5 Essential Practices to Become Resilient

Do you believe that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” If not, you should. Life knocks you down again and again. We lose loved ones, lose jobs, get our hearts broken, and our hopes get dashed. How can you overcome life’s challenges? By developing resilience.

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to maintain your emotional balance and physical wellbeing when dealing with stressful life circumstances. In other words, it is your ability to get back up when you’ve been knocked down.

Why Being Resilient?

Being resilient may seem like a nice trait to have, but not a must-have; however, did you know that being resilient could not only improve your health, but save your life as well?

In a study looking at patients with chronic pain, those who were resilient to the impact of chronic pain were 25% less likely to die within 10 years than those who were not resilient. Resilience boosts your immunity and this increased immunity has even been shown to lead to less mortality in bone marrow transplant patients.

Besides this, resilience can help you in your day to day life. For instance, if you are more resilient, you are less likely to miss work because of illness. You are also less likely to engage in risky behaviours such as drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and using drugs.

Being resilient even helps you age better and have an increased sense of wellbeing. Now, we all have to get older, but who doesn’t want to age better and thrive in old age.? Focus on your “healthspan,” how many years your are healthy, instead of your lifespan.

The good news about resilience is that it is not a static personality or character trait. You can learn it. Learn more about the 5 infallible practices to become resilient.

Practice Reframing

How do you reframe what happens to you? Quite simply, by relabeling your present situation or changing the way you think about any challenge. Ask yourself: “Is the glass half full or half empty?” The situation or circumstance is static. However, the way you view and interpret it is dynamic. You can reframe your perspectives at any time point. And you should.

Start by reframing stressful situations or unexplained anxiety. Instead of thinking about negative effects in your life, think of it as improving the quality of your life by providing you opportunities to learn and improve. Research shows that those who do this have better physical and emotional wellbeing than those who don’t.

So, instead of seeing stress and anxiety as overwhelming, think of it as a valuable lesson in life. Here are 3 simple ways to change your mindset when confronting stress and anxiety.

First, find the “why.” For instance, if you took a job that is now causing you stress, think about why you took the job in the first place. Say, you took your job just for the money. Maybe you realize that another lower-paying job could beef up your resume and would have been a better choice. By focusing on the why, you take a high-level perspective and become resilient by resisting immediate gratification.

Second, focus on the “how.” How will this stressor help you grow? Perhaps, this lower-paying job will teach you skills that you can use to become an entrepreneur, be your own boss and live life on your own terms. By imagining a brighter future, you can build your resilience.

Lastly, move from a subjective to an objective view of the stressor to “change your perspective.” Once you know the why and how, focus on identifying the opportunities posed by the stressful situation. You are now transforming your frame of mind and will feel an improvement of your mental and emotional state.

Practice Visualization

People who are resilient realize that situations which may feel overwhelming right now, may not impact them much in the long run. One way to maintain a long-term perspective is to visualize yourself as just a tiny element in the universe, realizing how unimportant you really are.

The stoic Aurelius did this by reflecting on how vast the universe was, and thought about infinite time in his meditations. By doing this, he was able to put his life into perspective. When you don’t take yourself so seriously, your present worries pale in comparison, and you don’t feel like your mess-ups are the end of the world. This helps you power on.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been shown to increase resilience. When you are under stress, the first thing you need is to calm your mind. When you are under stress, your mind can go haywire. The skeletons of the past and the ghosts of the future start to take over your thinking patterns. Circular and repetitive thoughts overwhelm your mind and interfere with clear judgement when you most need it.

Practicing mindfulness meditation or mindful framing lowers this rumination process. And the good news is that the more you practice, the more your brain circuitry changes. This is called neuroplasticity, anatomically imprinting your resilience into your brain to handle future stressful events.

And you don’t have to engage in a long-winded 60-minute practice every day. Just 10 minutes dedicated regularly to your favorite practice can reap benefits. Just do it.

Practice Awareness

In today’s pursuit of happiness, we are told to ignore or minimize negative emotions. It’s easy to distract our mind with all kinds of tricks like excessive eating or drinking. However, those who are resilient have learnt that having negative emotions is okay. So, they don’t suppress them or run away from them. Instead they embrace negative emotions as teachable moments.

