Resilience — the new leadership skill

Resilience is the new “must have” Leadership skill in these times of tremendous change.   Resilience is the ability to bounce back from a challenging event and  to respond in a positive and adaptive manner.  I suggest we think of it as springing forward to a new stronger way of being after a challenge or tragedy.  What can you do to increase your own resilience?  Studies show that the most resilient practice these  behaviors and attitudes:

Acknowledge the loss and the pain.  This is an important step.  We can’t just gloss over the feelings.  Express them through sharing with friends, having a good cry, or journaling.  The release of emotions will allow you to think more clearly and access your problem solving skills.  It’s helpful to have safe people to open up to about how you feel.

Acceptance.  Don’t fight what has occurred.  Practice loving what is.  Our own resistance to what has happened gets in the way of our ability to face it and access our creativity to address it.

Refuse to be a victim.  When disaster strikes, the news media and others label the participant “victims.”  Don’t buy into this label.  Victim energy is very disempowering.  Move from victim to victor.  Identify as a survivor instead of a powerless victim.

Be resourceful.  People who hold the belief that they can do something to better their situation are less traumatized than those who don’t.  There is no situation that cannot be bettered in even a small way.  When I waited on line for gas for hours, I was able to read a book, listen to Spanish language CD’s and have a delicious lunch my husband delivered to my car. 

Be open to receiving help.  Those around you want to give to you.  It’s a natural impulse when we see suffering and loss to want to help.  Let the help come.  Giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin.  You may be the receiver now, but you are giving a gift to the giver too.  In the circle of life, you’ll have an opportunity to give to another and see how your experience can benefit others.

Ask for the help you need.  If offers are not coming, or if there’s something else, you need, speak up! Sometimes just asking someone to listen is helpful.  Be specific.  It’s OK to need after a tragic event. My colleague Sharon is battling cancer.  She’s used the Caring Bridge – a website for those dealing with illness – to keep her family and friends up to date and stay connected.  We’re with her every step of the journey and can offer encouragement and support.

Help others.  To help move from the victim mentality, look for someone else you can help even if it’s just a smile or a prayer.  There are always those who have it a little worse than you and you can be of service to them.

Look for meaning in the event.  My favorite question is “What’s perfect about this?” holding the attitude of “I can hardly wait to see the good that’s coming from this!”  These channel my thoughts to the good in situations and help me to anticipate and look for blessings in everything.

What step can you take today to develop your resilience muscle?