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“Resilience is a muscle.” With Majet Reyes

Resilience is a muscle. It is a skill that leaders need to develop and during these uncertain times, a leader needs to be able to bounce back from adversities to be able to influence other people. Resilient people know their purpose during life’s turmoil.Empathy builds trust and connection in a team. A leader needs to […]

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Resilience is a muscle. It is a skill that leaders need to develop and during these uncertain times, a leader needs to be able to bounce back from adversities to be able to influence other people. Resilient people know their purpose during life’s turmoil.

Empathy builds trust and connection in a team. A leader needs to be able to “be in” someone’s pain and have compassion instead of judging, blaming or shaming another person.

As part of my series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Majet Reyes, MS. She helps people find fulfillment through counseling, coaching, and community.

Maria Reyes OR Majet, is a Pre-Licensed Professional Counselor with a Master of Science Degree in Community and Trauma Counseling from Jefferson University.

A former paramedic, she now owns Resilient Mind Works in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, where she works with first responders, creatives, millennials and couples who are struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD and process their pasts so they can live in the present and plan a fulfilling future. She speaks at Fire Fighter Leadership conventions, do presentations for educators, volunteers, and other non-profit organizations.

Majet is the owner of DivaGirl which is a lifestyle community that educates and empowers women by hosting conferences, volunteer abroad programs, workshops, webinars and parties.

She is an international volunteer, having done medical missions in the Philippines twice; helped rebuild in Puerto Rico in 2018; and since 2016 has been working with women and children in Nepal, Ghana, Peru and India.

She is also an adjunct professor at Jefferson University, a Tawkify matchmaker and yoga teacher to kids.

Thank you so much for your time! Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I’ve made a few times when I was starting out was my desperate move to want to be liked by everyone. It is silly now but thinking about it, I realized that my neediness to be liked was not an attractive characteristic a leader could have. Wanting to be liked by everyone is a mistake because not everyone is a good fit. I learned that I need to hire slow and fire faster and to really be more mindful on who I want to surround myself with whether it is bringing partners in or building a team or even finding clients or members.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I would have to say that I am grateful for all the mentors I’ve met in my life — whether college teachers, former bosses and other business owners. But the person who really made an impact in my life and changed my life from being an employee to becoming an entrepreneur is Laura Furtado. She is the founder of DivaGirl Inc. and she embodied a women who is confident, super smart, sexy and kind.

I met her when I attended her DivaGirl Conference in Toronto Canada when I was still working as a paramedic. I usually described myself as a tomboy who likes the color blue. I was masculine in my ways and didn’t think that a diva event would be of any interest. But when I walked in that conference room after the encouragement of my Canadian friends, my mindset about women empowerment changed! The women in the room were happy and friendly and all so beautiful! Then I realized that they were all business owners!! They were women who loved what they do and get paid doing it.

From then on, I wanted to be a DivaGirl, a woman who is confident, kind and super smart. Someone who is not afraid of her feminine power and wants to help other women feel empowered and supported too.

I am thankful for the mentorship of my very first business mentor (and friend), Laura Furtado, who taught me to always do the right thing and help other women to the best of my abilities. She also taught me the power of being organized, batching, networking and volunteering abroad with other women.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

When I started my Resilient Mind Works Counseling practice, my goal is to eradicate the stigma on mental health, especially in the medical field and Emergency medicine (the field I was in before becoming a psychotherapist). My purpose is to make counseling cool and therapy the new black!

My vision was to bring people together and support each other by recognizing the similar joys and challenges of their professions.

I also envision DivaGirl as a safe and positive space for women to come together, connect with each other so they can support one another in life and in business. I wanted a community that is diverse in age, ethnicity and work fields. A tribe of women that is inclusive, kind and inspiring.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?

During uncertain times, I like to focus on the present moment or the here and now. I do my best to remind myself that I cannot control most events (like a pandemic); I cannot control people; but I can control myself. The difference between a good leader and a not so good leader is their ability to solve problems instead of complaining or criticizing their team.

When the pandemic started, I had to pivot my live events for DivaGirl into online events and we were able to reach other women all over the world, including the women we met in Canada, Belize, Peru, Nepal and Ghana and women in the Philippines and Qatar.

Also, I was able to do more seminars to educators, volunteers and social workers about compassion fatigue, burnout and vicarious trauma which is what most of these professionals are experiencing during this pandemic, social injustice and civil unrest and winter blues.

This pandemic also gave me the opportunity to continue my work with medical professionals and first responders who are exposed to covid-19 by doing online counseling with them and even provide support groups.

Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?

I don’t think I ever thought about giving up. I sure had times of zoom burnout but I also have a strict self care regimen to prevent myself from compassion fatigue, burnout and vicarious trauma which I had experienced in the past when I was a paramedic.

I am here right in front of you as a mental health therapist now because I know how PTSD, anxiety and depression feel like.

