Building resilience, not cynicism
Posted on 31 March 2016
There is a terrible pub anthem that gets stuck in your head as it’s shouted out by happy imbibing revellers. It is about getting knocked down, then getting up again because you’re never going to keep said person down (apologies in advance if you’re singing this for the next hour or so). While a horrific song, it is a very simplistic explanation of resilience.
Resilience is a term de jour, bandied about as a key skill, a business principle, a team mantra and a personality trait. In this fast-paced, dynamic world where businesses are expected to be agile, we all need the ability to progress, adapt and innovate quickly. With pace and progression comes the real possibilities of failure, big and small, and it’s when things don’t work as anticipated that resilience shines.
Resilience is the process of adaption. When the result is not the one expected, or desired, it’s the ability to recover and pivot – building off the base of the work completed, the insights gathered and shifting focus to a new direction. It’s about using what you have learnt to inform a new plan without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
So in this world where everyone wants and needs to be resilient, how do we build this skill and ensure that the knock backs positively inform our next steps without building cynicism? Here’s our top five tips:
1. Hone your problem solving skills – your ability to look at a negative result and devise solutions that deliver something better is a skill that transcends any role or industry. Replace the ‘Oh no, what do we do’, with an ‘Ok, how about we try’. Look at the problem and try to come up with three or four solutions, the diversity in answers will help you to identify your next move.
2. Get perspective – step away from the desk. I mean it; don’t let your fingers fly with the first reaction. Instead digest the information, then do something else. Take a walk, go for lunch, tick off one of those boring admin tasks you’ve been ignoring. Then go back to your original vision or objective, review the feedback in this context and you’ll see the situation with greater clarity and a more balanced view.
3. Brainstorm – gather up the troops and use your collective brainpower to generate a new plan of attack. Engage people from across the business, not just from your team, to give you multiple perspectives and different ways of thinking. The more diverse the better, you’ll be surprised at where the best ideas come from.
4. Ditch the drama – we don’t need any “Woe is me” please. The drama doesn’t help, in fact it’s a major distraction and time waster. Yes, of course we understand the desire to throw your hands up in frustration, swear, stomp and head to the pub. But really, this is just delaying the inevitable, the problem still needs fixing. So skip this bit and head straight back to the drawing board.
5. Celebrate the successes – make sure the positive results or aspects of the project are highlighted. Focus on those things that worked well, build on them and celebrate these little successes. This will help breed momentum and energy for the next stage of hard work.