Guest post by Eileen McDargh
If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that at some point this year, you will need to be resilient – whether pushed by pain or pulled by possibilities.
Resiliency has become an important life skill. So why wait until you’re in a stressful situation to develop resiliency?
Instead, become PREsilient ™ – develop the ability to be resilient before you are tested.
Here are four things you can do to cultivate resiliency and build the muscles you will need now:
1. Develop an attitude of intelligent optimism.
Nothing drains you mentally and physically more than negativity. Intelligent optimism is the practice of finding what is right in a situation instead of focusing on what is wrong. Developing optimism is hard work. Brain science has shown we are hardwired for negative thinking. But it’s worth the effort because research also shows that a focus on positivity enhances your mental functioning and sense of well-being. Rick Hanson says our brains are “teflon for positive and velcro for negative.”
Try this: when you notice something attractive or pleasant, instead of quickly moving on, extend your attention on it for 45 to 60 seconds. If you do that six times a day, you will begin to rewire your basic attitude. Also, consider teaming up with a “resiliency partner” where you can support each other by gently pointing out opportunities to focus on what’s positive instead of what’s negative.
2. Create a real support network.
A support network is not comprised of “yes folks” who are always cheering you on, but rather people who care enough to be honest with you. They will challenge you when you are off-base, will offer critical insights, and will also bring you food, watch your kids, and offer a shoulder.
Support networks take time to grow and must be nurtured as carefully as a newly planted garden. They depend on developing strong personal relationships.
Consider what happened to Mary, the vice president of marketing in a global company, who focused only on results and not connecting with people. Relationships took a backseat in her “get-the-job-done-take-no prisoners” mindset. That worked until a new CEO took over. Then there was no one to speak in Mary’s favor as the CEO looked for someone else to fill her role. Ouch! Too late.
3. Exercise regularly.
Times of challenge or opportunity demand energy resources. It’s too late to build up reserves of muscle, blood and bone if you have been neglecting your body. Firefighters have gym equipment in the firehouse and practice a steady regimen to improve their strength so they are READY when called into action.
You are no different. As Baden Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts said of their “be prepared” motto: “the meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.” Sounds like presilience to me!
4. Say thank you every day.
Gratitude is Miracle-Gro for resiliency. Try ending each day with writing down three things for which you are grateful. The germ of optimism sprouts and you reinforce your sense of self-worth. Some days, you might simply be grateful that the day is over and you are still standing. Other days, you might be grateful for a wonderful new idea, a rewarding client interaction, or a great meal.
Eileen McDargh is the founder and CEO (Chief Energy Officer) of The Resiliency Group and McDargh Communications. Helping organizations and individuals energize the life of their business and the business of their life Eileen is an award winning speaker and consultant to major organizations ranging from global pharmaceuticals to the US Armed Forces, from health care associations to religious institutions. Author of six books, her newest book, Your Resiliency GPS: A Guide for Growing Through Life & Work has been met with high acclaim as an organizational resource. You can follow Eileen on Twitter @MacDarling and find her on Facebook and LinkedIn.
A note from Jesse: This week celebrates the launch of Your Resiliency GPS: A Guide for Growing Through Life & Work. This is a wonderful book filled with practical suggestions and insights in how to build this important skill. I used to think that you’re either born with resiliency or you’re not. Eileen shows that resiliency can be cultivated and teaches you how. It is beautifully written and a pleasure to read. I should know, I’ve read it three times! Each time, I find new gems of wisdom and helpful advice. A great book to start the new year. Or better yet, team up with a “resiliency partner” and read it together!