Resilience as an important tool for a modern leader and a human being of the 21st century

Simply put, resilience is our ability to cope with adverse circumstances, our ability to 'bounce back' and go after our goals, desires and dreams, and to do so based on our values.

Resilience is about coping with adverse, challenging and stressful situations. It can also be characterized as tenacity, steadfastness, patience, perseverance, and ability to adapt to changing conditions. In a broader context, resilience facilitates our optimal and healthy functioning both at home and at work. With resilience, we can successfully manage stressful situations, control our emotions and therefore our behaviour, consciously make the most appropriate decisions in a given time and context, plan successfully and achieve our goals. Yes, resilience enables us to enhance our quality of life and to live a good, happy and meaningful life in health and vitality.

How to start working on your resilience?

There are several models describing the core competences of resilience. Based on their analysis and practical experience from our cultural environment, we have developed our own model that integrates the development of the following competences:

  • Self-awareness and self-knowledge
  • Self-regulation and adaptability
  • Causal analysis and critical thinking
  • Empathy and cooperation
  • Realistic optimism and proactivity
  • Healthy lifestyle – energy management
  • Perseverance and tenacity
  • Building good relationships and networking

Main resilience competences

Self-awareness – one of the most important resilience competences. It is the process of learning about and clarifying one's own values, visions, goals, and sense of self. It is both our ability and moral responsibility to know our personal values, passions and strengths that fundamentally influence what we consider important in life. Recognizing the strength of our values and acting in accordance with them allows us to stay on the right course even in difficult times. Personal values are the source of our identity and integrity. Thus, ethical congruence becomes the ultimate goal of self-awareness.

Self-regulation – people are emotional and rational beings. Our emotional side is faster than our rational side. Marketers, for example, are very aware of this and work cleverly with our emotions to gain attention for a product, goods or services. Our decisions are strongly influenced by emotions. However, the goal of our work in strengthening self-regulation is not to regulate all of our emotions. Emotions are very important, and by expressing them appropriately, we strengthen our authenticity. However, it is important that we are aware of which emotions are helpful and which are harmful in terms of regulating our own impulsivity

The way we interpret events that happen to us, i.e. our own way of explaining these events ("explanatory style"), also plays an important role in the development of self-regulation.

Many events that happen to us in our lives are beyond our control. However, what we can control, if we consciously work on it, is our way of responding to situations.

Causal analysis & critical thinking – determine our ability to identify the reasons why things happen. This ability can fundamentally improve the way we think and make decisions. Our level of causal analysis is largely determined by our level of self-awareness and self-regulation. Thanks to critical thinking, we can not only identify but also process the so-called "traps of our mind". It is these traps that tend to be a major obstacle to improving our decision-making processes.

Critical thinking also influences our ability to see opportunities in change, creativity and innovation. In an era of almost constant change, this skill is key to optimising our performance and making it sustainable.

Realistic optimism – people with a positive mindset have an easier life, better relationships and better performance. It was confirmed by many researches that if realistic optimism comes one’s inner mindset, we are able to cope much more effectively with difficult situations, including stress. Our level of critical thinking goes hand in hand with realistic optimism, the "pull" that allows us to see things through to a successful finish line.

Many people, even in managerial positions, get easily excited about a new project. However, when the risks, challenges and problems start to mount, not everyone can persevere. Managers have no doubt that developing causal analysis skills is important. They know that this is what helps them identify why things happen. When it comes to realistic optimism, however, we get wary. As if we are afraid of it. After all, building sand castles has no place in business. I fully agree. Realistic optimism is exactly about being realistic – about challenges and problems, but also about not losing focus and determination to achieve my vision in spite of obstacles. So how do we build realistic optimism? Motivational books are not enough. We need to take a good look inside ourselves, to learn to see life situations from the so-called "balcony view", and to base our "I want it" on our "why". Then we become unstoppable.

Energy management is a competence of resilience that has undergone a fundamental, even paradigmatic change in the last two decades – in the sense of perceiving one's life not as a "marathon" but rather as a "series of fast sprints". Just like a sprinter who steps up to the starting line, we must not only have the physical training to achieve the desired result, but we must also be sufficiently rested and prepared to win emotionally, mentally and in terms of our values. That's why effective energy management is about alternating between two phases – rest and performance, and balancing all four key pillars of resilience – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual/value.

Let us take the world of sport as an example again, where there is no longer any doubt about the power of not only physical training, but also the power of emotional, mental and value preparation of the athlete.

A well-set-up energy management significantly influences and conditions our good health. It is at this point that most people start to listen. Because when it comes to health, everything is at stake.

Perseverance – our ability to see things through to a successful finish line is fundamentally conditioned by our ability to persevere even when things don't turn out the way we planned. Perseverance goes hand in hand with patience and focus on value. If our goals reflect our values, i.e. we have a clear "why", our chances of persevering in achieving them are higher.

The example of perseverance shows us that all these competences of resilience are interconnected and mutually influence and condition each other.

Relationships. Do you know what the most powerful emotion is? Yes, it's love. When we genuinely love someone or something, we can overcome almost any obstacle. However, it is important to realize that the most important person I have to learn to love is myself. If I can accept and love myself, even with all the vices and imperfections, that is the best possible foundation for building relationships with other people.

An important area for building good relationships, which many of us start to learn only in adulthood, is active listening and empathic communication. A genuine practice of active listening and empathy requires tremendous attention, patience and persistence. But the result is worth it.

People are social beings. We need to live in community and build communities that allow us to live good and purpose-filled lives. For us, such communities are our families, households, businesses, organizations, or even society as a whole.

Now that we have briefly introduced the different competences of resilience, the great power of the concept of resilience becomes apparent, because through its conscious building, we can not only consciously build ourselves, but we can even go beyond our own self-interest. The result can then be the building of responsible communities in which we can and want to live our good lives – in the Aristotelian sense of phronesisthat is, practical wisdom and rationality.

Our Leadership & Resilience development programmes are built on this solid foundation. Discover what we offer for you, your teams and your business.

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