Five Strategies to Build Resilience at Work

The State of Resilience report found that a majority of Americans overestimated their own resilience. According to the poll, 83 percent of Americans stated they had high levels of mental and emotional resilience; however, 57 percent of the respondents actually scored as resilient. The report also concluded that “growing research shows higher levels of resilience are directly related to better outcomes when living through a crisis, managing chronic disease and chronic pain, and improving emotional and physical health.”

The bottom line is resilience plays a key role in all aspects of our personal and professional lives. Let’s dive into the factors that make up resilience and how to build this muscle. 

Internal Factors

  • Self-Control: Flexibility, ability to cope, adaptability, acceptance, and willpower.
  • Self-Confidence: Strength, self-reliance, determination, resourcefulness, perseverance, courage, optimism, and humor.

External Factors

  • Personal Relationships: Friends, loved ones, colleagues, and others.
  • Purpose and Meaning: Things that motivate or inspire you.
  • Communities and Social Support: Your tribe, including people who can empathize with your circumstances at life’s challenging moments.

Now that we know which factors make up our ability to be resilient, let’s look at the five ways we can build our resilience at work.

Image: Allistair McCaw

1. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone 

It’s rare when we work on developing a new skill, start a new job, or pick up a new sport and immediately excel at those new activities. It takes practice and persistence. While it can be frustrating not to find success quickly, change as an opportunity for growth. Working hard, talking with experts, and researching best practices are all critical to finding success when we are developing a skill. A crucial factor in achieving success is maintaining the conviction that you can do it. A mistake along the way needs to be viewed as a step closer to your destination, not something that throws you off course. Be willing to try. As Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player of all time said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

2. Maintain a Positive Outlook 

When I’m performing my best, I feel invincible. I am ready to take on the world and tackle anything that comes my way. One of the keys to achieving this state is to be optimistic about today and have a bright outlook for the future. There are big and small ways to do this. When you are a beacon of positivity, you attract others with the same mindset, which can be energizing. Set a plan with goals and share those. People are more likely to contribute and help to achieve an auspicious objective rather than playing things safe. Avoid complaining and being around people that drag you down. Fostering a can-do attitude will help you stay on track.

3. Find Your People

There is nothing like having great colleagues at work who you trust and whom you can bounce ideas off. These people challenge you and make you better, not just nod and say your plans are fine. When you find those people, treasure them. They will be your support system in good times and bad. Sometimes you might need a helping hand, and other times, you might need direct feedback to get you on track. Knowing there is someone you can rely on and who will build your resilience gives you the confidence to proceed and try new ideas. Even if you fail, they will support you no matter what. 

4. Demonstrate You Can Bounce Back

There will inevitably be challenges at work – a missed deadline, a quarter where you did not achieve your goals or a personal setback that is impacting you. Prove to yourself and your team that you are a fighter and can bounce back. One of my previous team members was a breast cancer survivor. She shared with me that getting cancer was the best thing that ever happened to her. Other than putting things in perspective, it gave her the resilience to fight any battle in life and survive whatever life presented. I was able to build my strength by hearing an employee’s life story after cancer. Having that fighting spirit in our teams makes all of us stronger. Nothing builds reliance more than going through a challenging experience and coming out the other side stronger. 

5. Move Forward with Decisive Action 

Instead of looking at a major project or a challenge as an impossible task, approach the situation by breaking it up into pieces and taking one step forward at a time. When you start progressing and completing stages, you prove that you can achieve more than you thought possible. Have confidence in yourself to move quickly. Don’t second guess. If a misstep happens, of course-correct. These strategies will create lifelong habits that will give you the strength to approach each other and the conviction to push through obstacles. 

If you are interested in your resilience assessment you can find that here

Make this the week to be brave enough to suck at something new.

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