Just as we thought we had got over the worst of the pandemic, we’re faced with the horror of the conflict in Ukraine. My heart goes out to all of those affected, in whatever way. These are difficult times indeed.
As a sales focused coach and consultant I am always amazed at how differently people react to uncertainty, and the overwhelm of Covid is a great example. What’s especially interesting is how their individual resilience affects their whole demeanour.
From my experience, it pays to build our personal resilience in and out of work. If you can overcome challenges in your personal life, it will help you at work. The opposite is also true.
My recent experience
To say I felt like I had been hit by a bus is an understatement, especially as James is regularly screened due to a genetic condition – Lynch Syndrome.
His treatment has been the less-than-delicious chemo sandwich. That comprises of three months of chemo, major surgery (with no visitors allowed – thanks Covid!) followed by a further cycle of chemo.
To say my resilience was tested during this time would be an understatement. The initial shock of the diagnosis meant my mind was racing (the first time I have ever experienced this). The following week I had 3 days booked to work on an exhibition stand at the Chelsea Flower show for Carrie Anne Funnell. Given my circumstances, I could easily have cancelled it. However, this booking was exactly what I needed; it gave me a distraction, a focus and I loved every minute of it.
With this in mind, I thought I would share what it was that got me through this time by building on my resilience in my own workplace.
What is resilience?
According to the American Psychology Association, resilience is ‘the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress’. A simpler way of looking at it is to say that resilience is about bending like a bamboo when under stress – not snapping like a twig.
I’d take it one step further and say also it’s about being able to pull on the resources you have when you need to – a bit like a complex corporate sale if you know what I mean!
There are five pillars behind resilience. These are self-care, self-awareness, mindfulness, purpose and positive relationships. With this in mind, here are some of the things I learnt about supporting and building both personal resilience, and resilience in the workplace.
1. Self-care – look after your physical health
Self-care is about knowing what you need to function effectively while meeting the demands you are facing. Importantly, our self-care is up to us – don’t deprioritise your health!
Get in the habit of treating yourself like a prized racehorse and prioritise your physical health – practice good self-care! That means drinking 2 litres of water a day, getting enough sleep, eating well and prioritising exercise. It also means learning to relax and making time to do so.
In my instance, I religiously carried on exercising 3 times a week as from my experience exercise is an excellent coping mechanism for me in times of stress. I also booked a lovely relaxing Reiki treatment with Caroline Snowdon which definitely helped calm my mind.
Think about this…
What does self-care mean to you? Whether it’s a vigorous workout or making sure you meditate every morning, prioritise your self-care and you’ll reap the benefits in your personal and professional life.
2. Self-awareness – be realistic with yourself
Self-awareness is about having a clear image of who you are – your strengths, weaknesses, beliefs and motivations. It’s also about knowing what you’re capable of. So don’t create unrealistic expectations. Break goals and tasks into achievable chunks and decide what you can realistically achieve without jeopardising your health. Caution! This means getting really, really hot on prioritisation and making tough decisions!
In my case, I decided to put my Simplified Sales Course on hold. It was due to launch in October, but I felt that it may have been too much given the amount of time I needed to take out to support James. Once I’d made this decision, I was able to relax a little, knowing I could handle everything else.
Think about this…
Taking the pressure off isn’t about giving up. It’s about ensuring you can continue to deliver good work and please your clients. Good self-awareness is an essential element of building resilience in the workplace.
3. Mindfulness – take things day by day
Mindfulness focuses on living in the moment. Don’t let time pass you by, worrying about what might happen. After all, various research proves 85-92% of the things we worry about never happen! If times are tough, you need to save your energy for the things that count. So, focus your energy on what you can control.
Those of you that have supported someone through chemo will know that one minute, things are fine and the next you could be on the way to A&E because the patient has a temperature. Therefore, I really learnt to take one step at a time.
Think about this…
It feels challenging, but during the most difficult times, you have to trust the system and put your faith in the experts.
4. Purpose – identify what makes you tick (and embrace it)
Our purpose is the recognition that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. We need to identify our purpose in order to maintain a strong sense of resilience in the workplace and in our everyday lives. For me, part of my purpose was (and still is) helping my clients grow their businesses. So, to make sure I could still show up with confidence, I kept to my morning routine of showering first thing, putting make up on and wearing bright clothes. As I’m fond of saying, you attract what you radiate!
Think about this…
Your purpose doesn’t need to relate solely to your business. Your family, hobbies and even networks that you belong to will be a strong part of your purpose.
5. Positive relationships – reach out and stay connected
The importance of positive relationships in building resilience is to ensure we feel supported and connected. This is something that’s especially important in times of trouble.
Make people aware of your situation and they will show you very quickly if they genuinely understand. Don’t think this is limited to your friends and family; building resilience in the workplace means confiding in your clients, suppliers and immediate team too. They are human after all and will do what they can to support you. I have been overwhelmed by people’s generosity and the surprise gifts and friendly messages helped buoy me along when times felt difficult.
Think about this…
Who are the people in your life that lift you up? Stay connected with these people and give them as much as they give you. A supportive and genuine network is crucial throughout our lives.
Stay positive and grow your resilience outside of and in the workplace!
James is approaching the final part of his treatment – a huge reason to feel positive while acknowledging the rollercoaster we’ve been on over the past few months. I know that without a conscious focus on protecting myself, things would have felt far more challenging.
I will also be exhibiting once more at Chelsea Flower Show in May. If you are attending, please do pop over to see Carrie Ann Funnell’s work and to say “hi!”. By then, we’ll be on the other side of all of this, and very pleased about it too.
So, I leave you with this – look after yourself and those you love. You only get one life – make sure you live it well!
Want to learn more?
If you want to learn more about resilience and the power of our emotions, I’d really recommend you listen to this Steven Bartlett podcast about Sir David Brailsford. It’s incredibly enlightening.