How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

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How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

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Facing difficulties is all part of life. It can often feel like we face endless challenges instead of happy endings – when we overcome one challenge, another one rears its ugly head.

Some people I know grew stronger through these challenges, some became weaker and couldn’t see hope anymore.

Two friends of mine were made redundant from their job during the recent financial crisis: while one felt humiliated, lost confidence and therefore had difficulty finding a new job, the other analyzed the situation, spent time identifying his strengths, saw it as an opportunity for growth and found himself a senior manager role in a new company.

It’s not how many challenges we’ve been through that differentiate us, it’s how we see these challenges that matter.

It’s not just optimism. It’s resilience

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

While optimism is a positive outlook defined as “the quality of being full of hope and emphasizing the good parts of a situation, or a belief that something good will happen”, there is a difference when it comes to resilience.

Resilience is defined as “the quality of being able to return quickly to a previous good condition after problems.” In other words, it’s about moving on from a difficult situation without just emphasizing the positive parts and blindly believing that something good will happen. Instead it’s about seeing both sides, good and bad, being aware of the potential issues of the situation and taking action accordingly while keeping hope alive at the bases of it all.

Resilient people never think they really fail

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

The only failure is when someone does nothing, doesn’t try and just wallows in the injustice of a situation. Failing 90 times, to a resilient person, means learning 90 lessons and it’s these so-called failures that contribute to ultimate success.

Having the mindset that a so-called failure is a setback rather than a time for growth and redirection can be enough for us to give up. We’ve all experienced these and may well have given up on a dream or positive path as a result. But even though these failures can hit us hard, it’s actually just a symptom of big success because most of the huge successes in our life come from 80% failure and 20% intended outcome.

This is how the 3.8 billion company succeeded

Slack is a perfect example of resilient success. The $3.8 billion company failed massively before they succeeded. The CEO began spending 3 years building a revolutionary video game raising $17 million and recruiting over 40 staff without knowing if this would be a success. With staff moving across the country to get involved with the project, it was a gamble that initially didn’t pay off: with fierce competition, the company lost money and the team was laid off leaving a few to pick up the pieces.

But instead of giving up at this massive hurdle and what many people would describe as a failed attempt, the CEO and remaining employees focused on their strengths to develop the chat system used by millions of people around the world and the rest is successful history.

Resilient people ride on their internal qualities, not external triggers

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

It’s so easy to get affected by what’s going on around us and lose sight of the big picture. Resilient people know this very well. That’s why they work on their inner qualities which will save them when they get into difficulties.

The success of Slack was built on the mindset that the external factors weren’t going to get in the way when the choice to keep going with the skills they were already good at would lead them to a better opportunity.

So how can we make this important shift of focus to gain resilience?

Write down what is most important to you at critical moments

Your why in any given moment or long term goal is important to create resilience and writing this down is what’s called value based affirmation. Many studies [1] have backed up the idea that intervening at crucial moments to write down what is most important to you increases long-term positivity.

In suburban middle schools, minority students were found to perform worse than other students and were asked to reflect and write what was most important to them at the beginning of the school year and before exams. By doing this exercise, grade repetition amongst these students dropped from 18% to 5%.

Value based affirmation helps to shift one’s negative mindsets and raises his self-worth. Remembering what is important, especially in challenging times, makes us see the bigger goal instead of the short-term difficulties and this is what makes us survive.

Focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses

Challenges tend to remind us of our weaknesses and cause us to dwell on them. People who are resilient tend to already be well aware of their weaknesses but they don’t spend time focusing on them or trying to improve them with too many efforts.

Instead, they look towards their strengths and tune their direction accordingly when things appear to go wrong. Focusing on our strengths is how we acquire growth while focusing on our weaknesses only ultimately serves as a reminder of why we fail because of them. Resilience means knowing the best way to move forward in order to get ourselves back to a place of strength and we can’t do this if we allow our weaknesses to keep us down.

Resilience isn’t something many of us are born with, it’s a skill that comes out of experiencing dark times and setbacks in life. It’s about developing the skill to see challenges differently and the skill to intentionally shift our focus and mindset to create a position in which we can take advantage of trying times.

How to become more emotionally resilient in the face of uncertainty.

THE BASICS

  • What Is Resilience?
  • Find a therapist near me

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

When uncertainty stresses us out, making us wonder which path to take, what decision to make, or whether to respond at all, it can be crippling for some of us if we have not developed emotional resilience.

Not sure if you struggle with resilience? Take this well-being survey. If you do struggle with resilience, how do you move through the challenge? How do you respond effectively to the situation? And how can you become more emotionally resilient in the face of uncertainty?

Resilience is so important that I devote a whole section to it in my new book, Outsmart Your Smartphone: Conscious Tech Habits for Finding Happiness, Balance, and Connection IRL. To get you started, here are nine ways to develop the emotional resilience that’ll help you in tough times:

1. Try to be flexible.

Often we have difficulty learning to “go with the flow.” Obstinacy, ego, fixed beliefs, expectations, and habits are some of the things that lead us to resist change. But when the house you thought you’d live in forever is destroyed in a fire or hurricane, or the job you had trained for has been automated, or perhaps the “love of your life” has married someone else, what do you do?

