid, you know, on a gaping wound. And it's, it's part of a package that you need to have, most certainly. But did you see, did you see that sort of thing in your own mindset at home? Certainly, you've spoken to that about your own, but also with the family, with Fiona with, with the kids.

Chris Miller 13:26

Yeah, excuse me, the, but what you're describing for me is all about the link between purpose and strength. And I always tell my clients and I always share, Look, strengths is the "How"; it's the how you get to where you want to be. But your vision, your greatest manageable challenge, whatever you want to call it, and your purpose, why you exist, those are the things you apply your strengths to.

Chris Miller 13:51

And so you're right. Strengths used superficially, as if it's a Band-Aid, to find a, to find a destination normally doesn't work, because the destination has to come from within. You have to, you have to believe in something and then apply your strengths to it. And so for us as a family, when I, when I look, when I look at my wife's high Harmony, high Responsibility, and the way she has composed herself through the health scare that we've been in. And even my, even my eldest son, with his high Maximizer, high Command, and the, and the the leadership of his own life that he demonstrated through a pretty scary time for his mother. It's remarkable how it shows up. But it doesn't replace that sense of purpose or that sense of destination. Where am I going? And why am I here? Those, those two elements really act as an anchor for how strengths can be applied.

Anne Lingafelter 14:50

Yeah, very interesting. When you think about your clients during, during this time, how did you -- on a personal level, how did you manage your, your workload? Your -- how did your clients respond? I think that sometimes, you know, we do these shows, and we talk about best practice for, for all of our Gallup-Certified Coaches out there. A lot of them don't always have a scenario like this, that, that plays out. And perhaps they don't know how to prepare for it. Or maybe perhaps they're dealing with their own level of disruption through COVID. How did you manage that?

Chris Miller 15:36

Yeah, that, that's, that, for me, is resetting expectations with yourself and your life. Right? So I had a, I had a very positive, lofty goal of doubling my practice income in 2020. That was my goal: to double my practice income or come close to doubling my practice income; the figure wasn't quite double, but it was close. And January and Feb -- so I finished 2019 on a high. My revenue had grown significantly in the last 6 months. January, February looked stable. Then COVID hit, and it was batten down the hatches, do what you can. And then June hit, and we had my wife's health scare. And I was like, that's, I gotta reset expectations. I can't stick with the old number. All it's going to do is make me feel terrible about life. And it became more about, How do I move, how do I move as quickly from survival to thriving again? Right?

Chris Miller 16:30

So I knew I was -- I moved -- everyone, pandemic-wise, from a pandemic perspective, everyone moved into survival mode, when countries and communities and states and provinces -- when they all got locked down, you have to go into, OK, how do I maintain? How do I, how do I, how do I manage my expectations of the situation? But when you have a personal health crisis on top of that, everything pales in comparison, right? Family is my No. 1 value. Well, if family is my No. 1 value, it didn't matter that I earned nothing in the month of July. That just didn't, it didn't matter. Because it was critical for me to be with my family.

Chris Miller 17:11

And that resetting of expectations and actually letting go of doubling my income, and knowing that I can get there eventually, like at some point, I will be back in a thriving state that will move me in that, move me towards that direction again, which is happening already. Right. Even, even in late August, with my my wife's surgery back in mid-June. By late August, we're still, I'm still looking at a much healthier financial picture than I expected. Will I double my income again? No, not by Christmas. But I'm still going to be much stronger than I thought I was going to be.

Anne Lingafelter 17:48

And how are you, I mean, are you advising and actually having those sorts of conversations with your clients? And, you know, so as they try to reset their expectations, because I mean, that's a really powerful statement, what you just said about stay -- sticking to your values, and, and, and allowing those to still be your compass. Right.

Anne Lingafelter 18:10

So I think there -- a lot of what our clients are saying, and our prospects are saying, when they -- in our conversations with them is, you know, we're not sure. You know, it seems that everything has to change, because so much has changed, whether our people are now working from home, you know, our strategies, our plans that we, you know, we thought we were going to be achieving have needed to change. It really, though, is going back to those underlying foundational values and, and needing to have some consistency, isn't it, around those?

