I love this time of the year. The unmistakable scent of damp earth, cut grass, and fresh pollen evoke the real prospect of new growth and possibility.
Knowing that it’s getting warmer and lighter every day here in the northern hemisphere is such an appropriate metaphor for coming out of the darkness and hibernation of this past year.
It’s a great time to be alive.
An operative word for this time is resilience.
Our world has changed in ways we haven’t fully processed yet. A lot of strong conversations are taking place.
I believe that resilience is our current best response.
Resilience buys us time to adapt!
“More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.” Dean Becker
Foolproof planning these days requires a more perfect knowledge of the future.
That’s just not available to anyone right now.
Resilience is that deep commitment to a mindset and a skill set that builds and rebuilds ecosystems that work even when things don’t work out as planned. Especially when things don’t work out!
Resilience buys us time to adapt.
Flexibility in the face of change is where resilience comes from.
As leaders, some look to us and rely on us.
I’ve often wondered why building resilience isn’t a key business imperative. My observation is that quite often just being human is at odds with work life.
Work can routinely bring stress, negativity, setbacks, and outright failures — and most of us are challenged to combat the effects.
We often equate resilience with overcoming extreme hardship or impossible odds.
Adequately understood, resilience can serve as an ever-present, daily mentor, helping us rebound from the collected frictions and pressures of work life.
Most of us just motor on— unaware of the increasing toll of emotional depletion — and building resilience isn’t considered.
I’ve been fortunate to have highly resilient people to learn from in my life.
I’ve also had personal challenges and circumstances where I could apply what I learned.
Here are seven observable characteristics of my resilient friends and mentors.
Networks of Support
Having a robust support system is an integral part of resilience. It really doesn’t matter who has your back in life – parents, friends, relatives, teachers, coaches, or colleagues. Real friends (not the Facebook kind) will give you understanding, guidance, and comfort when you’re struggling with a problem. They help you define your priorities and provide honest feedback just when you may need it the most.
Asking for help or counsel from the people who support you is a valuable life skill.
From my decades of work with marginalized populations, having a solid network always was a key determinant of capacity to rebound from the impact of life trauma.
Resilient people aren’t very self-absorbed. They give freely of themselves to those around them. It may appear counterintuitive, but being generous or devoting time to a worthy cause (like volunteering) are helpful strategies to take the focus off your problems.
Helping others can help expand your life skills and problem-solving abilities. Giving back to yourself is also helpful. Proper care of your health and periodically rewarding yourself contribute to thinking and acting “resiliently.”
Stick -to -itiveness
Doggedness, grit, hardiness, stamina – call it what you will. Resilient people learn to accept emotional pain and stress as part of life. They don’t allow their difficulties to define them. All the resilient people I know avoid personal pity parties. Instead, they recognize their feelings, acknowledge the problems being faced facing, trust that their ability to meet their problems, and believe they have the strength to maintain their emotional balance.
Accepting the fact that things are going to change is a fundamental part of resilience. When your goals, plans, ideas, or hopes are ruined because of unavoidable circumstances, a flexible and positive attitude will allow you to focus on new projects or new hopes. If you accept the things you can’t change or control, you’re free to put your effort into the things you can change and control.
Choice of Attitude
Most of the time, we don’t get to choose the obstacles and difficulties that life puts in our way. We always get to choose our attitude toward adversity. During hard times, it’s helpful to find something positive to think about and imagine a positive outcome. Even if you don’t have all the answers and even if the solution to your problems isn’t apparent, you can choose to believe that things will work out. You can tell yourself that your issues are manageable. You can choose to see yourself as a fighter, not a victim.
When a resilient person faces adversity, they’re likely to avoid making things worse by jumping to extremes. Resilient people tell themselves that their troubles won’t last forever. They don’t see every bump in the road as a catastrophe; they understand that things can’t be perfect. Having realistic expectations of themselves, others, and what can be achieved is the answer.
It’s been said that “laughter is the best medicine.” And really, if you can drum up some self-deprecating humor and laugh with others, you will lighten your load and lighten up!
Appropriate laughter and humor are beautiful ways to connect to others. They help release the feeling of stress that adversity causes you.
Laughter is also good for your body – it changes your body’s response to stress.
Can we strengthen our capacity to think and act more “resiliently”?
Think how a trainer at the gym helps you concentrate on certain muscle groups for strength and endurance. Similarly the various components of resilience can be exercised and strengthened.
Check the work of Dr. Fred Luthans. It points to evidence that resilience can be learned.
Another helpful article from Harvard Business Review – How Resilience Works
Have a great month!
Subscribe to Get a Free E-book: 7 Principles of Leading Change
Subscribe today and I'll send you my complimentary e-book on navigating change and a monthly support article on effective leadership.