Everyone has a resilience muscle. Resilience is the ability to survive adversities. It can be the death of a loved one, a life-changing accident, being bullied, abused or recovering from a serious illness or mental disease.
Remember the phrase “When life throws you lemons, make lemonade?” That’s what resilience is about. Resilience is not about being a daydreamer or an eternal hopeful. It’s about action. Let’s say there are really 100 lemons in your backyard. What do you do about it? Are you going to sit there and watch it rot? Are you going to wish something would happen? Like the lemons miraculously get up and turn themselves into juice? Or are you going to grab some pails, pick the lemons and turn them into the most amazing lemonade in the world that people would happily queue for hours to buy? Even better, you get creative and turn the lemons into more than just lemonade. All of a sudden you are selling lemonade, preserved lemon, lemon peel, lemon curd, lemon balm and so many more things. This is resilience.
Leaders with resilience survive crises and change better. They are not overwhelmed by sudden and unexpected setbacks and know how to lead their people or their business out of difficulties.
3-Cs to building resilience muscle
There are three elements that are essential for resilience.
Imagine yourself as a top-class tennis player. You can be at the top of the ranking but you still have to challenge yourself to be better. The higher the ranking you reach, the more you want to be better. So you train harder. And strategize more. You are constantly looking for ways to improve your serve, have better endurance and be more focused.
Leaders who are comfortable resting on their laurels are not resilient. Resilient leaders know that knowledge and learning are constant. They know that to stay at the top they have to be the best. Problems whether it’s a hard business decision or a difficult employee are not impossible problems that cannot be overcome. For the resilient manager, every problem has a solution. They just have to work at it.
If you want to be a resilient manager, change your mindset. See difficulties as challenges not crises. If a problem presents itself don’t let it get the better of you. A difficult employee? A tight deadline? A pandemic? There is a solution to every problem if you look hard enough. If you can’t find the answer on your own, it’s time to reach out to others.
If you have a dream to be great and don’t act on it, then your dream will always be out of your reach. But if you put energy and time into making it happen and stay true to your beliefs, your dream may even come true!
The biggest stumbling block to achieving your dreams is you. More often than not, we start off a project feeling confident and motivated. Along the way, we lose some momentum and if we hit a few setbacks and we’ve been knocked around a little, we become deflated and unmotivated and we give up! The reason for this is that we default to the negative.
Resilient people don’t give up easily. They try and try again until they succeed. Resilience is about breaking out of our comfort zone and challenging ourselves to achieve more. If we persevere we can reset ourselves to default to the positive rather than the negative. Consider looking at every roadblock on your journey to success as a lesson you can learn. Reflect on what you’ve done wrongly. Ask yourself quality questions to gain clarity and think of ways you can improve and be better so you don’t repeat the mistakes.
If you are training your resilience muscle, there is no room in your mind for regret. Spending time wallowing in ‘what ifs’ is counterproductive and will only impede your progress. Put some urgency into achieving your goals. Imagine what it would be like if you do achieve it. The more you can visualise your dream coming true, the more real your manifestation becomes.
Commitment is about staying true to yourself and having the discipline and strength of mind to stay the course.
When I first started my business, I was doing a lot of things wrong but I did not give up on my dream to own a business. One night in one of our training events, the venue we booked had a massive water leak less than an hour from the event. We almost gave up. But the event was a success. I attribute this success to every individual who was present that evening. The venue manager had the foresight and moved us to a room upstairs when the pipe burst. The guest speaker showed up and did not think a leak was a problem. My staff scrambled to get things done at the eleventh hour and my business partner and I had to make last-minute decisions and give orders on the run. Even the participants who came for the event contributed to the success by being enthusiastic about the training despite the calamity unfolding around them. That night was not one of my biggest or most successful events but it was certainly one of my most memorable. The memory is still with me today. It’s a constant reminder to me to be grateful for small mercies and to be appreciative of the efforts of others who genuinely want to help you succeed.
Resilience is about staying committed to the cause no matter what obstacles you encounter. If you can survive the odds, the rewards are sweeter and more meaningful. Discipline, the strength of mind and character build resilience. Whether you have a career, personal or financial goal, if you stay on course and focused on the results, you can achieve anything.
The best way to build your resilience muscle is to be in control of your destiny. If you want to succeed you have to rise above adversities. To do so, you focus on things that you can control; not the things that you have no control over. Taking charge may require you to take a few steps back to reflect on who you really are and what you want in life. It’s about building self-awareness.
Self-awareness helps you understand how and why you feel, think or act in a certain way. The more you understand yourself, the more accurate is your summary of yourself. Once you know what your real strengths and weaknesses are, you can act on them. To succeed, you accentuate and leverage your strengths and improve on your weaknesses.
Resilience gives you control over your destiny. The more control you have, the more you will succeed. Resilience gives you the strength to survive difficulties and to triumph against the odds. With resilience comes new perspectives. Your priorities shift. This is especially true for people who have experienced some traumatic event in their lives. They come out the other end, stronger, better and more aware.
Tips to help you build resilience
Here are some tips to help you build some sexy resilience muscles:
Find your lesson
Every experience – whether good or bad – has a lesson behind it. Ask yourself, what can I learn from this and you will start working those resilience muscles.
Set some goals
Give yourself some goals to work towards. Make sure they are realistic and achievable. For example, if your leadership goal is to become a manager with staff to lead, then start by looking at how you can climb the corporate ladder rung by rung. You need to succeed at one level before you can start dreaming about the next. Very few people enjoy a meteoric rise to the top. So make sure your goals are realistic so you don’t become disappointed.
Focus on gratitude
Be grateful for the experiences you have and the people you’ve encountered. The more you start appreciating your life – good or bad – the more you grow as an individual and the better you are at understanding how you can improve yourself.
You can stay the same forever. The world is constantly changing, so you have to change with it or you will not survive it. Accept change as part of life and look for ways you can adapt to this change. If you can adapt, you have resilience.
Know your Self
The journey to building resilience begins with a deep knowledge of yourself. Reflect on who you are, know your strengths and weaknesses. When you know your true self, you know what your strengths and weaknesses are and can take action to leverage your strengths or improve your weaknesses. For example, resilience is about surviving change. If you are the type of person who likes things to be how you want it to be and get upset easily if things are different, then you can’t build resilience. If you have self-awareness and know that this is a weakness, you can take positive steps to improve the way you think and feel about change so that when it happens you are more prepared to embrace it. That’s the start to building a more resilient you.
To be resilient, you need a strong ‘WHY’. Why am I pursuing this goal? Why is it important to me? Why do I think I can achieve it? You need clarity. The clearer your mind, the more it can focus. Finally, you need tenacity and perseverance. The strength of mind, willpower and determination to never give up, no matter what.
My latest Amazon bestselling book, ‘Great Leadership Starts with You’ deals with the subject of building resilience to find success. You can purchase a copy of the book here: https://youwantgroup.com/great-leadership-book/
Iris Du is a leadership strategist and human behaviour expert who thrives on helping individuals, leaders and businesses achieve the success they deserve. Drawing on leadership, attraction and manifestation strategies, Iris works with organisations to help them leverage their natural talent to create highly engaged and high-performing leaders and teams.