Leadership Know-how: 7 Areas of Practice for Building Resilience

There is so much information out there about the value of being resilient in today’s complex world – about having the strength to endure challenge and overcome adversity. It seems everyone would agree that resilience is a positive trait to possess. So how do we actually build our resilience? This is the second blog in a series that will discuss Seven Areas of Practice to Build Resilience to help individuals and groups become resilient before facing difficulty so we are prepared not only to survive but to thrive in all areas of life.

First let’s expand our thinking about resilience: Resilience is not only the power to overcome, the capacity to endure challenge and the ability to bounce back after failure, disappointment or difficulty. Resilience is also learning to adapt to varied and changing contexts while remaining authentically ourselves; being true to our own sense of self yet being open to growth, change and transformation. Resilience grows when we are open to new learning, flexible in our expectations and optimistic about our circumstances. We build resilience when we use personal and communal practices that fuel, nurture and prepare us for a multiplicity of experiences. Resilience is valuable not only in times of crisis, but also in times of calm; in fact, increased resilience brings increased joy, balance, meaning and connection and helps us live in a state of calm more easily.

A central tenet of resilience is the importance of developing and accepting our whole person; we need resilience in all areas of our lives – work, family, community, politics, relationship, spirituality, emotions, etc.; being a whole, balanced person is key. The more extensive and more diverse your internal and external resources, the more you have to draw upon to help you thrive. I have labeled seven broad areas where we can engage in practices that expand and enhance our resources. You will see they are multi-layered and inclusive so we have a lot to talk about!  Until the next blog, consider the following seven areas where resilience can be cultivated.

  1. Self-awareness, Self-efficacy, Self-compassion
  2. Physical well-being, Body Connection, Mindful Attention
  3. Purpose, Meaning, Contribution
  4. Human Connection, Relationship, Community
  5. Curiosity, Inquiry, Learning
  6. Creativity, Play, Laughter
  7. Courage, Action, Endurance

These seven areas offer opportunities to develop personal practices and also provide fertile ground for leaders to establish organizational practices that enhance and nurture team and organizational resilience. As leaders consider the organizational culture they are leading within, it’s critical to recognize that individual resilience and organizational resilience are reinforcing of each other; as resilience grows or declines in one sphere, it is more likely to also grow or decline in the other potentially creating either a virtuous or a toxic cycle. Strong, resilient people don’t stay long in toxic organizations and resilient organizations don’t accept the behaviors of toxic team members.

Up next: Practices to Build Resilience Through Self-awareness, Self-efficacy and Self-compassion.


Kristen M. Fragnoli

August 29, 2018

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