Resilience: Put your own life vest on first

As the year races towards an end, our days become increasingly hectic. The list of things to do and targets to meet just doesn’t get any shorter. The meetings roundabout doesn’t seem to stop, actually it feels more and more frantic. And the days and weeks slip away at a frightening rate. What to do? Where to start?

As leaders, situations like these are supposed to be our bread and butter. We’re supposed to relish the challenge, navigate rough waters and lead our teams through difficult times. But frankly, when urgent tasks are raining down on us thick and fast, sometimes at the cost of time for dealing with important issues and the stress levels rise, we can feel like we are losing control. We are desperately looking for times when we can stop & think, better plan, regain energy and feel in control. The point is, to successfully guide your team, you need to get your own house in order – “put your own life vest on first before you take care of others,” as the saying goes.

This is where resilience comes in, courage’s slightly less glamorous but equally important twin. Resilience is the ability to bounce back quickly from adversity and a vital ingredient for any leader. Resilience is the ability to maintain your balance, navigate in uncertainty, maintain a sense of control over one’s environment and move forward in a positive way.

When you are resilient, you understand and creatively exploit your internal and external strengths, so enabling yourself to deal effectively with challenges and significant adversity in a way that promotes health, well-being and an increased ability to deal constructively with future adversity.

And it needs to be carefully nurtured.

To build up your resilience, I recommend three things.

First: keep in mind the place you want to arrive at. If you have a clear picture of your final destination, the success that awaits at the end of the tunnel – if you can put that into words and share it with others, that image will be like a lighthouse, guiding you through the present storm.

Second: focus on your strengths. If you identify your strengths – also asking those you trust for their input and advice – you will realize which ones, in the current situation, will particularly help you, so gaining confidence in your ability to face what is, build up optimism and advance towards solutions.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly of all: you need to manage your energy rather than your time. Resilience is not just a matter of how you stand up to stress, it’s about how you recover and regain energy. Maintaining physical energy is essential. But you also, equally, need to refresh your emotional, mental and spiritual energy.

Most of us have a clear idea about how to look after our physical energy, through sufficient sleep, exercise, breaks, and a balanced diet, for example. With a few simple exercises you can also regenerate your emotional, mental and spiritual energy, too. Expressing appreciation for those around you is just one of the things you can do to boost your emotional energy, for example.

Interested in finding out more? Want to share your own tips? Then please send in your comments!