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Your REAL Life: Building Authentic Resilience for a Joyful Life

Change is the one constant we can guarantee to experience throughout our lifetime. Nate’s REAL model enables all people to build their personal superpower ofYour REAL Life authentic resilience. By using the REAL Model for growing “authentic resilience” — individuals, business leaders in for-profit/non-profit, and even clergy members— everyone can get clear guidance on overcoming life’s obstacles. A practical field guide that was built to be used over and over, Nate’s book (Your REAL Life and its message) is to Get REAL. Authentically resilient people use four key ingredients in living a life of joy and well-being: They know how to move through the Reality curve. They focus their Energy. They are Authentic and often use their purpose to help them navigate hard things. And finally, they lead their lives with Love. These pillars are an exceptional lens and tool to gauge life’s struggles and to navigate adversity. They are ultimately, leading to an empowered life.

Nathan Andres

Nathan Andres

Global Citizen Nathan (“Nate”) Andres has ridden life’s change roller-coaster and is often asked about the secret to his resiliency. Between enduring 9/11, record-breaking earthquakes, and tsunamis to discrimination and loss, Nate’s built a reputation for getting through the hard knocks of life. After years of research, education, practice, and reflection, he’s not only found the answer but turned it into a formula anyone can use. His REAL Model helps people develop “authentic resilience” which can become a superpower in fighting adversity and leading a life of wellbeing and joy. A seasoned HR executive with over 25 years of experience worldwide and across business sectors, Nate is an author, coach, well-being, and LGBTQ activist — “OUT” there in the world helping people make change— within themselves and in their communities.

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The Interview Transcript

0:01 – Hugh Ballou Welcome to the Nonprofit Exchange. This is your host, Hugh Ballou. My co-host David Dunworth is wrestling with a computer today, so he won’t be here, but I have a special guest today. This is a function of SynerVision Leadership Foundation. It’s Synergy. In Center Visions, the synergy of our common vision. We hold a vision as leaders and we build synergy in our team, somewhat like a conductor does with a choir or an orchestra. We have an exclusive community for nonprofit leaders and clergy, those leading special charities, and membership organizations.

0:39 – Hugh Ballou If you’re a tax-exempt organization, check us out. Nonprofit It’s a community of people like-minded who want to serve others and bring goodness to the world. My guest today is Nathan Andres. He’s coming in from the District of Columbia. Nathan, welcome. Would you tell people a little bit about yourself, your background, and your passion for your topic? And let’s give them the title. The title today is Your Real Life, Building Authentic Resilience for a Joyful Life.

1:11 – Hugh Ballou Nathan, tell us about yourself.

1:13 – Nathan Andres Oh, thank you, Hugh. Hello, everybody. I got to tell you, this is my first time to be on Facebook Live. So this is new, and I’m excited by that. It also happens to be World Book Day, if you know what that is. We are celebrating our favorite books. Coincidentally, I wrote a book. We’re going to talk about that later, too. But I’m Nate Andres. I am a resilience coach. I’m a former HR executive. I’m still actually doing HR work today. And I’m an activist for wellbeing in workplaces. And I advocate for mental health for the good of everybody.

1:52 – Nathan Andres I really believe everybody has the right to live a joyful life. And that’s why I’m here. I’m here to talk about some of the steps and the tools to achieve that.

2:03 – Hugh Ballou So give us a little context about what is wellbeing and what is a wellbeing activist?

2:11 – Nathan Andres Yeah, well, well-being is a broad, big world. I like to think of well-being in several dimensions. We all, as humans, have well-being in a variety of spaces. These seven dimensions is what most psychologists agree on. And those dimensions are really stretched from social well-being, emotional well-being, physical well-being, environmental, occupational, and even financial well-being. And when we look across these dimensions of well-being, the sum total and how we work in these spaces is what enables us to get to a life of overall well-being and ultimately that byproduct of joy.

