Resilience in Business and How to Cultivate It
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Being able to bounce back from setbacks is critical for individual wellbeing. In the workplace, this ability to bounce back is vital, particularly in times of stress, change and uncertainty.

We asked Chief WYE? Resilience Facilitator, Psychologist Maria Stavrinides, to share what she believes is key for building resilience.

“Today’s world requires individuals, teams and organisations to be more agile and adaptive than ever” explained Maria. “The ability to be open to learning, take risks and make mistakes is critical for growth – meaning need lean in to fear and learn and grow from those things that we experience as setbacks…this is resilience”.

Fear! Risk! Mistakes!

Fear, mistakes and risk are three words distinctly associated with the potential for failure. Yep, the F word we’re often faced with professionally and do our best to avoid.

If you’re into podcasts, Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist and author of Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience discusses this very topic and her belief that ‘Resilience is resistance to adversity’ here.

Why Do We Fear Failure?

One of our favourite author/speaker/marketers, Seth Godin, believes the components of fear were put together long before we were even born when our primitive brain (which still affects the instinctive part of our thinking) required a whole different set of survival instincts in order to get through the day.

This was a time when we had to rely on our reptilian brain to cope and we literally had to run (take flight) or be prepared to fight, hence the common term, ‘fight or flight’. It was our first suit of armour.

When asked how do we overcome our reptilian fear, Seth says we cannot and should not fight against the fear, rather, we should “dance with the lizard”.  In other words, we should acknowledge we are fearful and do it anyway.  

Fear and Resilience

Fear is how our body reacts to any kind of threat (being rejected, speaking out, sharing an idea, not being good enough, asking questions) like we are on the run from a Tyrannosaurus Rex. We get stressed. We might fumble, sweat, not think straight, even have heart palpitations or shortness of breath.

Now while it is near impossible to avoid our fears, stress, or “threats” in our day to day, we can build resilience to them. We can learn to ‘dance with the lizard’.

3 Ways to Dance with the Lizard

1: Word Play

A popular strategy, we’ve seen work countless times, is to re-label your stressful/fearful event from a ‘crises’ to a ‘challenge’.

That’s right, by simply swapping words you can change your mindset, with remarkable effect on how you deal with a situation. From facing a fear to facing a challenge.

2: Stop Doing it All at Once

Stop doing it all and stop doing it all at once. It turns out that 98% of the population doesn’t multi-task very well and chances are you are part of the 98% so stop multitasking and start doing things well (and up to 40% better).

Start chunking down that thing you want to achieve. Make each component bite-sized and only focus on the one portion you can chew at a time, you’ll actually get more done and in a less stressful way.

For bigger, more challenging problems try by approaching them as “an inquiry starting from given conditions to investigate” (this is how mathematicians and physicists define problems by the way  – isn’t it great?)

3: Share Your Problems

You know those sayings ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ or ‘two heads are better than one’? Well, there are actual statistics on how effective it is to work with other people on a problem. If you can’t see clear on how to move faster or better or how to navigate the next step on the ladder, use the collective team intelligence around you.  

Sharing with others what you would like to achieve will help you look beyond the obvious because everyone will have a unique view and understanding of your work. They will also have a unique perspective on how to approach a problem.

So ask for another’s opinion, take in their valuable views and see what solutions naturally float to the top. And remember, it’s okay to collaborate, teams solve problems faster – which would reduce stress and build up your resistance for the next time for face a challenge.

3 More Tips for Building Your Resilience

1: Getting physical for Resilience

Eating well, exercise and getting enough sleep is listed on the 15 qualities of mentally tough people. And have you heard what Arianna Huffington has a say about getting enough sleep for success?   Do yourself a favour and take a nap!

2: Build Authentic Connections with Others for Resilience

Communication, the thing we do all the time is a freely available superpower that can transform relationships and reduce stress.  In the workplace, it is almost impossible to avoid stress but effective communication can help build resilience to it.  

Let’s look at one of the biggest causes of stress: change. Change, whether at work or in our personal life, positive or negative, generally requires us to adapt the way we think or the way we do. Here are three ways to deal with change:

  • Acknowledge discomfort around this change can help the transition. This includes your discomfort. What’s your personal response to setbacks and challenges? Does stress cloud your judgement or decision making? Or do you get headaches or fatigue? Do you become agitated or do you want to withdraw from interacting with others?
  • Remember that change is a shift in external conditions and transition is your individual response to that change – you control your response.
  • Practice VBA: Take time to Vent about the change; Brainstorm ways to deal with the change and then plan your steps for Action to deal with the change.
  • Encourage open, honest communication by sharing your own experiences.

3: Self-awareness and Healthy Minds for Resilience

WYE Success Quote - Japanese proverbThere are many great studies on how being grateful makes us happier and on how happiness is a precursor for success. Here’s something super easy and free you can practice for happiness, resilience, and success:

Write down three things you are grateful for. It could be as small as being grateful for having a good night’s rest or that an order came through on time or it could be something bigger or longer term.

Maybe it’s that you finally got started on item five on your to-do list. You could be grateful for your health, your family, the fact that you even have a business or a position that you can build on. Whatever it is, that’s for you to do.

Final Word on Resilience

“The most resilient people are the people who have been through terrible times and are still standing. They’re standing because they are connected to the present moment and yet have a sense of overall purpose. They celebrate the small wins and show grit for the long haul”.

Indeed, it’s not about the big things that happen in your life, it’s about little things you do, consistently. The simple concept of putting one foot in front of the other, and doing it even when you have all the good reasons not to is where you will find strength, resilience and success.

Got 5 minutes more? Watch this TED Talk By Angela Lee Duckworth on the value of perseverance and ‘grit’.