Six pillars of resilience—wellbeing in times of change

Whether it’s business transformation or a global pandemic—change affects us all and being resilient is key.

You can strengthen your resilience—your capacity to recover quickly from difficulties or handle more in future. It’s about building-up cognitive and emotional fitness and behaviour strength as well as stronger relationships to ensure you’re ready for change.

Resilience is not about being tough, emotionless & cold. It’s your ability to pay attention to your thoughts, emotions, behaviours or reactions. And doing so with acceptance & self-compassion. With an open heart & mind.

Our 6 pillars are resilience are, from our GrowthLeader™ programme, are:

(1) Self-awareness

(2) Self-regulation

(3) Mental adaptability

(4) Strength of character

(5) Connection

(6) Optimism

Let’s look at each in more detail.

(1) Self-Awareness

You can gain a deeper understanding of who or what presses your buttons—when, where, why and how you think and do the things you do. It’s about increasing awareness and sharing your emotions and the immediate needs or longterm values they point to—instead of acting out knee-jerk reactions.

Most people know when they are calm or happy but find it harder to identify one or more uncomfortable emotions—sadness, fear or anger.

Listening to your emotions is important. They point to your needs. Think of Maslow’s needs: physiological, safety, belonging, esteem & self-actualization. So self-awareness is about developing your emotional; awareness, literacy, fluency and intelligence.

An event can trigger your beliefs and judgments. Typically the inner voice of your internal parent. The part of you that keeps you safe—with care and control.

These beliefs and judgments lead to feeling emotions that point to your needs. Typically the inner voice of your internal child. The part of you that represents your individuality.

This leads to actions—your behaviours—that lead to effective or ineffective outcomes.

You can strengthen your autonomy by developing your inner adult & voice of reason by accounting for what is going on, in the moment.

You can tell someone you are angry instead of shouting in rage. You can say you are sad instead of having a tantrum. Or share your fears instead of closing & withdrawing.

(2) Self-Regulation 

Greater self-awareness leads to greater self-regulation. Once you are aware of your thoughts, emotions, behaviours & reactions, you can asses them—to meet your needs and deeper values.

Slowing down to exercise your ability to respond. Being responsive and response-able—the ability to respond instead of autopilot reactions.

Self-regulation is not resisting, judging, manipulating, repressing, avoiding or withholding. It’s allowing yourself to feel your emotions & understand the values they point to.

Beware of faux feelings—like showing anger when you’re actually afraid or showing sadness when you’re actually angry. Express yourself wholeheartedly. Responding to others—with authenticity & integrity—instead of your knee-jerk reactions of fight, flight or freeze.

Try needs-based relating. Naming your emotions, your needs or values and the same for the other person. 

Have the courage to change the things you can, accept the things you can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.

(3) Mental Adaptability

It’s your ability to look at situations from multiple perspectives and to think creatively and flexibly.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” — Mahatma Gandhi

We all see and experience the world through a limiting lens—our frame of reference.

You can spend 90% of your time in autopilot. Reliving stories and scripts from the past.

The key is to notice them—in the moment—asking yourself:

—Are they true and maybe wrong?

—Is it a fact or an assumption?

Mental adaptability allows you to create new positive habits to overwrite old unhelpful ways of thinking and doing.

Do you have a closed, limited and fixed mindset? Or an open, expansive and growth midet—leading to flexibility and creativity?

It’s not about increasing the volume of facts or information—a.k.a. crystallised intelligence. It’s about increasing your fluid intelligence.

Your capacity to learn new information, retain it and use it to solve the next problem, or learn the next new skill.

The more you try, the more you apply. The more you train, the more you gain.

(4) Behaviour Strengths

Your ability to know & use your most effective behaviours.

To engage authentically to overcome challenges in alignment with your values.

It’s your capacity for positive ways of behaving, thinking or feeling.

It’s more than something you’re good at.

Think about when you feel filled with energy, in the zone, with optional functioning, development & performance.

Unlike your personality type, which is largely fixed, your behaviours and emotional and social intelligence literacy can be strengthened and improved.

This, in turn, can reduce ineffective behaviours.

Research suggests people who use four or more of their key strengths at work have more positive work experiences & say their work is a true life calling.

When you know your functional behaviour strengths, you can:

— Communicate better to build more positive relationships

— Balance your energy to enhance health, wellbeing & resilience

— Develop, empower, motivate & inspire yourself & others

A challenge to personal development is to identify your high functioning strengths and the areas for growth.

Research suggests only ⅓ of people have an active awareness of their strengths.

(5) Connection

Your ability to build & maintain relationships to weather the storms together, not on your own.

Connection is a core human need.

Positive relationships create a support network to build resilience against challenges.

Providing different perspectives and ideas when navigating new situations.

Giving us an outlet to communicate and talk through struggles.

Motivating and inspiring us to continue moving forward in a positive way.

Establishing both professional and personal networks that can offer guidance & encouragement in times of difficulty is hugely beneficial.

There are various strands to a strong support system.

Genuine connections with colleagues is key.

Someone you trust and can to turn to under stress—& being someone others can turn to.

A buddy or mentor can be a helpful if you need support from someone who has done your job before.

And friends and family are important too.

But sometimes you will need professional support, a coach, counsellor or psychotherapist.

Someone specifically trained to support you to untangle more complex problems, understand yourself deeper, increase your emotions intelligence or improve confidence.

(6) Optimism 

Your ability to:

— notice and expect the positive

— to focus on what you can control 

— to take purposeful action

Do you have hopefulness and confidence about the future?

No matter how tough things get, know that it  will pass. 

Winston Churchill said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” 

But beware blind optimism! Aim for realistic optimism. Blind or unrealistic optimism underestimates risk & ability. 

Saying: “I’ve got this!” when you haven’t prepared, is not a good strategy for resilience. 

Realistic optimism is active not passive.  Accept the realistic potential negatives without letting them get you down. Focus on what is in your control or influence. 

Notice when you’re outside this zone and step back in. Spend time and energy on what you can change.

Research shows that, on average, human beings are hardwired to be more optimistic than not.

Research has also shown a 7-week resilience program with foundations in optimism has improved job satisfaction, self-esteem, psychological well-being and productivity.

Optimism also predicts productivity and retention in the workplace. For example, research suggests optimistic salespeople sold 37% more than pessimistic salespeople in their first two years on the job.

Similarly, compared to their first year of employment, pessimists are two times as likely to quit as compared to optimists.

Benefits on physical health, such as in sleep patterns, immune response, and mortality. 

Optimistic women are one-third less likely to die from heart disease when compared to pessimistic women over an eight-year period, and pessimistic women overall have higher rates of mortality 

Pessimistic men are more likely to develop serious heart problems and have higher rates of mortality.

For more information about our 6 pillars are resilience are, from our GrowthLeader™ programme, contact or contact us here.