If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.
~Frank A. Clark
You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be
the best thing in the world for you.
Turn your wounds into wisdom.
Hard stuff happens. As much as we might wish that the path to success is a straight line, it’s not. In our personal lives, it might include loss, disappointments, mistakes, mistreatment, family/marital struggles, financial stress, health challenges, job losses, disasters, etc. And, when it happens to us, it’s not always easy to compartmentalize it as we head to work. If we’re not careful, it can easily spill over into our job performance.
Adversity happens routinely in the workplace, too. Common examples include: layoffs, loss of key customers, business slowdowns, departmental underperformance, lawsuits, new competition, product failures, missed deadlines, internal conflicts, etc. In addition to these corporate matters, adversity can also arise from our own underperformance. Regardless of the source, workplace adversity can cause fear and anxiety and affect our performance.
Because of rapid technological change and growing competitive pressures, employers are facing adversity like never before. Therefore, it’s not surprising that resilience is becoming an increasingly valued quality in the workplace.
People respond so differently to adversity. Some are consumed by fear or worry and focus more on the problem than on potential solutions. Others, after the initial shock or disappointment wears off, go into problem solving mode and are actually energized by it. Among the qualities they demonstrate are: perseverance, endurance, persistence, determination, grit, adaptability, and courage. This is resilience.
Although adversity can be brutal and challenging, there is a silver lining. For example, it is the surest way to character and personal growth. Also, it provides valuable experience and wisdom to handle future situations. And, it equips us to inspire and encourage others who are facing similar challenges. There’s no substitute for talking with someone else who has “walked in our shoes” and overcome their adversity. When those opportunities arise, it can be transformational for both parties. I’ve observed this firsthand, and it’s powerful!
So, how do we build resilience? Here are some strategies we describe in What I Wish I Knew at 18:
- Remember, adversity is part of all of our lives and can be preparation for even greater things. Sometimes, it can even make sense with hindsight!
- Day follows night, so try to see other side of the valley.
- Release your pain and worries using constructive stress outlets, your support system, and by taking care of your health. Don’t go it alone.
- Take seemingly insurmountable challenges one step at a time. It reduces fear and builds momentum.
- Always keep the faith and focus on the problem and what you can control. This is especially important in a workplace context.
- If you feel consumed by the problem, “project” it onto a third party and imagine giving advice to them. It’s a great way to stay objective.
Parents, building resilience in your children should be a top priority. The key is allowing them to experience challenging situations where they might fail, and letting it happen. Resist the temptation to jump in and rescue them. It’s easily one of the most difficult things a parent can do, but, in the long run, it’s unequivocally in your child’s best interests.
Knowing that life is a journey filled with ups and downs, resilience is truly a gift you can give to yourself and to your children. And, it’s a quality your employers will truly admire.
Next week, we’ll conclude our series by discussing Professionalism. Catch you then.