This is how to handle negative emotions. Start by acknowledging your emotional state. Second, attach a label to the emotion, even if it is an unflattering emotion, for instance envy. Lastly, establish a positive framework around that emotion. For instance, if you are envious about someone else, the envy may reflect a sense of inferiority about yourself. Your life is telling you that you are missing something. If this is the case, make plans to get ahead and feel confident. Be specific. Take action.

Practice Empathy

No man or woman is an island. We all need people to hold us up when we are facing stressful situations. The more deep and meaningful relationships you have at work and home, the more resilient you will be. Don’t have a good support network now? Look around you, be truly empathetic. Build or reinforce relationships with your family, at work and your social network. Volunteer, take evening classes, join community and/or faith groups. By aligning yourself with others, you will have a tribe that you can rely on to bolster your strength for those difficult times.

 

We all face tough situations. Whether we rise from the ashes, or burn with the embers, depends on how resilient we are. Build those muscles of resilience so that you are better able to handle what life throws your way.

 

Leadership = Awareness + Empathy

 

 

A true leader goes beyond the daily routine and takes a step back thinking about the consequences of every human interaction.

When you share ideas, proposals, or concerns, are you aware of their emotional impact on your team?

If you keep your thoughts to yourself, do you realize that they can take a toll on your own emotional balance?

Leaders want to be heard and valued, want to promote an atmosphere of positivity and productivity. This can be achieved more easily through self-awareness and empathy.

Leaders who are empathetic earn the trust of employees, who in turn are more productive. The right approach to empathy can go a very long way in promoting positivity at work.

 

What is empathy?

According to Gustavo Razzetti, author of Stretch for Change, there are two kinds of empathy: Emotional and Cognitive.

  1. Emotional Empathy is activated by mirror neurons, which allow us to feel another person’s feelings in a passive manner.
  1. Cognitive Empathy is also known as ‘perspective taking,’ when we are aware of your own insights and make an effort to understand others.

 

In the early 1990s, neuroscientists discovered that we have specific brain cells that become active when someone else is suffering. In essence, we can feel someone’s pain and move toward a closer understanding of them.

Of course, as a leader, it’s imperative that you understand where an employee is coming from on a topic without being triggered into an emotional response or unhelpful decision. Maintaining a clear, yet compassionate approach can be better achieved with Cognitive Empathy.

 

How can empathy help you be a more effective leader?

A skill that can be worked on and finely tuned with practice, Cognitive Empathy is invaluable for organizations because it:

Builds Team Culture. Making an effort to understand how someone thinks, behaves, and feels can offer you essential insights and allow your co-workers or employees to feel valued.

 

Diversifies Thinking. Not only does empathy create a feeling of connection among peers, but taking the time to understand someone else’s perspective increases diversity and convergence of ideas, explains Razzetti.

 

Impacts Communication. In her recent article, Prudy Gourguechon, Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst, explains that empathy allows you to understand if you have fully reached and connected with those around you.

 

Inspires Loyalty. With empathy as a regularly used tool in your leadership belt, you can build your team, inspire followers, nurture leadership in others, and elicit loyalty, notes Gourguechon

 

What if you’re not naturally empathetic? 

Empathy is an innate trait that’s in all of us; however, like anything else, it runs on a spectrum of weak to strong.

If you’re not naturally inclined to empathy, you can still harness its power through a few simple tactics:

 

Think before you act. For instance, if an employee needs time off during a busy peak, before you say ‘no,’ take a moment to consider what your decision will mean to the person.

You don’t need to say ‘yes’ if the answer should be ‘no.’ But showing you understand where the person is coming from goes a long way in keeping up morale.

 

Practice mindfulness or seek advice. If you’re not strong in the empathy department, you don’t need to change who you are. First of all, being aware of it allows you to fill in the gap with someone who compliments your weakness, notes Gourguechon.

 

Can you be too empathetic?

Imagine spending your whole day feeling the ups and downs of everyone around you. Sound fun? Not at all.

Being highly empathetic is a superpower in so many ways, but it can also hinder your ability to function as a leader if you’re pulled in too many directions.

Perhaps you’re managing a small team of recruiters who often have disputes with one another. As the team leader, you want to keep your eye on the goals, so that you can make deadlines and expand your recruitment services.

If you spend every afternoon feeling emotionally charged thoughts unrelated to the big picture goals, then your vision and effectiveness as a leader become muddied. Of course, it’s imperative to explore workplace disputes and aim to resolve them, but it’s also your job to keep a compassionate, yet targeted eye on the prize.

