Resilience is often cited as being one of a leader’s most desirable traits.
Of course, some of us might be more naturally able to persevere in the face of adversity than others.
But by studying these naturally resilient people, everyone can learn how to improve in this area for the sake of their teams, their companies, and their personal growth.
To help our members get a better understanding of how to build resilience in their personal and professional lives, Ivy Exec is hosting an exclusive workshop on positive leadership in partnership with Declan Noone. In one of the workshop’s installments, Noone who is the co-founder of positive & mindful leader magazine spoke on how to attain greater resilience. It’s a topic he knows well given his background as a military officer in the Irish Defence Forces who also holds a Master’s in Positive Leadership and Strategy from IE Business School.
Endurance VS. Resilience
First off, Noone suggests that most people don’t know the difference between endurance and resilience. While both are helpful assets in the workplace, it is essential not to confuse the two.
“We have ever enhancing pressures and stressors in the workplace, and for us to flourish and to achieve our maximum potential, it’s critical that we identify and understand the difference between endurance and resilience,” Noone says.
He defines resilience as the capacity to proceed as normal in spite of obstacles and challenges. Endurance, on the other hand, is about taking on an increasing workload and toughening up to the challenge. He cautions that endurance, not resilience, can lead to overwork, burnout and a dip in productivity. In an effort to communicate resilience to managers and coworkers, many people end up actually trying to increase their endurance and end up overloading themselves.
But if a person is resilient and not simply enduring, he will be able to continue at his usual capacity.
“The greater the stress and the greater workload we have, the less patience we have,” Noone says. “Our eating habits change, our sleeping habits change, the way in which we communicate with others changes…and our capacity to retain information changes. All these things tend to alter because of the stress and challenges we have in moments of adversity. Resilience is about maintaining your normal function.”
So what are resilient people and leaders doing right that the rest of us are not? Noone has identified four mindsets employed by resilient leaders that we can all apply to our lives and work.
Worry Less, Act More
A resilient person is unwilling to fall victim to the onslaught of what-ifs and other “catastrophic thinking,” as Noone puts it.
“They focus on the now and in providing a solution for now,” he says.
Worry is, to the resilient person, a waste of time that can be better spent moving forward and making changes.
Bounce Back, Don’t Look Back
Rather than staying mired in the unpleasantness of the past, a resilient person will find a way to not only continue forward but also to improve and grow. When faced with a negative event, resilient people have a unique way of processing it.
“[Resilient people] recognize and acknowledge the event. They embrace it and appreciate what has happened and can place it in context and develop positive actions to move forward,” Noone says.
Stay in touch with the present
Resilient people can strike a balance between the pull of the past and the anxiety of the future. They can live in the moment and stay out of what Noone calls the “downward spiral of negativity.”
“They’re more in tune with what are the factors and the circumstances. What is the context in which this adverse event occurred? What are the influences that impacted it and how can we overcome that?” Noone says.
By staying focused on the present, resilient people are better able to proceed positively.
There is more to living in the moment than simply focusing on the present. Noone equates the mental state of resilient people to mindfulness, a term often used in meditation practice to describe a heightened sense of awareness and acceptance. Through mindfulness, resilient people are more aware of what is impacting them and the events unfolding around them. This awareness allows them to move ahead in forging solutions.
“We, across all walks of our lives—in our personal and professional lives—we will engage and we will experience adverse events and negative events,” Noone explains. “Rather than avoiding that, we need to be able to embrace it, acknowledge it for what it is and identify a positive action to move forward because moving forward is growth.”
On the road to embracing these four mindsets, Noone offers a few suggestions.
First, he says to embrace time off to recover.
“Turn off your phone before bed and allow yourself the sleep that you need to recharge and recover,” he says. “Take opportunities like lunch to step outside the office…take the holidays that you have. Your body and your mind need opportunities to recover adequately.”
Without recovery time, Noone cautions that we risk overworking ourselves and failing to take appropriate action due to exhaustion and burnout.
Noone also recommends that people fight out the negative thoughts in their minds to achieve a more positive outlook. This means that most people need to refuse to allow the baggage and negativity of those around them to bleed into their world. He also suggests that people commit to a weekly mental accounting. For every catastrophic thought that emerged at the beginning of the week, we should return at the end of the week to see if these anxieties were founded in reality. Generally, we will find that they were not.
Through enhanced positivity and a more nuanced understanding of resilience and the people who embody it, anyone can harness a new outlook on life that can benefit all of us both at work and at home.