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Developing Resilience — Getting that Bounce back ability!

Back in 2020, I learned resilience at an entirely different level. During the time of political turmoil, a staggering death toll (due to COVID19) almost 10 times of the number of people who died in 9/11, financial distress and civil unrest- the fact that some of us are still standing (although barely)speaks to that thing…that thing that makes you take a licking and keep on ticking.

That “thing” is tenacity, courage and yes, resilience.

So how do you harness that power to apply its principles of sustaining thru chaos to your everyday life?

Here are 5 strategies I use and have taught to my clients as well as in conferences.

First of all, resilience is not an event. It isn’t like a light switch that you flick off and on. Its more like a medication that you take when symptoms occur. You navigate the regimen for as long as you need it. No one wears a cast on a broken arm for a day. That’s not enough time to heal. Nor should anyone wear a cast on their arm, if it isn’t broken. So resilience is a process, a plan and strategy that is activated to attack a specific issue. The goal is to shorten the time between the fall out and the bounce back.

1. Separate fact from fiction.

“Take a minute to discern if you actually are going to lose your business or is the truth more like that your current business model is unsustainable”.

The first thing that you should do in an adverse situation is to determine what is real versus what is assumed. Take a minute to discern if you actually are going to lose your business or is the truth more like that your current business model is unsustainable. Those are two totally different things. Also, you want to determine what is happening to you versus what is happening because of you versus what is not happening at all.

Sometimes when we are stressed, we can immediately jump all the way to worst case scenario without realizing that the situation hasn’t arrived there yet. In owning what is happening because of you, means that there is also a course correction in behavior, habit or pattern that needs to be addressed. Lastly, in strategizing how to manage what is happening TO you, usually due to no fault of your own, i.e. COVID-19, your process to bounce back has to remain within the scope of what you can control.

2. Don’t let adversity just happen to you.

The example that I always use is that none of us can control the weather, but we don’t go out in the snow in flip flops defeated saying “oh no its snowing….there is nothing that I can do to manage this!” No, we put on boots, a coat, hat and scarf and keep it moving. Adversity has to be handled same way. You may not be able to control the problems that come but you can control your response to them.

3. Transform hardship into a challenge.

“Hardship insinuates suffering, whereas a challenge implies an opportunity.”

Labeling a problem a “challenge” versus calling it a hardship is much more than meaningless semantics. Hardship insinuates suffering, whereas a challenge implies an opportunity. Look at what you are facing and think about how you can turn this seemingly negative situation into a productive one. Dr. David Hellerstein of Columbia University explains that if you view a situation as a threat, your fear response systems in your body are automatically set off.

This means that your body will release hormones that increase blood pressure, blood glucose levels and anxiety. He goes on to explain that when a situation is viewed as a challenge, your body releases hormones that promotes cell repair, triggers relaxation responses and it stimulates efficient energy use. So remember your hardships are not a THREAT. They are a challenge and an opportunity..if you remember that, your body will respond as such.

4. Inoculate yourself against stress.

This principle works the same way as an immunization shot. A physician inoculates their patient against a disease by injecting a minute amount of virus into their bloodstream. This process automatically activates our own natural immune responses.

The way you immunize yourself against stress is by intentionally injecting yourself into minimally stressful situations that are a little outside of your comfort zone.

Things like learning a new language or taking dance lessons. Maybe going to a movie or out to dinner by yourself. Even taking up a new sport!

“By putting myself in this stressful situation every week, it retaught me what it was like to be a beginner again.”

For example, this year I set out to learn Golf and I thought I could back out of it because of COVID-19. But when it was safe, my trainer reached out and got it going. It was stressful learning something new. I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to land every shot, learn the effects of every iron, and knock the ball hundreds of yards from the tee to the green.

That did NOT happen.

By putting myself in this stressful situation every week, it retaught me what it was like to be a beginner again. It reminded me how to start over in something from the ground up and to understand that perfection is not always the goal. So when a challenge arises that means I have to start over..I can handle it better because I have been there before.

5. Don’t let a good problem go to waste.

On the other side of adversity is a message, a lesson that you need to put in your back pocket for your next bout. When you get to the other side of an issue, ask yourself-What 5 things am I doing, changing or learning because of this? For example, let’s say you were rejected for another job or a promotion. Your resiliency plan could include:

  • I am going to start documenting my project progress every week and create a brag sheet for my work so I don’t forget my value to this company when asking for a promotion or raise in the future.

  • I have learned that I need to hone my skills on the art of negotiation and will find a course online to help by next month.

  • I've got problem areas in my business and need to create a fresh slate and strategize my next steps with a consultant (shameless plug, we are pretty good at this) and will reach out for a consult.

  • I will learn conversational Spanish, because the last 4 out of 5 projects that I was bid on went to someone bilingual. I will start on Duolingo and get a tutor from the nearby college when I am ready.

  • I will seek out a head hunter or mentor my the end of this quarter to help me determine my next steps and plot my business or career course.

With lessons learned and a beginning plan in place, you douse the sting of rejection, adversity or a problem’s effect on you.

You now have a process to apply to what comes your way instead of spinning and making a bad problem worse through inaction. Being proactive with these tactics and changing your mind about the opportunities that adversity presents, will shorten your time on the floor of despair! Before the count gets to “1” you will bounce back stronger and more resilient that ever.

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