2:55 – Nathan Andres As an activist, I really think that we have work to do to help people achieve well-being. And where I work is in workplace well-being so that we can work I’m going to say the word work a lot. We work a lot in workplaces to achieve workplace well-being. But what I really mean by that is that when we start to break down some of those dimensions of well-being, and we start to also look at adversity that people face in workplaces, they kind of go hand in hand. People are confronted a lot with social adversity.

3:33 – Nathan Andres They’re confronted with environmental issues that are either in the workplace, Actually, the World Health Organization defines one of the occupational hazards in workplaces as leadership. Leadership can be a hazard to your mental health, for example. So when we look at well-being in the workplace, my job as a resilience coach is to really try to work in helping people achieve what I call authentic resilience. And when we achieve that, and we’re activating people and helping leaders, helping the frontline get uncomfortable in the places where we can shift culture and create a culture of well-being, that is where we’re actually then activating change and making change for the better in workplace mental health and workplace well-being.

4:26 – Hugh Ballou That’s fascinating, as leadership is a hazard. You know, just because you got an MBA doesn’t know you’ll, you know, that’s management. Yeah. So what about leadership? I think that’s one of the most misunderstood words in the language. So if you look at, we spend a third of our life in bed, sleeping. And we spend a big chunk of our life, maybe eight hours or more a day, sometimes five days a week. But I find there’s a lot of people that over-function, they work longer hours and more days, and they get in that trap.

5:02 – Hugh Ballou So, I don’t know how that contributes to the lack of their happiness. But at some point, there’s a choice we make But there’s some other challenges that we can’t change. So what are some of the ways that people can reframe their own thinking to overcome some of the challenges in the workplace?

5:24 – Nathan Andres Great question, Hugh. I think it’s important to kind of back up and say, well, how did I get here? How did I get to helping people with their challenges in the workplace? Well, clearly, for me, I had my own challenges in the workplace. And I would tell you not too long ago, about five years ago in probably the worst year of my life in terms of career and in terms of all the things that were kind of happening. And I ended up in the hospital with a burnout. And I don’t know if people understand what burnout is, but people who are burning out are usually the last people to know, I’ll tell you that.

6:04 – Nathan Andres And why this kind of, is so important to me is I don’t want people to get to the place in their work where they have all this adversity. I think these same dimensions of well-being are also the same dimensions of adversity and they stack up on you. And for me, I had some personal emotional grief that I was dealing with. I had a couple of different people in my life pass away.

6:31 – Multiple Speakers My little dog nearly died.

6:33 – Nathan Andres I was living in Hong Kong at the time with a lot of the protests were happening in 2019. I was experiencing some challenges at work with some of the pressures of dealing with the protests in town, but also running a retail business. I was dealing with some challenges in management. And, you know, not for nothing, when you have kind of a war zone happening in your environment near where we live, we had tear gas, we had protesters. We had a lot of violent outbursts. There were fires in the subways.

7:04 – Nathan Andres It was a lot. And that stack of adversity just kind of weighed on me so heavily that I ended up burning out from work and from all of the things in life. And it’s what psychologist Martin Seligman would say is learned helplessness.

7:22 – Multiple Speakers I learned how to be helpless.

7:24 – Nathan Andres And I think oftentimes in workplaces, that’s what happens is we get so bogged down by the stresses of delivering and high performance and ambition and career, and then all the politics and hitting the strategy and hitting the numbers that people can really just start to spin in ways that they don’t know how to manage that. When I hit that place, and I was in the hospital with some kidney problems, I recognized how far away I was from my purpose, but also that I needed to do some things differently.

7:55 – Nathan Andres And as I started to do those things differently for myself, bringing mental health awareness to my workplace, building some programs for people who needed to consider their own mental health in the workplace, that’s when I started to realize, oh, actually, there’s something to this. We actually need to do some things differently in workplaces so that everybody can benefit from not only resilience but also can benefit from taking time out, using vacation, and thinking about how wellbeing actually is a big part of the full day of people.

8:33 – Nathan Andres To your point, right? We sleep eight hours, and we work the rest, whether we are doing that at our workplace for a job, or we’re doing that to live the rest of our lives. And we need to make sure that all of those things are balanced.

