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May 15, 201812:40 PMThe Gray Area

with Donna Gray

The importance of resilience

At a recent evening function, several business folks were talking about how hard it sometimes is o be resilient when the “you know what” hits the fan. Because I know folks who seem to go with the flow when things happen, I wanted to learn how some people are able to put their wagons in a circle and deal with anything that comes down the pike, when others simply can’t cope. I found that people with a resilient mindset are more stress hardy and able to get around the roadblocks that often pop up in business and life.

People who have resilience seem to find it easier to face setbacks, challenges, crises, and pain — both emotional and physical — with confidence and courage. They are better able to keep from giving up when the going gets rough. They get through tough times and they don’t feel like they have to bail out when things aren’t easy. Resilience helps people to recover more quickly from difficulties, and it helps when life’s big crises and Murphy’s law jumps in. Those who have the gift of reliance are more able to deal with daily frustrations without losing their cool.

Business coaches say that resilience at work is recognized as a characteristic of team members who respond well with the pressures and stresses of today’s workplace. They say that some of the biggest drains on our resilience at work, especially during busy seasons, are:

  • Having our work questioned or challenged;
  • Juggling daily work life along with family and other non-work responsibilities;
  • Challenges in our personal life;
  • When work duties take us outside our comfort zone;
  • Feeling personal criticism;
  • When the work volume, or the timing/deadlines of the work, stretches the limits of tolerance;
  • When there are difficult relationships and politics in the workplace; and
  • Stress from all of the above. 

I asked the experts what we can do to become more resilient, and here are some of their suggestions:

  • Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t change the fact that these events happen, but you can change how you respond. Instead of wishing the problem would go away, get an accurate understanding of the challenge and take decisive actions.
  • Hone your skills in communication and problem solving.
  • Work on making realistic plans and then taking the steps to carry them out.
  • Keep things in perspective. Consider the possibilities, keep a long-term view, and don’t blow the situation out of proportion. The sky probably isn’t really falling, Chicken Little.
  • Be optimistic. Maintain a hopeful outlook and expect good things to happen. Visualize what you really want instead of worrying about what might go wrong.
  • Write down thoughts and feelings about stressful events, and then find ways to manage those strong feelings and impulses. Putting thoughts on paper helps to get them out of your head and move you on the way to solutions.
  • Identify ways that are likely to work as part of your personal strategy for becoming more resilient.
  • Spend time with loved ones, family, and friends who help to hold you up.
  • Rely on others to be there for you.
  • Deal with the challenges and then take time to rest and reenergize.

My expert friends reminded me that we don’t have to have all the answers to be resilient. It’s okay if you don’t have everything figured out when you encounter roadblocks. Trying too hard can block the answers that will present themselves in their own time, kind of like a “head slapper” when you figure it all out.

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