In the previous lesson, you have seen the value of being resilient when the discomfort and monotony of a new job sets in. You probably recognize that the mundane is not a setback, it’s a rite of passage to mastery itself.
But what is resilience? And how do you develop it?
Take the lesson below to understand why you really should care about building resilience for yourself, and how to build it. Don’t forget the quiz at the bottom of the page.
Nicholas Woodman was devastated. After two failed startups and losses worth millions of dollars, he had to level with himself. What affected him the most though, was that he lost all his investors’ money – people who believed in him and bought into his passion and big ideas. It was the dawn of the new millennium, but to Nicholas Woodman it felt like the darkest night.
Chances are you’ve been there. Probably by way of the loss of loved ones, being laid off, missed opportunities, inheriting horrible bosses etc. That’s life. At least once, everyone gets forced down to their knees.
Many never find their feet again. But then again, many do, circumstances and luck notwithstanding.
What separates the latter from the former is something called Resilience, and it’s a choice. Ask Nicholas Woodman – founder and CEO of the digital camcorder company GoPro.
Resilience is the ability to manage oneself with grace, courage and to respond effectively to disruptive events.
Oddly, leaders are rarely taught this key skill. Conventional wisdom propagates that resilience is a function of time; that seasoned leaders, by virtue of their tenure, are more resilient than younger ones. Research shows that this isn’t always true. The American Psychological Association in a publication have stated that Resilience isn’t a trait that people either have or lack. It involves behaviours, thoughts and actions that can be learned. This concept was popularized in the book ‘Option B’, co-authored by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, who likened resilience to a muscle, that can be developed and strengthened at will by anyone. But like any fitness enthusiast will tell you, building muscle – the ripped type – is no walk in the park.
Being a business leader is no picnic. Neither is bouncing back from a serious setback.
It requires courage, faith, tenacity – all at once – while staring despondency in the face.
Hardships can be traumatic and undermine a leader’s functioning at a crucial time, making it worse, and eliminating the ability to act with resilience. Self-doubt can severely inhibit recovery.
After his spectacular failure, Nicholas Woodman went into withdrawal and started to doubt the quality of his ideas. Looking back, Woodman recollects how it sapped all his energy and passion.
Resilience isn’t the same as coping a.k.a going with the flow. That’s complacency. Add arrogance and greed, and resilience vanishes.
Conversely, courage – to show up despite being hurt or embarrassed, to confront brutal facts, and to develop self-awareness – fuels resilience.
Resilience is an active choice, backed up by action to shape your environment and your future. It’s not an automatic choice for most people in adversity. They just haven’t developed this muscle yet.
How then do we build the resilience muscle? Here’re four steps to help build the ripped kind.
1. Maintain physical wellbeing: Basic fitness – 3-4 hours of physical activity each week is enough. Movement builds energy, and physical activity helps regulate emotion – Key for resilience.
After his failure, Nicholas Woodman took an extended surfing trip – his favourite hobby – and returned rejuvenated. By his own admission, this trip did wonders for his recovery from failure.
2. Direct mental perspective. Center your mind. Investing the time and energy in centring practices like self-reflection and meditation during difficult times pays off handsomely, as scientific studies conducted by the ‘Mind Fitness Training institute’ show. It affords greater mental clarity and can be the source of out-of-the-box thinking, necessary to solve your most vexing problem.
Nicholas Woodman’s surfing trip had the unexpected benefit of centring his mind. It was on the trip that he ran into inspiration for the GoPro action camera.
3. Adopt a growth mindset. Faced with setbacks, it is natural to fall into a fixed mindset, and second-guess our abilities or intelligence. Psychologist Carol Dweck observed that people with a fixed mindset compare themselves with others and turn their energy inward and away from solving the problem, whereas those that constantly remind themselves that they need to be fluid and adaptable – that they are on a learning journey – have the advantage.
After the surfing trip, a rejuvenated Nicholas Woodman pummeled through 18-hour workdays, relentlessly developing his newest idea to perfection: the GoPro, totally committed to succeeding.
4. Pay attention to relationships.
When he was working the GoPro camera design, Woodman and his future wife Jill financed the business by selling shell necklaces they bought in Bali. His mother loaned him $35,000 and let him borrow her sewing machine, which he used while experimenting with early GoPro designs. His dad, an investment banker, loaned him $235,000. All instrumental in getting GoPro off the ground.
It must be noted here that Woodman could draw upon these relationships as his support system only because he had nurtured it all along. Strengthen your own support systems while the going’s good. You’ll need it.
Woodman was once GoPro’s only employee. Through sheer resilience, today he is the billionaire owner of the fastest-growing camera company in America.
What about you? How ripped is your resilience muscle?