Resilience: how to shine when things go pear-shaped

“Sometimes things go pear-shaped and it doesn’t work out how you want it to and that’s when you’ve got to stand up, really.”

– Michael Cheika, Wallabies coach.

Resilience is as relevant in the sporting arena as in the boardroom. In fact, it’s relevant to all of us because one of life’s certainties is this – things don’t always go to plan. It is now recognised that our ability to adapt with moving goal posts (in keeping with the rugby theme) will ultimately define whether we shine (or not) after a setback. Resilience is not fixed.

This way of thinking has changed in recent years.

Resilience was originally viewed as being an individual personality trait – you either had it, or you didn’t. You had resilience if you could face hurdles without suffering any injury, damage or harm. In other words, you were “unscathed” by adversity. Far from being a fixed personality trait, resilience is currently considered to be an adaptive process that develops over time.

In the social sciences space, we refer to this as a shift from a deficit to a strengths-based model. This means we understand there is no single way to develop resilience or become resilient. When you have this more evidence-based understanding of resilience, you appreciate what you can do to build your own resilience:

Increase your self-awareness

Pay careful attention to various physiological signals such your heartbeat, your breath, and so on, and be clued in to what others think of you, particularly people you trust.

Improve your self-control

Incorporate sessions of mindfulness practice and meditation, listen to music, be active – find your niche by trying some of these different tactics.

Consider – is there a better way?

Do not conflate workaholism with high performance. High performers look for important work and better ways of doing things, instead of doing work to look important.

Protect your sleep and boundaries

Actively detach rest from laziness. Sleep is not a luxury –  it is essential to high performance and resilience. Well-rested leaders have the capacity to think clearly and be adaptable.

In our ever-changing environments, where nothing is certain, the strongest direct predictor of resilience is adaptability. Have you experienced a pear-shaped situation and been able to shine by being adaptable? Share your thoughts and insights.

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