Resilience is important if we are to learn to adapt and change to the pressures of work. But just what steps can we all take to ensure that resilience becomes a natural part of our lives?
As you might expect, I’m someone who takes a good deal of interest in all aspects of resilience. So I was intrigued recently to find a job description which actually listed resilience as one of the attributes the employers were looking for in the candidate.
But just what is resilience? Why is it now so significant that it needs to be included in a job description? And just what techniques and skills should any would-be candidate for the role above need to be able to demonstrate at their interview?
To begin, I would define resilience as follows: the capacity for an individual to remain flexible and strong in the midst of ambiguity and change. As we have seen in the recent COVID pandemic, life has a habit of constantly testing our resilience, sometimes to extremes. That word ‘flexibility’ is vital to the way we handle change. Being a stoic, keeping your head down and pushing on against the odds is not the answer. Instead, it’s about being flexible, accepting the things we can’t change and having the self-awareness to adapt to those we can change.
The good news is we all have resilience as a natural part of our design. We just need to know how to manage it and to maintain our energy in the face of tough times, so that we can harness that energy to enable us to meet those changes. It’s not all about chocolate breaks and bubble baths, though those can play a part, but it’s about learning to step back, take time to think, and create some all-important balance in your life.
So where do you begin? What are my top tips for building resilience into your life? Here are five that I consider to be vital.
Five top tips to build resilience
It’s vital to invest in things that give you energy. This comes above all else from the strengths you have and the skills you bring to your work and life. It’s surprising how few people when put on the spot and asked to list their own top skills are struck dumb. Your skills are what you are good at. Your strengths are what gives you your energy and motivation.
But as well as creating energy by investing in those strengths, you also need to get the balance right. Sleep, exercise, simply getting away from your desk and into the open air, meditation and mindfulness – all these are vitally important in enabling us to find the right balance which will in turn help us to stay energised.
More so as we increasingly work from home, you need to make sure that your day is structured. As with maintaining energy, you need to balance your work and profession with your own life needs. So ensure your day has opportunities built into it when you can take time out for yourself. We can all work long hours, but having time set aside for your own interests makes sure you get out and re-charge those all-important batteries.
Just as an athlete is not going to train unless they feel 100 per cent, you also need to be attuned to your own health and understand where you are in any one day. If you’re not feeling 100 per cent, listen to what your body is telling you. Don’t try to push things if you just don’t feel right. Allow yourself to be less rigid, because by having that flexibility you’re less likely to find things tripping you up. That athlete risks an injury if they are not fully fit. The same applies to your life. So learn to hear what your body is telling you, and adapt. We need to recognise the danger signs, both in ourselves and others, and act.
- Connect with Others
Loneliness can creep up on us all. More so if we are working flexibly and don’t see other team members regularly. So build time into your week when you do reconnect with others. That might be a professional group which holds regular online sessions around important subjects, or online courses. These things help you stay connected to others, and stay balanced.
- Be Compassionate
For me compassion is all about wanting to make things better. The pandemic has led to many people reviewing their lives, their priorities and their values. Successful resilience needs compassion, both for others and for ourselves. Whatever we choose to do in life, whatever our next career choices are, we need them to be better. And it starts with compassion.
Adapt and thrive
Of course, to be resilient also needs an organisation which recognises and supports the techniques which allow us to build that resilience in the first place. We need to work inside a culture which means that not accepting a work meeting at 7.00am acceptable. That stopping at 12.30 to walk the dog in the park is not a lunchtime treat, but an accepted practice. But by adapting our work to the ways we live, rather than allowing work to dominate our lives, we can be more productive, more balanced, and find the capacity we need to allow us to not just adapt to change, but to thrive, whatever the future may decide throw in our way.
Alyson Ainsworth, Executive coach, 10Eighty