Chris Miller 18:44

Yeah, yeah, I agree. And, I mean, this is kind of my Self-Assurance talking, which, again, is down at No. 12ish. So my Self-Assurance knows that I will come good again. I haven't blown my reputation because of a pandemic. I haven't blown my coaching ability because of a pandemic. My family health scare hasn't affected my ability to build my reputation as an author, as a speaker, as a trainer, as a facilitator, as a coach. I know I'm good at what I do. I just need to find the formula in the new world. What does the new world look like? How do I execute differently? Right? So for lots of organizations, big and small, keep asking yourself, What are we best at? What are we so good that none of our competitors can match it, regardless of a pandemic? And execute that.

Anne Lingafelter 19:34

Yeah, fantastic. Chris, one of the things -- and you, you know this better than most because you were with Gallup for 7 years and, and did a lot of, had a lot of conversations, I'm sure, with clients around our Q12 employee engagement framework, which we also call the "human needs at work" framework. And so certainly, in our conversations with clients, now people are saying, of those 12 conditions, what are the most important things that we need to be focused on during these, you know, times of disruption in order to be resilient, in order to make sure that we're achieving business resilience? And so, you know, Gallup has done some, some research and, and, and has come up with, you know, the, some of the items have been more important than others during this time.

Anne Lingafelter 20:25

So, some of the basics like knowing what is expected at work, having the materials and equipment, having the opportunity to do what you do best -- which is a strengths question or a strengths item -- having mission or purpose to make you feel that your job is really important. And then coworkers committed to quality. And we know that people who strongly agree to those are more likely going to be able to respond quickly to business needs, to be able to respond, to be able to also bounce back more quickly from illness or hardship.

Anne Lingafelter 21:00

So that's the sort of, as you know, the sort of research that we do to understand what sort of things are happening. I love the conversations I've had with you, Chris. Because you, knowing our engagement framework as you do, you've sort of taken it to, from these external conditions that need to exist in a workplace. You've taken it beyond that, haven't you? Really looking into fulfillment and, and, and how you can start with those, those external conditions, but fulfillment really comes from -- it's really an internal driver, isn't it? Can you talk a bit about that?

Chris Miller 21:35

Yeah, sure. So what I've, what I've real -- what I realized, in the, in the, in the year or so after Gallup was the power of Question 8, "The mission and purpose of my organization makes me feel my job is important." And I love purpose conversations at the individual level. And for me, it's about connecting purpose of the individual to purpose of the team to purpose of the organization. But historically, most organizations, corporates especially, are really good at eliciting, What should, what should our purpose be? Why do we exist? But they forget to have the conversation with the individual contributor. Why do they exist? Why -- and why do they exist inside and outside of work? Right? So what's my purpose as a dad? What's your purpose as a mom? And how does that influence the way we're connected to the organizations we choose to belong to, whether it be church or school or volunteering, or whatever.

Chris Miller 22:33

So, for me, fulfillment is about living your purpose every day. And living your purpose every day is unique to human beings, because human beings are the only living thing on the planet that have been given the privilege of writing their own purpose every single morning, should they choose to. Right? So if everybody in an organization has the power to choose their purpose, and they've chosen a purpose that is not in alignment with the organizational purpose, what is everybody doing? Why, why are, why are they even there? But, but we're scared to have those purpose questions because it unlocks the potential of people or unlocks a dream that the organization can't fulfill. That's the, that's the danger.

Anne Lingafelter 23:23

And, and so how do you -- how do you have those conversations with an organization who's hired you? You know, how do you -- because obviously, there may be some element of concern on the part of the organization that, that, you know, Chris is going to encourage our people to go, or what have you. I remember having a similar conversation with you last year, when we spoke, and you said, "The wrong people don't leave." You know, it's always -- teams tend to know when the individuals on a team are not a fit, right, or if they would be better elsewhere. Can you talk a bit about how you manage that, as a coach who's getting hired by an organization? And, and maybe, you know, perhaps you even have an example of how that's worked out for, for the best for everyone?

Chris Miller 24:22

Yeah. So there are hundreds of different ways to have a purpose conversation. And there are hundreds of different ways to ask a purpose question. What I've just, what I've used, what I've distilled, if you like, is I've been able to create what I consider the 6 strongest purpose-based questions and have made those available on my website. So you can access those. It's called a Purpose Creator in the Resources section of my website. And it's -- there's a Purpose Creator for business, and there's a Purpose Creator for individuals.

