Why resilience is the top predictor of success today

In this era of constant disruptions, resilience is the quality that separates the strong from the weak.

The author

Mausami Arora

Mausami Arora

Senior HR Business Partner

British American Tobacco

Consider that the only constant in the rapidly changing world of work is “You”.

And, it is during these times of change when you really get tested on your ability to navigate and more importantly to bounce back. In the organisational context, the change could range from restructuring to introduction of new technologies to a change in the business model itself. To stay relevant and worthwhile, you constantly go through the cycle of learning, unlearning and then again relearning. Tough, right?

In our day-to-day work, we inevitably experience set-backs because there are so many variables which are not in our control. And if we are not conscious of our choices, we find ourselves fighting unnecessary battles and losing hope along the way. 

Some of us get bogged down by this constant need to reinvent ourselves while others seem to be doing so well just all the time. So, the million dollar question is what is it that sets them apart from the rest? How are they able to sail through challenges with such ease and continue to do it every single time?

In my experience of working with a wide range of business leaders, the answer comes to a simple quality – Resilience. It is their resilience that fuels the resolve to fight back and emerge stronger during the most trying times.

In fact, in this era of constant disruptions and technological advancements, resilience has become a vital trait and organisations place a huge premium on an individual’s ability to stay resilient and thrive amidst competing priorities. There is a whole body of studies now which will tell you that grit is one of the more important parameters signifying overall success in life, professional or otherwise, even ahead of talent and emotional intelligence.

The work on grit by Angela Duckworth has recently come to the forefront, and she describes it as a combination of resilience in the face of failures and the passion to stay loyal towards long-term goals.

There are some people who are born resilient, some learn it and some are thrust into it. Whatever your circumstance is, the good news is that this important skillset can be developed over a period of time, to still keep going even when the going gets tough.

Let me share with you my perspective and some techniques on how you can build your own bank of resilience.

1. Find meaning in adversity, it makes you stronger. It’s important to continuously remind yourself that no matter what happens you can handle it. Always remember your own life lessons, for example, when you first learnt to ride a bicycle. I am sure you would agree it wasn’t easy in the initial few days. You would have had your own limiting beliefs that ‘Maybe I can’t do it” because you would have struggled to maintain the balance or you felt embarrassed while falling down in front of friends. But you kept on going because you wanted to experience the joy of riding and to live your dream. Such experiences stretch our capabilities and make us stronger and add to our reserve every single day.

2. Be optimistic – One of the very effective techniques to stay on course amidst all challenges is to start with the end state in mind. With this approach, you will have more reasons to celebrate the small wins rather than feeling lost along the way. With the positive outlook, you only feel more energised to give your personal best to every task at hand.

3. Believe in yourself – It’s important to set aside some time for yourself to reflect on challenges that you go through in life and the lessons that you draw from those experiences. These reflections help you build self-confidence and fortify your own belief that you have great strengths to deal with any challenge with ease. And this belief in yourself will enable you to thrive. You would then know in your heart no matter what you will get there. You would know that you have the resources to you due to your own experiences.

4. Reframe – It’s a psychological technique that refers to a conscious shift in one’s perspective to find more positive alternatives to deal with any difficult situation. This is about seeing challenges as opportunities to learn and asking yourself how you can accomplish something by focusing on the solution rather than distressing over the problem at hand. If you can frame adversity as a challenge, you will become more flexible and be able to deal with it, learn from it and grow.

5. Build a community of support – The company you keep defines your character. It would be prudent to surround yourself with people who can lift you up and not drag you down. A good starting point would be to observe colleagues or friends who are always able to successfully deal with challenging times. You should also try to cultivate a network that can offer you an alternate perspective to see things in a positive light.

As Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, says: “It's not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.”

This quote highly resonates with me as it’s the choices we make that defines who we are. Next time when you feel jaded or lost amidst competing priorities, take a step back, recalibrate yourself and consciously remember to replenish your bank of resilience.

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