It can be heartbreaking and crushing all at once. But it is also true that your life is demanding a “course change.” In these situations, it’s wiser to practice acceptance and acknowledge that the situation has changed. You do not control the world; you only control yourself. The only way forward now is to adjust your attitude, shift your thoughts, and dream bigger by being flexible.

2. Practice being OK with discomfort.

When we are navigating a situation in flux, most of us will feel somewhat unsure of ourselves. This is normal. Accepting yourself and your situation is a good place to begin. Calm the inner voices of fear, blame, or resentment, and resist the urge to create drama around the uncertainty. Appraise the situation from a balanced place, realizing that it is OK to feel genuinely uncomfortable at times. You’ll build emotional resilience if you use this time to practice accepting and believing in yourself despite the discomfort you feel.

3. Learn from your mistakes and successes.

Do not panic! By allowing discomfort amid uncertain circumstances to reveal something about yourself, you can grow and become more emotionally resilient. Trial and error are how we learn. Once you adapt to being somewhat uncomfortable, you can apply yourself to the challenge at hand, which often triggers a flood of new ideas. Explore the positive thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Perhaps you will learn to speak up for yourself, or you may be forced to apply new approaches to the situation in flux.

This can open up whole new avenues of experience for you that may enhance your coping skills, build resilience, and even expand the range of your resume with newly discovered positive qualities. Test out some new approaches to see what works in this situation. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because they will make you more emotionally resilient if you are willing to learn from them. By recognizing uncertainty as an opportunity for growth, you can more easily move through it to attain your desired personal goals. Ultimately, resilience is just getting back up when you fall down.

4. Step back to gain a broader perspective.

Widen your field of vision by reviewing the past and imagining the future. From this perspective, envision various plans, and estimate how they might unfold into the future until you discover a path that shows promise. Then give it a shot. If that one doesn’t meet your life goals, don’t hesitate to try another approach. A shift in perspective can help you see the situation from a new point of view and try out new solutions that make you more emotionally resilient in the future.

5. Coordinate with others.

Review your options and then enlist helpers. Before moving forward and take action, share your uncertainty, and brainstorm ideas for how to move forward with colleagues and friends. Remain open to suggestions, but defend ideas that you really believe in with fervor. Then move forward, knowing you’ve considered multiple options.

6. When at a loss, imitate someone you respect.

Sometimes the hurdles seem too high, or we are at a loss about how to proceed. In these moments, we don’t feel very emotionally resilient. One trick is to think of someone you respect and imagine what they might do in this situation. For example, you might think about how your friend Jane, the most gracious and balanced person you know, maintains her poise in the face of crisis. If her method is to listen attentively, speak slowly, and establish good eye contact while responding, try that. A shift in the way you act can give you ideas for how to be more emotionally resilient.

7. Practice self-compassion.

In difficult moments, it’s essential to practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself to maintain your self-confidence. It’s OK to take some time to release your disappointment or take a break from your routine. A walk or run in nature may be helpful for processing your thoughts and releasing pent-up emotions. Or eating healthfully can help remind you of the importance of being kind to yourself. Once you’ve got some peace of mind, research several options, and open your mind to all possibilities, so that a new avenue of experience can blossom for you.

8. Celebrate your successes.

After all the work you have done to wend your way through uncertain times and situations, once you have initiated a plan that is working or picked yourself back up after a tough experience, celebrate your success with those who helped you achieve positive results. Give yourself credit for a “win” that feels affirming, and let joy sweep into your heart. Congratulate yourself and commit to continuing your success. Practice being grateful for who you have been, as well as who you are becoming. Emotional resilience is about more than recovering from challenges—it’s about thriving in the face of those challenges.

9. Learn to love change.

Heraclitus once said: “The only thing that is constant is change.” Besides, doing the same thing over and over can wear us down with its accumulative boredom. Change breeds something different and potentially exciting. New efforts stimulate growth potential through new experiences. It is “our ability to respond to life” that is being put to the test here, and the more we exercise this muscle, the more we will feel invigorated by the variety of life, and therefore the more emotionally resilient we will become.

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Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She’s also a psychotherapist, the author of the bestselling book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” and the host of The Verywell Mind Podcast.

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

ONOKY – Fabrice LEROUGE / Getty Images

The differences among us lie not only in the shape hardship takes but also in how we respond to it. Do you find yourself weighed down by your seemingly unlucky lot in life? Or do you embrace the struggle?

Resilience is the ability to cope with adversity and to use challenges to forge strength and prosperity. Having resilience does not mean that you don’t struggle, make mistakes, or need to ask for help. Resilient people keep plugging along even when the situation becomes ugly or exhausting. They learn from their mishaps and misfortunes, and they rely on others with confidence and trust.

Even when tragedy strikes, growth is possible. The positive changes that result from a traumatic experience are called post-traumatic growth. These changes can include a deeper appreciation for life, a bolstered sense of one’s own capabilities, and stronger connections to others.

