Resiliency is a word we are hearing a lot about these days. So, what does it actually mean in the world of work? It is typically referred at the ability to come back quickly from challenges. Others describe it as the ability to bounce back or elasticity. My personal definition, which you can feel free to adopt if you like, is the ability to move forward through adversity and become better and stronger for having gone through the journey.
My version of resilience is not just surviving, but making use of the new found skills and knowledge to make an improvement over the previous situation. It relates to growth and can be applied to individuals, organizations, and communities. This brings hope and optimism that we can be better following our pandemic experiences as people, companies, and communities. We can be better than we were before.
Many readers will know of my past work experience in the field of mental health. There are volumes of literature and personal experience about the notion of recovery in the context of mental health. To me, recovery and resiliency are similar terms. When people recover from a surgery, or injury, they regain functioning and are able to resume the regular activities they did prior to the event. It may not be the same as before, but they will be able to succeed and continue.
The skills that make us resilient are self awareness, flexibility, an optimistic outlook, and the ability to embrace change/ let go of the past. In last week’s post, I touched on self awareness. It is not enough to just be self aware to make a resilient leader. We also need to accept that everything is in a constant state of change. Sometimes the change can be slow and gradual. That is not the situation we are currently facing. Change now is fast and extensive and I anticipate it will continue to be this way for a while. The key to being a resilient leader is to accept and embrace this notion of impermanence and look to the future with thoughtful optimism.
Holding an optimistic outlook is not simply ignoring or dismissing the downside or negative outcome. It is not seeing everything as a joyful outcome. It is seeing the good and the bad, and looking to find how to maximize the good and learn from the bad. It is believing in the opportunity to find new ways and new efficiencies in the emerging realities. It is making the most of what we have in the moment. It is also recognizing the efforts of those around us, especially our team members. Celebrating successes, big and small, is an easy, quick way to start building resiliency in yourself and your team.
Closely tied to an optimistic outlook is being flexible. One of the definitions of resiliency is elasticity. We need to be elastic and flexible to adapt to negative situations. It requires us to try new things, think in new ways, and be open to new perspectives. It requires us to stretch our selves and our areas of comfort to expand, grow and develop. We don’t grow without being challenged.
Resiliency is the determining factor in how well we respond to challenges and grow through the changes.
I see resliency as the ability to overcome adversity and continue to move forward, much like jumping over a crevasse and landing on your feet on the other side, not looking back at where you were, but continuing on the journey toward the destination.
There are many challenges or crevasses we encounter on our leadership journeys and there have been an extrordinary number over the last few months.We will continue to be faced with numerous challenges over the coming months as we progress through the unknown trials the pandemic has yet to present to us. It will make us better leaders, but will challenge us to build up our resilency.
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