Guest blogger Julie Johnson runs the Success club, building a community of female leaders and founders. She delivers leadership programmes specifically for females in the third sector, covering the themes of Personal Leadership (including resilience), External Stakeholder Development, and Organisation/Team Development. Her next programme starts on 12th February 2020. For details click here. Alternatively, you can connect with Julie via her website or email.
Resilience has become a buzzword in recent years. For both individuals and managers at work, and for the organisations they work in.
For third sector organisations in particular, often working with clients/service users in the areas of emotional, mental or social wellbeing, it’s so important for staff to understand and model resilience through their own personal practice as well as through organisational leadership.
So what do we mean by resilience? And how do we develop our own and our staff’s levels of resilience? To create a happier, more engaged and less stressed workforce, and a more sustainable organisation?
Let’s start with the concept of resilience.
My dictionary defines resilience as
- The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness
- The ability of a substance or object to spring back to shape; elasticity
Personally I love Ann Menston (developmental psychologist’s) definition of it as ‘Ordinary Magic,’ meaning it’s ordinary not extraordinary. People commonly demonstrate it. (Think of any large group of people who’ve suffered a tragedy or misfortune, and how they’re able to rebuild their lives.)
Resilience is rarely the result of something particularly earth shattering happening, it’s ordinary, everyday stuff, like paying more attention to what you’re thinking or feeling, or looking after yourself. And this can and does lead to lead to increased feelings of wellbeing (the magic).
There are different approaches to individual and organisational resilience, and my focus in this article is on you as an individual.
How do I develop my resilience (and be a role model for others)?
It starts with understanding what resilience is and getting clear on why it’s important.
I believe we are naturally resilient. When we’re babies we learn to walk and talk through constant trial and error, setbacks and challenges, yet we keep going with support from adults. We bounce back repeatedly. And at that age we don’t make the setbacks mean anything about us.
However, as we grow, and encounter certain events and people in our lives, we often start to attach negative meanings about ourselves to these encounters. These negative meanings lead to habitual thought patterns, beliefs and expectations. And these in turn dictate our behaviour and actions (whether we’re conscious of this or not.)
The good news is, if we can learn these thought patterns and beliefs, then we can also unlearn them. We can return to a more resilient way of being.
So feeling (and being) resilient allows you to cope with whatever life throws at you. It stems from a knowing that you’re really ok no matter what. It helps you focus on the here and now, as a way of not only dealing with what’s happening in the moment, but also actively creating a better future for yourself.
Question: Where do you think you are right now in terms of your own level of resilience?
If you’re not certain, or you know you want to want to develop your resilience, I have three recommendations for you:
#1. Know the Bigger Picture. Your purpose, vision or intention for your life and work. When you have clarity over why you’re doing the work you’re doing. Over what’s most important to you. Over where and how you fit within the organisation and its mission and goals. Over your contribution and impact, your goals or targets. And you understand how they’re measured and the support that’s available to you, then you’re developing your resilience.
- Where am I unclear about my work, where I fit or how my performance is measured?
- What action/s can I take to get clarity?
- Who can I talk to about this? Who will support me?
#2. Explore What Stresses You – your stressors and the points at which you get triggered. There will always be challenges. Too much to do. Not enough time. Antsy bosses, colleagues, clients/service users. When you understand what triggers and stresses you and you learn coping strategies to deal with them, you develop your resilience.
- What do I generally get stressed about?
- Which parts of my job or working patterns cause me stress?
- What stresses me at home? Do I carry this with me into work?
- How do I cope with stress right now? What works well? Not so well?
- What might work better? For example deep breathing, counting to ten, imagining positive outcomes, walking away, getting fresh air.
- How can I help myself take action on these when appropriate? For example setting alerts on my phone, or establishing a short and simple routine of deep breathing, imagining a positive interaction with someone you need to talk to who usually causes you stress.
#3. Pay Attention to What You Think. Feel. Say. Do. When you’re stressed, overwhelmed or simply frustrated. Be a curious observer rather than a judgemental critic. Notice that inner voice and whether it’s positive or negative. Helpful or unhelpful most of the time.
- How do I generally talk, think and feel about stress and overwhelm? What words do I use? How do they make me feel?
- How do I usually respond to misfortune? To problems, challenges or the unexpected?
- What’s been going on for me as I’ve been reading this? (My thoughts and feelings.)
I’d love to know your thoughts on this and whether it’s been helpful in thinking about how resilient you are and what you can do to develop your resilience and become a better role model for others – yours team, colleagues and clients/service users.
Julie Johnson runs the Success club, building a community of female leaders and founders. She delivers leadership programmes specifically for females in the third sector, covering the themes of Personal Leadership (including resilience), External Stakeholder Development, and Organisation/Team Development. Her next programme starts on 12th February 2020. For details click here. Alternatively, you can connect with Julie via her website or email.