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Emma Sue Prince



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Five ways to bolster your resilience in the workplace


In today's ever-changing and fast-paced world, resilience is critical to success. But it's also one of the hardest skills to master...

Resilience became a bit of a buzzword in 2018 and there’s been a lot of talk about it in the industry, but how do you really build it from within? It’s actually simpler than you think, though not necessarily easy. Here are five ways to get it right this year:

1. Your oxygen mask first

Resilience needs to be built on a solid and robust foundation. Dealing with people all the time can quite literally drain you, especially if you are trying to navigate and make sense of challenging personality types. You may feel ‘fragmented’ and need some ‘time out’ to regroup yourself and your thoughts.

Focus on looking after yourself, this includes sleep, food, exercise and all forms of self-care – in essence, feed the mind, body, and soul. One great way of achieving this is creative and social activities with like-minded people – just as you have to create an environment for your team at work to thrive in you also need to do the same for yourself.

“If you’ve flown recently… you’ll remember that you should always put on your own oxygen mask first before helping anyone else with theirs. The logic being that if you can’t breathe, you won’t be able to assist others, and no one will survive… a fitting metaphor for less morbid circumstances, and for life in general: Take care of yourself before trying to take care of anyone or anything else.” – Arianna Huffington, Thrive

2. Task a risk

Ultimately you will need to take risks. Taking risks and trying new things inevitably means you will make mistakes, however, this is where resilience comes in. Being resilient can buffer you against what you may feel is like risky behaviour and instead you may thrive in adverse environments.

It’s natural to want to get all of the information up-front but you will never have it! You just have to get started and take the risk of working with what you’ve currently got. You can integrate the additional information at a later stage but don’t let the lack of it stall progress.

“Aim for progress, not perfection” – Audrey Hepburn

3. Bounce back

You need to learn how to respond well to pressures, aggressive deadlines and setbacks from ever changing priorities. You need to be able to bounce back, and quickly.

Regardless of how many setbacks, you need to accept them as challenges and respond with action – embrace them and look for the opportunity within.

Celebrate failure, this is where you will do the most learning, build stronger self-awareness and confidence. From the lessons learnt, assess, and then reflect on what you would do differently next time and act on it – bounce like a ball and head in an upward direction.

“Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

4. Control the controllable

Learn how to pace yourself and get perspective. You need to be able to keep a sense of proportion; what is reasonable and what is impossible for yourself, your team and the project.

Choose how you think, feel and act in response to the circumstances in front of you. Focus on what you can change and accept what you can’t (known as your ‘locus of control’).

This will help to reduce wasting time and energy on factors outside of your control. What is important is your attitude and your behaviour when responding. Concentrating on what is under your control, whilst understanding but also letting go of that which is outside your control is key to remaining resilient.

5. Know your own strengths

You need to get to know your own strengths and get comfortable in depending upon yourself to do what it takes to get the job done. You will need to trust yourself even if it means going it alone. Resilient people recognise when to call on support.

Your chosen network is very important; you need your own board of expert advisors, people who can help you get perspective, or just listen and be there for you – your champions.

It’s also useful to have people who have opposing opinions, to play devil’s advocate – these create great personal development opportunities and often question from a place you can’t yourself.

You build resilience simply by having to deal with these personality types and appreciate the value they bring. Surround yourself with people whose character and opinions you respect and trust.

Being resilient helps you to create a framework for dealing with challenges and other people. Resilience equips you to become more in control, respond to adversity in a way you can bounce-back and not personalise any setback.

During times of adversity, when a project you’re working on comes off the rails or doesn’t go according to plan potentially even ending in failure, you need to focus on maximising not only your strengths and accomplishments but your team’s as well. You choose to look at the positives in a situation and the lessons learnt, and this, in turn, will build team morale and respect from your peers – which you will need to take forward onto the next project and the one after that.

Resilience is one of the hardest soft skills to master, it takes tenacity, hard work, courage, determination and practice. It has been one of the most important core skills I have had to develop in order to have a successful career and overcome adversities in my personal life.

In this ever-changing and fast-paced world we are living in, you need to get resilient to survive and flourish.

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Emma Sue Prince


Read more from Emma Sue Prince

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