Resilience: How To Bounce Forward

Do you notice the people who always appear to take things in their stride while others seem to get easily weighed down when things get on top of them? People who are resilient find a way to lead themselves forward on the basis that: ‘Things’ don’t happen – you make it happen. ‘It’ doesn’t work – you work ‘it’. Like anything, mental toughness happens through practice.

How you respond and what you take responsibility for is the biggest driver of your results

Last week I chaired The National Women in Local Government Leadership Summit 2016 which brought together 100 or so smart and talented women for a few days to share and learn from one another and inspire each other. A recurring theme was leading change through relationships (working with and leading others) and having resilience (leading yourself).

“Your mind can be your biggest friend or your biggest enemy”. Vijaya Vaidyanath, CEO, Yarra City Council.

In Vijaya’s keynote presentation she spoke about leadership being to her, the passion to believe in possibility and the ability to influence others. After all, leaders have to believe it to see it, followers need to see it to believe it.

Vijaya’s beliefs about possibility were underpinned by these key leadership characteristics:

1. Be optimistic

The perspectives you choose and attitude you bring are always on display. Being optimistic means interpreting setbacks, challenges, failure as something temporary and changeable (“It’s going away quickly; it’s just this one situation, and I can do something about it.”). It’s not just about positive thinking. It’s when we realise that when things go wrong, the painful situation holds an opportunity to learn and grow. Oftentimes, the greater the hurt, the greater the lesson.

2. Be tenacious, persistent and resilient

Vijaya talked about bouncing forward – not bouncing back. That is, to focus on the next step forward and have courage through the process. We all fear failure. We all fear not being good enough. The only way to move through fear is to tap into courage. If fear is hardwired in us, then so is courage. They are both there, all of the time.

Bringing it all together

Your career isn’t a straight line. Your success is not guaranteed. Setbacks and stuff-ups are built into the rollercoaster ride of working life for a reason: to enable you to push past what you thought was possible; to learn something about yourself in the process that can help you bounce forward even better next time; and to create new possibility. Your success is doing that for your entire career.

Tapping into the insights, lessons and wisdom from others around you who have achieved the results you want to emulate is a smart strategy for your development. Who can you learn from to help you bounce forward when you need to?

And finally, the next time you hit a bump, feel like you’re in a slump or even sense you’ve lost your way, remember to ask yourself:

  • How could I choose to see this situation right now as a good thing?
  • What can I learn from this that’s going to serve me and my leadership into the future?

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