Whether the struggles you face are traumas or everyday setbacks, being resilient will help you gain greater control over your own path and cultivate positive change. These four strategies can build your resilience reserves.

Reframe Your Interpretations

Resilient people find a way to explain their situations in a more positive light while still accepting reality. Imagine a news broadcast interviewing victims of a natural disaster a year later. Some brood: “We’ll never get our lives back.” Others find the silver lining: “This was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, but this community has come together and shown its strength in so many unbelievable ways.”

We have the ability to decide how we’re going to interpret the adversities we face. When we work to find an appreciation for what we’ve gained as we persevere, we develop a more grateful approach to living. The hardship that scars us also grants us wisdom.

When all you see is negative, broaden your perspective by asking yourself, “What good has come about as a result of this adversity?”

Identify What You Can Control

Optimists are among the most resilient of us, and they succeed by virtue of focusing their attention on how they can make their situations better. When faced with a challenge, pessimistic thinkers are more likely to be blind to opportunities to enact positive changes. In short, they adopt a victim mentality.

Optimists maintain a more accurate view of the control they do have. Consider Admiral James Stockdale’s trials as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. The Stockdale Paradox, a term coined by author Jim Collins, is the recipe for resilience that combines a harsh and objective assessment of reality (“Being a prisoner of war is awful”) with confidence and faith that drive hope (“This will get better and I can make it better”). Despite being stuck in solitary confinement, Stockdale and his fellow prisoners developed a system of tapping to communicate with one another. Once they could communicate, they could support each other.  

Realistic optimism identifies points of control—in this case, the ability to communicate—and takes advantage of them. Resilience is the act of taking a step forward despite dire circumstances. When we look critically for something we can control, we lay out the path for ourselves.

When you feel stuck or bogged down in adversity, find one thing you have control over and take action on it.

Seek Support

There are many images in our culture of the self-reliant, lone hero whose personal willpower provides enough strength to withstand any obstacle.

But while personal strength matters a lot, it is ultimately a sense of community that enables true resilience. Studies of children undergoing significant hardship find that kids who have one adult in their lives who provide stability and support are much more likely to do well than kids who don’t. The ability to relate and process one’s struggles in the context of a safe relationship buffer against many of the potential negative effects of childhood trauma.  

And relationship benefits extend to adults. Consider Stockdale and his fellow prisoners. Their communication system fostered a “we’re in this together” mindset.   Knowing that there’s someone else out there who cares is invaluable when we’re facing a hardship.

Tending to your most important relationships when times are good builds the trust and intimacy that will help those relationships stay strong when adversity hits.

Embrace Challenge and Failure

Failure is hard for many of us to take. We’d rather step back from a challenging situation than risk making a fool of ourselves. But when we adopt the perspective that challenge can strengthen us, and that we can learn from both successes and failures, we’re exercising our resilience muscles.

This is not to say that we should seek adversity. But finding small, manageable ways to challenge yourself builds confidence. Take that class you’ve been interested in. Make that phone call you’ve been avoiding. Push your limits little by little and adopt a view of exploration and curiosity. Whether you soar or crash and burn, you’re gaining knowledge and insight.

Identifying with the process of trying, rather than outcomes, is a resilience-building approach to life.

A Word From Verywell

Everyone has varying levels of resilience, but it is a skill you can work to build. Put in the effort to develop it before you encounter hardship, and you’ll be able to meet challenges and learn from them.

If you’re struggling to deal with a traumatic event or adverse experience, seek professional help. You may be at risk for developing an adjustment disorder, or PTSD, without professional intervention. A therapist can assist you in reducing your risk, increasing your resilience, and managing your distress in a healthy way.

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

Forward-thinking business leaders who took certain actions prior to 2020 were more likely to survive the chaos of the past year and position their organizations to thrive going forward. They built organizations that had visionary strategies, were good to their stakeholders and successfully leveraged technology for competitive advantages.

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

During the pandemic, leaders who prepared for disruption gained confidence in their organization’s ability to withstand adversity when they saw long-term investments paying off.

Even so, according to the 2021 Deloitte Global Resilience Report, two-thirds of CXOs still don’t feel completely ready to lead through potential disruptions and 70% lack confidence in their organizations’ ability to pivot and adapt to unsettling events like those they recently experienced. This is concerning since the Deloitte survey also found that CXOs see more disruptions on the horizon: Three-quarters believe the looming climate crisis is of similar or greater magnitude to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The past year has been a wake-up call,” says Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global deputy CEO and chief people and purpose officer. “Now that we’ve seen what can happen and how quickly it can unfold, there’s a better understanding of how something like a virus or a major climate event can dramatically affect economies. These issues and their potential impact aren’t theoretical anymore.”

Investing In The Future

Improving organizational resilience to prepare for future disruptions begins with an honest appraisal of whether your organization is prepared, adaptable, collaborative, trustworthy and responsible, says Parmelee.

“Leaders have to ask themselves if they’re investing in the short term or long term, if they’re training people for today’s work or tomorrow’s work, if their structures promote or inhibit cooperation and if they’re committed to serving all stakeholders or just shareholders,” she adds.

