Developing Personal Resilience in a Corporate Setting
6 August 2013
“When you are liberated from your own fear, you automatically give others the permission to do the same” Marianne Williamson from her poem ‘Our Greatest Fear’.
In coaching women over many years, my clients have repeatedly raised with me the challenge of dealing with the constant and sometimes relentless pressure and stress, made up of long hours and managing and responding to the unpredictable challenges presented to them on a daily basis. Whilst in of itself this would be difficult but not insurmountable, they then have to go home and do it all over again. The net result is that they eventually become exhausted; this sometimes leads them to believing they have to reconsider their career goals. Developing personal resilience is a strategy which will help you survive the ups and downs within a corporate setting.
There are 5 key elements needed to build personal resilience:
1. Becoming clear about your personal values
Establishing clarity around your personal values has never been more important to human beings given the changes that are happening in our world today. Values are like a shopping list of things you must have in your life in order to be happy. Having a clear idea of what is important to you, and what you stand for and why, will provide you with that ever needed internal compass ensuring you are always able to find your true north in every situation no matter what challenge you face.
Having a clear idea of what your values are will allow you to bounce back from any adversity at any time. Your values provide a strong guide to what you are likely to enjoy doing and what you feel strongly about. Values do change over time. The things you were passionate about when you are in your early teens and twenties will change when you are in your 30’s and have if you have a family to be concerned about.
There are no right or wrong values; there are only your values. Your values will lie behind words like ‘I can’t…’ really means, ‘I don’t want to, because it does not fit in with my values and beliefs of who I am.’ It is important that you don’t adopt other people’s values, your (parents, friends, peers) without taking the time to discover your own values. When we talk about values, we may think we are talking about the same thing, but every human being has a unique way of fulfilling a value. If you have never spent any time auditing your values, now is the time to start.
Why not try the exercise below:
The perfect weekend
Think of your absolutely ideal weekend. What would it be like? Who would you spend it with? What would do? Where would you be? Starting on Friday evening and going through till Sunday evening you get to be, do and have everything you’d love! Spend a few moments visualising it and the write it all down. You will find that this exercise reveals what is important to you. These are your values.
“I couldn’t live without…” What couldn’t you live without in your life? It might be a quality, an experience, an object. Think of two or three such things. Why is it so important to you? What would life be like without it? Once again, the things you cannot do without are the elements which form your values. For example; fulfilment, harmony, sharing and self-acceptance are all values.
2. Have a clear idea about what it is you want and need from your life.
If you are going through life with no clear idea of where you are going and why you want to get there, the chances are someone else will make your life’s journey decision for you. One of the saddest comments I have had said to me in my years of coaching professionals is ...” I have been climbing the ladder and I have got to the top, only to find that the ladder was against the wrong wall and I really hate what I do”. A person not taking control of where their lives go will end up feeling like a boat out on the high seas with no sail or rudder to guide them, raising the possibility of professional and personal shipwreck occurring. It is never too late for anyone to plan their life’s journey and focus on following that plan. Sometimes there are no direct routes to where you may want to go, but figuring it out is half the fun. If you are living your life on purpose with direction, fore thought, in-line with your values, it helps you avoid being tossed around on the challenges of life. It will give you that ‘bounceability’ when things don’t the way you envisaged it, because you have a plan and you know where you are going. If you do not yet have a cunning plan and you don’t have a coach to help you design one, Try using Debbie Ford’s The best Year of your Life Or Nicola Cook’s A New You. Both books give a great guide to starting the process.
3. Building a Personal Board of Directors to support your choices
You are now clear about your values, and you have planned where you are going, now you need to ensure you have a team of supporters around you to ensure you stay on track and champion your successes.
Building your professional life as well as your personal life is not a solo performance; you have heard the adage that no man is an island? You are more likely to complete your goals if you have someone to keep you accountable for the plans and promises you have designed for yourself.
As a career coach, I have sadly come across too many women who have neglected building networks outside of the organisation for which they work. The skill of networking is one that women excel at and yet they sadly we forget to use this gift.
So, here is how you should do it:
Select a group of friends 4 or 6 people you trust and admire find a location which is central to all of you and agree to meet there for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, once a month or once a week, you can all decide on what suits you. Agree to bring along something that you want honest feedback on or a challenge for which you would like to get different perspective where everyone will brainstorm that challenge, everyone contributing to a constructive to the resolution.
Your personal board of directors do not necessarily need to be in the same industry but they should be at a similar level or senior to you. I have found it personally invaluable and have had several PBD’s over the years as I moved through my careers. Even though I may have changed careers, and they have changed too, we still keep in touch and the board is re-instated as and when we require it.
4. Looking after your personal assets
We have all heard the rhyme, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. Today the term On-Demand has strayed from being used in connection with product and services to being used for Human Beings. One of the elements we forget to do is to look after ourselves, physically and emotionally. This means getting regular exercise to help relieve the build-up of stress. Going to bed at a reasonable time and really sleeping. Eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water.
Are you being mindful about self-medicating on inappropriate foods and beverages like or coffee and alcohol, chips and cakes and which can keep us going and make us temporarily feel better? If so, time to rethink this strategy, as it is not a sustainable one.
When was the last time you worked on your hobby? Do you even have a hobby, something which NOT about work? If not, it is time to add finding a hobby to the plan. After the success of the London Olympics, there is plenty to inspire you to take up a sport, swimming, skiing, cycling, or sailing.
If sport is not your thing, then try something else, something you have always wanted to learn but felt you never had the time. I learnt yacht sailing and did my competent crew certification and then I learnt to play the flute up to grade 5. What hobbies will you begin this summer?
5. Looking for the gift in every difficult situation
We have talked very briefly about some strategies and actions you could adopt in order to build your personal resilience within a corporate setting or in fact any setting.
Finally, I want to say a few words about taking control of your thinking. The human brain is an amazing tool if utilised in the right way. Sad to say many of us allow our thoughts to run us instead of managing our thoughts. It is worth having a strategy for managing destructive thoughts when they show up. Ask yourself:
1. How this is negative thought serving me?
2. Is having this thought causing me harm?
3. Does having this thought move me towards or away from what is of value to me?
4. How can I view this challenge or issue from a more constructive perspective?
Sometimes just becoming aware of your thinking approach is enough to turn your thinking around. Instead of expecting the worse in every difficult situation, how about looking for what you could learn from the difficult situation you find yourself in; finding the gift the situation presents, because there is always one, although whilst we are going through the challenge we do not always see or appreciate it.
Developing your personal resilience will help you survive the ups and downs of our ever changing personal and business world, providing you with the much needed balance to keep you going forward successfully.