I have hesitated to write a blog post about resilience for some time. It seemed like everyone was writing about it.
But the resilience theme continued to appear everywhere I looked. In every corner, at every turn and in every fold, until finally it was facing me head on. That was when I knew the universe was trying to tell me something.
My blogging journey is somewhat cathartic. More than a creative outlet, it’s as much a vehicle for me to gain my own clarity and insights about topics I may be grappling with, as it is about sharing my leadership learnings with the world.
And so, I decided upon a practical blog in the hope you and I would both discover a jewel or two buried within the scribing process.
What is resilience?
Resilience is essentially the ‘bounce back factor’. Strength in times of hardship. Grit when the going gets tough. The ability to cope with stress and adversity.
Every day in my coaching practice, I witness the need for it, great examples of it and the consequence of organisations and individuals not having it.
In our increasingly complex, fast paced and volatile world, resilience is (along with creativity), becoming a fundamental success factor for leaders and individuals in organisations today.
The question is, how do we build and foster resilience – in ourselves and in others?
Here are 5 ways to become more resilient:
1. Meaning. Learn what it is, and what it takes to develop it. Identify how important it is – for you, your organisation and those you lead. Make learning about resilience a priority.
2. Mindfulness and reflection. In his article ‘Resilience Through Mindful Leadership’ Bill George, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School, says “the best way to become resilient is to develop oneself into a calm, compassionate and adaptable Mindful Leader.”
To help achieve this, George recommends undertaking some form of “introspective practice” in order to slow down and create space for reflecting upon what is important.
For example, meditation, prayer, journaling, walking, running or swimming. Everyone has a mechanism for adopting introspective practice – the challenge is creating the space for it.
3. Connectedness. We are relational beings. One of the best antidotes to stress and adversity is sharing our experiences with others. The worst thing we can do as leaders is to try and face difficult situations in isolation. If you are an introvert, one way to achieve this is to first spend time alone, journaling your thoughts, and then connect with someone you trust.
4. Cultivate a positive attitude. Research constantly shows the strong link between a ‘glass half full’ attitude and resilience. Although staying optimistic through challenging periods can be tough, maintaining a positive outlook is key to building resiliency. This doesn’t mean ignoring the problem altogether, it means understanding setbacks are transient – and that you have the skills and abilities to overcome the challenges you face. Dr Sarah Edelman’s book “Change Your Thinking” offers practical ways to have a more positive outlook on life.
5. Flexibility. Leaning how to become more adaptable is a vital part of resilience.Resilient people often utilize unexpected events or obstacles as an opportunity to lean into a change of direction. While some people may be crushed by abrupt changes, highly resilient individuals are able to adapt and thrive.
Asking yourself, “where am I rigid in my thinking or approach?” and “where am I more flexible in my life?” can be a simple yet effective way to become more mindful of your current level of flexibility and consequently develop a more adaptable approach to challenges.
“The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.”
― Robert Jordan, The Fires of Heaven