Today (Nov 4, 2020), Americans are anxiously watching TV and browsing news sites and social media feeds following the result of this historic election. A few days ago, The American Psychology Association (APA) said 68% of American adults are experiencing election anxiety. I am sure the number has increased much more since election night.
2020 has been a testing time for our individual and collective resilience. The pandemic, the Election, the blurred work-life boundary, and everything in between there is no shortage of it. I noticed that some people handled it a little better than others. The X-factor is their resilience.
We may think that some people have it. But the good news is each of us can strengthen our resilience muscles.
When the clients come to me for coaching, they bring many diverse topics: career/leadership growth, team collaboration, executive presence, conflict management, etc. But each of them has one thing in common. They all want to increase their capacity to embrace workplace challenges, which we call resilience. We are high-performing, busy professionals. Often, we go through our daily grinds with sheer willpower and a sense of responsibility! It is like driving in rugged terrain with low tire pressure. The worst part is that we hardly notice that low tire pressure and end up overusing the engine, increasing the eventual breakdown risk. A more sustainable way would be to support the engine with a healthy set of tires – i.e., cultivating our resilience.
APA defined resilience as the “process of adapting well” in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. We don’t have any shortage of these in 2020. The silver lining is – when we cultivate resilience and adapt to such adversities, we come out stronger on the other side of it, we grow profoundly.
Common Misconceptions of Resilience
- “Resilience is how you endure.”
We mistakenly think that pushing ourselves to keep going is resilience. It is NOT. Resilience is when we recharge well so we don’t deplete during trying times. Imagine you have this intense weekly meeting with your leadership. You face hard questions; your plans are shot down from different directions. If you beat yourself up after such meetings, how likely will you show up with positivity the next time? Instead, if you acknowledge that it was tough and that you did the best you could, there is a better chance that you will recover well, learn from it, and show up more prepared the next time.
2. “I am fine,” and “I don’t have the time.”
The high performers usually ignore their feelings and double down on thinking and doing – thus, they miss the emotional signals that say, “Take a break.” Self-care doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. Even a few mindful breaths in between meetings can do wonders. During my webinar today, the participants came up with many micro-actions for cultivating resilience (the recording is on this page).
The 3-C Model of Resilience
Self-care or recharge is a critical part of resilience, but that is not all. There is more to it. 3-Cs: Care, Connect, and Create capture the areas of building strength more holistically.
- Notice the signs of emotional fatigue
- Integrate healthy practices
Connect with what is important to you.
- People/family/support system
Customize the resilience practices for you.
- Focus on what you can control
- Give, make an impact – every little thing counts.
I used to go to the Zumba class before the pandemic hit. After the first few days of the quarantine, I realized I needed something physical. I experimented with the Zumba lessons from YouTube and walking outside. Connecting with my family and loved ones over the phone and through group calls has become more regular these days. My family and I recently got a kitten, a refreshing distraction from everything.
My client, Claire, sent this note a week after she and I talked about her self-care practice:
I am learning how important it is to refill my battery to show up for my family and in my work. I have been so much happier and productive since. It was just the little nudge and self-realization I needed.
Today, I saw this tweet from the renowned historian Jon Meacham, asking for perspective and patience during this election process. Unlike a TV show offering a feel-good ending, the election is an essential component of our self-governing process; it is not for the “faint-hearted.” My resilience practice helped me comprehend and embody Meacham’s advice on my level.
Image by Allan Joyner from Pixabay