 

With the right amount of awareness and insight, you can feel out another’s perspective and understand the social and emotional landscape of your work environment. Use empathy to create well-informed decisions, to inspire loyalty, and to communicate as clearly as possible.

 

The first 9 and 99 days

Succeeding at any new job, activity or relationship is about establishing trust, building rapport and credibility in the first 3 months. This post describes a mnemonic trick, NOW with LUCK, to help you navigate these initial days. The first 9 days require full presence, the skills of NOW, and within 99 days we need LUCK, driven by the way we interact with others.

Successful people seem to have traits that appear unattainable to everyone else. However, I believe that everyone can master any new challenge and opportunity by practicing personal skills NOW and people skills with LUCK.

avigate. Be an explorer. Chart the course, raise the sail and share the ride. Let others see who you are, your values, goals, style. Be someone who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.

bserve. Be a scientist. Pay close attention to you and your surroundings. Develop hypotheses, experiment, practice trial and error, observe and interpret the results. Share and discuss your ideas, be humble.

ait. Be a monk. Patience is a virtue. Outstanding results take time. If you are in control and do everything you can, just wait for extraordinary things to happen.

NOW encapsulates my daily compass and directionality. I am proactive and make decisions continuously, good and bad. I feel in charge. I acknowledge myself, others and the environment. It’s not what happens to me, it’s how I react to what happens.

isten actively. Be focused and present in all conversations. Listen to all ideas. Be passionately curious about non-intrusive personal and professional aspects of others. Be open to advice and counsel.

nderstand empathetically. Strengthen personal connections at the emotional and mental level in each conversation. Go beyond words, dig deeper into what motivates you and others, discover what lies behind the surface.

ompassion seeking. Continuously ask, what can I do to help you? Help others manage and overcome difficulty. Be empathetic and supportive. Embrace and promote a spirit of service.

now deeply. Conceptualize the situation, the key drivers, where you and others are and need to be. Assess and adapt to challenges and opportunities. Incorporate this knowledge into a framework of ethical values. Inspire and mobilize others with genuine value propositions.

LUCK is about my interactions, cooperation and lucky encounters. I integrate my thoughts, concerns, feelings, emotions with those of others. I value each interaction as a source of inspiration, an opportunity to connect and harmonize. I balance my commitments to others with my expectations from others.

If you want to catch up, get ready to grab your sextant for the next 9 and 99 days and start every day NOW with LUCK.

The connected CD player

Introducing… the connected CD player, the smart approach to tackle your professional life. It seems impossible to compete with the latest connectivity gadgets. No worries, this one does not take any space, battery life is infinite, and can be very very cool.

The CD player is the individual player at work. The C is Chaos, the daily whirlwind of urgency and overload of information, activities, meetings,… The D is the Discipline you need to master your reality, both Discipline of Thought and Discipline of Action.

The connected CD player is the team player. You must interact, communicate, give and receive inspiration and energy. You have to thrive in chaos, be disciplined and connect.

Let me show you how this mental gadget works. First, list all activities relevant to your job. Second, categorize them in the following five essential disciplines:

Know. As a knowledge worker, you need to learn continuously and be knowledgeable on a product or products and a market or markets. Find out what you need to know to be an expert in your field. You can learn through training, online or traveling in the field. Find the time, everyday, to learn, get out of the office, take the pulse of your customers and your colleagues.

Communicate. This is a two-way road. You can show and tell what you know, but, more importantly: you must listen. This is the discipline of understanding the frame of mind, drivers and concerns of others.

Serve. Service is what your company, your boss, your peers expect from you. You have to do this, it is important and necessary, but occasionally bureaucratic activities may not provide intrinsic value. Watch out carefully this essential discipline, don’t let it consume most of your time and energy.

Execute. This is about being proactive, leading and adding value. This is about creating a product that will be associated to you or your team. This product can be a program, a report, an idea, a tangible product that is specific and can be measured.

Connect. Let’s move now from being a superb CD player to a phenomenal team player. The key is connecting strategy, priorities and metrics, encouraging candid and robust dialogue, being transparent and accountable. This discipline should be embraced by senior and team leaders, but also by individual contributors, who can lead themselves or others in their sphere of influence.

If you thrive in chaos, know, communicate, serve, execute and connect, facilitating collective decision making and strategic planning, you have become the ideal team player, a connected CD player.