Our work and careers are a major part of our lives. The reasons we have careers is not only the financial reward our jobs provide, but also the satisfaction our work brings to us that we have made something better, helped a cause, or made someone's life healthier. Social workers are pretty good at making other, less fortunate individuals lives easier to manage. Without the real possibility of enabling our clients, we try to do as much as we can to bring some light into otherwise dark and dismal situations. I am of the belief that a client, consumer, or patient must take on a fair amount of responsibility for their own health, mental health or addiction otherwise they will learn to expect others to take care of them over and over again. Having said that, how can we as caregivers give ourselves care when life does not always go as planned?
I would like to first talk about (8) modules I found under #resilience on Twitter. Next, I will share an article by Jesse Sostrin entitled "Build Your Leadership Resilience - It's an Act of Defiance". And lastly, I would like to present a few words on Perseverance (continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition) and Integrity (character). This promises to be a fruitful journey.
When we talk about resilience in tough situations, we are talking about being pliable, elastic and flexible so as to be able to bend, but not be broken. Being resilient requires certain qualities that will aid in the process:
- Acceptance - simply acknowledge your thoughts, emotions and life for what they are as they are.
- Stay Calm - Pay attention to your emotions and learn to tolerate uncomfortable feelings
- Be Authentic - Be true to yourself. Express what you feel and what you want and ask for help when needed.
- Be Realistic - Bad things can happen to you. Prepare for them and don't let the crisis steal your calm.
- Trust in Yourself - Believe in yourself and be optimistic about your own abilities
- Improvise - Stay creative and improvise in crisis. See the opportunities and be flexible
- Have Gratitude - Focus on what you have and don't ruminate about what you've lost
- Work hard - Take responsibility for your life and work hard, but don't forget to ask for help
As we can see, having the qualities above can help mitigate the devastation of loss and prepare ourselves for the next part of the journey. The above list reminds me of several tenets of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) especially radical acceptance and staying calm in the present. But I believe that "trusting in yourself" and having confidence in your abilities will help get through any rough patches we may encounter.
As mentioned above, I came across an article on Twitter called Build Your Leadership Resilience - It's an Act of Defiance by Jesse Sostrin. In the article, he talks about how resilience is a personal act of defiance which gives us the chance to say, "No, not today. You will not stop my momentum or reduce my potential to make the most of this opportunity." Mr. Sostrin points out that many leaders today are besieged with constant change and adversity which does the talking in words such as "I will change your plans, undo your progress and cause you to question your goals."
Resilience is a skill that can be developed to better respond to life's challenges and set backs. It allows us to wear our "Teflon" suits that prevents problems from "sticking." Resilience also enables us to solve problems and innovate our physical, mental and emotional well-being that helps to bind together other similar skills into action. Mr. Sostrin notes three strategies that can help to respond more effectively to any adversity:
(1) Work Your Plan - is a consistent strategy or framework from which to follow that will help keep adversity at bay. One model, developed by Paul G. Stoltz, is called the Adversity Quotient (AQ). This model was developed to measure resilience according to the strength of our CORE (control, ownership, reach, and endurance). Control is the extent to which we believe we can influence whatever happens next. Ownership is the likelihood that we will do something, no matter how small, to improve the situation. Reach is the degree to which adversity will spill into other aspects of our life. And Endurance is the length of time we perceive the situation will last. According to Mr. Stoltz, in order to build and work your plan for greater resilience, you must strengthen your CORE.
(2) Win the Inner Game - Tim Gallway is a leadership expert and executive coach for athletes and leaders across professions. He believes that performance is overwhelmingly influenced by how people managed their mind-sets in critical moments of action. According to Mr. Gallway, all leaders play an "inner game" of tug-of-war between constructive and destructive thoughts that shape behaviors and performance. Adversity is one of the most dominant forces we can face. When our mind produces inner "noise" (self-doubt, poor focus, fear or limiting beliefs), it interferes with conscious decision-making. One needs to quiet the noise to reduce the interference in order to regain focus and restore inner dialogue which can lead to better actions. However, when adversity elevates our urgency and confusion, interference from an anxious brain can quickly sabotage whatever we are trying to accomplish. Some adversity we encounter is through no fault of our own. It finds us and reminds us of how little control we have over the events and circumstances that surround us. Making small but laser-focused moves can quiet the noise and contain adversity - and that's how we win the inner game.
(3) Leverage Every Micro-Adversity - Even though major adversities get all the attention, they may not be the best starting pointing point to build resilience. It may be easier to start to control everyday "micro-adversities" and then steadily move on to larger problems over time. Or if we decide we want to tackle a large adversity, chipping away at it in smaller pieces would be sound. However, without a strong CORE, micro-adversities can weigh on our minds making us feel powerless or stuck. If we proactively leverage each micro-adversity to strengthen the CORE, we gain not only the ability to lead ourselves through adversity but by example help others to do the same. To "work the plan", "win the inner game" and "leverage micro-adversities", along with a strong Adversity Quotient, we can learn to better manage adversity and build resilience.
As mentioned above, Perseverance is the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. In other words, not giving up! People have been persevering since the dawn of time which led to incremental achievements which led our ancestors to build on prior successes. More recently, we have seen faster growth since the industrial age when the giants of business such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Vanderbilt, Edison, etc were in competition with one another to reach the ultimate achievements. To what degree did perseverance play a part? Wasn't it Edison who said "invention is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration?" And in our modern world today, even though we see rapid growth in so many area of our lives, perseverance continues to play a role in the fight to cure cancer, expand our world, and to take a harder look at ourselves as a species.
