Recently, I was lucky enough to participate in a webinar with Dr. Sam Collins, the founder and CEO of Aspire. Aspire has been developing the female leaders and role models of the future for the past 16 years. By 2020, they want to have made a difference to one billion women and girls.
The topic of the webinar was ‘Boost Your Resilience’. I want to share some of the lessons I learned so that I can empower more of you in your personal and professional lives.
So, what is resilience?
The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties” or “the ability of an object to spring back into shape”.
If we apply this to women in business, it speaks of their ability to bounce back and apply patience and tenacity to help them achieve goals.
Resilience is a trait that we all have. We have all experienced tough times in our lives. Being resilient does not mean that a person doesn’t experience difficulty or distress. Quite the opposite – the road to resilience always involves hardship.
In a Harvard Business Review, written by Diane Couto, she asserted that resilient people share these three traits:
- Strong acceptance of reality
- Deep belief that life is meaningful, strengthened by personal values
- An uncanny ability to improvise
These traits do not just apply to individuals but to businesses too and the more resilient you are, the more successful you are in work and life. Things that affect our resilience at work include (amongst other things) workplace politics, feeling stretched, being personally criticised and upheavals in our personal lives.
How to boost my resilience?
#1 Fail well – learn to bounce back fast
“So many people give up when they are just one step away from success” were some wise words once shared with me when I had reached burnout. However, the only true way to fail is to give up completely. Persistence is key.
If you experience difficulties, take stock, learn and adapt. Change your approach and try a new approach. Failure is an opportunity to try again; it is a learning experience.
Here is an exercise you can try. It is called Slump Time.
After something happens which impacts you negatively, set yourself an amount of time to dwell on the experience and then move on.
For instance, you receive an annoying email – give yourself 10 minutes slump time. You interact with somebody difficult – give yourself one hour. You get the idea.
#2 Mindset – develop your thinking
The way we think is determined by 10% genetics, 20% environment and 70% mindset. The good news is, you can learn how to change your mindset.
There are two types of mindset.
If you have a fixed mindset, you may experience thoughts like
- My abilities determine everything
- I’m either good at it, or I’m not
- When I fail, I am no good
- I don’t like to be challenged
If you have a growth mindset, your thoughts will be more along the lines of
- My effort and attitude determines everything
- I can learn anything I want to
- When I fail, I learn
- I want to challenge myself
One exercise to help you change your mindset is to start an accomplishments file (or boasting book). Take note of all your successes – no matter how big or small. Allow yourself to be proud of what you have achieved.
#3 Brave up – leave your comfort zone
Something I talk about a lot is comfort zones. Our happiness and success are just outside of them if we only push to reach our goals.
Comfort zones are nice. They keep us safe. They are a place where we have a sense of being in control and in which everything is familiar. Yet if we want to grow and experience our lives to the full, then it’s essential that we go beyond what is comfortable, every once in a while, to seek out experiences that make us feel alive.
#4 Network – with the right people
Network with the right people; the people who will energise, advise and stretch you. Relationships which create love and trust, provide role models, and offer encouragement help to bolster a person’s resilience. Many studies show that the primary factor in resilience is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside of family.
A mentor or coach can provide a sounding board, support, guidance and help you to identify your strengths and areas for growth which you may not see yourself.
#5 Self-care – put yourself first, not last
You cannot pour from an empty jug. Women are terrible at looking after themselves. We feel guilty if we nurture our own mental, emotional or physical wellbeing – that’s if we do it at all, because self-care is often our last priority.
Stop being Mind Full and start being Mindful! Give yourself permission to just focus on you in the here and now. If your mind wanders, return your focus to your breath. A few minutes of mindfulness practice each day works wonders.