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  • Sadie Hunter

Channel your Inner Elastic

The word resilient and concept of resiliency keeps resurfacing. Maybe it’s because we are still riding the ripple effect of the pandemic and many of us are finding ourselves in transition or recalibrating–whatever it is, I feel like I’ve heard this word a lot lately.

I’ve been working on this post for two weeks, finding it a challenge to narrow down my thoughts on this enough to keep the post a reasonable length. My compromise is to make this part of a series on resilience because there’s just too much to cover in one post (one that’s not ridiculously long anyway!).

So…consider this part one of many.

We recently covered the topic of resilience as part of the executive coaching program I’m completing.

Resilience is defined as “the ability to be happy, successful, etc. again after something difficult or bad has happened” or, if referring to something other than a person, “the ability of a substance to return to its usual shape after being bent, stretched, or pressed” or “being able to return quickly to a previous good condition after problems.”

A more relatable way to envision resilience is to think of an elastic or…if you’re old enough…Gumby. The Navy SEALS refer to the ability to be flexible and adapt as Semper Gumby. Other words that come to mind are to endure, persist, and overcome. In fact, the US Army has a resilience program called Master Resilience Training (MRT), which originated from a program aimed to prevent depression in soldiers.

I have more thoughts on this, and what it says about our society that something like MRT is being looked at as a way to train the general population to deal with the stresses of our world instead of the institutionalized and socialized root causes…but that too is for another post.

Coming back to resiliency as it relates to leadership then, the idea in this context is that leaders who are able to master resiliency are better equipped to weather tumult and stress. Which, of course, relates to individual resiliency.

For the last six months I’ve twisted, bent, turned, pivoted, adapted, and dug deep into my reserves of resiliency. Successive life and career changes, in our current global context and economy, have been exhausting. I wouldn’t be able to navigate such tumult for so long if it weren’t for my ability to replenish these reserves along the way.

The American Psychological Association describes resilience as “adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress–such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors.” In other words, “bouncing back from difficult experiences.”

I want to note something important about resilience. Being resilient doesn’t mean you won’t experience stress, discomfort, or distress. It means successfully experiencing and navigating through challenges, often coming through with a learning you can use to strengthen your resilience. It’s about being destabilized and finding your footing again without getting stuck or falling off track.

In a world where it feels the reserves are low after repeated challenges, how do we replenish and retain our elasticity?

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, some of the key elements include:

  • Understanding and working on our internal locus of control

  • Developing our emotional regulation and awareness

  • Developing our self-efficacy

  • Learning to tolerate ambiguity

  • Developing realistic optimism (which I think of as pragmatism).

As Cashman Leadership suggests, I think resiliency is a dynamic and fluid process. It’s about “practicing inner and outer behaviors that keep us grounded and centered so we can deal with all the dynamics outside.”

Again, it’s about being flexible–elastic.

Navigating through and overcoming adversity in my life has definitely been key in helping me be more resilient in times of uncertainty and change.

It’s funny, for a long time I was kind of oblivious to my capacity for resilience until I was operating without adversity. I think this is a hallmark of many who have persevered through and out of difficult circumstances–those who have risen above or survived.

So, what’s the most important aspect of resilience? To know your internal why. What keeps you going? What difference do you want to make (even if you can’t see the path forward at the present)?

Knowing your why will give you the extra energy you need to push through to the other side.

Want to find you why–your purpose? Book a free, 15-minute consultation with me. We’ll work together to discover your core values and, from those, your core purpose. Why not?

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