Personal resiliency is the ability to not only ‘weather the storm’ but emerge from the storm wiser, stronger and better than before. It is at its most foundational level the ability to re-frame your perspective in any given situation; to find the positive in a challenging situation and to utilize your personal resources to overcome and/or accept the things you cannot change. Here are a couple of common examples:
- Sarah is ill and facing financial hardships. She accepts her situation and understands she has difficult financial decisions to make. Sarah is deeply thankful her illness is not something worse and is determined to recover. She knows that the situation is temporary and her perspective encompasses not only the limited options she now faces, but also the plethora of possibility that will be available to her in time. It has even given her a chance to reevaluate her career and what she wants to do. When she is physically and financially able to she is going to pursue a degree in education. In the meantime, she is going to try the alternative treatment that her naturopath has recommended.
- Jared is swamped at work struggling to complete a variety of projects in what seems like an impossible time frame. He has been tired, irritable and is fighting with his wife – a wife he has barely seen in three weeks because of the hours he is keeping. Jared feels he’s on a high-speed roller-coaster but is not certain the ride will ever end! Jared takes a moment to breathe and recall his recent training in personal resiliency. He visualizes exiting the roller-coaster and getting into a car with multiple roads in front of him. He knows he can do the work because he has done it before. He concludes that he just needs a little help to get his projects in on time. Jared sets down a manageable timeline of priority tasks and enlists the help of Peter (who owes him one for saving his bacon on the last project). Jared also promises to reward himself by treating his wife to dinner and a movie. In reviewing one of his projects with a clearer mind he realizes that one of its components is not necessary. By eliminating this task Jared will save a great deal of time and improve the quality and coherence of the final product. Jared is back in the driver’s seat!
The ability to re-frame your perspective is intimately linked with an awareness (and belief in!) the possibilities and alternatives all around you. This requires an agile, creative mind. Don’t worry! We all have this ability inside us and it actually has very little to do with IQ. It is simply an ability to stop, step outside the boxes you’ve built for yourself, and imagine a different perspective, opportunity, or meaning. It takes practice, and like most talents, the more you practice the easier it gets.
Everyone (and I do mean everyone!) can benefit from greater mental agility including job seekers, people suffering from illness or extreme stress, writers, leaders, entrepreneurs, and circus clowns :) In this blog I will do my best to show you how to improve your personal resiliency and embrace the agile mind.