What makes your business successful is your and your team’s ability to overcome, learn from and move through setbacks.

Remember last time you lost a key client, or worked on a proposal for weeks only to hear your bid was not successful? Maybe a crucial team member decided to move on, you did not get the promotion you were working toward or perhaps it’s as simple as publishing an important social media campaign, but with the wrong link.

Whatever it was, did you get that sinking feeling in your gut, perhaps the urge to turn the day into a duvet day resolving that you will never leave that safe haven again?

Step up – this is your resilience training opportunity

Things go wrong, and misfortune does not discriminate. Don’t take it personally, not even when you caused it yourself. Wasting time on “why me” or “why did I”, is just that: a waste of time.

There are different ways to get through difficult situations. Start practicing on the smaller stuff, and you will be well-prepared when the bigger disappointments happen.

Change your mind

The only thing that makes us unhappy is our expectations.

If you expect things to always go right, you’re bound to be disappointed and might be tempted to dwell on the “why” questions. A realistic mindset, understanding that this is not personal, will open your mind to make the most of any situation. Let’s take the example of the proposal your team spent weeks to prepare: if you choose to dwell on how perfect it was, how ignorant the client must be for not seeing the value, then you block your ability to gather what is good from the experience. Staying in what should or could have been, will take your eye off the next opportunity that comes along.

A quick way to check your mindset is to ask: Is what I’m doing helping me or harming me? An honest answer can help you direct your thinking to what could be positive and move away from the thoughts that can lead you down the negative spiral. If it was you missing out on the promotion, you can choose to spend the next week analyzing all conversations with your manager to subtly establish why you weren’t promoted, you may read more into comments than what was meant, and drive yourself crazy trying to find hidden meanings in everything. Clearly, this is harming you and again taking your mind off what needs to be done now.

Bounce back

In the article “How to bounce back from adversity” by Joshua D. Margolis and Paul G. Stoltz, they offer a resilience regimen – a series of specific question to ask that will help you decide the best way forward.

The authors recommend that you consider all four aspects to decide how best to respond. Through questions that are specific, visualizing and inspiring collaboration, they aim to help managers move their employees from cause orientated to response-orientated behaviour.

Here are their four lenses:

  • Control – What can I/ we influence. How we respond to negative experiences depend on how much control we think we have. The aim with this lens is not to get a final plan of action, rather to generate options. What about this situation can I improve? What would the business leader I most admire, do in my situation? Who do I know that can help me and what is the best way to engage with them?
  • Impact – Back to an earlier point in this article, where instead of spending time on who is to blame and why, you rather focus on what you can do to maximize potential positives or limit the negatives to change the outcome. What can I do for the most immediate positive impact on this situation? What positive effect might my efforts have on those around me? What can I do to mobilize others?
  • Breadth – With a strong imagination you could believe that what has happened will forever contaminate everything you do. It’s the potential for the spiral down. A more productive way would be to focus on: What can I do to increase the positive effect by 10%, or reduce the negatives by 10%? What strengths and resources will I develop by addressing this event? And if you are in a team, what can each of us do on our own, and what can we do collectively to transform this into an opportunity?
  • Duration – building on “breadth’s” potential negative spiral, you could start thinking that the situation will never change. However, nothing lasts forever so starting to imagine what life would look afterwards, will help you move forward.

Source: “How to bounce back from adversity” by by Joshua D. Margolis and Paul G. Stoltz

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