According to the American psychological society “resilience is a process”. It is not just about our ability to bounce back from a challenging event and get back to our previous high performance. It is also about developing habits to be more flexible in our thinking, expanding our possibilities. Think of resilience as a story-board of your movie. At times, it is your view of reality rather than reality itself that may stop you finding a way forward. You can change the way the story goes.
Take 5 minutes to read our top 5 ways to build your resilience.
1. Strengthen Your Resilience
Imagine a boat on the water. The boat is more likely to crash into a rock when the water levels are low. So ask yourself, even if it sounds strange, how is your ‘water level’ doing? Think about the ‘factors’ in your life that push your water level down and the factors that push your water level up. In other words, what kinds of things are undermining your resilience right now and what kinds of things are strengthening it? This can include people in your life, both inside and outside of work, events, hobbies, health factors. Get into the habit of doing things that strengthen your resilience, when you don’t need it. You will have a stronger buffer in place when you do.
2. Develop Your Toolkit
Remember a time when you faced something difficult and got through it in a way you now feel pleased about. What helped you to do that? What was your SSRI?
S – Strategies. What did you do in this situation? Do you now have any regular practices that help sustain you? For example, mindfulness.
S – Strengths. What strengths did you draw on? Are you aware of what your strengths are?
R – Resources. Where and who did you turn to for help? What does your support network look like?
I – Insights. What perspectives and ideas guided you?
What are the specific achievable steps that you can take in the next 7 days to help you develop your SSRI kit?
3. Develop Flexible Thinking
In the biggest ever UK online “stress test” of 33,000 people from 172 countries, psychologists from the University of Liverpool found that people who didn’t negatively ruminate had much lower levels of depression and anxiety and were better at problem solving. When next faced with a challenge: What’s the best that can happen? What’s most likely to happen? What’s the worst that can happen? The Penn Perspective check* enables leaders to develop a more global perspective. Also look at something from an unusual angle and develop creative thinking. This thinking helps protect against rigidity, manage risk and develop a more flexible and often creative approach.
4. Learn to Fail Better
As the founder of IBM, Tom Watson said “the way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” Apply a ‘growth mind-set’ and learn how to fail better, drawing out maximum value. What can you remember that was useful? What have you learnt?
When facing a challenge, our nervous system can at points lead us to over-react or under-react. The primitive parts of our brain can take over and those linked to empathy/connectivity/creative thinking can stop working. The key is to recognise when we have stepped out of this Resilience Zone and seek to step back: ‘How can I make the best more likely and the worst less likely?.’
5. Expand Your Possibilities
If you had as much courage, wisdom and determination as you would like, what could you do? Edward de Bono invented the term ‘lateral thinking’. It’s an attitude of the mind and also a number of defined methods. ‘Stepping stone’ ideas can help you think more expansively. Make a list of different ways of looking at something and challenge your original thinking. Create the next flexible frame in your movie.
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* Penn Perspective Check, developed with Martin Seligman, founder of positive psychology
* ‘give your ideas some legs’ by M Oppezzo and D Schwartz