Pause To Build Resilience

Pause To Build ResilienceHave you ever gone into a situation…maybe a tough conversation… with one intent in mind, only to come out having done or said something else? It happens to all of us and it can chip away at our resilience. We think we’ve got it, but it’s not easy to consciously and consistently make effective choices  – the kind with long-term payoffs in the heat of the moment.

Let’s say a situation develops, maybe a misunderstanding with a co-worker. So, we go out and do something about it, perhaps send the person a text requesting to meet, or maybe we gather our thoughts and write them in an email. Then, when we meet with this person, words are exchanged and we are either pleased or disappointed by the outcome and from that, we form a judgment, either positive or negative.

That judgment triggers an emotion (conscious or unconscious) and maybe even our fight or flight response, and we are once again at a moment of choice. We either make a proactive choice, consciously or a reactive one, unconsciously.

This happens so fast that sometimes we don’t even realize what we’ve said. Sound familiar?

Hit the Pause Button

There is an alternative way to look at how we respond to situations, particularly when we are under stress.

Pausing in the midst of an emotional response buys us the time to be intentional about how we respond. It equips us to acknowledge what’s really happening, face the facts and intentionally choose a response. Pushing the “pause button” and taking a deep breath, allows us to steer towards more intentional, proactive, long-term choices.

Essentially, in the blink of an eye when a situation happens, we form a judgment. The judgment prompts an emotion or feeling (whether we realize it or not) which triggers a defense mechanism. From there, what we do is a choice, even if it sometimes doesn’t feel like it.

While making conscious choices and pressing the pause button are things leaders do consciously, resilient organizations can do these things too. It is easy to get defensive and organizations are made up of people. Spiraling into revenge in a board-room is easy. Yet there are stories of crisis where organizations paused to remember their purpose and values and made intentional choices about who they wanted to “be” in the moment of truth. In 1982, decisions made by Johnson & Johnson in the face of cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules cemented their reputation for keeping consumers safe. In the years since, companies like Toyota, Cadbury, Jet Blue, Starbucks and more have faced brand-threatening crisis and leveraged those to build credibility by sticking to their purpose, values, and principles.

Choose Your Response

We all have the ability to choose our response. It’s the more difficult choice, at least short-term (because it takes more awareness and effort) but it produces long-term results that reflect the internal alignment of values and priorities.

It also breeds self-respect and confidence. And, it invites respect from others too. Once we gain clarity about our “whys” and start taking steps to choose the best response in difficult situations, we also gain the energy required to carry through on challenging initiatives.

Choices made from impulse and emotion are often shallow short-term fixes. Intentional, thought-out choices build lasting long-term benefits.

Can your organization benefit from the kind of alignment that has everyone working towards a shared purpose? Could your leaders be more equipped to make difficult decisions in the moment that align with that? …even when conversations are really, really difficult? Call us. It’s what we do.

*This is an excerpt from Resilience: It’s Not About Bouncing Back, a new book by Jennifer Eggers and Cynthia Barlow scheduled to be released this spring. More details on preorders coming soon.