Building personal resilience for business success is becoming a popular topic, especially in 2020 as we face the global pandemic. The dictionary defines resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” It’s part of the human condition to face difficulties, roadblocks, and challenges, and to then find a way to bounce back. 

Think of the people you admire in history; are they the ones that faced a few obstacles and spent most of their lives on Easy Street? Not likely. We tend to admire people who have faced great adversity and overcome it.

In his research and book, The Adversity Quotient, Paul G Stolz found that the correlation between successful people and the amount of adversity they faced in their lives was a stronger determinant than their IQ, EQ, or other socio-economic factors.

Why is Resilience In The Workplace Important?  

In the same way, organizations face challenges and roadblocks constantly, and those populated with resilient people have a greater chance of coming out on top. As individuals, we need to continually work to develop our resilience, and if we are leaders we can coach and encourage the same in others.

Building Resilience

How do I develop personal resilience in the workplace?

In Season 1 of Unleashed, Dr. Karen MacNeill provided a five-part framework for building personal resilience:

1. Self Expertise — Know yourself: what is your personal brand and how do you want to “show up” every day to provide the most value to yourself and your teams?

2. Mindfulness – Taking time to understand your thoughts and feelings, being present, noticing how the mind and body interact.

3. Mental Fitness and Health – recognizing that it’s a continuum and taking action to maintain high levels like practicing gratitude, connection and control. Knowing that mental health is a real condition and knowing what supports and resources are available.

4. Hardiness – the ability to endure difficult conditions. It’s a stress buffer, and people with it have high levels of:

  • Commitment to Purpose – know your personal why, and what contribution you can make.
  • Control – Clarify and control things you can control and not those you can’t.
  • Challenge – recognizing that there will be people and organizations that will come out of this stronger.
  • Connect – having a group of people, your go-to board, that you can talk to for support.

5. Energy management – knowing and maintaining resilience takes energy, and we must feed our bodies and souls. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so give yourself energy by eating well, getting good sleep, exercising, and getting outside.

How do I adapt to stressful situations with a clear mind?

adapt to stressful situation

As we learned from Sarah Noll Wilson, stress creates biological and chemical reactions in our bodies. When stress is high, cortisol is created and our ability to connect is lessened; we are more closed and our primitive amygdala drives us into survival, fight or flight mode.

The first step is recognizing these reactions in our bodies for what they are. From there we can use deep breathing, relaxation or just taking a break to lessen regain our composure and executive mental functions.

The next step is to identify the root cause of stress. In a work environment, these often surface at times of disagreement and conflict. From there we can begin to deconstruct the issue and turn the conflict into a productive, solution-seeking disagreement.

How do I develop strength in the face of failure?

A big part of drawing strength from failure is experience. The more we try, fall, and get back up the better we get at it. We are all familiar with the inexperience of children who explode with a temper tantrum sometimes when they fail, and we know it’s simply a sign of immaturity.

The second principle is to link failure to learning. Remember the acronym F.A.I.L. — First Attempt In Learning. If we can reframe our failures and mistakes in this way, we can be more accepting and willing to try again.

Learning is enhanced if we take time to review the facts after a failure and make specific plans to adjust the next time we are in a similar situation. The so-called post-mortem is commonly integrated into formal project management approaches, but personally, we can accomplish this by keeping a learning log or journal of our experiences.

How do I build a resilient organization?

building personal resilience for business

If you are a leader, you have a unique opportunity to help create a culture of resilience in your organization. It begins by modelling the way by personally adopting the behaviours noted above.

From there, look to formally introduce processes that build resilience in your people:

  • Use team icebreakers and trust-builders like this one to encourage openness, vulnerability and relationships in your teams.
  • Formalize the sharing of learning on an ongoing basis in weekly meetings.
  • Encourage health and personal wellbeing practices for employees in and outside of work. Consider even funding these if possible.
  • Continually reinforce the purpose of the organization and the contribution being made by your people. A little appreciation goes a long way.

If you are serious about building a resilient, high-performing business then reach out to us. In the past two decades, we’ve worked with hundreds of leadership teams in unleashing their potential through our programs. We’re here to listen and help.