8:47 – Hugh Ballou Balance is important. Are we called to this? Are we driven? So you mentioned burnout in the, you’re talking to nonprofit leaders and I remind our listeners that the nonprofits, churches, community membership organizations, and local charities are also a workplace. You’re running a for-purpose business. You’re not centered on profitable business, but we really aren’t attentive to how over half of our nonprofit leaders are burned out and leaving. Um, it’s a, it’s a crisis, so it didn’t happen just in corporate America.

9:21 – Hugh Ballou It happens in the local charity and of course, we have various sizes of what we call nonprofit. We’re the only industry that defines ourselves by what we are not. So, we are leaders. We are social entrepreneurs and we are setting a new pattern. So we don’t need to get into the corporate traps. So I think it’s really timely that let’s talk about your book. Our interview is also the title of your books. If you folks, if you’re, if you’re listening on the podcast, you’ll see it on the podcast platform.

9:52 – Hugh Ballou You see the picture of his book. So Nathan, hold up the book and tell us a little bit about it. About the book and the four components of the real model, please. Your real life.

10:05 – Nathan Andres Yes, your real life is really about how to make your life real. But in actuality, REAL is an acronym that stands for the four key components that you can use to build a life of what I call authentic resilience, but also a life of well-being and joy. And I asked the question of myself as I was hitting some of those hard personal points, as I mentioned, in 2019. And not for nothing, I’ve lived through 9-11 and I’ve lived through a couple of Hurricanes, and some typhoons. I also, if you can believe it or not, my family liked to tease me about being the king of disasters.

10:47 – Nathan Andres Also lived in the, yeah, that’s loaded.

10:53 – Hugh Ballou If I ever decide to move where you’re living, I won’t go there.

10:56 – Nathan Andres Yeah, well, I also lived in Tokyo during, the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. So disaster and catastrophe and I are kind of far-flung friends. And for me, I was like, well, how have I figured out how to get through this stuff? That was the number one question. And number two was, you know, you’re going through a moment of adversity right now, Hugh, with the lights going out, right?

11:26 – Hugh Ballou Staying online for some reason. That’s good.

11:28 – Multiple Speakers That is good.

11:30 – Nathan Andres You know what I was gonna say is that When I started researching to kind of ask myself, how do I get through these things? I found that you know The science of resilience is really clear resilient people do four key things number one. They face reality number two, they know how to manage their energy, and number three They are really clued into who they are and their own authenticity. And last, super resilient people, lead their lives with love. Now for everyone playing at home and you’re paying attention, that’s R-E-A-L.

12:12 – Nathan Andres That spells out real, reality, energy, authenticity, and love.

12:18 – Hugh Ballou That’s great. You know, if you really understand the concept, you can bring it down to something simple that everybody can understand. And Nathan, that’s really brilliant. So the four, just give them a summary, the R-E-A-L, what do those stand for again?

12:35 – Nathan Andres Reality. Leaning in, facing reality, and understanding what to do when hard stuff happens. Number two is energy. You know, we got energy and well-being batteries. And if we think about how we harness our energy and charge up our well-being batteries and manage our energy, you can get through anything. Authenticity is the A And what I really mean, and I think your audience is really going to understand this because how I define authenticity is really purpose and how we live our values, how we use our strengths, how we drive the meaningful work of our lives.

13:12 – Nathan Andres And authentic people use all those experiences in their lives to really get out there and be mission-driven. Authenticity, when you are tapping into those values, helps you get through really hard stuff. And last is love. You know, when we lead ourselves and lead our lives with love, And I think included in my definition is a little bit of forgiveness, a lot of community building, good communication, and a little sense of humor. When we use those four little components of love, we can be unstoppable and be resilient in your life.

13:55 – Hugh Ballou That’s worth the whole interview right there. So we’re going to show his website in a few minutes. I’ve obviously had a power outage in my house, but somehow I didn’t lose the internet. So if I do lose that, I’m going to switch to my phone real quick. So we’ll keep going and hope that stays on and I’ll cut this part out. So, Nathan, that is great. And we’re going to talk about your book in a minute. So what practical tips do you have? To conclude, in each of these pillars, how do we connect this to applicable things we can do every day?