Chris Miller 24:54

So you start with the individuals. And some questions, when I give it to clients, they look at the 6 questions, and only one of the 6 resonates for them. But always one -- at least 1 of the 6 resonates. Right? So it can be about legacy, it can be about contribution, it can be about why you exist, it can be about just a straight-out What is your purpose? But, but it also leads to a conversation of what I describe as "life roles." So your purpose is an amalgamation of all of your life roles. So whether you're a dad or a son, or a daughter, or a mother, or, or a volunteer football coach, or a, like it doesn't, it kind of doesn't matter, all the roles you play. You need to almost find a sentence or a paragraph that resonates for you in all of those situations.

Chris Miller 25:41

So my ability to do what I do best is really predicated on my purpose statement. And for me, personally, I decided some, about 2 years ago, that my purpose transformed into "making dreams come true." And for me, my purpose is about making my dreams come true, and then those of my family, my clients and my community. So that's how I interpret my purpose.

Chris Miller 26:08

Now purpose can be -- purpose is a very personal thing. And not everybody is comfortable even talking about purpose, let alone sharing it with people. But the power of it is to make it clear. Like if someone knows what you think your purpose is, then they can feed that; they can, they can guide you in the direction of your purpose. But if you've never thought about it, and you've never written it down, then, randomly, things happen to you that may not be aligned to your purpose.

Anne Lingafelter 26:36

I wonder if this COVID time allows us more opportunity to explore that? It seems that, that because people, many of whom are now working from home, structures and the way things have been done have, have had to change. Whether or not -- and certainly the concerns that workplaces have, an increased concern, I believe, in the wellbeing of the individual staff, whether it's their mental health issues, or impact of anxiety during COVID, juggling, you know, trying to, to help students study from home, whatever the the the added challenges might be. Do you think -- are you seeing that in your own, in your own work, in your own clients -- that, that openness, perhaps to explore purpose in a way that wasn't available before?

Chris Miller 27:36

Yeah, absolutely. I think now is the perfect time, regardless of whether you are part of a big organization or small organization or just want to reflect on your life, now is a great time to reestablish the foundations of purpose and values. So why am I here and what do I care about most in life? If I can answer those questions now, they will serve me well for the next 20 years. And now is exactly the right time to be asking those questions. because the world has thrown up a pandemic to help you think about it. Right? Like, that's the purpose of -- potentially the purpose of the pandemic is to get everybody thinking about their purpose, and, and choosing or framing why they are here and how they're going to live a different life coming out the other side.

Anne Lingafelter 28:23

Yeah. So many people will say, "These are my values: A, B and C. But I really can't explore them or really live them to their fullest while I'm working because I'm too busy." Right? So I'll put -- I'll park those, put those on the back burner and explore those, you know, on holiday or when I retire, or what have you. Talk about, talk about that. How would you coach someone who had that perspective?

Chris Miller 28:52

So, if work -- if -- you need to decide how congruent you want your life to be with your values. So if you have a set of values that only applies when you're on holiday, or only applies once you've reached retirement, they're not your current values. They just aren't. So it's OK. It's OK to acknowledge that work is really important to you right now. Financial security is really important to you right now. That, that feeling valued at work is really important to you right now. Those are all true values. But for you to say, "Family is my No. 1 value, but I work a 70-hour week." That's crazy, unless family comes with you to work, right? So you need to decide, you need to, you need to figure out, How am I, how am I living my values that are congruent to what I believe my true values to be?

Anne Lingafelter 29:48

Yeah, no, absolutely. Absolutely. As we talk about resilience, we're kind of bouncing back and forth, aren't we, from personal to professional and to business. You know, right now, in our, in our world, during this pandemic, companies are so focused on their exposure, their potential losses, their vulnerabilities. They're trying to build resilience strategies. As we look at that through the lens of coaching, how would we, how would you advise them?

Chris Miller 30:27

So are you talking about the leadership team that are responsible for the stability of the organization?

Anne Lingafelter 30:34

Yes, absolutely. Folks who are really tasked with developing and keeping business resilience high within their organization; the ones who are creating the strategies to try and keep their boat afloat.

