There has been a lot of chitter chatter lately about resilience. I think we can all agree that it is more important now than it has ever been. What I don’t agree with though, is that resilience is only measured by our ability to bounce back.
If you think about a time when you experienced challenges in your life – the big ones, the small ones, personal ones or professional ones - you would know that something fundamentally changes in our foundation and we don’t really ever go back exactly to the way we were before.
I ask you though, do you want to go back? Wouldn’t it be better to learn something from that experience and grow from it? To come out of it stronger, more prepared, more confident and better positioned to cope with the curveballs and cannonballs that this ever-changing business environment continues to throw at us.
Opportunities for leadership and growth come when we lean in, when we #ChooseToChallenge the norm and when we are committed to bouncing forward, rather than going back to the ‘safety’ of what we had before. It allows us to innovate more and not get paralysed when change occurs.
Here are the six components for leaders to follow so they can bounce forward after professional challenges, rather than bouncing back:
Remember that as a leader you have been through hard stuff before now and have made it through. Sometimes, depending on how big the challenge is (e.g., is it a Royal Commission into Financial Services or a new CRM?), getting through to the other side can take some time, but you need to trust that eventually it will all be OK.
Activity - Write down three challenges you have overcome in the last five years to remind yourself that you do have the capability to navigate through tough times.
How you think about what has happened will determine whether or not you can grow from that experience. We all have colleagues who have faced the same adversities but how they thought about it and responded to it can be vastly different from someone else’s thoughts and response. Are you observing how you think about change? Are you the boss of your thoughts or the slave to them? I very much recommend the book by Ryan Holiday called ‘The Obstacle is in the Way – The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage’.
Activity – Choose one of the above challenges and remind yourself of the thoughts you had when it initially happened compared to how you think of it now.
If you want to perform at your fullest potential, even during tough times, it is absolutely crucial that you tap into all the good habits that help you to remain healthy. Leadership is hard when you are not physically or mentally at your best. Understand which habits are right for your life. Understand which habits you can commit to around your current responsibilities, so when things get a little wobbly, you already have the systems in place for yourself. For example, have you created realistic boundaries that ensure your work life stress does not spill into your home life?
Activity – What are the habits you regularly do to ensure you stay physically and mentally well?
Prioritise people who you know will challenge you, be honest with you and who will encourage you. Be selective with who you give your time to. Nurture the relationships that you know will support you when work gets hard, and who will gently guide you to keep moving forward. Always remember that quality beats quantity every time when it comes to relationships and whether those relationships are your colleagues, your customers, or your suppliers, only nurture the ones that matter.
Activity – Write down the five most important relationships you have and prioritise your time with those people.
Always celebrate the wins, even when they feel like small ones. Sometimes getting out of bed in the morning after challenging weeks of work, deserves celebration. When you successfully take a step forward, even if it’s a tentative one, you have progressed, and that is definitely worth acknowledging. Make sure you celebrate the wins with everyone in your team and recognise their part in moving forward.
Activity – Think of a win you have had in the last six weeks that you didn’t get around to celebrating. Diarise a way to do this now.
Try new things. Be creative. Innovate and adapt. When you don’t have the constant fear of failure, but instead have the courage to experiment with new ideas, new projects, new business models, new marketing strategies, you learn along the way, you adapt along the way and this means you are bouncing forward.
Activity – What is one thing you know you could be more creative with? Schedule in an hour next week to experiment with this.
To be a resilient organisation, we first need resilient leaders, but we don’t want leaders who are looking for the safety of what was before. We want to look up to these trail-blazers who have the courage to recover quicker, adapt to change and bounce forward from the challenges they can’t control.
A huge thank you to The Coach Place for inviting me to write this article for you.
- Heidi Dening
Who is Heidi Dening?
Heidi believes that education changes lives and when combining the insights she has learnt from surviving a paralysing illness, a gunpoint kidnapping, a life-threatening tsunami and petrol bombs, with her science-backed education, she has a unique ability to empower leaders and their teams to find their courage during uncertain times to work at their fullest potential. She has dedicated her career to inspiring thousands of people across the globe with resilience, self-leadership and well-being programs from small children on remote pacific islands to C-suite executives in billion dollar companies. She has recently been named ‘Best International Keynote Speaker’ in the Asia Pacific region at the Influential Businesswoman Awards, is a best-selling author and often appears in the media as an expert on resilience.
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