3 Qualities of Resilient People

3 Qualities of Resilient People

Why Resilience?

Most athletes spend about 90% of their time training to be able to perform at peak levels 10% of the time. For example, professional football players train six days a week to play one game on Sunday. Business leaders are a different story. They are expected to perform 90% of the time with much less than 10% of their time spent training or recovering. As a result, leaders become burned out and are less able to withstand disruption when it strikes. It rings true that the most overworked athlete in the world is the corporate executive.

The key to avoiding burnout it to prepare for the inevitable rapid disruption and adaptive challenges all organizations face through building resilience.

Building resilience involves very intentional preparation before situations get tough to increase our ability to come out on the other side of challenges better equipped.

How to Build Resilience

To build corporate resilience, it is helpful for individuals in the organization to master this skill first. If individuals can be equipped with this powerful skill it would revolutionize corporate and personal leadership and allow organizations to achieve the results they desire.

One does not have to personally experience difficulty to master the art of resilience. We can learn from observing others. Stories abound of those inspired by resilient people who have triumphed over tragedies. Research has proven over and over that yes, resilience can be learned. The key to that learning is to very intentionally build a framework for resilience to fall back on when things get tough.

You and your organization can build a framework before the need arises so that when things get tough, you and the people around you shift into autopilot. This is not only smart business; it is corporate brilliance.

3 Qualities of Resilience

Diane Coutu has written perhaps the most noted work on resilience. She defines three qualities of resilient people and organizations. LeaderShift®’s work with hundreds of organizations and thousands of people validates her conclusions and supports the notion that these qualities also apply to organizations. The key here is you need all of the following the qualities, not one or two, to become truly resilient. As Coutu said, “You can bounce back from hardship with one or two of these qualities, but you will only be truly resilient with all three.

1. Accept Reality

Coutu challenges the common belief that resilience stems from optimism. The fact is that while it is unpopular to deny that optimism is helpful, optimism only contributes to resilience when it does not distort reality.

Truly resilient people share an ability to do the grueling work of facing down reality. They have a down-to-earth view of the parts of reality that matter most for survival.

When we own our reality and learn how to squeeze meaning from it, it empowers us to be able to improvise in the moment for best results in the future. In extreme adversity, we know that looking through rose-colored glasses with forced optimism can spell disaster. Optimism has its place, but alone, it is not enough.

By facing reality, we also begin to sort through what we can change and what we can’t, so we can begin to make intentional choices. This leads to accountability and ownership.

2. Believe Life is Meaningful

Coutu also tells us that, “Meaning can be elusive and just because you found it once doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll keep finding it again. This directs us to the importance of our values, which are the glue that holds resilient companies together during downturns. Values are more important for organizational resilience than having resilient people on the payroll. Strong values infuse an environment with meaning because they offer ways to interpret and shape events.”

Resilient people and organizations try hard to find meaning, even in terrible times. When the acceptance of reality is missing, this becomes extremely difficult. Finding meaning in difficult times is critical to identifying the lessons from our experiences and integrate the learnings, so we can grow and emerge more effective.

3. Improvise

Resilient people improvise. They think fast and on their feet. It is one of their most powerful assets and defines their resourceful ability to succeed no matter what the situation.

The ability to improvise requires small, daily, in the moment decisions to solve problems without the usual or obvious tools. Improvisation requires creative, solution thinking. It means making do with what you have and doing more than you thought you could with the resources available. It is the ability and the grit to solve a situation by using whatever means necessary.

We tend to make light of the ability to improvise and doing so can even be humorous. But make no mistake: This skill often determines our resilience.

Ready To Build Resilience?

Resilience is critical to maintaining a healthy and productive workplace. Resilience people and organizations are less likely to panic in a crisis and are able to cope well with adversity while learning valuable lessons from their experience. Even more important, they sustain better health and energy reserves under the constant pressure of intensely stressful environments.

In an environment of constant rapid and disruptive change, organizations cannot thrive without resilience.

If your organization would like to be energized and elevated in the face of rapid or disruptive change to emerge stronger and more effective in tough situations, 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.