We are all going through some tough times. It’s tougher for some more than others. Now is the time when you have to work on being resilient, and it ain’t easy. However, there are things you can do to develop resilience. Like most things, it’s actually a skill that can be learned.
Let’s start with a little disclaimer up front. I’m no expert on this topic. However, I do have a few bonafides and I’ll share them so you know where I’m coming from. If you don’t care, skip to the next section.
My Training and Experience In Resiliency
Without going into personal details, like everyone, one of my teachers has simply been life. At 57, I’ve done a few things and been a few places. I’ve gone through tough, lean, hungry times and some great ones. I’ve changed careers several times. I’ve been let go from failing companies. I’ve had some very difficult situations in personal relationships. Going through all this, as you have no doubt gone through your own challenges, has taught one level of resilience. However, these are tough lessons. There are other ways to learn.
One of the single best things I’ve ever done was to take the Wood Badge course as part of my time in Scouts. This is an adult leadership program meant to make you a better leader for the young people you’re responsible for. It taught me a ton. Then I did it one better.
As with any other skill, one of the best ways to reinforce your own knowledge of it is to teach it to others. So, when given the opportunity, I went on to become a Wood Badge instructor. This involved a whole bunch of additional training in leadership. Leading leaders is not easy.
I’ll add one other place where I’ve learned a lot about resiliency. Serving on the board of the PASS organization has taught me a lot on this topic. Running a not-for-profit is not easy. A lot of changes come your way quickly and you must move to meet them.
So, this is my basis. There’s more, but that’s a good precis.
Let’s talk resiliency.
First, and this might be the hardest thing, you need a positive attitude. No, you don’t need to be a Pollyanna, someone who is blindly happy. You can be a hard nosed pessimist. That’s fine. But you need to be positive. Positive that you can get through what’s in front of you. Positive that you can make changes. A positive outlook helps.
Then, take your positive outlook and set goals. We were taught to make them SMART:
I’ll leave it to you to look up what those mean. However, you need to have something you’re aiming for. This will help you be resilient.
Next, you have to involve others. Sure, some of your goals are just for you. Some of your goals will only involve you and affect you. That’s fine. However, some will not. Further, getting a mentor to help you through your goals will make them more attainable. Also, having a support network of other people, whether they’re working on your goals, or just being there for you, adds to your resilience.
This one I failed at miserably for a while, hence the name of this blog, be kind and be understanding. To get that support network, to align others to your goals, to help with your positive outlook, you must treat others well. Are there examples of leaders who act like Bond villains, barking orders, killing those who fail around them, etc. Yeah. AND THEY ARE BOND VILLIANS or the real world equivalent. You mostly know about them because of their failures, not because of their successes. Successful leaders, resilient people, treat those around them nicely.
Finally, last thing I’ll mention here is health. Now, I’m not incredibly fit. I eat a little too much. I drink more than I really ought to. However, I keep active. I work out. I walk. I hike. I used to camp & kayak and hope to do that again. You need to do what you can to maintain your physical health as much as you can. I hear you. You have underlying health issues. Do what you can. Be active. Stay healthy. Getting oxygen to your mind will absolutely help you with your positive attitude and that will help everything else.
Now there are other things we can talk about like tenacity or composure, but I think this is enough. Now that you know what, let’s talk how.
Simple. Start doing these things.
First, set some goals. Just one or two. For the sake of our examples. Let’s keep ’em really short term. Set a SMART goal that you can achieve today. Now go get that done. Let’s set another SMART goal you can achieve this week. Work towards it and accomplish it. Practice setting goals and achieving them.
Next, reach out to someone. Say hi. Practice communicating with others right now. Chat a little. Move outside your comfort zone, just a smidge. Every day, say hello to someone and interact. Better if it’s someone not in your household, but it’s OK to start there. Also, look around. Is there someone you know who’s doing well at this resiliency thing? Talk to them about maybe being a mentor.
Be active. Cut back a little on the chips. Maybe leave that last beer in the fridge for tomorrow. Go for a walk (or a roll in your wheel chair) outside. Get a workout in. Make sure you’re taking any prescription medications. As much as you can, practice a healthy life style. Get that oxygen to your brain.
Start practicing kindness. Add a little “How’s the family” note to your emails (where appropriate). Say please and thank you to those around you. Be mindful of your communications and treat others as you would like to be treated.
Finally get positive. This one is the toughy I think for a lot of people. To practice this, see your first SMART goal above. You’ve set yourself a task that you can get done today. You’ve written in down. Be positive that you can achieve it. Did you get it? Nice. Now, be positive that you’re going to achieve your weekly goal. Tell yourself you’re positive.
Now, there’s one more step to practicing being positive. You need to eliminate negativity around you. Considering the current world situation, this may appear impossible. However, I don’t mean shut the windows and doors and hide until the world is a sunny place. I mean seek out positive people. Surround yourself with them. If you’re following someone negative or vitriolic on social media, stop. Don’t follow those people. They’re adding poison to your brain. Look up good news on the internet. Heck, watch Some Good News by John Krasinski. Just get out from under the cloud of negativity and away from negative people and influences.
That’s it. Do all that. I hope this is at all helpful.
Myself, I’m doing well. I’m positive that we’ll get through our current situation and back to something that resembles what we’d call “normal.” I’m rolling with the changes, doing more and different kinds of engagements. I’m launching each and every day with a good morning message on twitter that includes positive thoughts. Follow me at @gfritchey if you want to see them.
Now, go practice being resilient.