High performance at work often comes at a personal price. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The answer: working on a resilient mindset.
Imagine battling your way through heavy traffic to work. You’re in a hurry, perhaps close to being late for a client meeting. Your mobile phone pings with a text from a member of your team saying they haven’t finished the project report. Car horns are honking and people are impatient to get where they’re going. You feel stressed out – and that’s just going into work. Getting through it without losing it requires both the ability to navigate, adjust and keeping your cool while accepting the necessity of the situation you’re in. In short, a resilient mindset.
Thriving in a multispeed environment
Indeed, says Client Director Trish Meecham, change is the only certainty in life. And with organisations today operating at lightning speed, increasingly complex and difficult to navigate in, we all need a healthy dose of resilience.
“In the corporate world, it’s important to choose a resilient mindset to survive the ups and downs of a busy workplace. The reality is that in today’s organisations we are functioning at an incredible pace given the rate of technological change, organisational transformation, and in the face of extraordinary competition. Leadership resilience is a ‘must-have’ in order to navigate day-to-day at work, let alone to cope with major setbacks or bounce back from a career disaster. Resilient people and resilient teams can deliver amazing results, whatever challenges they face. Resilient people respond well to pressure. And, when they come under pressure, they know they have the mental fortitude to overcome adversity and deliver on performance goals,” says Trish Meecham.
And the good news is that in a world where stress is a killer, resilience can be learned, and it might just be the next new competitive edge.
“In the corporate world, it’s important to choose a resilient mindset to survive the ups and downs of a busy workplace."
Building a more resilient mindset
The goal is to start with yourself first – be open to building higher levels of personal awareness, learn and practice techniques to stay resilient and thrive in the most demanding work situations. As with many things in life, resilience is a mindset you can choose to improve given the right tools and techniques. It’s not a case of toughening up; on the contrary, building stronger relationships and knowing who to rely on are key elements.
“There are several important ways to work on your resilience. It starts with your mindset; identifying what mindsets and beliefs are working for you, where you’re on autopilot and eventually - with training and tools - weeding out what’s not productive. It’s not easy, but you need to make that assessment: what are the behaviours that I can own - and work on changing your response to what you can influence, while proactively dealing with negative stressors,” says Trish Meecham.
A continuum of learned behaviours
Studies show that a resilient mindset is crucial to overcoming some of life’s difficulties, and that resilience is born from the interplay between internal disposition and external experience. It derives from knowing you have the skills to handle different and difficult experiences and can cope (self-efficacy), having supportive relationships (intimacy), and adaptive mental strategies (mindset and tools).
During World War Two scientists and psychologists studying resilience identified that displaced children recovered better when they faced trauma with a caregiver present to support them. And in a more recent study by Sarah Bond and Gillian Shapiro, when asked about the biggest drain on their resilience in a business context, a majority of respondents answered that being stretched to their limit by the pace of work and managing difficult relationships and politics in the workplace were by far the biggest stressors.
“Resilience is something we all have, whether we realise it or not. As children we learned to walk by falling over many times and getting back up again. That’s resilience. As adults in a business context, we still need to leverage and strengthen that resilience muscle in order to be at our most happy, productive and effective. Resilience helps you to manage yourself, navigate challenge and communicate more effectively, especially when under pressure,” says Trish Meecham.
"And the good news is that in a world where stress is a killer, resilience can be learned, and it might just be the next new competitive edge."
3 tips to work on your resilience
Know yourself. Self-assessment helps you to quickly decide where to invest your time. Ask yourself: where do I first need to put my attention and energy in order to achieve the results I need? How can I turn difficult events to my advantage and view setbacks as learning opportunities while still having positive relationships with my co-workers?
Make a strategy. Make a choice that resilience needs to be part of your organisation’s agenda. Discuss with someone you trust what your strategies should be to increase your personal resilience and that of your team. How can you distinguish between things you can and can’t control? How can you deal with emotionally difficult problems proactively? What boundaries do you need to set in both your professional lives and your personal lives in order to avoid burnout?
Explore your role as a leader. When in charge, it’s your job to create the culture and the optimum conditions required for resilience and positivity within your organisation. Take charge and make sure it’s a topic of conversation and an active part of your goal to develop an emotionally robust, happy and more engaged team.