Why we Need to Develop our Resilience Skills Now

Why we Need to Develop our Resilience Skills Now

Why we Need to Develop our Resilience Skills Now

I’m not writing about herd immunity or business resilience here; it’s about strengthening our own resilience skills to cope with the current crisis as a result of the spread of COVID-19.   Personally, I am very privileged and grateful to work with professional leaders and managers in many global organizations, including those with staff in the APAC region.  Therefore, we were already discussing the changing global dynamics a few weeks ago and the need to refine risk assessments, emergency response programmes, check how to maintain business continuity and adapt rapidly to the changes caused by the current unfortunate pandemic.  Many of these Executive Coaching and Mentoring meetings were already via video conference, which has often been my modus operandi for many years, working across continents as well as in the UK, Scandinavia and Europe.  Being fortunate to work with leaders and managers from across the globe means that I was already party to conversations around the unfolding crisis in mainland Europe a few weeks ago and therefore had somewhat of a helicopter view of some of the issues and impact, which I could then share with some more local clients face to face.

The Impact of COVID-19

The coronavirus has exposed existing weaknesses, not only in economies, businesses and healthcare systems, but also in peoples’ everyday lives, whether that be issues affecting their own health, career, family, relationships, work/life balance, home life, finances.  Many people are already dealing with a key life event at one given time, ranging from a house move, an illness, bereavement, relationship break up, IVF treatment, an interpersonal or legal dispute, or facing problems or redundancy at work.  For some people, what COVID-19 has done is to exacerbate issues surrounding any challenging key life events, by adding to already existing stress and anxiety.  For anyone who has experienced ill health or the loss of a loved one at an early age, they will already know that health is the most important thing in life, more important than money, holidays - and sport!

Some people are naturally more resilient than others and appear to have the mental toughness to cope with pressure, adversity and major setbacks and to recover more quickly. We’ve seen the way the news is affecting some laid-back personality types, who are taking the crisis in their stride and carrying on as normal, going for a drink and believing everything will be fine.  We’ve seen the other personality types, who have already self-isolated to protect themselves, with those already suffering from OCD or anxiety becoming even more anxious.  In Italy and Portugal, the response to being told to work from home resulted in many people going to the beach and bars weeks ago, which in some cases is what accelerated the spread of the virus.  It was often only when the younger individuals saw the negative impact on their own circle of older friends and loved ones that they decided to stay indoors themselves.  The lockdown has resulted in some moving scenes of human beings adapting in a crisis and creating a sense of solidarity, community and resilience across the generations.

However, sadly, even the toughest individuals are having to deal with unprecedented levels of concern and pressure, especially those at the sharp end and those dealing with critical incidents.  Sometimes just one telephone conversation can be enough to be the ‘straw that broke the camels’ back’  if someone is already under immense pressure and stress.  The stages we tend to experience after a major set-back are similar to those experienced during times of change or bereavement and tend to be a combination of: Shock, Denial, Anger, Resistance, Anxiety, Fear, Confusion, Desperation, Panic, Disorientation and Depression.  Then we move on to: Acceptance, Hope, Relief, Problem-solving, Decision-making and a Sense of Renewal.  These reactions have also been very noticeable in the world's financial markets, where global investors and traders use the terms ‘bull market’ and have seen a rapid change into a ‘bear market’, where stocks have declined suddenly and dramatically in value. 

Anyone who is familiar with Change Management projects will know that it may not feel like it now, but ultimately the world will somehow probably end up in a better place than it was pre-December 2019, aside from the fact that there may well be a new baby boom in certain areas as a result of so many couples being forced to stay indoors for weeks, or conversely, higher divorce rates as now being experienced in China!  In order to recover from these stages more quickly and cope better with key life events and change, it is important to acknowledge the reality of what’s happening, to identify and challenge your negative thoughts, channel your anger and disappointment about having to cancel your holiday, then create and implement a new personal vision with goals, and seek out your support network, all whilst strengthening your resilience.

So, what is Resilience?

Resilience involves a complex set of skills and behaviours, which are affected by our beliefs and personality styles and which differ greatly from one person to another.  Resilience is one of the most important competencies for leaders and managers, especially when leading and managing in times of change, pressure, stress and uncertainty.  However, personal resilience is also more important for any individual during times of crisis.  It involves honing a variety of skills, including the following – being able to:

  • maintain effective work in the face of set-backs, pressure or crises
  • remain calm, stable and in control of ourselves in challenging situations
  • display Emotionally Intelligence - being able to control our emotions and behaviours under pressure
  • ‘Bounce-back’ quickly from set-backs, what the Americans refer to as ‘Bounce-back-ability’, a phrase coined from basket ball
  • tolerate conditions of uncertainty and ambiguity
  • remain optimistic
  • cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude
  • challenge negative beliefs
  • become more assertive
  • learn to say ‘No’ if you are already feeling overwhelmed by work or personal issues

How can you Develop Resilience?

Before the already VUCA world changed beyond belief, almost every day in our Executive Coaching, Leadership Mentoring or Career and Transition Coaching meetings we would already talk about the importance of Resilience  as a leader, manager or team member.  In fact, our ‘Resilience Workbook’ is the most read and requested of any of our 20 Workbooks and the feedback is often that it has been ‘life-changing.’   However, in the current pandemic, developing resilience has become even more important with the need to develop our own personal resilience to cope with the fear, uncertainty, pressure, stress and changes.  We can all play our part in the current situation by adapting our behaviours and habits, washing our hands more, working from home, if possible, practicing social distancing and obtaining the most relevant and accurate advice and information to act on, but in the long-term, resilience will be key for us to get through the next few months.

Resilience Coaching and Training have already been proven to decrease sickness absence levels from between 33% – 60% with this holistic and preventative approach being used effectively by the US military since 2009.  It involves Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Coaching techniques to assist in the following:

Next time we’ll deal with how you can further develop Resilience, including: How to control what you can control and setting SMART goals to maintain focus on your revised personal vision and strategy.  In the meantime - Stay Well!

About Jill Maidment

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