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Five tips for increasing resilience

Article by Richard Lawrence

2021 should be the year of bouncing back. Harnessing resilience, both personally and professionally is the key enabling factor in becoming better than ever. As we emerge from the chaos of 2020, Richard Lawrence, CEO of corporate problem-solving, planning and resilience training organisation CounterStrike, shares five top tips drawing from his time transitioning from army life to the civilian and corporate worlds.

Life is a team game. Even a so-called ‘self-made’ person does not achieve success on their own. We all learn from and lean on others. No principle exists that states that we have to solve problems alone. We often think of our personal resilience of being ‘us against the world’. This is not only false, but harmful. 2020 has shown us the characters who step up when we need them most. Use 2021 to cultivate those reciprocal relationships. Bonds of trust and friendship made in difficult times are a precious gift that keeps giving.

Every one of us is in the process of rebuilding, resolving and recovering from the global pandemic that we didn’t see coming. Without doubt, you will have a myriad of issues to deal with – both professional and personal – from financial hardships to emotional turmoil. Taken together, these problems and challenges weigh heavily on us. So, don’t take them together, this will only leave you overwhelmed and paralysed to find a way through. They cannot all be solved at the same time nor do they need to be. Focus on one problem at a time or delegate to others if you can. If they all seem to have the same priority, solve the easiest one first. Then move on to the next. Nobody can solve 99 problems in one go. But they can solve 1 problem 99 times. And don’t be fooled into thinking everyone else is having an easier ride. You are definitely not alone.

In the past year especially, complaining has become our national sport. It is likely that at least some of that has rubbed off on you, and it’s only too easy to look to our misfortunes in times like these. Try to remember, the most counter-productive complaining of all is about matters outside of our control. The expression of negative emotion weakens us and makes us less resilient. If you are unhappy with something within your control, take action, make a decision and put it right. Complaining without action merely makes us lazy and resigned to continue experiencing negativity. If the perceived problem is outside of our control, like the cold weather for instance, stop complaining and start selling winter coats. Challenging your thinking and approach in this way will pay dividends if you let it.

Experience is our best teacher, as long as we have the humility and honesty to listen and learn from it. Now is the best time to review the lessons from 2020. Sometimes we struggle to identify our strengths and weaknesses when the year was largely business as usual. 2020 was not one of those years.  Be ruthless in your analysis of your own performance. Did you make the right decisions? Were you flexible enough to meet the changing circumstances? What did you do well? What could you have done better? What opportunities did you miss? While the quest for self-improvement is never ending, be sure to acknowledge your achievements along the way too.

At the end of your analysis, you should have a list of actionable tasks you can use to improve your resilience – personally and professionally.

2020 gave us all an opportunity to become more self-aware and realise the things we have taken for granted. This is particularly true regarding social interaction. It is likely that most of us will have suffered feelings of loneliness and isolation which had a negative impact on our mental health over the last year. As managers and leaders, we now have an opportunity and a responsibility to boost morale, which will in turn increasing productivity and resilience in the workplace. Any employee enrichment activity that we organise is an investment in our people that will pay dividends. The best activities for this are where enjoyment and learning meet as a collective experience – a celebration of our connected mutual goals and achievements.

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we can’t control what’s around the corner – but we can control how we approach it, how we prepare for it and how we respond to it. Here’s hoping we can all bounce back better.

    Founder of CounterStrike, Richard Lawrence had an illustrious career in the British Army (serving in both Iraq, Afghanistan) for nine years before leaving to take a Masters in Philosophy and becoming a qualified hypnotherapist and as well as training in martial arts, becoming a black belt in the Keysi Fighting Method.

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