Recently I delivered a keynote to a group of leaders who are in the midst of tremendous organizational change. At times like these, people are tested. They are asked to reach challenging goals, to do more with less and to persevere in the face of cultural upheaval. In order to prevail during challenging times and to thrive throughout a career, these leaders need to be resilient.
Resiliency is a simple concept. It is the ability to bounce back after a set-back or recover quickly following a difficulty. Rubber bands are quite resilient and some people are as well. Resiliency is a personal trait that many of us have developed through life’s challenges and set-backs. It is also a leadership trait that is viewed as essential to being promoted.
The good news, as I explained to the assembled leaders in this particular organization, is that our capacity for resilience can be increased. In other words, we can train our brains to be more resilient.
This training involves building stores of energy — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy stores — that can help us bounce back better and faster. If those energy storehouses are full, we are more resilient. If they are empty or depleted, we are not resilient at all.
Although as humans we don’t have gauges to let us know when our energy level in one of these areas is low, we typically have some indications. Often though we ignore those early warning signs and continue to push ourselves forward, taking on more and more, until we reach burnout.
The better strategy is to look at times of corporate change, and indeed life in general, as a series of sprints rather than a marathon race. With the sprint approach, we have a chance to build in habits or routines that allow us to refill our energy tanks as we go, rather than needing to finish the full 26.2 miles before we get a break.
Below are some ideas for refilling your energy tanks in each of the four areas. These ideas come from my clients and audiences, and while they are not rocket science, they are creative ideas for building resiliency.
- Go for a short walk at lunchtime.
- Eat fruit salad instead of French fries.
- Carry a refillable bottle of water wherever you go.
- Call a friend at lunch.
- Take a ten-minute quiet time break when you get home from work.
- Redsicover a hobby you used to enjoy like reading, gardening, knitting or carpentry.
- Take a quick break every 90-minutes and walk down the hall.
- Don’t work on one thing for too long; switch projects every couple of hours.
- Practice mindfulness – try to align what you are doing with what you are thinking about.
- Meditate using an app like Headspace or 10% Happier.
- Find a book of inspirational readings or quotes and read one each morning.
- Post your values near your desk and remember what’s most important to you.