Building Resilience in Business

We can all agree that business is hard. Whether you are working for yourself or in employment, stress and other factors can make you feel out of kilter pretty quickly and if unaddressed it is easy to spiral into self-doubt, sickness and absenteeism.

Developing a better understanding of resilience, and training yourself to be more resilient can be an effective tool to ensure you stay mentally strong when all about you are “losing their heads.”

What is resilience?

Resilience is your ability to deal with life stressors. It is the coping mechanisms you have in place and how you react and seek to resolve issues and concerns in order to move forward. Think of it as life buoyancy. How you effectively manage to keep afloat when the ship is sinking. Because in business and employment, sometimes the ship definitely feels like it is sinking!

Resilience is not a magical tool you are born with, (although some people can be born with better levels of resilience than others). It is something you can nurture, develop and train yourself into over-time. You are most likely already to be resilient if you:

  • Have a positive mental attitude
  • Are responsive
  • Are self-aware
  • Have good levels of emotional intelligence

Essentially to become more resilient you need to flip the switch from being passive – letting things happen to you and reacting to them in perhaps a negative way; to being active – reflecting and positively asserting yourself to deal with stressors head on.

Why is it important?

Because both professionally and personally, life is stressful. There is no hiding away from our 24/7 lifestyle and the stressors we face in work can often spill into our personal life and vice versa. Professionally, you may find yourself working with difficult people, you might not win the contract, you might face financial insecurity, you might be overlooked for the promotion, your manager might be critical of you. The list goes on and on. If you don’t develop better levels of resilience you can quickly feel swamped by the weight of all of life’s challenges and what happens then? You can become despondent, ineffective and depressed. Better resilience can lead to:

  • More productivity
  • Better decision making
  • Confidence
  • Happiness and calm

Train the brain.

The brain is a muscle, and just like the body if you want to develop flexibility, durability and strength you need go to the gym. To increase resilience, you need pump that mental iron and get your brain functioning to improve your flexibility and strength but also encourage that essential life buoyancy.

  1. Seek support – your network is a life line when needing more resilience. Having those key persons in place you can seek advice from will help you increase calm and offer valuable reflection time. If you haven’t got people you feel you can talk to, writing it down is also useful.
  1. Give it some space – when faced with difficulties we very quickly react to the situation without taking time to reflect. This can be personally and professionally damaging. Reflection might enable you to make different decisions or see the situation from a different perspective. Try to step back before reacting.
  1. Let it go – recognise that you cannot control everything that happens to you. Why would you want to? Be at peace with this.
  1. Get healthy – our bodies are an ecosystem of nerves, transmitters and systems all working together to make us function to our optimum performance. As such we need to look after all parts of this. This includes getting more rest, eating well, exercising and other wellbeing activities.
  1. Mountains and molehills – positioning the issues that crop up and cause you difficulty in a wider context will help put the situation in perspective. It might feel like a big issue but being realistic will help to minimise its actual importance.
  1. Don’t give into drama – like the above, it is easier to perpetuate an issue by continually talking about it or wallowing in the situation. Outside of your support network, don’t gossip and spread the drama. You will actually find, like a fire, the less air you give to it, the quicker it dies out.
  1. Positive Mental Attitude – this can be tricky, because some days are just tough. But trying to keep upbeat and positive about things that happen can really enable you to overcome and bounce back from most issues. Consider creating a personal mantra that you can repeat to yourself when faced with challenge. “I am strong, I am clear, I overcome”
  1. Learn – sometimes bad things happen, but like the saying “sometimes we win, sometimes we learn” try to take learning from the situation you have been faced with and use that to avoid future negative situations. In that way you are still getting something out of it. Look at that for positive mental attitude!
  1. Recognise your skills – the truth is you are great! But when do you ever reflect and think about those things? Never? Taking just a little time each week to think about the challenges you have overcome or the wins you have made will go a long way to helping boost your confidence and increasing that life buoyancy.
  1. Help others – What? You are feeling all stressed out and like you can’t cope but I am suggesting you help others? Yes! Because supporting others will do three things. It will help you feel useful and more confident, it will enable you to put your own issues into context and it will also offer you reflection of own concerns. It is a win, win, win!

Finally, and with all this in mind. The key to successfully building resilience is also to recognise your reaction to stress so you know when to pump the brakes and take a time out. Here, (adapted from Skills for Care, Building your own resilience, health and wellbeing) are some common symptoms that could show you it’s time to make some positive changes: 

  • Physical – nausea, light headedness, dry mouth, heart pounding, flushing, digestive problems.
  • Emotional – judgement, short temper, feeling overwhelmed, paranoia.
  • Behavioural – procrastinating, neglecting responsibilities, nail biting or twitching.
  • Thinking – unable to concentrate, negative mindset, excessive worrying, self-doubt, making poor decisions

There might be 7.53 billion people in the world, but there is only one YOU. So, value yourself and look after your mental health. Enable yourself to become more resilient and more productive. You never know you could just end up being happier too!