Chris Miller 30:51

So, a great, I think a great place to start is who are the naturally resilient people in the organization and what is their talent? And they may not be the leaders you thought you had prior to COVID. So there will be people stepping up because of their strengths profile, or because of their purpose, or because they just are in a good place, and they cope with working from home differently to everyone around them. And they're more productive, not less productive, and they have more energy and more enthusiasm and more vision for the company. Well, get those people, get those people on a Zoom call, or, or, or an online call, to talk about where the future of the company should go. Because this isn't going away anytime soon. This is not a quick fix.

Chris Miller 31:35

People, to maintain a level of resilience, are going to have to rely on leaders at all levels of the organization who have the energy and stamina to get us through several years of this, potentially. Because even with a global vaccine, there's going to be a delay in getting it rolled out, manufactured effectively, rolled out to all parts of the world, like there's going to be -- it's going to be patchy. So you need to, you need to then decide. So first of all, strategically, what is our import -- our most important moves in the next 12 months that are in response to COVID? And second of all, who are our most resilient people that can, that can enable that? And it may not be who you expect.

Anne Lingafelter 32:19

I love that. I really think, when we think about diversity and inclusion, I agree, COVID is giving opportunities for folks who don't -- have not always had the opportunity to shine to now shine in this this new environment. People who are, as you say, more comfortable perhaps with uncertainty, with a need to pivot quickly, a need to, to move on. And, and as a coach, you know, asking -- developing really great questions is, is I think one of the most important things that we can do, right, is asking good questions of our, of our clients, so they can start to think about how they can best work.

Anne Lingafelter 33:03

What are you seeing with your clients now that, that has been, that it's worth sharing with the folks on the call? What sorts of, of scenarios are you experiencing? Certainly your clients will be having some -- small businesses will be having some economic hits. How are you advising them? What sorts of questions are you posing to them?

Chris Miller 33:30

So one tool that I used consistently with most of my clients was the act of forecasting, deliberately forecasting a, an optimistic, pessimistic and realistic scenario. Now, lots of people do that. But your ability to do that in the context of COVID allows you to develop some courage. Like worst case, the sky has fallen, everything's gone wrong. And I've had clients come back to me saying, "My worst case isn't that bad." It's, it's maybe a 20% reduction on last year, but it's no worse than that. So if that's your worst case, what could you achieve in the next 12 months? What's your, what's your optimistic case? What's your realistic case?

Chris Miller 34:14

And at the same time, what I've asked many of my clients to consider is what, what will you do if the economic recovery of New Zealand -- and some of my clients, they're elsewhere -- but what will you do if the economic recovery is slow, medium or fast? How will you take advantage of different opportunities in those 3 scenarios? So coupled with the pessimistic, realistic, optimistic forecast, and the slow, medium, fast recovery, it gives people hope. They look at the, they look at the numbers, they look at the prediction, and it's their prediction, not my prediction. It's their prediction. They kind of go, "This isn't so bad. At least I have some options." Great. Pursue those options!

Anne Lingafelter 34:56

Can you talk a bit more about hope? The importance that you see in, in hope, both personally and professionally, during difficult times?

Chris Miller 35:08

Yeah, yeah. For me, when I define resilience for myself personally, it's about finding hope during an extreme moment of your life, right. That's resilience: your ability to actually find some courage, find some direction, find some "I can keep going" spirit, even when everything's hitting the fan. Hope, hope comes from lots of different places, but it starts inside yourself. You have to believe in something: yourself. And for me, personally, I take lots of hope from within what I've achieved so far in life and the moves I've made geographically and careerwise. And so I take a lot of self-, self-confidence and self-assurance from that.

Chris Miller 36:00

But then I look to the people around me. And the way my wife has dealt with an extraordinary health scare with an amazing amount of grace and strength, amazing amount of grace and strength. And that gives me hope. I'm like, OK, we, I had lots of scenarios in my head; lots of them are gone now because of her strength. And, and my kids, they, they give me hope all the time. So it's about painting a brightness of future that you can believe in. So it might take, who knows how much, how many months or how many years for the pandemic to run its course. It's not going to stop humanity; humanity is too big for that. We're going to come out the other side. You got to plan for coming out the other side and be, and be ready to thrive when everything happens. Or practice thriving now, even when things are challenging.