14:28 – Multiple Speakers Yep.

14:30 – Nathan Andres Let’s go back, OK? We’re going to get real a couple of times as we go through. But if we think about the R, facing reality is really what I call the reality curve. And I want everyone to think and visualize kind of a curve. If you have an impact, the first thing you do when you’re facing reality is look at that adversity and you say, I acknowledge you, you ugly adversity. And then you slide down that curve to accept it. When you accept that that adversity has happened, resilient people move really fast from acknowledging to accepting, just like you did, Hugh.

15:09 – Nathan Andres When the power went out, you were like, hey, you acknowledge that the power went out, You accepted that the power went out. The next part of that is building what I call and tapping into opportunity. Opportunity is where adversity and opportunity collide. And the opportunity is seeing the darkness in that moment. No pun intended here. The darkness is how am I going to keep going? Oh, and the opportunity for you at that moment was actually the internet still working. We’re still moving on.

15:41 – Nathan Andres You build an action plan. And A is the last part as you climb up that curve. So resilient people move through that reality curve really quickly. And I think when, and I’ve been talking about this with some of my clients and even my personal trainer, we talk about this all the time. When you move through, you know, from acknowledge to accept, to opportunity and action, those four A’s, you can get through a lot of things really quick because you’re not sitting in the place of suffering.

16:10 – Nathan Andres Eradicate and move yourself from learning that learned helplessness. And you actually build action faster than you do when you’re suffering and hurting. That’s my tip for reality.

16:23 – Hugh Ballou Reality yes, sir. I mean, that’s where we ought to be in freezing up and standing. There is not an option. So other skills related to that besides, you know, there’s a, there’s a mental adjustment that you have to say, okay, I’m going to do something about it. But other skills to be able to implement those.

16:44 – Nathan Andres I think a big part of the opportunity mindset is really about looking at things from a positive and optimistic growth mindset. Those two things are intrinsically linked. So when you see something bad happen. You know, and whether that’s an earthquake or a tsunami, you know, and you recognize that those things are coming, it might be that you just stepped in dog do, right? Because we’ve all stepped in dog do once in a while. It’s how you move from accepting, pardon me, acknowledging to accepting that you stepped in dog do.

17:20 – Nathan Andres Do you stay in that kind of, oh my God, I can’t believe I stepped in dog do and my shoes are going to be ruined. I’m on the way to work, and I’m going to miss the bus, and I’ve got dirty, stinky shoes. What am I going to do? And you slide down. Or you say, OK, I’ve stepped in dog doo once before. I know what to do. I’ve now accepted it. I’m going to just go and stop by the local shoe store and pick up another pair of shoes on the way to work. Oh, and the opportunity is I get a new pair of shoes. Right? That can immediately flip the way you look at adversity.

17:56 – Nathan Andres Right? That’s the skill. It’s about how you start to look at the dark side of the hard things.

18:05 – Hugh Ballou You know, it’s a perspective. You took ownership in that scenario. We’re the ones that stepped in the dog do. The dog does what the dog normally does. We want to blame the dog when in fact it’s us who was careless and stepped on it.

18:21 – Nathan Andres Did you know we were going to be talking about dog do?

18:24 – Hugh Ballou Thank you. I told you we’d have fun on this interview. Little did I know what was going to happen. I have to be careful how I set up expectations. So mental health. Oh, mental health. We’re in somewhat of a crisis in, I guess, a global crisis. And mental health is a big issue. So how or where does mental health play a part in today’s workplace and the future workplace?

18:53 – Multiple Speakers Yep.

18:54 – Nathan Andres Well, I think this is where the E of the model comes in. It’s about energy. You know, time is finite and, you know, everyone has a limited number of days and minutes to do what they need to do in their life. So I advocate managing your energy and really thinking about those four batteries, which are, you’ve got a physical battery, you’ve got an emotional battery, you have a mental battery and a spiritual battery. And if you think about your energies in this way, I often use cell phones as a great example.

