Have you allowed your resilience muscles to become flabby?
Resilience is about our ability to cope with stress and adversity. Some people seem to be naturally resilient. It may well be a personality trait, but it is also something we are all capable of developing. We can strengthen our resilience and start that with preparation and flexibility training.
No one can predict the future, however many things that take people by surprise are really things we should have expected and been prepared for. Bushfires in Australia, earthquakes in New Zealand, economic downturns, industry collapses and organisational restructures are all regular occurrences in our environment, yet too often people are devastated by a change that was bound to happen sooner or later.
Resilience is about our emotional strength and ability to bounce back. It is also about being prepared for life’s “surprises” by looking ahead and having foresight. It also requires being flexible enough to adapt so that we’re not aggressive or passive victims of the inevitable changes in life.
People who can’t adapt to their changing environment become increasingly vulnerable to future stresses and changes. Many public sector organisations have traditionally been more stable than some other industries but this is changing and we can expect major and more restructures in the future. Maintaining a sense of entitlement to an unchanging work environment or job security does not serve people well. Helping yourself and your staff develop resilience will serve everyone well.
- If there was a major upheaval at your work tomorrow how would you cope and do you have anything resembling a Plan B?
- How quickly could you change Plan B to Plan C?
In Illuma’s Navigating the Rapids of Change workshop we help employees develop their resilience and increase their sense of self-determination through current and future changes. We stress the importance of foresight and flexibility, explore reactions to challenges in the past and the consequences of not adapting appropriately to events. Individuals develop new insights and strategies to cope with the unexpected.
As with physical exercise, developing your resilience muscle requires effort and no one but you can do the work but it’s worth it to maintain emotional health and a sense of agency over your own life.
Part 2 of this article will look at managing during the crisis itself and bouncing back afterwards, but in the meantime here’s a little workout to develop the foresight and flexibility aspects of resilience.
- Keep abreast of trends in your industry and profession (successive repetitions)
- Develop your agility and capacity to respond quickly in different situations
- Step up for opportunities to broaden your range of skills
- Strengthen your tolerance for ambiguity
- Always begin and end with a stretch
In The Resiliency Advantage, Al Siebert writes that “highly resilient people are flexible, adapt to new circumstances quickly, and thrive in constant change. Most important, they expect to bounce back and feel confident that they will. They have a knack for creating good luck out of circumstances that many others see as bad luck.”
And here’s a story to illustrate that. My 89 year old mother recently moved into a residential aged care home. It’s been inspiring to see her resilience in the face of distressing rapid health change, loss of independence and moving from her home of over 60 years. But she had been secretly preparing for some time, so when the opportunity came at short notice she grabbed it, enabling her to remain in charge of her own life choices. Over the past 3 weeks I’ve watched her stretch herself and quickly adapt to this monumental change so that she can enjoy living in her new community. A remarkable achievement for someone of her age and life history. Mum’s physical muscles may be deteriorating but her resilience muscle has been getting a real workout.
What are you doing to keep your resilience muscles in shape?
- Thanks to Bob Dick and his Resilience Framework (Foresight, Flexibility, Robustness and Resilience), Frederic Flache’s Law of Disruption and Integration and Al Seibert’s Resiliency Advantage. These approaches inform our Navigating the Rapids of Change Workshop. Future blogs will explore some of these in more depth.
- Contact us for more information on how we can help your staff develop resilience to cope better with ongoing organisational change.