“We live in very uncertain times,” says CCL’s Amy Martinez. “The question isn’t how can you avoid difficulty and stress. The question is, “How do you face it?”

Change is ongoing, plans get undone with regularity, and your own expectations do not always get met. “The work priorities shift, the players change,” says Martinez. “You could be transferred, reassigned, or — who knows — will there even be a job?”

And of course, personal setbacks and crises don’t go away just because work is already difficult. We often get an unwanted double dose, with setbacks facing us at home and work. “All of us can benefit from becoming more resilient — better able to face our struggles, recover and adapt,” Martinez continues.

Resiliency is also a business issue. People who can’t handle a fast pace or uncertainty won’t perform at their best in many of today’s organizations. They may be more likely to call in sick and perhaps feel unmotivated when they are working. Stress lowers productivity and increases health problems (and healthcare costs). And when people in leadership positions are angry, reactive, anxious — not resilient — it sets the tone for how others interact, react and get work done.

Our ability to cope with stress, difficulties, roadblocks, criticisms, rejection or change is made easier when we take better care of ourselves. One way to do this is to focus on overall well-being and building energy across multiple dimensions of life: physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual. This is the framework that participants in CCL’s Leadership Development Program (LDP)® use to come up with ideas for building their own resiliency and helping others to do the same.

  1. Physical. What can you do to build your physical energy? During the workday, get up and move every 90 to 120 minutes. Suggest a walking meeting. Climb stairs instead of taking the elevator.
  2. Mental. What can you do to overcome mental fatigue and exhaustion? Learn anything new. Take a mental vacation by daydreaming. Solve a challenging puzzle. Focusing on something other than your work or personal challenge creates a mental break.
  3. Emotional. What can you do to become more conscious of your emotional triggers? Figure out who and what pushes your buttons. Step away, slow down, or enlist an ally to help you slow your reactions and choose your response.
  4. Social. What can you do to create more meaningful and productive relationships? Ask a colleague for advice, give positive feedback, or share something you learned about yourself recently.
  5. Spiritual. What can you do to more effectively align your behaviors with your core values and purpose? Clarify what you value most, quiet your mind or think about what inspires you.

Still unsure of what to do to become more resilient? Martinez suggests taking another page from the LDP participants’ workbook as a starting point:

Recall a time in your personal or professional life when you were able to overcome, prevail, bounce back or rise above a difficult situation. Then ask yourself:

  • What happened?
  • What was I thinking and feeling at the time?
  • How did I get through it?
  • What did I do that helped you to get through this situation?
  • What did I learn from the experience that made me a more resilient person today?

“You have the resources within you to become more resilient,” Martinez says. “But it does take some effort to learn or remind yourself what will work best for you.”

3 Best Practices When ‘Bad Stuff’ Happens

Amy Martinez has had many opportunities to put her approach to resiliency to the test.

Back in 2006, she endured the unexpected loss of her father, declined an ideal promotion and left a wonderful organization, and moved across the country to help her mother. She found herself jobless while also dealing with a crumbling marriage that eventually ended in divorce. Several years later, she is a CCL senior faculty member, a passionate speaker on the value of resilience and an advocate for three best practices:

  1. Personal energy management. Manage your own resistance. “Show up,” give your best and relinquish attachment to the outcome. Stay in the present. Exercise compassion for self and others.
  2. Shifting your lenses. Take charge of how you think about adversity. Understand your beliefs about the situation and choose your response.
  3. Sense of purpose. Develop a “personal why” that gives your life meaning. This helps you better face setbacks and challenges. Also, look for ways that crisis and adversity may connect to your larger life purpose.

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