19:32 – Nathan Andres If you think about your cell phone or your computer or your iPad or whatever you’re using the device, and it starts to get down to that red zone where the battery flashes at you, what do you do?

19:45 – Hugh Ballou You plug in.

19:48 – Nathan Andres In your case, you hit the generator button, right?

19:54 – Multiple Speakers You plug back in.

19:56 – Nathan Andres What is important is that we don’t let our own batteries get run down. Oftentimes, we allow ourselves, particularly at the workplace, and I would guess that in non-profit organizations, you know, where resources are a little bit more slim and trim, that we put more energy in there. And what happens is, is if you get down to the red zone and your four batteries are flashing at you to say you’re running out, you’re running out, guess what? You’re never going to make it to the bank because your well-being tank is empty.

20:33 – Nathan Andres So if we think about our own energy in these four areas of physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy as true batteries that need to be charged, we’re going to be able to be more focused and ready to go, particularly when hard things happen, but also then when we’re supercharged, we’re able to be amazing at what we’re supposed to be doing for our mission-driven work.

20:58 – Unidentified Speaker Supercharged.

20:59 – Hugh Ballou Hope you get supercharged listeners. So, Nathan, you have a website and we’re going to, I’m going to show it to people that are on the video. If you’re listening to this on the podcast, now we talked about the particular day, but we’re recording this today. It’s, what day is this? It’s April the 23rd, 2024. So people might be listening to it at some other time in history, but you can always go to Nathan’s website and it’s his name, Nathan A-N-D-R-E-S dot com. So Nathan, when they go there, what will they find?

21:36 – Nathan Andres Well, you’re going to find, you know, some tools, a little bit about the book and you’ll learn a little bit about who I am as a coach and as an activist. You will also see that I do speak and I do, I write a blog. I write about this stuff pretty regularly and I’m happy to share my thoughts and my thinking with people about some of these topics how to really take care of yourself and how to live resilient lives so that you can get to a place of joyful living.

22:10 – Hugh Ballou Wow, wow. So there’s quite a bit of information. It’s Nathan, N-A-T-H-A-N, Andres, A-N-D-R-E-S dot com. Now, he goes by Nate, I see, about Nate. You can spell that. It’s only four letters. So that’s a good place to go. And there’s a Connect button. So if people want to talk to you, they go to Connect. Is that how it happens?

22:35 – Nathan Andres Yeah, and I’m happy to connect with people. When you hit Connect on my website, You’ll be able to connect into subscribe to some of the newsletters and some of the resources that I have. And of course, when you look at the book page, you can find out more about how to get your hands on a copy of my book, Your Real Life.

22:55 – Hugh Ballou And there are some really implementable ideas there. So, it’s a good book to have in a leader’s library. So, Nate, you want to leave people with a thought or a tip today. I want to remind them before you do that. It’s the nonprofit exchange where you find these interviews. The nonprofit If you want to see our community, it’s We’d love to have you participate with us because nonprofit leaders need to support each other. And we have this opportunity to listen to people like Nate and learn from them.

23:32 – Hugh Ballou Nate, this has been great stuff today. What do you want to leave people with?

23:38 – Nathan Andres I think what’s important to me is in order to live a life of well-being and joy, You know, I want everyone to remember that you’re in control and actually, as individuals, we’re all in control of the choices that we make. There’s always a choice. And when we think about our mission and the work that we’re on, and we tune into who we are as people and our values, our authentic selves really show up for ourselves. We use the tools of being real, then you can absolutely be in a place of control so that you get to a place for yourself of well-being and joy.

24:15 – Nathan Andres That’s what I hope this book is about. It’s what I want for people. It is my mission, it’s my work to be able to be out there helping people build authenticity and resilience.

24:30 – Hugh Ballou Nate, thank you so much. My goal is to have our listeners learn something, but I learn something just about every day. And this is number 390 interviews, and not just like this, but it’s been so helpful. So Nate Andres, thank you for being our guest today on the Nonprofit Exchange.

24:48 – Nathan Andres My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

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