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The brilliance of resilience: 6 proven ways to overcome adversity

The brilliance of resilience: 6 proven ways to overcome adversity

Developing a mindset that can successfully deal with adversity is key to helping you through tough times

Resilience is one of those words we hear quite a lot. It’s a word most people like and may associate with people they know or even themselves. But what do we mean when we talk about resilience?

It’s been defined in a number of ways, but in short, it refers to a person’s ability to take on pressure or stress in a positive way and to recover from adversity. It’s the ability to cope with a crisis, or series of crises, and return to normal (or pre-crisis status) quickly. Resilience can also be the capacity of a system (whether individual or an organisation) to deal with change and continue to develop.

When employed successfully, resilience can help us to adapt and innovate in an unpredictable world. Without it, we’re prone to crumbing when things don’t go our way or being overly sensitive to small setbacks. This can lead to increased stress, failing to move forward or, worse, giving up.

Due to the pandemic, the need to adapt ourselves and our businesses has been crucial over the past 12 months and there have been some fantastic examples of innovation.

From restaurants setting up takeaway services and cook-at-home options and gyms renting out exercise equipment and providing virtual PT services to children’s activity classes moving to online platforms and sending out resource packs for kids to get involved from home and organisations running entirely virtual conferences, we’ve seen some brilliant examples of what people and organisations can do when normal business is interrupted.

Resilience is not a trait that people either have or don’t have. It involves behaviours that can be learned and developed by anyone. Like building a muscle, increasing your resilience takes time and practice. It can be seen as creating a mental resource bank that you’re able to draw from when times get tough.

Strategies for dealing with difficult situations

When things become challenging, it’s easy to overthink and complicate matters. However, keeping it simple maybe a better way to deal with difficult situations. Below are some thoughts and strategies for when times are tough:

Accept that sometimes bad things happen. It might not be fair or affect everyone in the same way, but bad things do happen and we have to choose the right way for us to proceed. We can either fight it or accept that it has happened and channel our energy into finding the best way forward.
You don’t have the monopoly on this problem - it has affected someone else before and will likely do so again. You’re not alone and there may be people you can reach out to for ideas or options on how to move forward.

It won’t last forever. Most crises are temporary and in a few months may just be a distant memory.

Allow your feelings about the situation to arise, but only for a short period of time (maximum five minutes). Acknowledge how you feel about the situation, but spend more energy working out a way forward than worrying about the fact it’s happened.

Here’s a thought taken from the well known ‘serenity prayer’: accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Think about what you need for personal resilience and schedule it into your routine. This could be anything and everything that helps you bring your best self to your work, including exercise, diet, meditation, reading, personal time, family time and thinking/reflecting time. Whatever you need to be brilliant.

Building a culture of resilience in your organisation

This often begins with a reflection on the organisation’s culture as a whole. Culture can be hard to grasp, as there are certain intangible aspects. However, it’s most often described as ‘The way we do things around here’.

One of the most effective ways to improve resilience in an organisation is to build a coaching culture, which focuses on the well-being of the team as well as individual personal development.

Organisations with a coaching culture excel. A study by management consultancy MetrixGlobal on the return on investment of executive coaching found that: ‘Coaching produced a 529 per cent ROI and significant intangible benefits to the business’.

Importantly, the research cited certain benefits of coaching on leadership development, decision making, team performance and motivation. However, coaching should not be seen as a remedial tool to correct bad performance, but as an element to assist in achieving a high-performance culture.

Top management consultant Peter Drucker wrote that: ‘A good organisation structure does not, by itself, guarantee good performance, but a poor structure makes good performance impossible, no matter how good the individual managers may be. To improve organisation structure will, therefore, always improve performance.’

Creating a coaching culture provides a framework for improving the behaviours of an organisation in a conscious way. This can, in turn, create resilience and engender well-being. The goal of building a resilient organisation filled with resilient people will pay dividends.

In our personal and professional lives, we aim to create a balance between the challenges we face and the resources we have available to deal with those challenges. Working to create a resilient mindset and maintaining a catalogue of tools and techniques to assist with maintaining such a mindset is key.

Adversity isn’t permanent and even terrible events can produce something good. Creating a mindset and a team that search for the good and can look for creative and innovative ways to deal with adversity or lessen the burden will be helpful in building a resilient organisation.

The author

Vicki Mitman is an executive coach and mentor, as well as a franchise specialist solicitor with NMW.

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