-Mark Haeussler, CEO
Resiliency is the ability to recognize, and effectively adapt to, significant or repeating adversity, stress, and tragedy. When we encounter challenges and setbacks that push us beyond our customary level of resiliency, performance drops, unfavorable moods overtake and become unmanageable, and we encounter physical manifestations (sleeplessness, irritability, or fogginess, as examples). Challenges that test our limits of resiliency sometimes strike us suddenly like a strong wave, and other times creep in and surround us like an incoming tide.
Resiliency is different than persistence. Persistence includes the notion of firmness, obstinance or repeating behavior when facing difficulty until success is reached. Resiliency includes toughness, yet adds the abilities to recover and adapt in facing difficulties. Tasks often require persistence, in the way repeated practice creates mind or muscle memory that makes it easy. As resilience is built, it applies to not just one task, but in how we can sustain and recover in any situation. A strong resiliency is a useful blend of emotional strength, adaptability, and a willingness to change. Resiliency requires us to view difficulty and success are impermanent.
Consider these key ideas on resiliency:
Beliefs Frame Mindsets: If I believe that I am not up for the task, that things never will get better, or that my coworker is selfish, then interactions become defined this way. Carol Dweck’s book Mindsets lays out the difference between a fixed and growth mindset, and those with a fixed mindset feel judged, while those with a growth mindset feel challenged. A “growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” A growth mindset requires leaders to listen to, and adjust, their inner dialog all the time. What is your internal dialog? Does it sound like I’ll never: master the flute, cook French food, hike the Grand Canyon, learn accounting, and so on? If the dialog is not useful, replace it with a better script, one that invites you into growth. For example: “I will learn to be better a better listener by developing more empathy, and will seek out experts who will help me.”
Balance: Live a life with an energizing balance of roles and meaningful endeavors. When work is in a rough spot, we may rely on our relationship with family or engaging in activities that bring us joy, as a counter to the challenge and allow for renewal. Honor the value of a temporary retreat. Our society has a premium on careers as our identities; however, the whole you also can be defined in other endeavors.
Let go of Looking Good: Instead, foster a life focused on improvement instead of perfection. Consider the bristlecone pine tree, in the photo above. They are amongst the oldest living things on Earth, some reaching an age of thousands of years. Astonishing! They endure. We may love the stately balance of a spruce tree; but when I see these pines, with their gnarly branches, I recognize that they their growth is based on resilience. The tree’s endurance is beautiful.