During the pandemic, leaders who prepared for disruption gained confidence in their organization’s ability to withstand adversity when they saw long-term investments paying off. “As a leader, you hope the money spent on infrastructure, training and other areas where there’s not an immediate reward is being spent wisely,” Parmelee says. “So, when those investments bear fruit—which, in the case of 2020 meant enabling businesses to weather unprecedented challenges—it’s confirmation that you’re up to the challenge.”

Strategic Actions That Build Resilience

Companies that took steps to prepare for future disasters prior to 2020 were more likely to say they are weathering the pandemic better than their peers or competitors, according to the Deloitte report. Going forward, Parmelee says other organizations can follow the examples set by the most resilient organizations and take strategic actions like those below to build their organization’s resilience:

  • Create comprehensive crisis response and scenario playbooks that map out potential internal and external risks. Just as sports teams design playbooks for each game, resilient organizations should prepare playbooks that anticipate potential events.
  • Conduct regular crisis and scenario simulations with key decision makers across functions and departments. Scenario planning helps leaders plan for disruption and anticipate what organizations will need not only to survive but also to thrive in the future.
  • Hire for mindsets, like adaptability, instead of specific skill sets. This may require rethinking traditional job descriptions, which could also increase diversity.
  • Develop training or rotational programs to allow workers to learn new skills. This could boost organizations’ abilities to redeploy workers depending on business needs and employee interests.
  • Eliminate internal silos and invest in technologies that promote collaboration. According to the Deloitte report, collaboration improved resilience by helping organizations make decisions, communicate more effectively and foster trust among workers.
  • Develop environmental-sustainability initiatives inside your organization. They can benefit the planet, appeal to socially conscious talent and potentially lead to new business opportunities.
  • Build physical, emotional and digital trust with your stakeholders. CXOs who lead with empathy and communicate regularly and transparently with stakeholders strengthen trust.
  • Prioritize mental health, wellness, diversity, inclusion and equality. There is a strong correlation between having an agile organization and having an inclusive culture and diverse workforce.

Parmelee suggests it’s also important for CXOs to seek relationships with like-minded organizations to tackle societal issues. “The scope of potential threats accentuates the urgent need for leaders to embrace all stakeholders and put the advancement of society at the heart of their business strategies,” she says. “Change and disruption will be a way of life going forward, so leaders who implement the building blocks of resilience now will be best positioned to thrive going forward.”

The first thing to overcome with the coronavirus is fear. The virus is certainly dangerous. The likelihood is we will need to learn to live with it. A “new normal” will emerge with its own protocols for traveling, meeting, caring for each other, grieving those we lose, and living our lives. Perhaps there will be a vaccine. Certainly we should do everything we can to protect ourselves. But that is different from living in fear. Hafiz said it well:

Fear is the cheapest room in the house.
I’d like to see you in better living conditions.

The coronavirus is a poster child for the world we are living in now. Many think that climate change is the only existential threat. In fact the greatest threat of all is the Global Challenge—the completely unpredictable interaction of several dozen global stressors—environmental, social, and technological.

The coronavirus illustrates how perfectly predictable threats (viral pandemics) disrupt profoundly interconnected and fragile global systems. Financial markets, supply chains, consumer behavior, tourism, healthcare, and both national and global events are all affected by the virus.

The virus was entirely predictable because experts know that this is what happens when humans move ever deeper into fragmenting ecosystems where viruses jump from their animal and other hosts to human beings. We know more lethal viruses will appear again as they have repeatedly in the past.

The Global Challenge consists of several dozen global stressors. Other names for the Global Challenge include the global problematique, the human dilemma, and the online acronym TEOTWAWKI—the end of the world as we know it. Scientists call the Global Challenge a wicked problem. Here is the Wikipedia definition:

A wicked problem is a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. It refers to an idea or problem that cannot be fixed, where there is no single solution to the problem…Because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems.

Think of the Global Challenge as the “perfect storm.” We are in a period widely called the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene can be envisioned as an evolutionary bottleneck. The biosphere—and all the biodiversity it contains—has entered a bottleneck: a funnel created by the sum total of all these global stressors. Only a portion of life as we know it will emerge. Whether humans or some successor species will be part of what emerges is unknown. What kind of world we/they will inhabit, with what kind of values and norms, is also unknown.

But fear, hopelessness, and cynicism aren’t the only choice in the face of this perfect storm. We have lived through many perilous circumstances on our journey so far. The black plague killed one third of the population of Europe. Fortune favors the prepared. The best way to face the perfect storm is to acknowledge its reality and to prepare for different forms of what the visionary scientist Jem Bendell has called “deep adaptation.” While Bendell’s use of the term deep adaptation refers specifically to the climate crisis, the term is equally applicable to the perfect storm of the Global Challenge.

Some believe the Global Challenge will inevitably lead to civilizational collapse. The situation is far more subtle, and indeed more hopeful. Nate Hagens, one of the great thinkers on the Global Challenge, believes it is far more likely humanity will “bend but not break.” William Gibson, the science fiction writer, puts it well when he says “the future is already here. It is just not very evenly distributed.” It is in the nature of the Global Challenge that we can’t predict what combination of global stressors will result in what outcomes, when, where, or how. This view is called being “trigger agnostic.” We don’t know what will trigger what, when, where, or how.

