I am collaborating on a chapter in a book about leadership 2050 and at the same time watching several colleagues and friends who are facing significant changes in their personal and professional lives. Interestingly, according to Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” So, how are you dealing with the change in your life? In your organization? What can you do to improve your capacity?
So what do you do when you begin to feel like Alice in Wonderland – you are Alice and you have fallen down the rabbit hole or through the looking glass and nothing make sense? When we do things that worked for us in the past, we find that they no longer work as we expected, and we do not know what will work. Basically, we just want to have the uncertainty and sense of anxiety or unease go away. For me, I want to DO something to make it stop.
I am working with a colleague who has recently made a dramatic change in her personal life and at the same time she learned last week that her job is changing significantly as her company announced a major reorganization. Her job will change, and it is possible that she will be unemployed in 6-12 months. She happens to be a beacon of resilience and positive attitude even during the most challenging of times. She may be genetically blessed on some level but on another level, she has developed really strong skills at responding to change. These skills did not happen on accident but rather she has consciously focused on developing this capacity just like she is conscious of learning other professional skills.
To build your resilience, we encourage you to take the free on-line resilience assessment to determine where to focus your energy right now. Here are four recommendations on building resilience:
- Attend to your physical health. During times of stress it is easy to fall into habits that are less healthy such as eating comfort food, lightening up on workouts, or having an extra drink on a tough day
- Focus on your self-talk. Pay particular attention to when you allow your inner voice to run on overdrive telling you what is wrong with you. If you do not have a gratitude practice, this is a good time to consider one. Do an experiment – when you are feeling down, think of one or two things you are grateful for. Even better, call someone you care about and tell them how much you care about them. Since our self-talk is connected to our feeling of wellbeing, it is important to manage it aggressively.
- Reconnect with your sense of purpose. What is most important to you? How does your daily work and daily life help you make an impact on the world? This could be something big or it could be small acts of kindness and being a good friend. By remembering that we make a difference and focusing on that difference, it is easier to put our setbacks in perspective and remember how we have overcome many of them over the course of our lives.
- Connect with supportive friends (and disconnect from unsupportive people). We all need someone to listen. Most of us probably are better at listening to others than asking others to listen to us; so chances are your friends will be happy to reciprocate when you reach out and ask for a supportive conversation.
Change is challenging, especially when the change is something we did not chose. For me, managing my emotions and inner conversations are the toughest. When I am under stress, my emotions can be out of balance, and what I feel is often much worse than the objective reality of the situation. I encourage you to take the assessment and take 1 small step today and tomorrow and the next day to build and maintain your resilience. If you are in a great place, these steps become part of a strong routine; if you are struggling with your own change, it will help you to build yourself up while you navigate challenge.
To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.
If you are interested in receiving our ongoing blog series or other articles by email, please sign up in the box on the right labeled Get Email Updates From Us.
Photo credit: www.flickr.com Loren Javier