Resilience in Challenging Times—4 tips for staying in the game

Motivational message.You walk into a bank. There are 50 customers inside. Suddenly a robber runs in and fires off one shot. The bullet hits you in the right arm. Quick: What will you tell your friends later about this? Were you lucky or unlucky?

Harvard’s Shawn Achor poses this dilemma in his book The Happiness Advantage. Your interpretation of this experience could go in several directions. There are understandable reasons why you might explain this in a negative way, as the majority of people do—the research shows that the approximate distribution of responses to this incident is 70 percent negative, 30 percent positive.

The problem is that your interpretation of this experience will directly shape how you deal with it and what the future looks like for you and the people around you. In short, you have every right to be depressed, discouraged, and down for an extended time. But why do you do this to yourself? Snap out of it, Eeyore!

I define resilience as the capacity to carry on—to withstand, persevere, or recover from challenging circumstances. Here’s a model I offer clients who are struggling through interesting times. It applies to individuals, teams, and organizations.

  1. Get a Grip. When you’ve had to deal with significant issues, it’s important to keep your head on straight. People often obsess over why things aren’t perfect. Don’t allow yourself to do that. The sun will rise tomorrow.
  2. Stay in the Game. Life goes on. No matter where you are, be there. It’s easy to lose your focus on what you’re working on right now. Don’t let yourself get emotional and scattered. We know that when people are under stress they tend to be somewhat distant or even downright aloof. Be cue-sensitive to what’s going on. Staying connected is therapeutic.
  3. Deal With It. Get in there. Mix it up. Throw yourself at what you’re working on. Don’t use the situation as an excuse to procrastinate making decisions in the here and now. The world has no time for mere thinkers; it wants action.
  4. Get Over It. All right, something happened. Don’t dwell on what could have been or what should have been. Don’t go there. Move on to the next challenge. It’s all about getting things done, not second-guessing yourself after the fact.

Resilience involves acting as though it is impossible for you to fail. This may sound counter-intuitive, but dealing with challenge may be the best opportunity to tilt the game in your favor. Don’t look at crisis as something to survive. It’s actually an opportunity to thrive.

About the author

Dr. Dick Ruhe is a best-selling author, keynote speaker, and senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies. You can read his posts here on LeaderChat the fourth Saturday of each month.

4 thoughts on “Resilience in Challenging Times—4 tips for staying in the game

  1. Good thoughts, Dick, and can I add some thoughts about resilience in terms of organizational challenges (whether one-time or systemic)? Based on personal experience,
    I’d suggest that “Think Big” might be a good principle too. In other words, as best you can, keep one eye on the big picture, the mission of the organization, the “why I do what I do” element of organizational leadership. In difficult times our vision often shortens and the challenges we experience tend to loom larger than they are (and they suck the joy/purpose out of our leadership). The counter to this is to remember that it is not all about you (the organization’s success or failure). Think big, and you just might see the challenges in a new light and have a sense of hope!

  2. Pingback: Being Resilient | Life...Outrageously Real Insights.

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