I have a 13-year-old son. A kid who is usually highly active. He plays soccer, amongst other things, and a normal week includes 2 or 3 training sessions and a couple of games. When Isolation began a couple of months ago, that all stopped. And for any of you who have either been a 13-year-old boy or come into contact with one, they have a lot of energy. And so a few weeks into isolation he was getting bored and he wanted something to do. He was really missing all his sport.
He was doing his best to entertain himself and so he thought he would film a TikTok.
It involved a controlled fall off a chair which, being a mum, I didn’t think it was a great idea. He thought it was a fabulous idea. And so he did his controlled fall. There was a yell, and then he came to me and he said, “Mom, I think I’ve broken my toe.”
Now, what does this have to do with resilience?
Well, as it turned out, he did break his toe. And so that meant that he needed to use crutches for a while. He was not allowed to run. He was certainly not allowed to kick a ball and he’s a soccer player. And his comment was, “Well, isn’t it lucky that I did it now when I’m not playing soccer?”
So rather than “Oh no, that’s terrible,” he said, “Oh that’s OK because I’m not playing soccer now anyway. So it’s no real impact.”
This is the ability to bounce. And kids are great at it.
When my kids were in primary school they were introduced to the concept of resilience as the ability to bounce. I love this concept. Life is full of ups and downs and highs and lows. Resilience is the ability to get back up again and to continue on, to take the learning and apply it. Every time we bounce we build our resilience muscle.
The other aspect of this approach to considering resilience I like is it isn’t about always being up, always being on top of everything, or having it all under control. It is an up and down, it is the ability to bounce back.
It’s like an old fashioned roly-poly toy. No matter how hard they get pushed down they bounce right back up.
While having resilience will serve you well at any time, right now it seems that our resilience is being tested. I know myself that my energy has been a little up and down over recent weeks, so I’ve been conscious of supporting myself so I can bounce.
I want to share with you a few ideas about how you can build up your ability to bounce, and how you can help your team to build up a little more bounce as well.
FOCUS ON CAN
One of the things that I’ve been talking to a lot of leaders about at the moment is that there are a lot of things that are outside your control. And so where you need to put your energy is into the things that you do have control over. You do have control over how you tackle our work each day, what the attitude is that you bring to that. You do have control over how you interact with the people around you. You do have control over how you choose to look after yourself.
The secret is to look for alternatives. It may not be perfect, but what can you do? So it’s all about what you can do as opposed to what you can’t do. Because wherever you feel like you have got some level of influence and control, that’s going to support your mindset to be much more constructive, much more positive, and again, you’re building your resilience muscle. You’re building your ability to bounce because you’re taking control of the things that you can.
Simply operating above the line supports your bounce.
DIRECT YOUR ENERGY
What I’ve been noticing is there are clearly some things over which individuals have no direct control and yet they are investing energy into worrying about them anyway. It is not a great use of their energy. They could put energy into other things that serve them better.
My suggestion is you limit how much energy, how much concern, how much stressing you put into some of those things that are outside of your control. In particular, I’ve observed that the higher the consumption of information about COVID, the more stressed people are. So consider the information you are consuming and take control of that. Consume a useful amount of information about COVID conditions. Pay attention to the guidelines and protect yourself and protect those around you. But don’t put endless energy into something that you can’t make a significant difference to.
Consume other information that has value to you and put your energy into other activities where you can make a difference and use your energy in constructive ways.
Choose to direct your attention and energy to where it makes a difference.
REPURPOSE YOUR TIME
This is one of the big opportunities for people. If you were travelling to work and now you are working at home…you have gained time. Think about how you can repurpose that time. If you are a parent it could be spending it with your children. You could use it for self-care, exercise or a hobby.
There’s a real opportunity here. I’m not saying don’t do your work, but that travel time you can repurpose into time with family or time for one of your own pursuits, which is about self-support. Again, building resilience.
BUILD YOUR COPING ACCOUNT
Now, what about the concept that resilience is not about always being high. It is about the ability to cope with the highs and lows. And one of the ways that you can help yourself to have that coping mechanism is to actually store up some of the good things that have happened to you, for you or with you.
To appreciate the goodness, to appreciate what you have rather than what you don’t have. Some people use a journal to reflect on the day. The main concept here is storing up your achievements, your appreciation and gratitude and recognising yourself for the things that you’ve been able to do.
If you can continue to store that up, then when you’re having one of those down swings you can reflect on everything in your coping account and draw out that goodness from your life and that will help you to bounce back.
One of the most powerful things that you can do for yourself, is to capture and store those things that support you, that benefit you, and then you can use them when you’re on the downswing to help you get back on the upswing.
Simple and effective.
Change up your physical environment and get outside.
If you have the opportunity, appreciate a bit of nature.
CHOOSE YOUR MINDSET
The other thing I wanted to talk to you about in terms of resilience was the choices that you make around your own mindset. Don’t be fooled. You are in control of your own mindset. So even when things are not going well, you choose how you respond to that.
The choice of being positive, which is not about seeing things through rose coloured glasses, is the choice of, “Okay, so what can I do? Given this situation, how do I choose to respond to it?” Then recognising yourself for taking control of your choices and for taking control of your mindset. This s very empowering in terms of your resilience and your energy, your ability to cope and your overall ability to bounce.
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
Resilience then is the ability to bounce back, to be able to respond in a constructive way to whatever is going on at the moment. To recognise that you do have highs and lows and that it is within your power, within your ability to actually rise back from that.
So where to from here?
I suggest choosing one or two things that will elevate your own ability to bounce. Make a plan and take action for yourself. Self-leadership.
Then start conversations with the people around you, your team for example, about how they will build their resilience and ability to bounce. Because if the members of your team can bounce and they can make some good choices for themselves, they’re going to feel more in control. They’re going to be more equipped to be able to participate, to be productive, and to contribute the way that you need them to in your team and in your organisation.
Well-developed resilience is key for us to all get through, not just the current situation, but to be ready for what comes next. To be on the outlook and prepared for the opportunities that will be coming our way.
I’d love to know your thoughts.
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