Anne Lingafelter 37:01

How would you counsel your clients, your client managers, you know, so, so the folks that are managing people out there? How would you counsel them to balance that transparency of, "I'm feeling very vulnerable -- I'm, you know, whatever, I'm under a lot of stress because of the COVID," with trying to instill hope in their people, you know. I mean, you want to be genuine and authentic, and be, and own your own level of discomfort with this pandemic and the changes that have been forced upon us. But in the same token, you want to be, you want to help them see a way through. How would you counsel managers in that situation in your businesses, your client businesses?

Chris Miller 37:54

Yeah, it starts with your own oxygen mask, right? The, the plane, the planes, when we travel on planes, they say that for a reason. Start with your own; don't put your, your kid's oxygen mask on first. Put yours on first, then theirs. So it's the same in an organization. The manager, the leader has to find hope themselves, they have to be authentic about that. What, what will make what will make it look and feel better, right? Even something as simple, even something really superficial like "We're gonna make tomorrow a little bit better than today. How do we go about that as a team?" Right? "Ignore the noise, ignore the news; we're going to do something special to make it feel better tomorrow." Yeah.

Chris Miller 38:38

So I think -- it starts with something simple, a simple action that they can take. But it also, for a lot of people, depending on what their strengths profile is. So the people with high Futuristic, high Strategic, they're going to be like, no, I could see, I could see it's all gonna be good in 4 years! Yeah, we don't have 4 years to wait. But, but they can, they can present a brightness of future through the lens of their strengths. And even somebody with high Adaptability can say, "Yeah, it feels a bit chaotic at the moment, but we could spin from one thing to the other and get everything done. And let's just get on with it." Right? Different, different strength profiles have different levels of energy. And that energy contributes to team morale and the leadership morale quite differently.

Anne Lingafelter 39:23

Yeah. 100%. I love that. I know that Jim has said that there's some folks in the chat room, Chris, who have some questions that they'd like answered. So over, over to you, Jim.

Jim Collison 39:35

Thanks, Anne. The first question's from me, Chris. You, you made a statement. We were talking about individuals in the organization who, who aren't showing resilient -- being resilient. And you said, "And they may not be who you expect." Like I want to know what you mean by that statement. Like what, you said that with great anticipation. What do you, what do you mean by that?

Chris Miller 39:57

So I have found with some of my clients, there are individuals who have just -- it was circumstantial, mostly. But they moved from office-based to working from home. And the speed with which they adapted and found a rhythm and found a productivity level was, was almost different from what they were able to produce in the office. Right. So the move to working from home was beneficial for them. There were other people who were strong leaders in the office, and there was chaos at home. And they had no way of delivering the same level as, as someone else who had a different circumstance. So some of it is circumstantial, but some of it is mindset and attitude, right? There are people who just get it, and they're like, "I have a, I have a, I have an obligation to my organization to produce an outcome." And it's the difference between management by outcome versus almost directing or delegating tactics, right.

Chris Miller 41:01

I can, I can delegate tactics to you. But if I manage an outcome with you, and you thrive under that type of management, working from home is not an issue for you. But there's a whole bunch of trust issues going on globally right now, between leaders and their, and their followers. And I'm not sure I trust you enough to do an honest day's work, if you're working from home. That's in the mind of most leaders at the moment. So they need to get over it. Everybody needs to mature about it. Manage by outcome and find people's purpose and allow them to thrive because they want to be at work.

Jim Collison 41:35

Yeah, the rules kind of changed on us in a lot of ways, and made some, I think, even, for some, the, the role of, of how productivity is managed, or how it is measured, changed. And they're, they're productive, just in a different way. They might even be productive -- I think, even for myself, I've had to pump the brakes on Woo during this time, because I just don't -- I don't, I don't have the crowd, right, for the most part, and really dive into Relator. Like, I really have dug into the relationships, and I've actually really enjoyed it.

Jim Collison 42:09

Early in the pandemic, I had some folks call me, and say, "You gonna be OK? Hey, you're home, you gonna be OK?" And it has been such a -- for me, it has been such a wonderful change over to, to, to realize I can now kind of lean into these themes, and they're needed now. And it's a kind of a different kind of productivity, Chris, right. I mean, we're starting to realize, I can be, I'm, it's gonna be different for me than it was before. I can still be productive; I just have to measure that productivity in a different way. I don't -- anything else you want to add to that idea?