There is authentic hope for us here. We can hope to “bend but not break.” We can hope that cultures and civilizations will find unanticipated ways to adapt to the perfect storm we are facing. We can hope that “deep adaptation” leads to courageous and creative new forms of resilience.

We know the world won’t look the same in 20, 40, 100, or 200 years. But we can hope for and fight for the survival of the core values we take to be at the heart of what it means to be human. We can hope for the survival of love, wisdom, and compassion for others and for the creation.

We can hope to build a better, wiser, more caring, more just and greener world on the ashes of the old world.

Resilience is not something we need to teach people. Resilience flows directly from the deepest human instincts of loving and caring. We instinctively seek to survive ourselves and to help all those we love and care for to survive and flourish. In fact, we often care more about others than we do about our own survival.

As the perfect storm envelops us—as the future shocks become ever more intense and frequent—people all over the world face the existential question of what they and those they love will need to survive. Refugees have to decide what to carry with them. Those who stay where they are have to decide what they will need in order to stay.

Human beings have certain irreducible needs. Air, warmth, water, food, shelter, clothing, community, health care, safety, a shared story about ourselves, and some sense of hope and meaning in our lives. Fear, cynicism, and despair are rarely the best strategies for survival and resilience. The coronavirus cannot be contained. Many among us will be affected by it. But it is far from the greatest challenge we face in the years and decades ahead.

Courage and hope are the most interesting way to live.

“When fear rushed in, I learned how to hear my heart racing but refused to allow my feelings to sway me. That resilience came from my family. It flowed through our bloodline.”

In the face of this unforgiving pandemic, what organization doesn’t want to be resilient and turn a steep, staggering mountain climb into a glorious summit?

Take your organization, for instance. What if you could actually practice and model resilience to your directors, managers, and department heads?

Result: You inspire and equip leaders to maintain their bounce-back perseverance and be their best.

What if your organization’s resilience became your biggest “win” during COVID-19? It could happen. Here are four timely excerpts from respected sources to help you develop resilience and instill it in your people, especially when it comes to working from home and receiving online remote training.

Synonym for “resilience”: Improvise

To make it through the current crisis and return to a new normal, you and your team will need to be resilient. The good news is that leaders can help create the conditions that make this possible. We’ve done multiple studies with U.S. Navy recruits that show how this can best be done—and, recently, in studying how leaders are responding to the crisis, we’ve come across valuable stories of how they can achieve this even when team members are working remotely. The key is to focus on two things:

  • People: Foster resilience-oriented conversations
  • Perspective: Ask questions

Resilient teams will learn how to improvise in these new modes of working together. . . . You can lead discussions on how well things are working, what processes can be improved, and the like. Highlighting what the team is learning during the adversity will collectively strengthen it in all three critical protective factors: confidence, disciplined routines, and support.

Any crisis is also an opportunity to build resilience among your reports. If you successfully implement the tactics we offer here, you just may find that they not only bounce back from these difficult times but emerge much stronger as people and as a team.

From “Build Your Team’s Resilience—From Home,” by David Sluss and Edward Powley, Harvard Business Review, April 14, 2020

Engaging your WFH teams right now

A recent report found that one-fourth of U.S. employees are feeling burnout due to the pandemic. Clearly, leading is not the same from afar. Distance creates a new set of challenges that leaders must acknowledge and conquer so they can connect with and inspire their people. Maintaining relationships with your people—and strengthening relationships among your people—needs to be a primary objective.

So, as you embrace this new all-virtual world, you need to set a new tone by modifying what you do and how you do it to increase engagement and connection, without sacrificing your sanity. These four actions will help:

  • Heighten The Humanity
  • Make Meetings Meaningful
  • Communicate Consistently
  • Train Your Talent

We’re living in a new world of work and leaders are being called to venture into completely uncharted territory. This presents you with an amazing opportunity to prove that you’re the right person to guide the organization through the most turbulent, transformative business environment we’ve ever experienced.

From “Four Ways Leaders Can Engage Their WFH Teams During Covid-19” by William Arruda, Forbes, April 17, 2020

Are you prepared to manage the crisis?

After two weeks of working from home, I’ve accepted that remote work will be the new norm for the foreseeable future for many of us. But for business leaders, the question now becomes: Are we prepared to manage this crisis? We have a responsibility to do so appropriately.

Four ways for leaders to set up their teams for long-term success in this new norm:

  • Be sensitive and compassionate with employees.
  • Become better thought-leaders.
  • Determine what’s essential.
  • Establish meeting cadences and milestones.

None of us can predict when the COVID-19 crisis will come to an end. In the meantime, it’s up to us as business leaders to remain patient, calm, and sensitive as we navigate the changing waters of this new norm.

From “How to Inspire Your Teams During the COVID-19 Crisis, by David Cardiel, PRsay, April 2020.

