“The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.”– Robert Jordan
This week, I have been hearing many people talk about how weary they are right now. They are missing people, working differently, parenting differently, worrying about loved ones, mourning lost experiences, and experiencing fear and anxiety. Some are eating or drinking more and exercising less, and the list goes on. For leaders, there are additional strains of overwhelm, urgency, and uncertainty about the future. While resilience has been an important leadership competency in the past, the need for leaders to show and model resiliency is even more important right now.
What is resilience and why it is important? The American Psychological Association defines it as “The process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth.” It is often confused with things like mental toughness or grit. Those are more about the ability to take things in stride or persevere. Resiliency is about the ability to bounce back from adversity.
At The Bailey Group, we believe that your success as a leader is directly correlated with your ability to grow as a human being. In our past few blogs, we have been talking about leadership traits that are critical to growth as human being, such as self-awareness and authenticity. As Sal and Barb shared in those blogs, there are ways to enhance your self-awareness, authenticity and resilience — and by increasing one, you may likely increase others. For example, self-awareness is critical to understanding your natural propensity towards resilience and being able to identify where you want to grow.
To help you increase your resiliency right now, below are some tips from Kira M. Newman at the University of California at Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center:
- Change the narrative by free writing about the issue or deciding to focus on the positives.
- Face your fears and challenge yourself; expose yourself to things that scare you in increasingly larger doses.
- Practice self-compassion: try to be mindful, remind yourself that you are not alone, and be kind to yourself.
- Meditate and practice mindfulness.
- Cultivate forgiveness by letting go of grudges and letting yourself off the hook (2016).
A few more tips I would add to Kira’s list include:
- Take action to solve problems rather than waiting for the problem to solve itself. It will only compound over time.
- Allow yourself to feel a wide range of emotions. Barb shared some thoughts on this in her last blog about putting an accurate name to what you are thinking, feeling, and believing in the moment. Identify your support system and let them be there for you.
- Focus on your own self-care. Resiliency goes down when we are hangry, tired, or not feeling well.
- Build positive beliefs in your abilities to help you increase your self-esteem. We are in unchartered territory and you do not need to, or will be able to, have all the answers.
Remember, the process of developing new or enhancing existing leadership abilities is a marathon, not a sprint. Begin by taking one or two steps and the momentum will build over time. What are you doing right now to enhance your resiliency? If the answer is nothing, I would challenge you to pick one item from the lists above to focus on over the next few weeks and notice the impact. And I’d love to hear how that goes for you. Send me an email and we can compare notes on practicing resilience. Be the willow, not the oak.