If you want more friends, ask people about themselves, and listen sincerely when they answer. Listen not to respond but to understand. You have one mouth and two ears. Practice using them accordingly. Don’t dominate the conversation. A good listener is rare these days. It is the best direct route ticket you could possibly have to form a friendship. Another “bright side” to this technique is that you don’t have to figure out how to be interesting. Instead, be interested!
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brenda Billings Ridgley.
Brenda Billings Ridgley is an author, speaker, and girlfriend guru who loves helping women connect, find success, and discover joy through friendship. Her mission is to start a movement: women coming together to build thousands of new Lady Tribes around the globe. She holds an MA in human resources and has spent decades cultivating her own Tribe
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
Savio, thank you for inviting me to share on this important topic! I’m a Colorado gal who spent a decade in corporate America as a human resources manager and then decades more as an entrepreneur with businesses ranging from brick-and-mortar retail to consulting and direct sales. I am an avid networker and connector. As an author, I enjoy presenting transformational workshops on the power of connection and friendship.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Once career focused and driven to hit the top of any organization I deemed worthy, motherhood significantly shifted my priorities to focus on the family. Over a period of 15 years, I “let myself go”. I’m not talking about the typical weight gain and yoga pants seven days a week, although that happened too. Over those years I let go of my own preferences, activities and friendships and found myself with a very busy life, yet something was missing. As my kids were about to launch into their adult lives, I no longer knew who I was outside of my role as MOM. I discovered what was lost was deep, meaningful friendships.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I feel my story is not unique. There is a silent epidemic happening across the globe that is loneliness. We are not lonely because we lack friends, we are lonely because those friendships lack the intimacy and depth that we long for as human beings. My journey back to wholeness and resilience is documented in my book Lady and the Tribe, How to Create Empowering Friendship Circles. I am on a mission to help women reconnect and deep dive into meaningful friendships that will enhance their lives and grow their resilience through connection!
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?
My husband Parker is an amazing father and supportive partner. He encourages me to go for it — whatever my heart desires — and he is always there to clear the way so I can focus. I feel like he thinks that I can do anything, and sometimes he makes me believe it!
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
I believe that resilience is the ability to be agile and respond to changing circumstances when things don’t go according to plan. If an unexpected adjustment is necessary, resilience enables us to maneuver with authenticity.
People who are resilient don’t take things personally. They accept that flexibility is required to accomplish a goal, especially when working with others. They see the process as a negotiation or collaboration rather than a competition. They value other’s opinions and can communicate with respect even when they don’t see eye to eye. They accept “failure” as part of the journey to success. When things don’t go their way or as planned, they remain confident in who they are and how they fit in. I believe this confidence foundationally comes from the support system of family and friendships that they have nurtured. They know their place in the world and when they fit into it so things that “happen” are just bumps and detours on the journey.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
One could argue that it takes courage to be resilient because resilience often requires stepping out of your comfort zone and even trying things over and over until you reach a successful outcome. People love their comfort zones, and it can take courage to break the habit of staying in what feels like a security blanket or safe place. However, people who live a resilient lifestyle have fostered the habits of trying new things and not giving up, so courage may not even enter the equation.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Wow, I think of so many people. The job seeker that keeps going after their dream job applying for 15 opportunities a day, getting no response or “not qualified” letters daily, yet continuing to search and each time thinking “this could be the one”. The actor who pounds the pavement auditioning receiving rejection after rejection but continues to put himself out there. The entrepreneur, the inventor, the parent, the politician…… failing their way to success every day.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
I am blessed to be surrounded by encouragers, and if anyone ever told me something was impossible, I chose not to absorb that comment. In college I was interested in earning a degree in Corporate Fitness. The school did not offer that degree; however, they had a great business school and also a fantastic exercise science school. I created a curriculum with courses from each of those schools and presented it to the Dean. He accepted my proposal, and I was the first student to graduate with a degree in Corporate Fitness. In my life if a clear path is not presented, rather than changing course I create the path to accomplish my goal.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