Chris Miller 42:45

No, I agree with everything you said. I think, I think people's perceptions -- and this is why the purpose conversation is so important -- people's perceptions of why they work have changed. Why do I go to work? Why do I go to an office? What am I here to do? What am I here to contribute? Right? If you can add to that honestly and go, "You know what? I could contribute 10 times more if I went somewhere else!" Well then, go somewhere else! And that's not a, that's not necessarily a bad reflection on the employer; that's just a sequence for the employee in discovering their own purpose.

Jim Collison 43:20

Someone you might know has a question for you. I wanted to make sure we got this in before you left: "What's your great imaginable challenge?"

Chris Miller 43:29

Oh, dear. Thank you, Antonia! Well, I'll share, I'll share a couple very quickly. One, one, I'm really, I -- one of the reasons that I moved from Gallup to owning my own practice was to refocus on small-business sector, and because Gallup predominantly -- not always, but predominantly -- operates at the corporate level. So my, my small-business objective, my greatest imaginable challenge, is to emulate Edwards Deming, who had a huge impact on Japan during World -- just after World War II. So he was the father of Total Quality Management and Continuous Quality Improvement. So his intellectual property and his reputation changed the economy of Japan in the two decades that followed World War II. So, So I have a lofty ambition of, of achieving -- I'm at the, I'm in Year, Year 2 of a lofty ambition to achieve a similar status for the small-business sector within New Zealand.

Jim Collison 44:31

That's, that's a pretty lofty goal! Anne, Anne, do you have any lofty goals like that? Do you, are you gonna maybe change all of Australia and -- ?

Anne Lingafelter 44:41

That is a very difficult one to follow. You're gonna have to give me a moment to think about that.

Jim Collison 44:46

OK. You think of that? We'll, we'll bring in -- Andrew had wanted to ask a question too. Chris, what are 2 things that you've kind of thrown out with individuals and teams, and maybe 2 things -- and it doesn't, 2 is not, it doesn't have to be the exact number. But as you think about this time, have you removed something and brought something new in in its place? Or, I don't know, work through that a little bit.

Chris Miller 45:07

Yeah, thanks, Andrew. The -- I think, I think the thing I've thrown out, I -- well, I haven't thrown it out; I've changed the order. I know when, when, Gallup coaches train on the Accredited Strengths model, we are taught the Name it, Claim it, Aim it formula, right. And it works. It definitely works. It works, especially if you have more than one session.

Chris Miller 45:30

But I found -- I've coached so many people in one-off situations with the full 34 report. And when I'm coaching a senior executive who wants to get a value-add out of the experience, not just a reflection on themselves, I actually start with Aiming it. I start with clarifying their goals or their challenges. What is, what is keeping them up at night? And then we look at their Top 10 and their Bottom 5 in the context of those challenges. So that's kind of -- it's not a throwing out, but it's a reordering of stuff.

Chris Miller 46:00

The other thing that I've added, only in the last 6 months, that I'm really proud of is what I call a "Love Most Matrix." And a Love Most Matrix is like -- it's strengths philosophy without using CliftonStrengths language, but you can do it quite quickly. So in a team environment or with an individual, you ask them 4 questions: What do you love most? What do you love least? What do you do best? And what do you do worst? And you map those 4 on a whiteboard with everybody in the team present. And if the trust is high, everybody actually lets rip with, "This is what I love least about my job." Like we never ask that question because you don't want to know the answer. But if you know the answer, if the manager knows the answer to what everyone loves least, he can help, he or she can outsource or change delegation, change the the allocation of tasks.

Chris Miller 46:51

And it's, it's incre -- it's incredibly illuminating for a leader to listen to their team acknowledge what they -- especially what they love least and do worst that are parts of their job. But people have to be brave enough to share that in a team environment. Because if it's central to your role, and you hate it, yeah, that's -- you're pretty vulnerable in that situation. So it has to be the right atmosphere.

Jim Collison 47:16

All right, Anne, what do you take away from this, this time? I've got one more question. But what do you take away, Anne?

