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Resilience in the new normal

April 6, 2020


Michelle Wieser, Ph.D.

We are now a few weeks into our current reality: a new way of learning, thinking, and working in ways nobody was truly prepared for. This reality has caused some of you to “learn how to learn” in new ways, pulling you from your routine of interacting in person with your peers and instructors into a new virtual world of only online interaction.

Everyone, including those who have been learning online all along, is now learning to balance remote work, academic work, and the seemingly endless work of entertaining children while also homeschooling. No matter who you are, you have been faced with challenges. We all have.

As dean of the School of Business and Technology at Saint Mary’s, I have heard amazing stories of students and faculty coming together to not just get through this challenging time, but to thrive as we move forward. This is what makes Saint Mary’s so special. We all need this inspiration from time to time to keep us going and to remind us that this, too, shall pass.

To that end, I thought I’d share a few things that have helped me in these past few weeks, particularly around focusing on goals and building the resilience needed to accomplish them, no matter the obstacles I face.

I had the opportunity to visit the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan last summer. As you know, Ford was a master of finding innovative ways to solve problems. On the topic of goal-setting, Ford believed that “obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” Right now, our obstacles can indeed seem “frightful.” Despite the uncertainty and fear, it is important that we keep our eyes on our goals — professional goals, personal goals, and of course, academic goals.

In times like this, reaching for our goals requires resilience, grit, perseverance … choose your favorite. They all have similar meanings. I recently read the book “Resilient” by Rick Hanson. Among the many valuable lessons in this book, Hanson reminds us to:

“Be on your own side and have compassion for yourself.”

Remember this when the days are full of challenges we never imagined before. We are all doing the best we can, and sometimes a little grace with ourselves goes a long way.

And know this … we are here for you — as administrators, professors, staff, and advisers. We may be scattered to our respective homes, but our commitment to you remains the same. We are here to support you as you stay focused on your goals. We are all stronger together, and we have the resilience to keep moving forward.