Resilience: What is it?
We hear lots of talk about resilience, being resilient, grit, bouncebackability etc but what does this actually mean in reality?
Starting with the basics of resilience, here’s a definition to consider:
“the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”
From the Latin, “resiliens”, “resilire” – to rebound, or to recoil.
Resilience is undoubtedly an extremely valuable attribute to possess. It underpins much of the success that we see in the world. Successful people in business, sport, politics, in fact in most walks of life exhibit resilience. However, when we are told to “be more resilient”, it’s sometimes really hard to know (a) what this really means in practical terms and (b) how to go about being more resilient. This is especially true if we’re feeling stressed or under pressure at work. And what about just generally dealing with some unpleasant or unwelcome situation in our lives?
Think about it: being resilient could be just taking life’s knocks, rolling with the punches, keep on keeping on. But I don’t think that this sounds like a very pleasant, comfortable or productive place to be, particularly in the long term. A lighthouse is extremely resilient but standing around getting battered by storms and whatever the world throws at you doesn’t sound like much fun!
How to Build Your Resilience
Here’s the good news: resilience is something that can be developed. You can develop more resilience, feel more in control and have that focused commitment that will set you apart. This is the mindset that will put you on course to achieve the things you want. I’ve listed below a few things that you need to start doing NOW if you are serious about becoming more resilient and more successful.
Here are 3 of my preferred approaches for developing a more resilient mindset:
1. Know Yourself!
The better you understand what things are important to you, the better able you will be to build your resilience in the areas that matter to you. Equally importantly, figure out the things you don’t care about! Sounds simple, but what about those parts of your job that hold no interest to you? Difficult to just ignore them and still keep your job!
Well, try making a link between doing this stuff as well as you can (or at least as well as it needs to be done), and what benefits this brings you. I guarantee you will then more motivated to stick at it and see it through. Here’s an example: I don’t much like “cold” networking events but I know it’s important for our business that we meet potential new clients and also people who can help us in our business. I can, therefore, make the link between attending these events and the potential benefits that may accrue.
OK, admittedly, they’re still not my favourite thing but I even attended a couple of speed networking sessions at a recent expo using this mindset. Guess what – they were nowhere near as bad as I imagined they were going to be! So that was a win! I had the opportunity to bail but I built my resilience by understanding what was in it for me and stuck at it.
I’d suggest you also start building your resilience by figuring out what switches you on, what’s important to you and doing more of this. And if you can’t avoid the stuff that doesn’t light your fire, don’t worry. Try to make a link between doing it and the benefits it will bring.
2. Change Your Perspective
Sometimes things just seem overwhelmingly bad and it’s tough to summon up the motivation to keep going. We’ve all been there and probably will be there again at some point. A saying that helps me in situations like this is the following:
“Focus on what you can control or influence. If you can’t control the situation, then focus on controlling your response to the situation.”
Try to change your perspective as a way of developing your resilience, look at things in a different way. This is a technique called “re-framing” and it’s really useful in trying to make the best of a difficult situation. Realise that getting angry or upset about something isn’t going to change the thing that has happened. Instead of getting worked up, try to look for the positives or at least don’t be blown of course by negative emotions.
Think in terms of “responding” rather than “reacting.” I always think of a response as being controlled, measured, thoughtful, considered , proportionate. A reaction on the other hand is often spontaneous, emotional, immediate. Neither is inherently good or bad but resilient people exhibit high levels of control, which tends to lead them to respond rather than react.
Responding – Not Reacting – to Lockdown
Just prior to lockdown in March, business was booming for us and then from 23rd March, the world changed. Courses were cancelled, 1:1 sessions deferred indefinitely, it was a tidal wave of bad news, like for so many companies and individuals. What were the options? Complain bitterly about how unfair it was and just get angry? (OK so I did feel a bit like that to be honest…!) But then we figured how to get competent with Zoom and running group sessions remotely and put our energy into making something positive out of the situation:
- We shifted our mindset from negative to positive.
- We focused on using the time as an opportunity to develop our offering.
- We re-framed the situation as something we could benefit from, rather than something that would set us back unduly.
Notice how the situation didn’t change, only our response to it. We couldn’t change the reality so we focused on responding to it as positively as possible. It isn’t always easy – far from it – but it is worth it. Practise re-framing difficult situations by looking for the positives and respond accordingly. You’ll be well on your way to developing your resilience.
3. Be Adaptable
Change is inevitable. How many times have we all heard that? Does it make it easier? Probably not. However, developing a resilient mindset that allows you to cope better with the changes that will undoubtedly happen is a huge positive. Our page on control – and particularly life control – will go into this in more detail so head over there to find out more.
For now, however, what you need to know is that resilient people are able to cope with change more easily than those who are less resilient. Adopting a flexible attitude or mindset in which you actively anticipate change – if not welcome it – can help you manage the change process better. If you’re struggling with this concept, try viewing changes in a different light – what opportunities might it bring you? And if benefits aren’t obvious, perhaps try listing what you can do to influence or change the situation, and what can’t be changed at all.
You can thus help yourself adopt a more flexible, more adaptable mindset by attempting to look at things through a different lens. Focus on how you might benefit as a result of any changes that are happening, and start becoming more resilient. If it’s going to happen anyway, choose to respond rather than react, be flexible and adaptable, and find the one (or more) positive that you can focus on.
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