How to Strengthen Your Resilience

By Davda, Alex | Public Finance, October 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

How to Strengthen Your Resilience


Davda, Alex, Public Finance


Resilience is vital for leaders who typically have to deal with everything from challenging projects and conflict among colleagues to office politics and personal criticism on an almost daily basis. It is our personal resilience that helps us to thrive and grow in difficult circumstances, whether we are supporting an urgent routine project or facing yet another organisational restructure that puts our newly built team at risk.

The good news is that research shows that resilience can be strengthened. Our ability to cope with or adapt to stressful situations or crises is not a fixed trait that is present in some people and lacking in others, nor is it something that remains unchanged. And while there are undoubtedly certain factors that give some people a head start, anyone can learn behaviours and attitudes that allow them to survive and even thrive in challenging times.

It is now well known that resilience is not a personality characteristic, but it is still all too common for careers to be undermined by ill-informed assumptions about it. Someone may be overlooked for promotion, for example, because a difficult episode in their personal life has led their boss to label them as "lacking in resilience". Another person may decide not to pursue a dream career because they fear they will never have the confidence to move outside the comfort zone of the work they are used to.

Resilient people tend not to dwell on failure; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes and move on. But resilient people aren't born with a unique ability to bounce back or forge ahead.

The ability to respond in a resilient way is influenced, but not determined, by personality. Some people are likely to respond in a resilient way when faced with conflict or difficult relationships, while others may become easily stressed by such problems, yet show high levels of resilience in dealing with change and uncertainty.

Some personality characteristics have a protective value when applied in moderation, but constitute a risk if used in excess. For example, anxiety may be positive to the extent that it helps to anticipate and pre-empt problems. But someone who is prone to high levels of anxiety may worry even when all is well, and this is likely to undermine their resilience.

To develop resilience you need to adopt strategies to ensure that you make the most of your strengths and actively manage your risks. The key to improving resilience is to recognise what stressors you react to, when your natural response will serve you well, and when to adapt your approach to suit the different challenges you face.

So what are the key factors that will help you boost your resilience and bring new direction and energy to your life and career?

Top tips..

Do

1 Learn new skills and understanding

2 Believe in yourself

3 Use objective logic

Don't

1 Hold on to bad habits

2 Focus on flaws

3 Let emotions cloud your judgment

1 Confidence

Positive emotions, attitudes and beliefs and the ability to influence events positively make people emotionally strong. Nurture a positive view of yourself - don't talk yourself down or focus on flaws.

Developing a belief in yourself and your capabilities can be achieved through looking back at memorable and challenging experiences (good and bad) from your professional and personal development and taking time to acknowledge that you came through. …

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