Look through any LinkedIn news feed and you can read about someone’s struggles and how they managed to change their life or someone thanking another for ‘a great job /training course / product / suit fitting (I kid you not!)’ or how this learning / product / person can really change your life. I’m rather partial to a scroll through LinkedIn when I have five minutes to spare. Look through any news feed and you can learn so much about an individual. Typically, by this time of year, the annual appraisal has been completed. Whilst appraisals are meant to motivate employees by realigning business and personal objectives, many can find that they can be left feeling a little aggrieved for one reason or another. Sharing a quote with the world about your level of motivation or worse still, your feelings towards your boss, may seem like an attractive proposition but let’s consider some alternative activities you may want to try before you click ‘post’.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from a tough time. From our earliest history, and across all cultures, the quality of resilience has been admired. The heroes in fairy tales and legends have an abundance of it – appearing at their best when most ruthlessly challenged.
In science, resilience describes the process by which objects revert back to their original shape after being stretched or bent. In medicine, it refers to the ability of a patient to recover from injury or illness. For patients, this resilience may reflect differences in basic anatomy but also reflects aspects of personality such as strength of will or optimism. Patients will often have to change their behaviour to overcome illness.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from a tough time.
Overtime it has been recognised that some people are less fazed by setbacks than others, clearly showing better resilience for whatever life throws at them. Such people are also able to recast their objectives, even reinvent themselves, according to the demands of the environment. Whilst it is easy to assume that some people appear to have an inherent abundance of resilience, it is more likely that they have experienced significant events during their younger years that have contributed to it. As we grow older, our resilience level tends to increase naturally as we have had more experiences and challenges that we have overcome. But there are also some things we can do to nurture and increase it.
Enhance your self- worth – this is a core attribute of resilient people. Use ‘reframing’ to help you to take control. Appraisals have a bad habit of leaving us focused on our documented failures rather than the achievements. Once you learn to accept that any failure is a part of learning it is easier to embrace or ‘reframe’. Get into the routine of thinking about what you have learnt each day, what lessons can be drawn from every experience and how can you use them to strengthen your ‘learning muscle’.
Deal with any conflict – it is essential to acknowledge and face up to any differences. Sulking is unacceptable in the work environment. Behave appropriately and treat each situation individually. If you reach out to others to help you resolve your differences, you should have a clear idea of who would be the best person to turn to in a particular situation, and what you want them to do to help you. Remember, this is about solving the problem, and not racking up ‘support’ through the number of likes and comments.
Become more optimistic – Resilient people do not waste time on the impossible but know what is achievable and work towards it. Optimism is about looking on the bright side, to have confidence in your own ability to sort out issues and salvage what can be salvaged from problematic situations. Create your own vision of what success looks like; one that is achievable but vibrant and rounded. Being unsuccessful in an application for a new role can be soul destroying. But if you look to see what can be salvaged from the experience, you may find it gives you time to develop and hone other skills that you would have had to neglect if you’d been successful.
‘Build out’ a list of things that make you feel good about yourself – When we are feeling deflated, it is often easier to focus on negative words, emotions or disappointment. To help bring you back to a positive frame of mind, make a list of the things that make you feel good about yourself. Make the list as broad and robust as you can, and try not to compare yourself with other people. This can include examples of how you overcame challenges in the past. Remind yourself of this list from time to time and silently praise yourself when you do something well.
‘Be yourself because everyone else is taken’ – whatever action you take, stay true to yourself and your values; remain authentic. You may take inspiration and guidance from others but also refer back to ask yourself if this action or activity is consistent with your values.
In training, we look for the change in a person’s behaviour to measure the success of the learning. Resilience is about changing your behaviour to overcome problems; it is about what you can do to bounce back and move forward to achieve success – whatever your success looks like. Next time you are tempted to post a GIF to express your feelings about a colleague, however tempting, think ‘is this how I want someone to remember me?’ Instead, think about what activities you can do to change your behaviour rather than potentially exacerbate it. Remember, people like me are everywhere, finding five minutes to read a news feed and learn about you. If this is your opportunity to introduce yourself to me and get me interested in what you do, is this really the view of you, that you want me to see? I know I’d rather be seen being resilient than emotional – although I do like being emotionally intelligent – but that’s a subject for another day!