Resilience is something many of us, especially those of us who are leaders, aspire to have and to build in our teams. Understanding where you sit within the spectrum of resilience, however, is very difficult to measure until you are put to the test. I experienced this first-hand recently, and fortunately, it made me realise that the years of self-development and mindset work I had done had paid off. And yep, it felt good.
It also revealed to me how critical resilience is to success, and how missing links in this work can lead to huge set-backs impacting personal and professional development, even when the trigger is something relatively mundane. Resilience is not a natural state for most of us, in fact the societal precondition to focus on ‘self’ and ‘ego’ is a huge obstacle to this. Here I will explore the steps leaders can take to ensure resilience is part of their toolkit.
So for me, this all came together last Friday. It was 3pm and I was ready to start my first live webinar. Now I’ve hosted lots of workshops and interviewed lots of people on ‘Lives’ via various platforms, yet for some reason, I had become very nervous about doing this webinar.
It was time to start, I clicked the button to go ‘live’, and... nothing happened. I tried everything I knew to get the software to work, however, there was no joy. My heart was racing, and I could see this creeping up to my face, which was getting progressively redder and redder. I had 40 people who were waiting on the scheduled call, whose time was precious, who were wondering where I was. The worries that had underscored my last few days when approaching this webinar, seemed to be coming true.
I finally logged in 20 minutes later and to my joy, 23 people were still there. I began, only to discover through the endless pings of messages into the chatbox, that nobody could hear me. My only choice was to reboot the system and to try for the third time. To set the scene, we are now 30 minutes after the original start time. I finally managed to access the room, sound on, and still had 10 people waiting to begin. The sheer joy I had from finally being able to hit go on the webinar meant that I gave everything I had to this group. Given the scale of frustrating set-backs, I still loved being able to share my knowledge on future-fit leadership.
Many of us have been in these situations recently. Now more than ever we are at the mercy of technical systems that either we are not used to, or are dependent on an internet connection or another variable that is ultimately out of our control. When these things go wrong, it is not uncommon to be flooded by the disappointment of ‘what could have been’. I certainly had a taste of this after the event finished. But it did not settle. Instead, the good voice in my head piped up and said: ‘you know what Jo; you were there and didn’t quit or give any excuses, you even made light of it. And you still gave it your all’.
I did not allow myself to be crippled by the tricky route to finally going live, instead, I focused on moving forward to deliver the learning in the webinar. The learning that I truly believe to be critical to leaders today, which could easily have been poorly delivered (or not delivered at all), had my anxieties, anger or frustration at things not running smoothly turned this experience around to be ‘about me’.
I truly believe that turning inwards holds the key. We spend so much time as humans looking at the external world for validation on who we are, we ask ourselves; are we good enough, do we fit in, and are we loveable. This can be an exhausting process and very often leads to imposter syndrome and constant comparisons to others. With the leaders I coach, this is often the number one cause of low self-esteem and confidence. Ultimately, it also prevents you from doing the work to understand who you really are and what YOU are capable of.
When you start to look inwards and identify your strengths and understand your thoughts and decisions, not only do you start to breathe calmer, you sleep better, you wake up with the knowledge that you rock and can handle all situations. You understand that resilience is a part of who you are and knowing what you want.
When I made the career transition to become a leadership coach, I quickly accumulated a whole new toolkit to build up my inner world. This really came to life for me when I did the EDISC behavioural profile report. It showed me where my natural unconscious energy was and where I would need to develop. I also discovered my communication, team, time management, and leadership skills. This foundation was the start of developing behavioural flexibility so that I was able to be all of me, in order to then be able to be there for others. In fact, this work inspired me so much, I trained to become an EDISC profiler.
Learning that you are in charge of your mindset and can change any thought you have is the most empowering gift you can give yourself. The combination of self-awareness and mindset is the mastery of becoming an effective future-fit leader, one who is resilient and can be the leader that teams need for the rapidly changing world we now find ourselves in.
Building your own resilience will enable you to pass this knowledge on, in turn teaching your team how to tap into their resilience so they are able to navigate the stress and anxiety that will inevitably come with the pace of change we’re experiencing.
Acknowledgment allows you to take a step back from an experience and see it in a way that isn’t tinged by the emotions it stirred up in you. Acknowledging your strengths is crucial to having and keeping a healthy mindset. For example, on Friday instead of beating myself up about what had happened, I acknowledged myself for my resilience. I acknowledged the gift of new learning the challenge gave to me.
I say again, this is your mindset, it’s in your control. Start to observe how much time you spend looking at what you ‘haven’t done’ vs ‘what you have actually achieved’. I implore you to do this as an exercise next time something goes ‘wrong’, a project doesn’t come off in the way you had hoped, or you feel the weight of comparison to a colleague or a friend weighing heavily on you. Reframe your thinking to push your mindset into a positive learning space. It may seem trivial, but beginning the process in these small moments will start to break down the habits that are ultimately shaking your resilience.
To progress forward and be a leader who inspires others, you need to start celebrating the moments that don’t go as you expected. Be vocal about these, and communicate them first to yourself, and then outwardly to your team. The space between your expectation and the reality is where your growth as a leader can come from. The work you need to do on resilience is here; the question is are you ready to lean into it?