Anita Douglas writes about some of the attributes that contribute towards building resilience in the workplace.
In the first part of this series “Resilience in the Workplace”, I touched on the fact that it’s now accepted that we are able to nurture psychological traits and characteristics.
Much as we might do with technical competence or commercial ability, we can help someone who is not naturally resilient to develop the necessary characteristics. And that’s great news for the millions who want to develop better resilience to protect against life’s knocks and scrapes.
In this piece I want to focus on some of the attributes that contribute towards building resilience, in order to explore how someone can start to build that psychological ‘hard hat’.
But before we start…
There’s no quick fix for building resilience
Sorry folks but just as when trying to develop proficiency in a physical skill set or learned behaviour, don’t expect a quick fix. Building resilience requires commitment, engagement and practice!
It’s also important to point out that there’s no hard and fast resilience ‘curriculum’ guaranteed to work every time for every individual. We all have thresholds, triggers, tolerances and values that are personal to us. Add to that your own life experiences and decades of learned and repeated responses and it’s not difficult to see why two people in the same job role may need to focus on very different aspects of their psyche in order to improve their resilience.
So whilst these may not be relevant for everyone, here are just some of the building blocks.
Get ‘match fit’
Your mental AND physical condition both impact on your ability to cope with stressful situations. If you’re working all hours, skipping the gym and skimping on sleep then the chances are you’re not at your best physically. When you’re fatigued and generally run down the impact of stress can be amplified.
Make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Prioritise getting a good night’s sleep and build time into your schedule for regular breaks and exercise. It will raise your motivation and your mood, leaving you better prepared to deal with stressors.
Talk to Yourself
Most of the time we’re not aware of our thoughts. A steady stream of subconscious commentary bubbles away in our mind, reacting to what goes on around us. Left unchecked that ‘inner voice’ can actually do a lot of damage. You need to learn to ‘hear’ what that voice is saying and, where necessary correct it. Recognising negative reactions to events and adjusting your train of thought can go along way to reducing the impact of a stressful situation.
Build a healthy relationship with failure
For some, right from an early age failure is linked to poor performance, to blame and more importantly, to a negative emotional state. If you see failure as diametrically opposite to success, the chances are you fall into that group. Yet some of the most successful individuals have failed or experienced failure to the extreme.
Take Sir James Dyson. He created over five thousand prototypes that failed before he found a design that worked. A remarkable example of resilience, borne out of a clear understanding that from every failure he could learn something new.
Try and be pragmatic when things do go wrong, look at what you can take from that failure in order to achieve a different outcome next time. Every failure should be seen as a step towards success rather than a move in the opposite direction.
Build a support network…and use it
Strong relationships are vital in every part of our lives. Whether at work or at home, we need people who we can rely on to support us when we need it. The simple act of being able to talk things through with someone can often lend a much-needed perspective in challenging circumstances.
Don’t be afraid to use those who care about you to sound things out, but remember that these relationships should be reciprocal and rely on partnership!
Accept that you’re human!
Finally, just remember that no one is infallible. It’s highly likely that there will still be situations that will knock you sideways. Being resilient doesn’t remove emotion or mean that you won’t feel overwhelmed in the moment.
Don’t beat yourself up over it, let the moment pass and focus on getting through it. Remember, true resilience is about the speed and direction in which you recover from those events and building resilience can take time. As Muhammad Ali is quoted as saying “You don’t lose if you get knocked down; you lose if you stay down.”
These are just a handful of ways you can start to turn the dial up on your own resilience. There are many more but these are some of the most common and straightforward to start to work on.