Don’t Get Too Comfortable

Many of our clients are asking for resilience training. But, what does resilience mean today?

My grandmother comes to mind. Spending the evenings with her were the best. We’d make breakfast for dinner, watch The Golden Girls, and circle back to the kitchen to clean up before bedtime. In that process, she did something that always struck me as strange. She’d put used aluminum foil on the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning it for another day.

When I asked my dad about it, he shared it was a practice of a woman who had lived through the Great Depression and two world wars. She never complained and was one of the most resourceful and resilient people I’ve ever known.

She didn’t have a choice. She had to be.

Fast forward to today. Organizations desperately need employees and leaders with the tenacity, grit, and commitment to weather the constant change disrupting the marketplace and, in turn, the workplace.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal highlights what many are feeling: corporate reorgs are only accelerating as more employers reshuffle departments to respond to rapid market changes and to allow for growth. Additionally, 80% of employers see restructurings continuing at an equal or faster pace in the next five years.

Good leaders know change is hard and incredibly disruptive. It’s why there’s a $10 billion change management industry. It’s also well known that so many of those change management initiatives fail. Perhaps because, despite their best efforts, leaders can’t make change comfortable, predictable, or definitive.

That’s why resilience is in such high demand. But why is it so scarce?

There are tons of reasons I can think of, but, for the purposes of this post, I’ll highlight only one. Most leadership programs focus on providing more knowledge or interpersonal skills, but resilience isn’t a skill—it’s a mindset and a character trait.

It’s built, over time, by facing adversity and persevering through it, even when it would be easier, safer, and more comfortable to quit. Similar to a growth mindset, resilience doesn’t balk at a challenge or shrink when there’s plenty of room to doubt. It actually feeds on such circumstances. It’s also never built in isolation. Building your personal resilience only happens within the context of a caring community and support—something else we tend to neglect in leadership development.

In a society where choice, convenience, and financial confidence are on the rise, our economic circumstances may not demand resilience as in generations past. But our workplace circumstances will.

Let’s help leaders build resilience and reinforce it in their teams while elevating employees who adopt and practice it.

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