I was a paramedic for 13 years and have seen people got hurt, heard stories that were horrible, seen dead bodies, gunshot wounds, overdoses, and witnessed poverty, experienced assault, and struggles with alcoholism and suicidal thoughts.

It took me 10 years and a semester in grad school until I seek professional help and processed my unresolved traumas, compassion fatigue and burnout.

I wanted to continued helping people and continue loving what I do now as a therapist therefore I learned how to take care of myself. Therefore, my strict self-care regimen helps me get through the toughest time and stay mindful of my reactions to events, people and failures or mistakes.

As a trauma therapist now, believe me when I tell you that I heard more horrible stories than what I had witnessed working as a medic and volunteering in third world countries.

But in the 4.5 years of me working as a therapist, I still love every second of it and I feel fulfilled being able to sit with a client and them trusting me to tell their stories. Their traumatic stories that made them the resilient person that they are and together get to their post traumatic growth.

What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?

The most critical role of a leader is to have people like each other so they can trust one another (especially during this trying time).

***Criticism has not room in leadership. Validation builds trust and productive communication. ***

When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?

  • Empathy builds trust and connection in a team. A leader needs to be able to “be in” someone’s pain and have compassion instead of judging, blaming or shaming another person.
  • A great leader is self-aware and recognizes their ego, acknowledge it and mindfully change it. A great leader can assess a threat, a complaint, someone asking for help or a new idea from a team member.
  • A great leader can read a room. A highly emotional intelligent leader is not afraid to of the F word — FEELINGS (not that F word). A great leader can feel your pain and wants to make it bearable.

What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?

We make mistakes and bad news do come but when we are communicating to a team member or customer about something that is difficult we need to remember the POSITIVE SANDWICH.

  1. Start the conversation on a positive note to put down the walls and defensiveness — feel free to validate your customer’s complaint or concerns.
  2. The next P is the problem or the difficult news.
  3. End the communication on a positive note by providing a solution or thanking them for their hard work, trust, etc.

I also believe that criticism has no room in leadership. Feedback is important and there’s a difference between criticism and feedback.

Also do not criticize in public but praise great works in public or in front of others and give constructive feedback in private.

How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?

Communicating positive plans for the future will keep the future hopeful.

Encouraging your team to come up with ideas and suggestions, comments or feedbacks for the future of the company. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to let your team or followers influence you. This builds trust and it shows their investment in the company or team.

Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?

A great leader understands human nature. Human nature comes out during times of sorrow, despair, pain, suffering and inhumanity. During these turbulent times, some people have shown heroic acts and other people have shown horrific acts. As a leader you need to understand why people do what they do. If you don’t know, be curious. WHEN YOU COME FROM A PLACE OF CURIOUSITY, YOU BREAK DOWN WALLS OF SHAME, JUDGMENT AND GUILT.

Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

  1. Criticizing their team — criticism is such a waste of time
  2. Micromanaging — give them autonomy
  3. Not asking your team members or employees for ideas, suggestions and feedbacks

Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?

Being open to opportunities by reaching out to your network and asking them how you can help them during this challenging times.

Offering free workshops, seminars, talks or info to help during this challenging times. This builds trust!

Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.

A great leader understands human nature. 1. If you are a great leader then you understand the “why” of other people. 2. A great leader knows how to listen and empathize. 3. A great leader is resilient. 4. A great leader is self-aware. 5. A great leader is not afraid of emotions.

  1. Human nature comes out during times of sorrow, despair, pain, suffering and inhumanity. During these turbulent times, some people have shown heroic acts and other people have shown horrific acts. As a leader you need to understand why people do what they do.
  2. Resilience is a muscle. It is a skill that leaders need to develop and during these uncertain times, a leader needs to be able to bounce back from adversities to be able to influence other people. Resilient people know their purpose during life’s turmoil.
  3. Empathy builds trust and connection in a team. A leader needs to be able to “be in” someone’s pain and have compassion instead of judging, blaming or shaming another person.
  4. A great leader is self-aware and recognizes their ego, acknowledge it and mindfully change it. A great leader can assess a threat, a complaint, someone asking for help or a new idea from a team member.
  5. A great leader can read a room. A highly emotional intelligent leader is not afraid to of the F word — FEELINGS (not that F word). A great leader can feel your pain and wants to make it bearable.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

In relationships whether with in your personal life, business life or work life, you need to do 3 things:

  1. Show up
  2. Tell your truth
  3. Let go of the outcome

In my experience, I realized that I cannot control or change people. I can change myself and change my reactions towards them. People cannot read my mind therefore I need to speak my truth and I need to ask for what I want and need. The other person may agree or disagree and I need to not attach myself to the outcome because it is not personal.

How can our readers further follow your work?

They can follow me on Instagram @divagirltribe, go to my website www.resilientmindworks.com for mental health blogs and info, join our #DivaGirlTribe at www.divagirltribe.com

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

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