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What Are The Keys To Resilience?

Resilience is a clear and consistent thread in the fabric of character and responsiveness leaders want their people to embody. But how do leaders instill, teach, and develop it?

Here are five reliable actions:

  1. Be Available

  2. Create conversations about hypothetical situations

  3. LISTEN intently and carefully

  4. Write things down (with pen and paper)

  5. Draw conclusions AFTER these conversations.

This is deeper than being patient. It is broader than maintaining perspective. Resilience requires a journey of depth into the mind and heart of your direct reports. Prior to your next 1:1 with each person who directly reports to you, consider this question: “What exactly does this person… want?” We humans are constantly shifting. Without notice, we change what we are pursuing, what we like, and to what we aspire. As a leader, it is critical that you offer your people your undivided attention. This is the only path to truly understanding what your people want. This gives you a window into what they are capable of accomplishing.

We can over-communicate today. We text. We email, we use collaborative tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Trello.

The debate continues: “Is social media an appropriate platform on which to conduct back-and-forth conversations with our employees?” Well, the practical fact is… probably not.

Here’s an example: recently, one of my long running coaching clients made what was intended to be an innocent comment on a social media platform. It was not perceived that way. By the general public, by people who were not part of the conversation.

The work, the heavy lifting, the sensitivity and the responsiveness that this person had to display to be able to win back the respect and the trust of the people that were in this person’s charge was nothing short of monumental.

Do not make this mistake. Energy, time, effort were LOST. FOREVER.

Leaders make mistakes. We all do.

SO… the admonition here is: make moves and follow actions that more clearly point to a Return On Investment. Hence (love that word - even though I have never memorized any Shakespeare)... Hence this idea.

This is not an indictment of social media. This is a conversation about the importance of resilience. As a leader, you have wide-ranging responsibilities and far-reaching opportunities. And instilling (AKA... teaching) resilience begins with you!

Instilling resilience begins with hypothetical conversations. In today's demanding world, with quota breathing down our necks, this may not sound like the most immediate and prudent action step. Yet oddly, (and reliably) IT IS.

Bringing up hypothetical situations regarding how your direct reports would lead when they encounter minor (or major!) challenges in the future, provides insight into how your people think. This exercise creates discussion around this path of thinking in advance of a challenge or issue. And this is how Top Performing Leaders THINK. This is how they lead. This is how they TEACH.

In one of my books, “The Ultimate Sales Managers’ Guide”, in particular, I discuss the importance of practicing presentations and the management of meetings. The relevant concept here is: “Practice DOES NOT make perfect; Practice makes prepared.”

Leaders must prepare, and that means ensuring that your PEOPLE prepare… as well.

Having them do so puts them in position to demonstrate how your folks think through hypothetical situations. And so begins the process of instilling resilience. It is about preparation. Yes, it is about patience. And, yes, it is about vision.

Our mind processes at amazing rates of speed, connecting associative thoughts that we are never conscious of. A former collaborator of mine would come up with ideas during a brainstorm after which we would list which ideas we thought we should pursue, and then my collaborator would say: *“Let's let that simmer.”*

I love the analogy. Being a huge fan of marinara sauce, I know full well that the only way it's going to get it's true flavor, true depth, and create the greatest experience… is to let it simmer.

For hours. Ideas that simmer find a way into our subconscious. This allows us to tap into creativity on an unconscious, and then conscious level.

Remember the Five Reliable Actions:

1) Be Available

2) Create conversations about hypothetical situations

3) LISTEN intently and carefully

4) Write things down (with pen and paper)

5) Draw conclusions AFTER these conversations.

I cannot think of a time in my professional or my personal life when resilience was not a necessary skill. We learn this skill (as we learn so many things over time).Reliably, we learn about ourselves when we go through any challenge.

“True character is revealed when we respond to adversity.” Notice the language in that statement; I did not write: “True character might be revealed... or: “Can be revealed…” The precise language was; “…IS revealed.” And, not: ‘If we respond to adversity’; when we respond.

Any response we give is a response. Was it Zen Buddhism (or some other philosophy) that says: ‘Making a choice not to choose… is a choice.’?

So, what is resilience all about? In essence, it is about tapping into the amazing power of the mind, by adopting a simple technique. This idea, solution, approach is absolutely, continually applicable, and it sounds so simple; “Write it down.”

Taking pen in hand and writing things down puts our mind in resilience mode.

How effectively (and powerfully) our mind works affects our physiology, our psychology, and our thought processes! There are uncountable thought processes going on in our mind - concurrently! Many we are conscious of; most we are not. Your brain is working on managing and running your body; your mind is working on where you are headed. This is the mindset of the resilient.

Resilience means that we take the time, the calm, the thought, and the simple action to write things down.The fact that we have a problem now means that we are in transition .It means that we are faced with an opportunity to grow! And our true character is about to be displayed, because “now” shows up with plenty of warning. NOW shows up with a vengeance.

The fact that something is happening now should not be a shock to us.Things happen. We have accidents. Dramatic things occur. Resilience is about taking a breath, looking to the future, and designing some future state of preparedness. For ourselves and for those around us. This is mindfulness.

Mindful Resilience comes from understanding how to develop this skill! (See the Five Reliable Actions above.)

Yesterday is like a closed ticket. Tomorrow is a dream, a hope or some promise. Now is what's happening. Now is when we are tested. Now is when we make the decisions about what tomorrow can be… this is resilience; Thinking things through, finding harmony between mind and heart, and displaying our true character when we face challenges, or when we dream.

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