The perfect online training conditions

When we talk about online training conditions, we’re talking about everything from the training course layout to the multimedia you incorporate. It’s the emotional atmosphere that you cultivate for your employees. As such, your online training program must foster a personal connection while still retaining its professionalism. Here are the seven best practices for creating the perfect online training conditions for your remote employees.

  • Use uplifting visuals that resonate with employees
  • Add emotionally compelling stories and examples
  • Provide opportunities for real-world online training
  • Create an effective online support system
  • Develop a mentorship online training program
  • Collect ongoing e-learning feedback
  • Encourage managers to lead by example

From “7 Best Practices to Create the Perfect Online Training Conditions,” by Christopher Papas, eFront

How to put resilience to work

From welcoming a new employee on their first day of work via Zoom to training your teams online, people need to know their leaders will show up and care.

Whatever this “new normal” may come to look like, God is there in the midst with his people. As Ruth Haley Barton has said, “I think of a church leader who shared her journey of desiring a deeper intimacy with God and beginning to arrange her life more intentionally around this. As a result of her openness and vulnerability, her fellow elders felt free to voice similar desires and over time, the entire elder board was enlivened to seek God and pursue a deepening practice of discerning and doing God’s will together in the context of their leadership.”

In uncertain times, employees need leaders to show up, make the effort, listen, pray, and be present to where their people are. By acting on what your people need right now, you can look forward to a two-fold return:

The immediate impact of demonstrating courage, trust, and caring can help forge a new, lasting resilience so that your organization is poised to survive and thrive on the other side of the crisis.

Additional Resources

Download BCWI’s four-page guide for inspirational leadership in crisis for FREE.

How to become more emotionally resilient in the face of uncertainty.

THE BASICS

  • What Is Resilience?
  • Find a therapist near me

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

When uncertainty stresses us out, making us wonder which path to take, what decision to make, or whether to respond at all, it can be crippling for some of us if we have not developed emotional resilience.

Not sure if you struggle with resilience? Take this well-being survey. If you do struggle with resilience, how do you move through the challenge? How do you respond effectively to the situation? And how can you become more emotionally resilient in the face of uncertainty?

Resilience is so important that I devote a whole section to it in my new book, Outsmart Your Smartphone: Conscious Tech Habits for Finding Happiness, Balance, and Connection IRL. To get you started, here are nine ways to develop the emotional resilience that’ll help you in tough times:

1. Try to be flexible.

Often we have difficulty learning to “go with the flow.” Obstinacy, ego, fixed beliefs, expectations, and habits are some of the things that lead us to resist change. But when the house you thought you’d live in forever is destroyed in a fire or hurricane, or the job you had trained for has been automated, or perhaps the “love of your life” has married someone else, what do you do?

It can be heartbreaking and crushing all at once. But it is also true that your life is demanding a “course change.” In these situations, it’s wiser to practice acceptance and acknowledge that the situation has changed. You do not control the world; you only control yourself. The only way forward now is to adjust your attitude, shift your thoughts, and dream bigger by being flexible.

2. Practice being OK with discomfort.

When we are navigating a situation in flux, most of us will feel somewhat unsure of ourselves. This is normal. Accepting yourself and your situation is a good place to begin. Calm the inner voices of fear, blame, or resentment, and resist the urge to create drama around the uncertainty. Appraise the situation from a balanced place, realizing that it is OK to feel genuinely uncomfortable at times. You’ll build emotional resilience if you use this time to practice accepting and believing in yourself despite the discomfort you feel.

3. Learn from your mistakes and successes.

Do not panic! By allowing discomfort amid uncertain circumstances to reveal something about yourself, you can grow and become more emotionally resilient. Trial and error are how we learn. Once you adapt to being somewhat uncomfortable, you can apply yourself to the challenge at hand, which often triggers a flood of new ideas. Explore the positive thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Perhaps you will learn to speak up for yourself, or you may be forced to apply new approaches to the situation in flux.

This can open up whole new avenues of experience for you that may enhance your coping skills, build resilience, and even expand the range of your resume with newly discovered positive qualities. Test out some new approaches to see what works in this situation. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because they will make you more emotionally resilient if you are willing to learn from them. By recognizing uncertainty as an opportunity for growth, you can more easily move through it to attain your desired personal goals. Ultimately, resilience is just getting back up when you fall down.

4. Step back to gain a broader perspective.

Widen your field of vision by reviewing the past and imagining the future. From this perspective, envision various plans, and estimate how they might unfold into the future until you discover a path that shows promise. Then give it a shot. If that one doesn’t meet your life goals, don’t hesitate to try another approach. A shift in perspective can help you see the situation from a new point of view and try out new solutions that make you more emotionally resilient in the future.

5. Coordinate with others.

Review your options and then enlist helpers. Before moving forward and take action, share your uncertainty, and brainstorm ideas for how to move forward with colleagues and friends. Remain open to suggestions, but defend ideas that you really believe in with fervor. Then move forward, knowing you’ve considered multiple options.