Anne Lingafelter 47:22

Oh, my goodness. Well, I mean, I've -- my mantra has always been during COVID, "Never waste a good crisis." So I actually really have embraced the opportunity to see status quo break down, to have the opportunity to do things differently. So, and I actually have this sense of the window's closing, right. It's a window of opportunity to jump in and try different things. And so I'm sure that once there's a vaccine, and we, you know, return to whatever the new normal is going to be, that there will be elements of it that we will miss and wish that we had back. So I keep trying to think about, What do I want to take advantage of during this time? And that's been a lot of my, my process. Yeah.

Jim Collison 48:07

it's a good thought. My daughter had came home early in March, and I spent 5 months with her, and I -- Chris, you said you wanted to spend more time with the family. I didn't plan on that. But it happened, and it was great. And now, when she was getting ready to leave, I thought, "I'm never going to get this time again." Like it's -- Anne, you said the door is closing. And so I do think there are these opportunities that you may not get another shot at this. And so take, take advantage of it, you know, when when it comes up. Chris, Nathaniel asks, Can you talk a little bit about how you integrate thought leadership with strengths?

Chris Miller 48:41

Nice. Thanks, Nathaniel. So thought leadership is a, is a program that's kind of been born in Australia. And The Thought Leaders Practice is a great book as a starting point for anyone who wants to know more. I have -- probably in the last 6 months, it was just before, just, just at the beginning of lockdown, I did an evaluation of my -- the key actions in thought leaders that I needed to take to get myself to the next level. So there's a belt system: white, yellow and so on. So I was looking at my key actions, and I put them through the lens of my Top 15 strengths. And I, and I've published that. That's in a blog on my website. So the integration of strengths and thought leaders is really easy. It's really easy if you're familiar with both; you just need to ask yourself, What are my, what are my actions for this belt level? And how do my talents, how do my strengths apply to that level of belt?

Anne Lingafelter 49:46

Interesting. And, and where can we find out more about thought leadership?

Chris Miller 49:51

So the Thought Leaders Business School -- if you, if you did a search on "Thought Leaders Business School," you will, you will get -- you'll -- you can find lots of information about their curriculum. So that's a good place to start. But I would also say that this book is the place to start, right? Like, just, if you read that book, and it resonates, if that book resonates for you, then you're, you're meant to be on that journey. If the book doesn't resonate for you, you're not meant to be on that journey. It's like self-selecting. It's pretty quick.

Anne Lingafelter 50:22

Yeah, fair. What advice would you give people, Chris, when you talk about, sort of, you know, suddenly, the, the future is a bit more uncertain, even the present is a bit more uncertain. So, you know, with people that you would coach and advise about sort of taking control of their own destiny, and, and, not waiting any longer. Jump in with whatever it is -- these crazy ideas perhaps you've had in the past about, you know, something that you wanted to do, but that, again, would be for later on? How would you coach or advise those folks during this time?

Chris Miller 50:57

Yeah, speaking personally, the last 2 months or so has been one day at a time, emotionally, one day at a time. And, and I have, I have lived a mantra that came from, that came from The One Thing, which is another great book that I would highly recommend. And, and The One Thing book can be boiled down to one question, which is really, What is the one thing I can do today to improve or simplify my life? What is the one thing I can do today to improve or simplify my life? If you start with that question, it doesn't matter what tomorrow will bring; just do your one thing today.

Anne Lingafelter 51:34

I love that. And that, that in and of itself is a great, actionable, simple thing that we can all do that will inspire some hope, right? Because, because tomorrow, you get to do it again! And, and when you talk about, you know, before the show, we were talking about hope, and obviously, Gallup talks hope, talks about hope and the importance of hope, stability, compassion and trust. But, you know, it's interesting that, coming from someone who is in the middle of a pandemic, whose life partner is in the middle of a health crisis, is, is able to strongly and soundly stand there and talk about hope. And it's, it's really inspiring. And so we certainly thank you for that message. Because I think everybody needs a message of hope right now. And yes, it, sometimes it comes from the most unexpected places.

Chris Miller 52:32

No, my, my pleasure.