Scientific studies have revealed that the secret to invention is not necessarily a matter of talent, intelligence or creative strategy. As it turns out, success requires the ability to follow through, to execute a plan and to persevere. In a series of studies by the University of Pennsylvania, researchers have discovered that those who persevere are more likely to achieve success than those with seemingly greater talents. A good plan can "get you in the game", but sticking with it will point you in the direction of reaching your goals.
According to Lee Colan, business and management consultant, there are three areas that will help to bring about success: (1) Sharpen your focus, (2) Build your confidence and (3) Ignite your passion. These three modules contain sub-modules that can help lead to success.
Sharpen Your Focus
(1) Keep Your Goal Visible at All Times
Keep your goal (s) in a place where you can see them everyday (i.e. bathroom mirror). This helps to plant the seeds of success in your mind and helps to focus attention on things that will help you achieve your goal.
(2) Worry Wreaks Focus
In my private practice I talk a lot about anxiety and worry. To me, worry is all about trying to predict the future..."what if this happens..?" many clients will say. We really don't know if something is going to happen - we don't have a crystal ball, but a lot of people worry about things that haven't happened yet. Mark Twain famously once said, "I've suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened."
(3) Tame Your Technology
In today's highly connected world, you have to refine boundaries around your time. Just because a phone call, text or email comes through your phone, it doesn't mean you need to shift your attention to those distractions. When working and focusing on your goals, turn off your devices and get back to them later. Distractions can destroy focus and progress. Unless an emergent situation is underway, calls and other forms of communication can wait.
Build Your Competence
(1) Prepare For Two Steps Ahead
Balance your focus on the task at hand with preparation for the next step. You may ask yourself, "What knowledge, skills, relationships and experiences do I need to be prepared to succeed?" Like a chess match, thinking sequentially one- move-at-a-time can delay a successful outcome.
(2) Create it Once and Use it Many Times
If you feel that you will use an idea more than once, create a checklist, form or template from which to work to save time and improve consistency over time. There is no need to reinvent the wheel every time you want to replicate successes. Use the idea as an ongoing tool.
(3) Ask The Right Questions
The fastest way for you to receive new information from others back to yourself is to change the questions you ask. Repetitive questions can bring the same results. Make it a point to re-frame the questions in order to get fresh answers.
Ignite The Passion
(1) Gravitate Toward Your Dominant Thought, But Move Toward That Which You Believe To Be True
Use natural forces that pick up on a goal that ignites your passion. Next, select an image (i.e. relaxing on the beach) and use that image as a constant reminder of your goal. The association of a pleasant image juxtaposed next to your goal will enhance the achievement of the goal.
(2) Before Leaving the Office or a Meeting With a Colleague, Ask The Question, "Did I do something today that will leave a lasting impact on a situation?
Understanding that our time and effort is not only valuable, but imperative for success. Can we bring an urgency to accomplish our goals to make something better even in the short run?
(3) You Get What You Expect
Expect the very best of yourself. Even in difficult situations, you need not fold, but you can rise above adversity by being persistent and persevering.
As we have mentioned earlier, Integrity is about our personal character - the truthfulness of who we really are as a person and the selfless actions we take whether others are watching or not. Integrity is about dependability, making moral and ethical decisions, and trustworthiness. It is the quality of having sound principles and living by those principles. And integrity also means strength, integration, and consistency.
In an online article, "Can Integrity be Taught?" Penelope Patsuris examines this topic as it relates to business as evidenced by the numerous high profile cases of fraud we have seen in corporate America. She writes, "whether virtue, or the more modern concepts of integrity and ethics can really be taught has been a matter of debate for millennia. Most philosophy scholars agree that by the time we hit our 20's, the extent of our integrity has for the most part been established." If this statement is true, it means that integrity would have been developed from the time we were very young and taught by someone who was a person of integrity themselves. Most of us, as children, were taught right from wrong as well as the "Golden Rule" by our parents and other caregivers. We were told not to take something that wasn't ours and that we must pay for items such as a candy bar or a bicycle. But what happens when a person moves into a world of high finance where the stakes are now millions of dollars? What happens to our integrity when greed comes knocking at the door?
It has been written that integrity is the integration of the parts of ones character. Dr Henry Cloud writes in his book "Intergriy" on 6 aspects he believes make up ones character:
(1) The ability to connect authentically (which leads to trust)
(2) The ability to be oriented toward the truth (which leads to finding and operating in reality)
(3) The ability to work in a way that gets results and finishes well (Which leads to reaching goals, profits, or "the mission")
(4) The ability to embrace, engage, and deal with the negative (which leads to ending problems, resolving them, or transforming them
(5) The ability to be oriented toward growth (which leads to increase)
(6) The ability to be transcendent (which leads to enlargement of the bigger picture and oneself)
As per Dr. Cloud, integrity is the "integration of all the parts" of character and to the extent that we can integrate the parts, the more successful we will be in solving problems and reaching our goals. Dr. Cloud points out that "gaps" in integration need not necessarily hold us back, but they can be opportunities for our own personal knowledge and growth.
I wanted to look into the areas of Resilience, Perseverance and Integrity as I believe very strongly that these three qualities are essential in maintaining focus, drive and ambition. However, I also believe that having Faith (a belief, confidence and conviction) that opportunities will become realities, is the "twine" that ties together all the other qualities above. Faith need not be ephemeral, but the quality that will put a smile on our face believing that everything will turn out just fine. A whole newsletter can be written about Faith, but for the purpose of this article it was mentioned as an adjunct or complementary aspect to the other qualities mentioned above.