Resilience is adaptation. It’s flexibility and the willingness to pivot into whatever new circumstances befall your anticipated path. It’s the learned ability to make the decision to thrive in change (the only constant in life) over and over again. In business, resilience will be the deciding factor in your long term success.
It’s Not (Always) Fair
To build resilience, we must agree with ourselves to take adversity as a learning experience and fold our struggles into our narratives as meaningful elements. This is as true for our personal stories as much as it is for our life in business.
Life, no matter what, is a grab bag of circumstances—some fair and some unfair. It does not matter what you have anticipated, what you have prepared for, or what you think you deserve, you will inevitably pull out something that will try you in ways you never could have seen coming. This will be your arena for growth.
It’s Not You, It’s the Situation
The first step in learning resilience is un-tethering your self worth from your expectations. They are two wildly different realms of thought and they have no business influencing one another. When reality inevitably does not match what you thought was coming, you are not a failure. You are experiencing a failure. How you react is everything and it truly is the only choice you have in the matter.
When you experience business setbacks, take a moment to separate your intrinsic value from the situation at hand. Yes, the status quo may not be ideal or even expected, but you must remain vigilant in your dedication to your vision and that requires more self esteem than ever. Refrain from beating yourself up over what’s happening so that you can develop the best solution possible without letting your emotions cloud your way forward.
Composure is Everything
When facing adversity, it’s easy to let your reactionary brain steer the ship. But in order to face the facts and power forward, composure is quintessential. This is where the health of your mind-body-spirit connection comes into play. Staying healthy on all fronts will give you an advantage when the going gets tough. Get enough sleep, eat marginally healthy, and take time to recharge in non-business related ways so that you don’t spread yourself too thin when it comes time to face challenges.
When setting out on a flight, it’s a prudent idea to have it in the back of your mind that it might not be the smoothest adventure. That’s why seasoned fliers seem cool as a cucumber when things get a little bumpy. It’s just part of the journey. Your business trajectory is similar. Know that it will not always go as planned and prepare to evaluate changes as needed. You don’t always know exactly what is going to happen, but having a few contingency plans ready is never a bad idea.
Own your career/business trajectory and take responsibility for the decisions you have made that lead you here. Taking ownership of your story is a surefire way to develop a definitive reason to keep going towards your vision of success. You will start to understand the times that you didn’t retain composure under pressure and times that you stood in resilience against adversity. You’ll start to understand yourself and, from this, your self worth and self esteem will grow.
Support Each Other
Whether you plug into a community or bond with your business team, it is critical that you support each other through the good times and the tough times. It’s exciting to bounce off of optimism into the planning phases. Those emotions are positive. But when things go south, it’s easy to start pointing fingers and assigning blame to each other and to ourselves. It’s during these moments that support is critical. A lot of unexpected things happen for no reason and even when there is a clear cut explanation, a central part of resilience is learning important lessons from those feelings and not letting the situation morph into overwhelming pessimism and shame. A little encouragement goes a long way—especially when it’s to or from someone you’re working close with.
When you encounter setbacks at work, persist. You may not have a definitive and motivating reason yet, but resilience for the sake of resilience helps us transform into our best selves. When you know you can do hard things, you are more likely to play big and take on adventures and experiences you may not have said yes to in the past. Persistence is the key ingredient in a life well lived—at work and outside of work.
Remember, This Can Be Learned
Anyone can become more resilient. This skill is not reserved for the particularly strong or apt. As humans, we are born with a predisposition towards optimism and hope. Rich Fernandez, writer for the Harvard Business Review, says it best in his article 5 Ways to Boost Your Resilience at Work, “Being challenged—sometimes severely—is part of what activates resilience as a skill set.” You may not feel at your most resilient right now, but just wait; life will give you a challenge any minute now and with it the opportunity to sharpen your resilience skill set. As with most things, practice makes nearly perfect, so if you keep at it, you’ll just keep getting stronger and stronger.