People are saying that this is the time for resilience and I think they are right. However, for me, it has always been the time.
One of my mother’s favourite sayings was that “there is always something to worry about” – with the latest worry usually being worse than the previous one! This mantra helped me become well versed in the art of worry and to appreciate that worry comes from raised levels of stress. If unchecked this stress can lead to falling resilience triggering feelings of fear, surfacing all those personal doubts which usually come from the need for approval or control.
In my professional years – 3 decades leading corporate businesses – starting them, growing them, restructuring them and selling them I’ve definitely had my fair share of stress. And now as a performance coach working with some of the UK’s business finest I spend most of my time listening to the stresses of high office.
Don’t get me wrong there have been plenty of good times in these 30 odd years and I have been very fortunate to lead businesses and work on some brilliant brands with many talented people. However, these times have occasionally been punctuated with a variety of stress-inducing moments of despair. A poor monthly set of results and the finger of blame, a sudden PR disaster and the potential of wide-scale industry embarrassment and of course, office politicking where people you don’t trust are out to make you look just a little bit rubbish in their own quest for top spot.
.. And, as we all know, stress is not confined to the workplace. On a personal level can there be a much worse feeling than seeing the pain of disappointment or hurt in one of your children, I don’t think so – you are indeed only as happy as your unhappiest child! And don’t get me on football and Leeds United – a labour of love and a brutal on-going lesson in resilience!
So, it seems that worry is a constant …which has always caused stress that weakens our resilience. And now, of course, we have the real menace of Covid19 to contend with! Workplace stress and fear induced by redundancy, isolation, change and harassment have suddenly been magnified 10-fold. More than ever before individuals need to find resilience – a commodity way more valuable now than an MBA or a big job title.
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Finding ways to combat higher levels of stress is a very personal thing – however if the stress lowers our resilience it not only causes personal misery but also results in faltering performance which then becomes a serious organisational issue. Protecting individual resilience will give organisations many benefits including – more engagement, more proactivity, more creativity, more collaboration and more felt wellbeing. Resilience has always been critical, but now I think it would be irresponsible not to put resilience at the top of both our personal and organisational agendas. Why wouldn’t leaders make this a priority – for themselves, for the people they lead and for their business itself.
Consequently, I believe that we have to put urgent focus on resilience. I am not a psychologist however as I have said I do have 30 plus years of corporate leadership experience, I am a practising executive coach running my own business, for several years I have been a passionate student of emotional intelligence and I am of course genetically worry-wired which all I think have given me valuable insight.
The learnings I have collected on my life journey along with a fair amount of research has led me to what I think are the crucial building blocks of resilience (Foundations if you like) which can be worked on in training and coaching to stem stress, protect performance and make people feel better. Resilience solutions.
I’m not going to talk about the Foundations now (there are 7 of them) – suffice to say that the “cornerstone” Foundation – the one that holds all the others up – is “Purpose” and “Purposeful Prioritisation”.
This means taking time to think about what is meaningful and most important to you and setting goals around these things. Then spending time and energy on the important things and not being lured by all the other small stuff considered urgent. Establishing a Purpose gives people a compass to keep them on track when in difficulty which fuels determination, persistence and hope.
It sounds like common sense and it is! However, most people just don’t do it and get sucked into ‘busyness’ which takes time away from the important goals and what really matters.
I still find it odd why so many leaders I work with complain of being too busy to stand back and do what’s most important – that week, that month or that year – and eventually get somewhere that means something. Olympic athlete’s get it, some President’s get it, Marcelo Bielsa definitely gets it – we could all get it!
At a broad level, resilient leadership within this Foundation is about defining a business Purpose bigger than profit, giving the organisation real clarity on this Purpose and for leaders themselves having a clear distinctive set of values which they consistently live by – giving them proper credibility.
I have really enjoyed researching the Resilience Foundations and pulling together practical training and coaching frameworks that will help people right now in this time of need.
The best discovery for me doing this research has been that people can cope with difficulty and all of us have a unique ‘personal resilience model’ – our skills, supports, strategies and wisdom that we have tapped into to sort out bad things and combat stress in the past. The challenge for any coaching is to get people to recognise this in-built resilience so they can deal with adversity whenever it strikes.
As the Covid19 lockdown starts to ease I wish everyone well. I look forward to sharing the resilience Foundations in due course and hope that we emerge from this crisis in a better more resilient shape.
This really is the time for resilience. It has always been the time.
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