Building Strength from the Storm

Guest Blog Written by Tylia Tietje 

Tylia is an influencer in Operational Excellence in the biotech industry.  In her free time she enjoys tending her chickens and spending time with her dogs.  Most of all, she is driven to help others feel at peace so that we can better serve our communities and give our all to our loved ones.

Wind blows and bends branches of a tree that stands proud upon a mountain top, but with every push of the wind, strength builds within the tree.  In nature, wind triggers growth of “reaction wood” (or stress wood). A tree cannot survive and grow to maturity without a little adversity to prepare it for a lifetime of storms and sunny days. Just like the wind pushing upon the tree, times of stress in our lives may bend us sideways, but it builds strength within us.

COVID-19 has kicked 2020 off to an emotionally uncomfortable start to say the least. I could not help but think, what can I give back to help others in these uncertain times? I’ve spent my career in the life sciences as a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and landed in the biotech industry as a leader in Operational Excellence – bringing efficiency, quality, and healthy mindset to the workplace. I’ve found many Lean methods are not only applicable in the workplace but can be applied to our everyday life. 

Let’s talk a bit about creating an environment to set ourselves up for success by visiting 5S ( so that we can grow into our strongest self.


  • Keep only what’s needed, remove what’s not
  • Recycle, repurpose, gift unneeded items and remove from your space


  • Group / organize logically
  • Think through what needs to be done from start to finish
  • Place what you need, where it is needed


  • Update content, keep it relevant to current and (near) future needs
  • Remove distractions
  • Create a safe and healthy environment (mentally and physically) 


  • Get others involved with the new culture shift, make them a part of the change
  • Build a support system so that everyone know where to go and what to do
  • Setup a way to communicate – routine check-ins, boards to post at


  • Plan how this new way of living / doing things can be continued over time
  • Setup for success with visual cues when something needs to be done
  • Seek out feedback for continuous improvement and personal development, actively listen to it. Focus on 1 thing at a time.

Humans are complex creatures. Good news is we are not alone in this world and can learn from and help each other. 

Some science backed tips if you’re feeling a bit stressed out: (

#1 Create quick wins 

  • When our brain focuses on a giant hot mess, it can be overwhelming. If we break it down into smaller pieces, all of a sudden things are more manageable. E.g. Work 5-10 minutes to make headway on a larger effort that needs to be done. You’re making progress. Give yourself a pat on the back! Celebrate!

#2 Keep busy, do “the things” to gain a sense of control

  • When we take action and accomplish things, we send ourselves pleasure hormone, dopamine. E.g. Make a to do list and check items off… take a shower, send that email.

#3 Help others - Helping your community helps you too!

  • Give your brain a break from your worries and create positive rewards by lifting others up. E.g. Ask others how you can help them, provide social support by calling loved ones.


When times get tough, I always remind myself of the silver lining and that I will stand stronger and taller once this passes, though it can be tough in the moment.  Take it one moment at a time. The sun will come up tomorrow, I promise. 


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