How to Develop Resilience for Work and Life

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to speak to a group of Executive Business Partners at an IT service management company on the topic of The Future of Work. There are so many directions that this conversation could go in – the economy, The Great Resignation, technology, back to the office, quiet quitting, work from home, contract work, productivity paranoia, competitive compensation, burnout, and everything in between.

But instead of going down any of those roads, I took it in another direction – personal growth. Because one thing is for sure, as uncertain as the world is right now, we can still focus on, and control, our personal and professional growth. And that will serve us no matter what the future of work brings.

Let’s specifically focus on what I think is one of the most important skills we must develop for the future of work and life: resilience.

What is Resilience?

Resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands. Often, resilience is discussed in terms of “bouncing back”. But, I like to think about it as “bouncing beyond” when faced with adversity. You inevitably grow and change when you go through a difficult or challenging experience. Thus, by the very definition of growth, you can’t go back to your previous level of thinking or mindset before the adversity. So, “bouncing beyond” it is!

In Gemma Leigh Roberts book, Mindset Matters: Developing Mental Agility and Resilience to Thrive in Uncertainty, she discusses the 6 Pillars of Resilience that can help you develop and nurture your resilience.

6 Pillars of Resilience: 

1. ConfidencePsychology Today defines confidence as, “a belief in oneself, the conviction that one has the ability to meet life’s challenges and to succeed—and the willingness to act accordingly. Being confident requires a realistic sense of one’s capabilities and feeling secure in that knowledge.” Confidence will help you deal with whatever challenges come your way, while knowing you can handle them and find a solution. Here are 8 ways to cultivate confidence.

2. Adaptability is the having the quality of, and capacity for, being able to adjust to new conditions. Adaptability affects how you respond to a situation or challenge.

3. Positivity – We are not talking about blind optimism here, but rather a realistic optimism that acknowledges the realities of a situation, but allows for enough faith, motivation, upbeat attitude, and momentum to find a way through or around a challenge.

4. Perspective – None of us have all the answers. The ability to see a challenge or situation from multiple angles and points of view is important when building resilience. You may hear a new idea or different viewpoint that you hadn’t considered previously that changes the trajectory of the situation resulting in a more favorable outcome.

5. Mastery – While mastery is most commonly defined as the action or process of mastering a subject or activity, like being a subject matter expert, Roberts defines this pillar a bit differently. In Robert’s definition of mastery, she includes the ability to get into a state of flow and become so absorbed in the task that you lose track of time. Why is this important to resilience? Because when you get into flow, you become even more focused on the task you want to achieve, thus getting creative and persistent when the going gets tough. Of course, mastering resilience is important too, which comes from a growth mindset and that clear focus on a goal.

6. Stamina – Building resilience and being a resilient person happens over time. You may have been resilient once, but can you draw upon that resiliency time and time again when life throws you various challenges and problems? Are you able to sustain prolonged effort (on anything)? To get to mastery, you must!

All 6 pillars of resilience work together to form the cornerstone of the soft skills you will need to effectively navigate the next era of work. You don’t want to wait until you need resilience to start trying to develop it. These pillars should be a daily practice so that when you need it, you will always have a back-up supply. Heraclitus said, “The only constant in life is change.” If you develop your resilience, you’ll not only be ready, you’ll be bouncing beyond where you were before!

Want to dive deeper into developing resilience? Our book club is reading Mindset Matters: Developing Mental Agility and Resilience to Thrive in Uncertainty by Gemma Leigh Roberts this month. Join us for weekly discussions and a book review here!

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