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Resiliency: A Key to Engagement

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Turn the key in your car’s ignition and you engage the motor. Perhaps. If it’s a bad connection, the battery drains and you’re stuck calling AAA or Lyft. But if it’s a good connection, a spark flies and you’re on your merry way.

Eileen-McDargh_Resiliency-GPS_LeadersReadLet’s use the same analogy but in human terms. First, a re-definition of “resiliency” is in order. Unlike in the standard dictionary definition, humans do NOT bounce back. Instead, resilient people grow through challenge or opportunity to become wiser and stronger. There is no such thing as “back.” Growing through requires energy and energy is determined by the quality of our connections.

We make connections first with our head. What do we think of an event, a process, a practice a person? When we think about our work, does it fill us with enthusiasm and eagerness or are we filled with dread and dullness? The downward spiral of negativity creates a black hole that will persist unless we use some resiliency skills to climb out.

Stop the internal self-talk and write down exactly what you are thinking. Next, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what I am thinking is absolutely accurate? If I don’t know it is absolutely true, how do I feel when I hold that thought and do I wish to continue feeling that way? What small steps might I take to change this negative self-talk?
  2. What alternatives can I create or suggest to give me a better outcome?
  3. Who has been in this position before and could give me a different view point?

For example, a client came in with all kinds of complaints about the person she worked with. She agreed that she couldn’t be 100 percent certain about the accuracy of what she was saying but she just “knew” she was right. She agreed that she felt demoralized and discouraged.

Short of resigning or asking for a transfer, I gave her an assignment: to find at least one new “good thing” about her nemesis for the next 21 days.

At the end of 21 days, her complaints had stopped and she decided she actually liked her colleague. By the way, my advice to her came because at one time in my career, I had also been in that same position and learned the value of reframing.

Next, connect with your heart. At the core of the word “heart” is the word “hear.” Listen to your truest self, your instincts. It takes courage to do this but only by deep listening can you determine your next GPS: growth potential strategy. Seek the insights of others whose wisdom you trust. Listen with your ears and heart wide open. This is a good time to also ask yourself—truthfully—if you are an energy drainer or a maintainer in your relationships with others. If you are brave, you might also actually ask others.

Finally, connect with your hands. Put your hands to the proverbial plow and take action. Action is indeed the antidote for anxiety. It is by putting things in motion, you begin to create your own energy field.

Think about how you can contribute. Research continually demonstrates that people who volunteer and help others are happier than those who are only focused on themselves. Help might include assisting a co-worker, mentoring a new employee. Ask them to teach you something in return. It could be as simple as giving out a smile or making someone laugh. Big Sam was the main maintenance man for an assisted living center. His hugs were legendary and welcomed. Sure, he could fix the garbage disposal in the kitchen but it was the way he dispensed caring and compassion that mattered the most to family and residents.

Resiliency: Ready. Set. GROW!

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