At this point, you probably don’t need another blog or article telling you how “unprecedented” “these times” are. In fact, after almost a year and a half of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have certainly crossed the line of “precedence” by now. We’re not shocked by the reality of it, and we’re now all aware of what can happen in an event like that. If anything, coronavirus has taught us what we’ve long known: challenges always arise. Adversity lurks around every corner, and surprise—by its very nature—will inevitably catch us off guard. It’s never that you need to prepare yourself for every possible challenge that could come along, rather that you need to develop the ability to sustain and adapt through these pressured situations and come out stronger if you’re going to succeed in what has been buzzworded as the ‘new normal’. That skill is known as resilience.

Resilience personified in the workplace can look like perseverance; a doggedness (or dogmatism) in doing the work, a certain degree of “grit.” But it’s not just in the things you do, it’s also in how you react. Marshall Goldsmith teaches that our environments are huge behavioral triggers for us, and that you must be resilient in responding to those or else risk being controlled wholly by them. 

In business, resilient leaders not only successfully lead their teams through times of crisis and adversity, they also instill in every one of their employees that same sense of strength and flexibility to overcome any obstacle in their way.  Here are some ways you can increase your own resilience, and help to cultivate it amongst the people on your team:

Growth Mindset:

Perhaps most of this could be categorized under “growth mindset”, so let this function as an umbrella concept for the rest of these strategies. As Asheesh Advani tells us in his Methods of Leaders course, a key facet of the growth mindset is the ability to see that a failure in any sense isn’t a negative thing— it’s a positive learning experience. The growth mindset sees challenges as opportunities, and adversity as a way towards innovation. When you have a growth mindset, and practice this particular type of mindfulness, you naturally cultivate a spirit of resilience. 

Knowledge Seeking:

This is similar to the growth mindset, in that resilient people are always eager to learn, and actively seek out new information on a regular basis. They are always keenly aware of the gap that exists between what they know and what all’s out there, and so, are never caught off guard when the unexpected challenge occurs and they don’t know how to solve it immediately. They focus on the solutions, instead of dwelling on the problems, and they do so by constantly trying to expand their body of knowledge in order to build that resilience.

Improvisation:

Another important facet of resilience is the ability to think on your feet, and improvise when the situation develops in unexpected or unseen ways. In other words, learn to pivot, and quickly. Resilient leaders can address new situations head-on, quickly and efficiently, before the situation has any time to become more complex or otherwise worse off. When you’re quick on your feet, you can be more prepared to respond in whatever way necessary to any challenge you find yourself facing. One way you might practice fine-tuning your improv skills is by playing a game with your team, wherein you have someone come up with a random “business problem” — it should be completely or mostly fictional, and the more outlandish the better. Then set a very short timer in which time you all need to come up with a solution. Try it for increasingly smaller intervals of time and watch how you and your team react under pressure. A great leader can actually thrive in these sorts of situations without feeling overwhelmed or a loss of control.

Integrity:

When you have a firm grasp on your sense of the world and your core values, you know how to act in accordance with those values and do so often—even when times are tough. This is why integrity is such an integral part of resilience, because if you don’t know what you stand for, it’s all that much easier for adversity or challenges to knock you down. Nail down your core values, write them in a journal or on a post-it note on the mirror that you see everyday. This will help you keep in mind the way in which you want to interact with the world.

Personal health:

These aspects of our lives are sometimes, unfortunately, painfully undeveloped or under-served, yet we know that so much of our mental well-being is connected to our physical. When our bodies are healthy and happy, so, too, are our minds. Doing some small form of physical activity each day can help reduce stress and increase your longevity. When you reconnect to your physiological self in this way and you feel the mental stress leaving you, it can aid in building your resilience to the everyday pressures and challenges of life. 

In a world seemingly ruled by constant chaos and negativity, to choose to be resilient is to confront it head-on in an act of resistance. We’ll likely never see a truly utopian reality, so it’s probably worthwhile to invest in the skills necessary for dealing with challenges and adversity by seeking to increase your adaptability.

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