Jim Collison 52:34

Chris, I don't know about you. I'm kind of looking forward to 2021. Just getting past this. But yet, as you talk about what you've gone through -- and I hear it in your voice, I see it in your face -- you haven't, you haven't run from this. Like it's been, it's been hard. But you've, you've, you know, you've jumped in feet first and lived every day and, and worked through this. And, you know, I think there's I think there's great rewards in that, even though these are terrible times. And even in a personal situation, these are terrible times. There are moments you're not going to ever get again. And I think as you look back at the time you got to spend with your family, that, that time, you may not ever have that kind of time again. And it's pretty valuable. At least that's been the lesson I've taken away. It's been extremely valuable to me. And you must feel the same. You must feel something similar.

Chris Miller 53:36

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I would say I have, I have some extraordinary role models around me. And, and I'll give you one last example of that role modeling. I have a 16-year-old son who's in his high school year that is probably the most important, exam-wise, for university. And the day that we brought his mother home from hospital, he did an hour and a half of studying for an exam that week. So --

Jim Collison 54:05

Yeah, yeah. And how is she?

Chris Miller 54:07

She's good.

Jim Collison 54:07

How's she doing right now?

Chris Miller 54:09

Really good.

Jim Collison 54:10

She's good? OK. Good.

Anne Lingafelter 54:13

And every day is better than the last, too, isn't it Chris? Because you're, you're making it so.

Chris Miller 54:18

Yes, that's right.

Jim Collison 54:20

Good. Anne, any other, any other thing you want to wrap with?

Anne Lingafelter 54:23

Oh, look, I just, just any, anything, any last, last words or any, any last question that I should have asked or something that I should have touched on that you don't want to end the show without saying, Chris?

Chris Miller 54:38

I think for me, it's all about just appreciating what we go through, right? We go through good and bad for a reason. And you got to draw insights and learnings from the bad situations and draw hope and a lot of joy from the good situations. And if we do that, well, we'll get through it. But, but you got to do it consciously. You got to plan it.

Anne Lingafelter 55:04


Jim Collison 55:05

Yeah. And you need people by you, too, right? You need great friends; some of them showed up tonight, to, or today, for you, to be by you. Anne, I'm sorry. I cut you off.

Anne Lingafelter 55:16

No, not at all. Just we really thank you, Chris, for, for being willing to share, being vulnerable and transparent and share with us on both a personal and a professional level. I think the lessons that you've talked about apply across the board. And I think the world is, is in need of lessons like this. And, and so thank you so much. Really appreciate all that you bring. We're very lucky to have you in this community. So thanks so much, Chris!

Chris Miller 55:44

My pleasure. Thanks, Anne.

Jim Collison 55:46

Chris, I've done, I've done a lot of these. And this is one of my favorites. So thanks for, thanks for coming, yeah, you bet. Thanks for coming out. With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available out on our website: -- actually, the greatest way to get in through the front door on Gallup Access. Again, Lots of resources, lots of things for you to read, lots of podcasts to listen to. All kinds of things available for you. If you're on YouTube, click the Subscribe button down there so you get notified whenever we do something new. If you want to listen to this as a podcast, you can search "Gallup Webcasts" on any podcast player. When you're out on our site, you want to sign up, you can stay up to date with what's going on in the community, you can sign up for the CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter that just came out. And so you can get it in your inbox each and every week. If you want to join us live -- and it's way more fun; maybe you wanted to ask some questions tonight and didn't get a chance to -- if you want to join us live, head out to and register there and follow us. You'll get a notification every time I post something new. We got some dynamite things coming up. Anne, I got some great stuff coming out towards the end of the year, as well as coming up in 2021. So we're pretty excited about what's, what's on the docket for things coming up. If you want to join us in our Facebook group: Many of you out there joining us in the conversation, and appreciate that. And on LinkedIn, you can just search "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches" and find us there. If you found this helpful -- and I think you did -- share it. You can share this live page right now. If you're on the live page, you see the link above. Or later on, if you're listening to this as a podcast, we just encourage you, just maybe one person. Just send it to them and say, "You know, you kind of need to hear this." Especially this conversation today -- a lot of folks need to hear this. So make sure you share it. I want to thank you for joining us. If you're listening live, thanks for coming out. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Chris Miller's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Maximizer, Learner, Connectedness, Input and Woo.

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