building resilience at work

The only way to move forward is to move forward. I know, it sounds simple, almost silly. Yet, it's an underestimated strategy. When encountering an undesirable situation, it is easy to sulk in misery and self-pity. What you'll find most helpful is to put one foot in front of the other. What that looks like is dependent on context.

Humans are naturally inclined to leverage every tool available to us to avoid discomfort and pain. Yet, even in our careers, avoiding difficulty and discomfort is simply an impossibility. We have an invaluable tool available to us in resilience. Resilience is one of the chief skills that help us to recover when we encounter any difficulty. We need it not only to survive but also to find our footing and capacity to thrive.

In light of the impending recession, headcount reductions at some of the biggest tech companies, and the recent collapse of crypto empires, leaving many people victims of circumstance – recovery will require collective and individual resilience. 

How exactly do you build resilience?

1. Determine within yourself that this is not the end; you can recover. 

Sometimes, situations feel impossible. The win here – feelings are not facts! They are simply indicators of the problem’s impact on you physically and emotionally. As distant as the light at the end of the tunnel may seem, it is closer than it appears. Sometimes it’s not as drastic as having your employment terminated, and it may just be a difficult 1-on-1 conversation with your boss that didn’t show you in the most favorable light. 

2. Focus on the next step available to you. 

The only way to move forward is to move forward. I know, it sounds simple, almost silly. Yet, it’s an underestimated strategy. When encountering an undesirable situation, it is easy to sulk in misery and self-pity. What you’ll find most helpful is to put one foot in front of the other. What that looks like is dependent on context. 

Some considerations for next steps: 

  • Taking ownership of your misstep or error and issuing an apology
  • Dusting off your resume and updating it with your most recent experience
  • Establishing boundaries to prevent a repeated incident 
  • Forgiving yourself and choosing not to repeat the same pattern
  • Finding a mentor or counselor to get advice on best practices or advisable next steps

 

3. Course correct, when possible. 

Some of the most challenging situations offer us all a gift. They offer the advantage of insight. There are times when a trajectory shift is essential and getting realigned with your values and goals is the essence of resilience. At some point in everyone’s life, we must change course. You are human; give yourself the grace to adjust. You are not a tree stuck where you are; change is possible.

4. Glean the insight to make a better plan. 

When life knocks you off kilter through circumstance, intentionally lean into the discomfort to take note of the lessons and insight offered. It’s essential to embrace these moments of discomfort not as setbacks but as valuable learning opportunities. Gleaning insight from such experiences involves a conscious effort to reflect on what these challenges teach us. Often, the most profound lessons and insights are those acquired through direct experience, which cannot be replicated through advice or observation alone. By leaning into the discomfort and analyzing the situation, you gain a deeper understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, and the dynamics of your environment. This process of introspective learning allows you to craft a more informed and resilient plan for the future. It equips you with the wisdom to anticipate similar challenges, devise effective strategies to overcome them, and make decisions that are more aligned with your goals and capabilities. Thus, transforming every stumble into a stepping stone, you create a roadmap that is not only more robust but also more adaptable to the unpredictable nature of life.

5. Find an advocate. 

We all need someone who will see the best in us and encourage us to that end. Building resilience is much easier when you have someone you trust, encouraging and pushing you to thrive. Keep one at the ready when challenging moments arise. For example, being able to pick up the phone or send a message to an advocate could save you some frustration, tears, or even further missteps. 

6. Be willing to give it another try. 

When in a situation where you are tempted to quit – don’t! Sometimes another try is all you need to see the progress and success you’re after. In Adam Grant’s book, Think Again, he talks about the wisdom of reevaluating what you’re up against and seeing it another way. There are times when the answer you are looking for is found in a different vantage point.  Rethinking can be the life-saving, transformative step you need to take to see the outcome you desire.

When facing any circumstance requiring personal resilience, remember that you can recover. You will regain your footing. Keep going; even if it’s slow progress, it is progress to celebrate.