6. When at a loss, imitate someone you respect.

Sometimes the hurdles seem too high, or we are at a loss about how to proceed. In these moments, we don’t feel very emotionally resilient. One trick is to think of someone you respect and imagine what they might do in this situation. For example, you might think about how your friend Jane, the most gracious and balanced person you know, maintains her poise in the face of crisis. If her method is to listen attentively, speak slowly, and establish good eye contact while responding, try that. A shift in the way you act can give you ideas for how to be more emotionally resilient.

7. Practice self-compassion.

In difficult moments, it’s essential to practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself to maintain your self-confidence. It’s OK to take some time to release your disappointment or take a break from your routine. A walk or run in nature may be helpful for processing your thoughts and releasing pent-up emotions. Or eating healthfully can help remind you of the importance of being kind to yourself. Once you’ve got some peace of mind, research several options, and open your mind to all possibilities, so that a new avenue of experience can blossom for you.

8. Celebrate your successes.

After all the work you have done to wend your way through uncertain times and situations, once you have initiated a plan that is working or picked yourself back up after a tough experience, celebrate your success with those who helped you achieve positive results. Give yourself credit for a “win” that feels affirming, and let joy sweep into your heart. Congratulate yourself and commit to continuing your success. Practice being grateful for who you have been, as well as who you are becoming. Emotional resilience is about more than recovering from challenges—it’s about thriving in the face of those challenges.

9. Learn to love change.

Heraclitus once said: “The only thing that is constant is change.” Besides, doing the same thing over and over can wear us down with its accumulative boredom. Change breeds something different and potentially exciting. New efforts stimulate growth potential through new experiences. It is “our ability to respond to life” that is being put to the test here, and the more we exercise this muscle, the more we will feel invigorated by the variety of life, and therefore the more emotionally resilient we will become.

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Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She’s also a psychotherapist, the author of the bestselling book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” and the host of The Verywell Mind Podcast.

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

ONOKY – Fabrice LEROUGE / Getty Images

The differences among us lie not only in the shape hardship takes but also in how we respond to it. Do you find yourself weighed down by your seemingly unlucky lot in life? Or do you embrace the struggle?

Resilience is the ability to cope with adversity and to use challenges to forge strength and prosperity. Having resilience does not mean that you don’t struggle, make mistakes, or need to ask for help. Resilient people keep plugging along even when the situation becomes ugly or exhausting. They learn from their mishaps and misfortunes, and they rely on others with confidence and trust.

Even when tragedy strikes, growth is possible. The positive changes that result from a traumatic experience are called post-traumatic growth. These changes can include a deeper appreciation for life, a bolstered sense of one’s own capabilities, and stronger connections to others.

Whether the struggles you face are traumas or everyday setbacks, being resilient will help you gain greater control over your own path and cultivate positive change. These four strategies can build your resilience reserves.

Reframe Your Interpretations

Resilient people find a way to explain their situations in a more positive light while still accepting reality. Imagine a news broadcast interviewing victims of a natural disaster a year later. Some brood: “We’ll never get our lives back.” Others find the silver lining: “This was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, but this community has come together and shown its strength in so many unbelievable ways.”

We have the ability to decide how we’re going to interpret the adversities we face. When we work to find an appreciation for what we’ve gained as we persevere, we develop a more grateful approach to living. The hardship that scars us also grants us wisdom.

When all you see is negative, broaden your perspective by asking yourself, “What good has come about as a result of this adversity?”

Identify What You Can Control

Optimists are among the most resilient of us, and they succeed by virtue of focusing their attention on how they can make their situations better. When faced with a challenge, pessimistic thinkers are more likely to be blind to opportunities to enact positive changes. In short, they adopt a victim mentality.

Optimists maintain a more accurate view of the control they do have. Consider Admiral James Stockdale’s trials as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. The Stockdale Paradox, a term coined by author Jim Collins, is the recipe for resilience that combines a harsh and objective assessment of reality (“Being a prisoner of war is awful”) with confidence and faith that drive hope (“This will get better and I can make it better”). Despite being stuck in solitary confinement, Stockdale and his fellow prisoners developed a system of tapping to communicate with one another. Once they could communicate, they could support each other.  

Realistic optimism identifies points of control—in this case, the ability to communicate—and takes advantage of them. Resilience is the act of taking a step forward despite dire circumstances. When we look critically for something we can control, we lay out the path for ourselves.

When you feel stuck or bogged down in adversity, find one thing you have control over and take action on it.

Seek Support

There are many images in our culture of the self-reliant, lone hero whose personal willpower provides enough strength to withstand any obstacle.

But while personal strength matters a lot, it is ultimately a sense of community that enables true resilience. Studies of children undergoing significant hardship find that kids who have one adult in their lives who provide stability and support are much more likely to do well than kids who don’t. The ability to relate and process one’s struggles in the context of a safe relationship buffer against many of the potential negative effects of childhood trauma.  

And relationship benefits extend to adults. Consider Stockdale and his fellow prisoners. Their communication system fostered a “we’re in this together” mindset.   Knowing that there’s someone else out there who cares is invaluable when we’re facing a hardship.

Tending to your most important relationships when times are good builds the trust and intimacy that will help those relationships stay strong when adversity hits.

