There’s a common misconception that ‘resilience’ is actually code that managers use for someone who can ‘just get on with things’, no matter how much shit is being thrown their way. It’s often seen as something you either have or you don’t and is closely aligned to ‘Keep calm and carry on’.
What I’ve grown to realise is that actually, resilience is a skill that can be developed like any other. It’s something that we need to take an active interest in if we’re going to be effective in roles that need us to turn up to work as the best version of ourselves.
As with many of these skills such as public speaking, those that are really good at it make it look natural and like they spend no time thinking about it. Roffey Park amongst others, have done a lot of research into building resilience. According to them, the key areas that everyone who has a resilience capability possess are:
  • Perspective
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Purpose, values and strengths
  • Connections
  • Managing physical energy
In my experience, connections is the area that has the most impact for me. It is the easiest thing that I find to make changes that deliver progress. Here are the 5 connections which I think everyone should have in order to be more resilient
NB: often you’ll find more than one of these with the same individual. That still works, but it’s worth discussing what kind of role you’re each playing in a conversation, to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
1. The Supportive Peer
This person will support your ideas almost without question. More often than not whilst you might have a great relationship with a peer, you might not have built a huge amount of trust. As such it can be hard to challenge ideas which might lead to conflict.
Sometimes you do need encouragement to push through a plan though — and you’ll often be able to get that here. It might not be the full picture but it can help you work out all the reasons for doing something. It’s also very useful to build your confidence in a particular areas.
2. The Challenging Mentor
Completely opposite to the supportive peer, this person challenges you by default. They help you to work through the areas of an idea or piece of work which others may pick holes in. The best of the relationships do this in a constructive manner and help you see perspectives that you wouldn’t naturally consider.
3. The Constructive Coach
I struggled with coaching for a long while. Eventually I realised it was because i’d always seen it done badly. A truly effective coach helps you to work out your own solutions to problems, by asking open questions that let you come to your own conclusions.
Many managers use those same techniques, but are trying to guide you towards a specific solution that they’ve already decided upon. I find this deeply frustrating and it was what most of my experience had been.
When done properly though, someone without an agenda can really help you to work things through in a way that you’re bought into by default! It’s a fantastically supportive relationship that if you’re lucky enough to find is well worth nurturing and investing time into.
On the flip side, build your own coaching capabilities and try to return the favour…
4. The Empathetic angel
Sometimes you just need to unload your frustrations onto someone. A good emotional rant can be a great way to work through a difficult situation.
The best person to do this with is someone whom you have enough emotional credit in the bank with that you can be confident they won’t judge you. This won’t always be your best self and often you’ll follow up the conversations with an apology saying you didn’t mean to lay that on them.
I find this helpful as most of the time you don’t get to work through a problem with an emotional slant. A lot of the time you have to approach these issues objectively and professionally. However if you don’t explore these feelings they’ll fester and you’ll be less objective in the long run.
5. The Experienced Sage
No matter what some of us feel like (especially those working in digital) most of the problems that we’re facing have been faced before. Someone who’s been through these experiences, can describe to you what they did in that position.
This person might provide support or challenge but either way can give you the perspective of time. Really it’s down to you to listen and understand where the similarities and differences are, and to decide how to move forward.
So what?
Get out there and build these relationships. See the time you invest in them in exactly the same way you would a training course or any other activity which builds your own capability.