Wednesday, 8 October 2014

C is for Resilience

Resilience is a term that is batted around in businesses from building a resilient workforce to creating resilient business cases, from being resilient in a changing market to developing a business resilience strategy.  To a business, this could mean a combination of business continuity strategies, risk and crisis management and attempts at future proofing their business.
But what does resilience actually mean to us?

Resilience; the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.  (Oxford English Dictionary)

In the late 1970s Clinical Psychologist, Dr Susan Kobasa PhD conducted a study of executives at the Bell Telephone Company in the USA.  The company was going through a major restructuring and these executives were under considerable pressure.  The study concluded that there were 3 traits (The 3Cs) that protected some of these executives from developing serious stress related health problems. 

1. Challenge
Challenge is about how we perceive the things that happen to us.  So rather than dwelling on why something is changing, if we can accept that change is a normal part of life then it becomes less scary. 

Many of us like to have our set ways of doing things, our routines and orders as it keeps us on track and we feel safe and secure.  I certainly have one foot securely in that camp.  However we've all heard the saying "variety is the spice of life" so may be a step to becoming more resilient would be to adopt an openness to explore new experiences and to view them as a challenge rather than a problem.  To me, a problem feels negative, definite and certainly hard to overcome, whereas a challenge provokes a more "OK let's give it a go" type of attitude and with a bit of planning and forward thinking this could actually be possible.  For me, I think it's a bit like a personal dare and that's when my competitive side kicks it...bring it on!

2. Control
Control is about finding ways we can have influence over a situation rather than being a passenger feeling powerless and helpless.  Unfortunately it's likely to be nigh on impossible to remove all stresses however if we can think, act and feel in charge then maybe we can make some headway and avoid falling into the victim trap.

Personally, I use a little mantra to help me get my head around the control trait which I thought I'd share...

Change what you can.  Accept what you can't change.  Don't blame others.

And it's that third one that I still find the most tricky!!

3. Commitment
Commitment is about finding our purpose in life whether that be work, family, community, social or faith or a combination of them all.  It's believing in what we are doing, being fully involved and curious.  

Have you ever noticed that when we are doing something we are 100% committed to, then we can be a like a dog with a bone, nothing will waver our motivation and we just keep going and going until we find the solution.  Although it's hard work it doesn't feel like a chore because we really and truly believe in what we're doing.  We're prepared to put in more effort for those things.  So let's start by being curious and asking ourself what is our purpose?

There's quite a lot to take in here and unless you're one of those fortunate people who find these 3 hardiness traits come quite easily, it's going to take a bit of practice. 

It's not to say that we are either born with these traits or we aren't.  We can learn and develop them and although it doesn't mean that we won't experience negative thoughts and emotions, we can learn to bounce back quicker.

If I can offer a tip as I'm not one of those fortunate ones, I have to consciously work at it, personally I find a really good starting point when faced with a period of change or adversity, is to try and change your thinking from...

 "If only such and such could happen or if only they'd done such and such...."
"OK, given that I'm in this situation, what can I do?  
What are my options?  What is my plan?"  

For me it changes the focus from viewing the situation as something that I can have control over and can solve rather than something that is a threat to me personally.

Try it and please let us know what works for you.

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