In today’s hyper-connected world, we are constantly navigating change. The main question for modern-day employees is not if they will experience adversity but when, and how often. This ever-changing cycle has brought resilience into human capital circles as a trendy buzzword.
Here are five questions to ask yourself to assess whether you’re actively moving towards resilience.
DO I FUNCTION FROM THE INSIDE OUT?
We often see life as something that happens to us. We tend to feel like events and circumstances are outside of our control. A main distinction that sets highly resilient people apart from the rest is they have strong internal control. In other words, they always act and behave with the belief that they are primarily in control of their lives.
When you develop this higher internal locus of control, you’re empowering higher levels of confidence and calm in the face of change or adversity. So, the next time an adversarial situation arises, try embracing this mentality of being in personal control to influence your circumstances.
DO I WONDER OR DO I WORRY?
Most of us worry when we face adversity in work or life.The average person has 60 thousand thoughts per day. 95% of those thoughts repeat themselves each day and, on average, 80% of repeated ideas are negative.
Psychologists define this as negativity bias. For the resilient person, however, it’s about challenging this bias. They are choosing to “wonder over worry” when adversity arises (coined by best-selling author Amber Rae). They don’t let their thoughts or emotions control their behavior and instead take a moment to pause, step back, and approach the situation with curiosity.
This curiosity initiates the core resilience skill of “cognitive agility”. Cognitive agility is an act of self-awareness where we can choose whether to operate in our “default mode” or adjust to make better decisions. The next time you naturally worry about something, remember this approach and take a step back, gather yourself with deep curiosity, and consider alternative rationalizations to your thought.
DO I EMBRACE FAILING?
Problems will always arise. For highly resilient people, they treat problems as a constant learning process. “Fail” to them means “first attempt to learn”. It’s like playing a video game, dying on your first try, and ultimately passing the level. Embracing ‘fail’ empowers you to step outside of your comfort zone more often because even if you don’t succeed, you know you’ll learn from mistakes and ultimately reach your desired outcome. It’s about turning failure from a regret into a resource. Challenges, or adversity, are opportunities to acquire or conquer skills.
AM I COMFORTABLE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE?
We can often go to great lengths to avoid discomfort. But have you ever thought of stress as a positive thing? Strange as it sounds, there can be significant upsides.
Research shows that stress is damaging until the moment you believe it is not. Changing how you think about stress changes its effect on your body. Research out of Stanford University found the best way to manage stress isn’t to reduce or avoid it, but actually to rethink it or even embrace it. When people view stress as destructive, it can lead them to cope in unhealthy ways.
So the next time you are facing stress, consider this: Instead of asking, “Why is this happening to me?”…ask yourself, “What for?” or “What’s next?”
DO I HAVE A CLEAR SENSE OF PURPOSE?
Research found that, on average, employees say their work is about half as meaningful as it could be. As Viktor Frankl so powerfully wrote in his best-selling book Man’s Search for Meaning,
“meaning is a primary intrinsic motivation of human beings.”
Resilient people enjoy a clear sense of meaning and purpose that empowers them to stay the course even when the waters get murky. It’s much more difficult to feel overwhelmed when you have a deep sense of purpose for what you’re working toward.
Resilience, like learning any new skill, takes time and requires practice. Devoting time and critically looking at how you’re mentally approaching things will help develop your resiliency skill set so it becomes more habitual. You’ll be better able to take ownership of your situation, approach challenges with more curiosity, and build off of your purpose that makes work and life more enjoyable. Being more resilient will also make you the type of employee that is invaluable to your organization, and a colleague everyone will want to work with.