Developing Resilience for Better Performance

Each one of us have faced adversity at some point in our lives. Whether it’s professional or personal, these adversities form an important element of our growth. Indeed, they are bound to happen and there is just no escape from them. However, each of us can develop the capability to horn skills that can build a strong resilience which boosts our stamina to bounce back in life. In this post, I will present some strategies that can assist you to perform better during or after setbacks like tackling daily challenges or adversity in your career. If you endured much more adverse events like the loss of your loved one then it would also require the assistance of a healthcare professional. In this post, I would dive deeper into the practical frameworks from the field of human psychology and human resource research that can help you overcome the stressor spanning from setbacks and repeated failures. I know this on a personal level, as an HR professional, I have trained and competed in different events. I have enabled people to reach their best potential and connected them to the right opportunity. Like an athlete, we all have to bring our A-game to work every day while we juggle multiple priorities and experience daily setbacks. We will first concentrate on developing a Winning Mantra that boosts our resilience by training ourselves with practice. Then we will concentrate on creating an optimal external atmosphere to prosper. Towards the end, we will jump into the trenches and address the challenges faced at the grassroots level. In a nutshell, this post is full of actionable strategies that can enable you to develop one of the important life skills – resilience.

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There is no denying the fact that adversity can shake our boots and rock us to the core. It can be a sudden change of plan at work, structural changes or a personal disappointment, etc. Witnessing these events first-hand can make it difficult to feel confident about anything and lower our self-esteem. In order to bounce back, we need to develop positive thinking that can urge us to look at the bright side of our life. Let’s work on some strategies that are leveraged by high-performing athletes.

Positive Affirmations

As cliché as it may sound, self-talks, catchy phrases, and positive affirmations can provide us lot of energy. When you send a message to yourself either by speaking out loud or perhaps considering an internal dialogue, it works! Whenever I have faced situations when odds are stacked against me and I am on the verge of losing my calm, I tell myself, “Breathe deeply, Parul” or “You got this, Parul”. I have my friend who has recently changed her career from Banking in India to Business in Canada, she starts her every day with the positive affirmation word “can”. She always thinks of ways where she can do things, where she can make a difference and see things in a different way. So, what’s your word? It can be more than a word but you need to find a personal motto that will always motivate you. Use it often and give yourself the required strength especially when you are going through a rough spot. You can make your own Confidence Journal with sentences like I am good at…, I know how to… etc. This method is called Reflective Practice and this kind of journaling is best to leverage after you faced an adverse event. Essentially, writing it down makes you more action-oriented relative to just speaking to friends. I have my fair share of ups and down! To help myself, I did a lot of reflective journaling, which I have saved. When I go back and reflect on them, I feel I have grown so much and anticipate how my future would pan out to be. I hope you can harvest the benefits of this method as well. For starters, here are a few questions for you based on Gibb’s Reflective Learning Cycle, What happened? What clicked in your mind first? What feelings emerged from the incident? Why was the event important to you? What was the good, bad and ugly experience? Is there anything you can do for the future? As you know, athletes face tremendous ups and downs in their daily life and these strategies that I have shared with you come straight from their playbooks. Leverage the power of reflective journaling and positive affirmations to develop your confidence and make you resilient.

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Mental Training

If you are a fan of cricket like me, you know top athletes like MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, etc use visualization and imagery to run through their One-Days, IPL, and Test-Matches before they execute them. This is not only for cricket rather for any sport in general. I am sure you must have caught sports events where athletes were visualizing, they are wearing their headphones, eyes are closed, and witness their bodies mimic all their activities. Top athletes perform mental rehearsals both during high-level competition as well as during their daily routines. The burning question is does this adds value to their performance or overcomes some of the pressure of competition. I performed small research on around 20 athletes and found that there is substantial performance utilizing the mental practice relative to no mental training at all. There are considerable stressors both in sports competition as well as in a workplace environment, and we can also benefit from some mental training and become much more resilient when it comes to witnessing adversity in the workplace. Here are a few tactics that athletes follow and ways that you can apply them to our environment. Imagery can be one of the powerful methods to help us sail through. One of the operational tactics that work for me is to locate an event or situation that displays success in the future. I love to present, you give an excel to prepare and PPT to present the analysis! Even today, before every presentation I reserve a few moments of uninterrupted time to picture the session before, hear the sounds, the voices, and picture the face of the audience in the scene. Internal visualization is the kind of exercise that invites you to be the protagonist of the story and take action. You can try it out too, visualize the scenario you would be performing in, it can be leading a team or delivering a session. Observe yourself executing the task flawlessly every time. Invest time and pay attention to details that will boost your confidence while you are on stage.

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Practicing Discomfort

It is very important to advance our threshold of resilience. Just like sportspeople undergo particular training programs to elevate their aerobic threshold to perform at a much higher level. Practicing discomfort can be a very effective method to develop mental toughness as well as confidence. I once worked with a team member who became very uncomfortable when anyone would ask her questions during the presentation or even direct their attention towards her. It escalated to a point where she used to be practically paralyzed by just thinking about face-to-face meetings as well as presentations. Her performance was suffering and she knew that unless she conquered her fears it won’t work out. So what did I do to help her overcome her fear? Yoga. Yes, you heard it right! I knew she was taking the yoga class, but she used to hide in the rear corner of the class. Her task was to move to the front row or center. It took a couple of months but gradually she worked her way to the middle and finally to the front row. This was a huge achievement for her and she even shared a selfie the day she reached the front of the row. After this, she found that she was more prepared to face her meetings and presentations. It wasn’t easy for her, but her accomplishment gave her the confidence that she needed to succeed. Here are some ideas for you to practice to elevate your threshold of resilience while practicing a small element of discomfort every day.

I would love to know how it worked for you and what you learned. Connect with me and share your note!

Cheers

Bibliophile Parul

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