Embrace Challenge and Failure

Failure is hard for many of us to take. We’d rather step back from a challenging situation than risk making a fool of ourselves. But when we adopt the perspective that challenge can strengthen us, and that we can learn from both successes and failures, we’re exercising our resilience muscles.

This is not to say that we should seek adversity. But finding small, manageable ways to challenge yourself builds confidence. Take that class you’ve been interested in. Make that phone call you’ve been avoiding. Push your limits little by little and adopt a view of exploration and curiosity. Whether you soar or crash and burn, you’re gaining knowledge and insight.

Identifying with the process of trying, rather than outcomes, is a resilience-building approach to life.

A Word From Verywell

Everyone has varying levels of resilience, but it is a skill you can work to build. Put in the effort to develop it before you encounter hardship, and you’ll be able to meet challenges and learn from them.

If you’re struggling to deal with a traumatic event or adverse experience, seek professional help. You may be at risk for developing an adjustment disorder, or PTSD, without professional intervention. A therapist can assist you in reducing your risk, increasing your resilience, and managing your distress in a healthy way.

“Resilience” is an alien term for those of us trained in economics. Economics is all about stable equilibria rising from a successfully solved maximization problem, based on convex second-order conditions. It is fine if that makes no sense to you…

Perhaps the obscurity is even intentional, to keep our “sacred science” unsullied by untutored intruders. Stable equilibria rest on static models based on substitution (“negative feedbacks” in systems theory), with oppositional tradeoffs in balance against each other, reaching neat, determinate outcomes. Absent endlessly ongoing dynamic change, there is no place nor any need for resilience in economic analysis.

So when I first encountered this concept, I saw it as a biological notion of little relevance to my own discipline. It was about ecological process: an ever-evolving complex system in which species survival rested on adaptation to change. There was no need for resilience in an equilibrium model that already provided “the best of all possible worlds” in its efficiency outcomes! Economists dodged that bullet.

But unfortunately, in real life, economies are ecologies – ever-moving processes of change with no equilibria anywhere. If so, to treat them as stable leads us down an imaginary path that distracts from meaning and the truth of vital life forms in all their requirements. It is, in the end, the utter inevitability of unpredictable, ongoing change that calls for resilience stemming from biodiversity across all life-forms.

I saw no need for any of that, until I embraced the daunting challenge of facing interdependence and the dynamics of endless shifting continua unlikely ever to settle into a static configuration or predictable outcome. Most economists seek continuity on connected determinate timelines shoving objective forecasts into the future ahead, so we can know what is coming toward us. The uncertainty of vital life-forms interacting chaotically yields an alien realm of disruption in the quietude of economics. Such safely stable equilibria obviate any need for adaptive facility.

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

How to build resilience to survive in this difficult world

When I began to realize that the economy was like an open ecology, the insight drew forth an abrupt upheaval in my understanding. Everything moves. Nothing is stable or sure. Each change instigates others, spreading ever outward to influence all that occurs in an endlessly ongoing concatenation of vitally uncertain outcomes.

This was very disturbing. Ecologists had long understood that the nice balances in economics were just an illusion based on theories severed from what transpires in our world. The whole process evolves, surprisingly and unpredictably, into an unknown future revealed through one theoretical lens, selective and so restrictively blind to all lying outside its exclusive view. We have no way to escape from that.

This scientific conundrum mandates open minds, since the more ways we can look at the world, the better our chances to get it right, to perceive fuller realms of impact from the actions we take. There is still no guarantee, but – as they say – “If all we have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!” And if our lives are fragile flowers, that tool will lead us to harm. What does all this mean for resilience?

If every decision we face in the world – or any problem that we encounter – is inherently interdisciplinary, namely, each calls for reflection and understanding contained in no box, then we do well to understand any case from multiverse angles of vantage. Our need for ranging intelligence sings of vital agility in an era of endless shifting causes with consequential effects. Diversity yields adaptivity – or resilience – in understanding, just as it does for ecological life-forms.

This is the main notion, and the importance, of resilience. The whole life process is one of ongoing disequilibrium movement to which we must adapt to survive. It is our agility – our resilience spawned in diverse skills and talents – securing our survivability in this shifting domain. Systems adapt through biodiversity in the face of failure rising from unexpected change; lacking sufficient flexibility they become brittle and disintegrate, dissolving into the past. Will this be our destiny as well?

If we cannot tolerate difference, if we meet change as a threat, if we protect what we know from all doubt, then we deny our essential characteristic as homo sapiens: an adaptive intelligence shaped through cultural learning capacities earned through endless centuries of vital eruptions calling for resilience as our prime means to survive. This is our fate today, once again, dealing with an evolving climate threatening to consume us all if we cannot transcend the myopic character of our cultural landscape. “Precautions be damned!” we said to ourselves in our foolish, immature rage. Now we are reaping all we sowed throughout these childhood days.

We can resolve to change, to adapt, to be creative, framing new ways. Indeed, this is our essence, shaped through ages of change. All we must do is engage the Enemy, after reviewing its face in the mirror, and so restore our own nature.