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Your 8 First Steps to Build your Resilience, Part I

Today’s world is marked with rising global instability, misinformation and information overload, fast and furious change, new technologies, collaborations platforms, shorter deadlines and an ever more demanded multitasking ability.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, a manager, a leader, a student, a stay home parent, you are facing long stressful days and challenges.

In today’s world, your adaptation to uncertainty, to change and to ever-increasing demands is vital; that is precisely why your resilience is needed more than ever.

What Defines Resilience?

American Psychology Association defines resilience as “The process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors”.

Resilience is how you use your strengths and weaknesses, your emotions, your experience, your aspirations, your core cultural values, your self-confidence, your goals, your motivation, your skills, and your resources to bounce back…and grow. Resilience groups many facets of your inner self to face the outer world.

My personal definition is threefold: bounce back into the ring, use your resources to fight, and grow from this experience.

Building Blocks of Resilience

1. Willingness to Learn and Grow

We all have a certain level of resilience, and you can carry on building this skill. Resilience can be learnt, at any age and at any time by getting to know yourself better, identifying your obstacles and resources, and having a positive and growth mindset in order to enhance your learning. To bounce from your comfort zone to a zone of challenge you must be opened to learning, a journey of inner and outer discovery. By committing your mind to a learning process, you will train your brain day by day to challenge your perceptions, to adapt and change, in order to acquire the new skills needed. Good questions to ask are “To what extent am I willing to discover something new? What can I learn from this challenging situation? What is holding me back? What knowledge and skills do I need to overcome this situation? Who can help me acquire this knowledge and skill? What’s the first step I can take?”

2. Know your Values

Knowing your values and putting them into action is a resilience booster. Your values are your core beliefs, your guiding principles, and the inner voice in your head that distinguishes what is bad from what is good for you. Their function is to create your intentions, which are then exposed to the eyes of the world through your choices and behavior. The strength of your resilience is paralleled to your alignment to your core values. The more aligned you are to your values, the more resilient you become. If you are not sure what they are, ask yourself “What do I hate most in X?” “Who inspires me most? And why?” “ Do I have a clear sense of my values and act accordingly to them?”

3. Finding Meaning to your Life

Viktor E. Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist, Auschwitz survivor and father figure of the “meaning therapy,” says it best: “We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed.” Your ability to have a meaning in life allows you to alleviated yourself from your defiant present towards a meaningful future. Your resilience is the vision of what you truly aspire and thrive for in life. The meaning you bring into existence unburdens your present and propels you from the victim’s seat to the valiant’s seat; so instead of asking “Why me?” shout, “Try me!” Moreover, people with strong meaning have strong values since those values give them guidance in life, like a compass orienting them on the path to clarity. During hardships, your core values sustain your meaning of life. The stronger you are aligned to your values, the more grounded you are and therefore sustainable your meaning is.

4. Emotional Awareness

It is the essential skill for other emotional intelligence (EI) competencies and resilience. Daniel Goleman, one of the father figures of EI defines emotional awareness as knowing how these emotions impact how you feel, think, say and act, and thus gaining awareness on how they impact your behavior and performance. An emotion is a message from your emotional memory, a data you have to identify, acknowledge, process and reason. Emotional self-awareness includes using your values to guide your decision. To build resiliency, you must be self-aware of your emotions and how they impact your behavior, as well as knowing your values and align your actions to them, essential for bouncing back. Good questions to ask are “What feelings do I notice?” “What specifically caused that feeling?” “Now that I have identified this, how will it affect my behavior? Or Will I allow it to affect my behavior?”

5. Inner Awareness: an Assessment of Yourself

Resilient people know their strengths, leverage and optimize them. They also know their weaknesses and the workarounds needed. Being self-aware of your strengths reinforces the will to learn from experiences, to be opened to feedback and various perspectives, and thus to self-develop. Being aware of your weaknesses allows you to acknowledge your limits and yet to work with them for your growth. Good questions are “Given this challenge, what skills will be effective here? What am I good at? How can I use it? What workaround can I use to overcome this weakness?”

6. Self-Confidence

Resilient people have a positive judgment in their values, skills, and goals, which are the fuels to courage, valiance and bravery essential features to overcome challenges. Resilient people also strongly believe in their values, skills, and goals in order to leverage them. Despite stress and pressures from work and personal life, self-confidence is the essential element to take decisive actions, keep persisting to bounce back into the ring and carry on the fight. Good questions are “What level of self-confidence do I have? What specifically can improve to boost my self-confidence? How specifically?”

7. Manage your Emotional Energy: the Ultimate Cognitive Intervention

Another key element of resilience is how well you handle negative impulses and deal with adverse situations. It is your ultimate act of responsibility. Self-management is the ability to control your emotions so that they don't control you. Emotional self-awareness (point 4) is an essential prerequisite for self-management. Resilient people know how to manage impulses and upsetting emotions; during hardships they stay composed, positive and think clearly, remaining focused even under pressure. It is a key competence in emotional intelligence and can be learnt. Separating facts from emotions and the way we interpret those facts is a good start. Mastering this competence requires practice in order to train the brain to the level of self-control needed. Do you recall the last time you were furious, or escaped out of fear or discourage into procrastination to avoid an important task? Did you give in to your emotions or remained focused on your goal? Good questions to ask are “To what extent am I good at facing negative emotions and not dwell on them?” “When did I last reframe my negative emotions? How did it work for me?”

8. Adaptability: Flexibility in Handling Change and Challenges

In an ever thriving and demanding market, change is the new constant. Your adaptation skills are on constant demand: new technologies, new compliance rules, new market forces, and multicultural teams... Our clients, colleagues, superiors, and families express higher demands, to be delivered ASAP…. Welcome to the arena of the fast and the furious. Your adaptability requires two main competences: flexibility and self-confidence. The first allows you to be open to various alternatives while still remaining comfortable with unexpected changes. The second is the positive judgment of your skills, which allows you to quickly take decisive action and bounce back into the ring. That’s the reason why adaptability is indeed key to resilience. Good questions to ask, “How flexible am I to change? Am I opened to new and different perspectives? What actions do I undertake to quickly adapt to change?”

Resilience is built from within yourself. It is what will make you, or from its lack of it, what will break you. One thing you can be certain of is that you are master of your mind and of the present moment, which, in a split of a second would either throw you back in or out of that ring. And to end this resilience article, Victor Frankl, the Auschwitz survivor says it best “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom.”

Stay tuned for the second part of this article with more pertaining building blocks of resilience…soon to come.

Shermeen Zeidan

Certified Master Coach

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