We often take a militaristic, “tough” approach to resilience and grit. We imagine a Marine slogging through the mud, a boxer going one more round, or a football player picking himself up off the turf for one more play. We believe that the longer we tough it out, the tougher we are, and therefore the more successful we will be. However, this entire conception is scientifically inaccurate. (Achor and Gielan, 2016)
I wasn’t really clear on residence until I heard Robert Redenbach speak about resilience at a conference in 2017. I have a positive, energetic personality, that is motivated by challenge. The bigger the challenge, the better, like multiyear change efforts – that was good. So at that time, I figured that I was pretty resilient. I was being too simplistic.
Rob spoke of his time in the Australian SAS, working with Nelson Mandela’s bodyguard team and providing armed protection to aid-workers in Iraq. Rob made us realise that resilience was about recovery, rather than endurance. It immediately made sense. I reflected that, I had found that doing long hours one day, made it hard to focus as effectively the following day. Try as I might, getting up at 4am for an early flight made my cognition sluggish that day and meant that it took days to recover.
Resilience is tied to recovery and clarity about what we are trying to achieve – our purpose. Especially for those rebounding from sudden change, perhaps navigating career transition. Start with ensuring that we are the best that we can be, by looking after ourselves.
Good health can a cornerstone of resilience, think about diet, hydration, exercise and sleep. Over time, this has become something of a mantra, looking to balance work with, as my mentors remind me that we need to treat ourselves as athletes to get the best performance each day.
Daily exercise, was a great opportunity to think, to get my body and mind working. Working in sprints helped me a lot, spending 50 mins at my desk or in a meeting. Then getting up to get water and to stretch my legs helped a lot. It also gave me time to think about what I had set out to achieve for the day, what was comming up.
Diane Coufu in 2002, looked at the 3 key elements in research that were closely aligned with resilience:
When we truly stare down reality, we prepare ourselves to act in ways that allow us to endure and survive extraordinary hardship.…the propensity to make meaning of terrible times… the ability to make do with whatever is at hand.
Through actively managing mindset, keeping it real, however recognising the important work ahead. Keeping this in mind and ensuring that we do the best that we can with what we have, perhaps to avoid waiting until things get better, in order to start or complete important work or make decisions.
Getting bogged down with negative self-talk, can work against us. What works for many is keeping a journal of the wins each day to provide us with an opportunity to reflect on what is going right. Breaking down goals to daily. To be clear, taking baby steps towards our ambition, giving us the chance to see our progress along the way.
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Photo by Karim Manjra on Unsplash