Resources for Resilience
In 500 BC Confucius said “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” Throughout the 2,500 years that have followed, that message has been consistent – resilience, the ability to bounce back in the face of setbacks and adversity, matters. In 1865, the Unites States, brought to its knees and torn apart by Civil War, stood and began to rebuild. In the early 1900’s the Suffragettes of Great Britain faced beatings, arrest and force-feedings, but kept going until they gained the right to vote. In 1939, while facing mass air attacks, “Keep Calm and Carry On” became the motto of British citizens as they lived through the Second World War. And recently, Malala Yousafzaiv, a school girl herself, was shot in the head by the Taliban because she advocated for the education of girls. In each of these examples, people faced the darkest of times and came back – they were resilient.
Resilience is an absolutely essential skill in our fast-paced, demanding work environments. In order to achieve optimum performance, we must be able to let go of the past and get on with the future. While we know it’s unrealistic to expect life to be a breeze, many of us don’t know how to recover well when we encounter challenges. Given that, developing and demonstrating resilience is a differentiator and requires Emotional, Mental, and Physical Fitness:
- Emotional Fitness: Emotions alert us to situations where action is needed and, when managed well, are necessary and useful. Unease, worry and doubt drain our energy. Self-awareness, naming emotions, asking for advice and taking charge give us energy.
- Mental Fitness: If the mind is filled with chatter, we use up valuable energy on unproductive thinking at the exact moment when we need to be clear and strategic. Training the mind to think well increases productivity. Resilient people expect setbacks and learn from each and every experience, both negative and positive. A resilient mind-set is a learning mind-set.
- Physical Fitness: We are much more susceptible to worry and doubt if we don’t exercise. Exercise triggers the parasympathetic nervous system which aids the recovery and renewal circuitry. Guess what? This is exactly the same system that is used to enable us to recover from emotional and mental pressure.
As Arianna Huffington explains in Thrive, the drive for money and power are two legs of a three-legged stool – the third, our resilience, is the defining factor in leading a healthy, productive and meaningful life. Take this leg away and we fall over.
Keep an eye out for the early warning signs of low resilience: frequent colds, trouble sleeping, early waking, increased or erratic heartbeat, high blood pressure, low level anxiety, feeling regularly fatigued, going into over-drive, becoming obsessive about something, loss of temper, mood swings, and feeling unable to cope well with change. At the first sign of even one of these, it’s important to intensify the use of resilience techniques.
Don’t have any resilience techniques? It’s time to build your toolkit. If you do nothing else, consider the following:
1. Nutrition: Respect your adrenal glands they are key to your resilience. Take good quality Vitamin B every day, and make sure you have enough Magnesium in your diet – your recovery system cannot function without it.
2. Breathing: Learn an effective breathing technique and use it regularly and habitually. Most of the population hold their breath when under pressure. This is the last thing you want to do – the link between good breathing practice and effective heart/brain function is well researched.
3. Reframing: Find a positive event re-framing technique that works for you. Practice it every day so that you get used to living in a learning mind-set and habitually taking the positives out of each situation.
4. Fitness: 20/30 minutes a day of mild exercise is a must. Don’t skimp on it, your emotional and mental fitness depends on it. Be smart; take the stairs; get your heart rate up regularly through physical activity for the sake of your emotional and mental resilience.
5. Networking: Nurture your network – our resilience comes from having a great network of colleagues, friends and family. We are social animals. We are neurologically programmed to function in groups and we literally can’t live without each other.
To ensure that we will have resilience when we need it, it’s important to build capacity on a daily basis – before resilience is necessary. As you create your toolkit keep in mind the value found in facing and coming back from adversity. Resilience doesn’t come without failure. As Thomas Edison said when working to invent the lightbulb, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
When the inevitable challenges come along, we will have the resources and instincts required to bounce back quickly. Consistent, daily practice of simple Physical Intelligence techniques will prepare us to handle more pressure without sacrificing performance when the going gets tough.
About Companies In Motion
Transforming how organizations learn and engage, Companies In Motion (CIM) supports you and your organisation’s overall performance.
Many organizations are moving away from the traditional Performance Management models to something more innovative and meaningful. In response to this change, Learning and Development teams are implementing Physical Intelligence programs that support performance across the curriculum: leadership, innovation, change management, team building, sales, negotiating, and more.
At CIM we are working with organizations globally that want to create a new performance dynamic. Join us. Improve your decision making capacity, even when there is uncertainty.
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