If you’ve ever wondered what resilience in the workplace looks like, just visit an airport. I remember waiting for a flight once. Boarding had finished for the flight before mine and the ground staff had secured the doors. A few minutes later an agitated woman came rushing to the gate. When she was told she had missed her flight, all hell broke loose. Not once did the man at the service desk raise his voice. In fact, he seemed completely unfazed.
Some people are lucky enough to be born with the resilience skills to handle high-pressure situations like this. The rest of us are not. But the great news is that all of us can develop our personal resilience.
So what exactly is personal resilience?
It’s a simple enough question, but there isn’t a universally agreed definition of resilience. The definition that I like is Gill Windle’s from ‘What is resilience? A review and concept analysis. Reviews in Clinical Gerontology’ (2011):
“Resilience is the process of negotiating, managing and adapting to significant sources of stress or trauma. Assets and resources within the individual, their life and environment facilitate the capacity for adaptation and ‘bouncing back’ in the face of adversity.”
In short, your resilience is what helps you cope with challenging situations, work through them and recover from the personal toll this takes.
Where some people go wrong is in thinking that resilience is a magical cure for all stress. Let’s be honest – there will always be ups and downs in your workplace and in life. It’s how you react to these stressors that showcases your resilience.
And resilience isn’t just a blanket concept. You might be great in moments of crisis but suffer from burn out when placed under sustained periods of pressure. Or vice-versa. Your personal resilience is also affected by what else is going on in your life and how much you have left in the reserve tank.
Think of resilience as your very own super power
When our stress builds, it hijacks our brain’s neural capacity for paying attention, comprehending and learning. In a nutshell, it can make us perform poorly at work and we may take the stress on in a physical way, such as through headaches or neck pain.
It might not be as cool as invisibility, but your personal resilience is a pretty useful superpower. No one enjoys feeling overwhelmed or a like victim of circumstance. Drawing on your resilience empowers you to stay calm and in control.
Not only does actively developing your personal resilience help you to succeed at work and feel happier overall, it also contributes to your wellness and wellbeing.
You can boost your resilience using simple strategies
When you increase your overall resilience, it’s easier to keep doing your best under pressure and still maintain a balanced approach to life. Here’s an example of some simple strategies:
- Shape your sense of control – recognise what’s beyond your control and let go of those things.
- Stay positive – expect good things and visualise the outcome you want.
- Keep a long-term perspective – avoid seeing stressful events as all-encompassing. As the saying goes, ‘This too shall pass’.
- Be proactive – deal with pressures before they escalate.
- Develop problem-solving skills – learn how to come up with solutions to problems.
- Exercise your choice – remember that you are in control of how you manage your feelings.
Of course, it isn’t called ‘personal’ resilience for nothing. Everyone has their own strengths and areas for improvement. If you’d like to find out about our personalised resilience and wellbeing coaching, workplace resilience programs and other services, contact Fleur on 0404 559 244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org