Yes. My husband and I started a new business in 2002. It was a cute, not so little, wine shop. It did very well and a year later we expanded and opened another. Things went well for a few years and until about 2007 when our country entered the great recession. Our county experienced the highest foreclosure rate in the state and our businesses suffered greatly. We hung on as long as we could but ended up closing both by the end of 2009. It almost ruined us financially. What would have crushed most marriages, made us stronger. We fought together side by side for years to get back to zero and now finally we are on the flip side, successful and doing what we love.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
I do. As I was growing up, my parents liked to buy new houses. Every 2–5 years they would “upgrade” and move us to a new neighborhood and new school. It seemed I was always the “new kid”. In 7th grade, we moved halfway through the first semester. Even more so in Jr. High I wanted to fit in and be a part of a friend group. I learned to be likeable, flexible and to be a contributor, so it was easier to build friendships quickly. I think this is one of the reasons that even today I feel so strongly about connecting and building a Tribe of best friends.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
I strongly believe that close friendships are necessary for optimal health and well-being. Social connections are the most powerful way for us to regulate our emotional distress. Proximity to someone you are securely attached to is the most effective way to calm yourself and in effect, be resilient. The 5 suggestions that I will offer today are steps to meet new people to build your own Tribe and support system:
- Get out of the house! You aren’t going to meet anyone binge watching Netflix.
- Challenge yourself to put your phone away when you are out in public. Instead find opportunities to make conversation. When you are on-the-go focused on your phone as you wait in lines, even as you are walking, you miss a lot of connection possibilities. Your routine likely passes some of the same people every day. If you say hello or chat for a few minutes, that is a breeding ground for friendship. You miss these opportunities with your nose buried in the phone.
- Sign up for a class: Spanish, Zumba, art, cooking, baking, bird watching, wine tasting or even volunteer for a good cause! What are you interested in? Here you will meet others who have the same interests. Give it a chance, commit to attending a minimum of three classes or events. Once you have made a few contacts, just keep showing up!
- Open up a conversation with a stranger. Use the insight and question method. This conversion starter involves commenting on current events and then asking a question about their opinion of it. Research has shown that expressing our opinions activates brain regions that are associated with pleasure and reward. Your question will likely be received with gratitude for the opportunity to share. Steer clear of hot divisive topics. You are inviting conversation, not debate.
- If you want more friends, ask people about themselves, and listen sincerely when they answer. Listen not to respond but to understand. You have one mouth and two ears. Practice using them accordingly. Don’t dominate the conversation. A good listener is rare these days. It is the best direct route ticket you could possibly have to form a friendship. Another “bright side” to this technique is that you don’t have to figure out how to be interesting. Instead, be interested!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am on a mission to help women connect and create 1000 new Lady Tribes in 2022! In our world of social media, virtual offices, fitness apps, and on-line dating, people are detached and longing for connection. We weren’t created to go it alone. Many people have distanced themselves from their close community believing they are connected because of social media “friends” yet they feel empty, unfulfilled and insecure. In the process, our friendships have become the casualty of a “busy life” and lack consistency and depth.
How do we fill this empty space that seemed to appear from nowhere? The answer lies in our Tribe. Our best friends are representations and extensions of our individuality. They are our companions, cheerleaders, and counselors. They lift and support us, so we can handle any obstacle and flourish. Our Tribe is the family with whom we choose to live our life . . . with no strings attached. 1000 new Lady Tribes in 2022 could multiply exponentially and result in a movement of love, kindness and a sense of belonging creating a wave of resilience through connection.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
Oh boy, well along with so many other women in the world I adore Oprah Winfrey and the incredible contribution she has made to women and their personal and spiritual growth. I can’t think of anyone else I would rather have lunch with.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Readers can connect to me through my website BrendaRidgley.com where they will find links to join our Tribe Inner Circle as well as my YouTube Channel and weekly Podcasts. On social media you can find me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!