The Huddle: 5 Ways To Be More Resilient

Work Life
By Alice Olins | 5th December 2022
The Huddle Careers Column

Yesterday was a bad day in my household. Stick with me here, I am going to get to a useful point, but it could take a moment or two.

My toddler was extremely ill. It was the anniversary of a lost loved one. My work was piling up quicker than I could administer the baby paracetamol, and after all 3 children had separate (and inconveniently simultaneous) meltdowns, I had to sit down and host a live event in front of a room of 30-something eager Step Up community members.

The final part of my horror day required bucketloads of resilience. Truthfully, two years ago, I couldn’t have shown up calm and collected at the evening workshop. The day had taken its toll on me, both physically and emotionally; yes I was spent, and I was also in credit in my resilience stores. I sat down, put on a big smile and despite feeling wobbly inside, shared a wonderful hour with some wonderful women.

Resilience is one of those terms that’s bandied about quite a bit at the moment. I am absolutely sure that during the depths of our Covid lockdowns, it actually became more used and referenced in the professional development arena than ‘confidence’, and let me tell you, confidence takes some beating.

So resilience has become a bit of a thing, and about time too, because when you spend some time understanding it, and developing yours you will fear less, do more, show up better and be happier at work.

Careers Column

Have I convinced you yet?

Resilience, for the record, is your ability to mentally and emotionally cope with a crisis and return to your pre-crisis state quickly and potentially improved too. It is important at this point to tell you that resilience is not a personality trait; no one was born resilient. Actually, if you’re going to be truthful, newborns are hugely resilient – perhaps we lose it over time. Either way, by childhood and certainly into adolescence, we aren’t resilient through birthright, we become resilient by being aware of how its process plays out.

For ease, I have written you a 5-Stage Resilience Roadmap.

There will always be challenges and difficult days ahead, and more than just helping you cope, developing your resilience allows you to look risk in the eye: and that opens you up to new career chapters.

As women, we are encouraged to fear more and play with riskless. This combination does not serve us in terms of workplace equity, personal success and financial gain. Resilience is vital, it feeds your freedom, I urge you to invest in yours now.

Find Your Calm: In a crisis, it’s natural that emotions run high. We’re only human after all. The thing is, these same emotions obstruct our ability to be clear-headed and rational. When things go awry, literally tell yourself, “I will be calm. Calm is best’, write your own mantra and use it often. A caveat to this advice; literature also tells us to feel the pain. So make sure you also find time to let the pain, regret, frustration, whatever it is you’re truly feeling, sit within you. Avoidance gets us nowhere. But no wallowing please; I know someone who sets a timer for a single hour to feel her pain. Feel your emotions, just don’t get consumed by them.

Recognise Your Support: It’s easy to dismiss the importance of your best friend, or how much of a pillar your aunt, team or partner (add in as appropriate) has become. Most of us have several people we can rely upon. In the process of developing resilience, I often encourage clients to write a list of those names and put it somewhere visible. Leap and the net will catch you, is such a true and powerful statement. And when we know the net is wide and deep it makes leaping – or bouncing back – that much easier. Also, make sure you don’t just recognise this support, lean on it too.

Get Comfortable Being Decisive: Indecision is the enemy of resilience because it feeds our insecurities. Indecisiveness is also a mirror to low confidence; when we can’t be forthright, we are showing ourselves and others that we don’t believe in our own judgment. This is a downward spiral that will lead you back to those obstructing emotions and not prevent productive actions to rectify the problem at hand.

Challenge Not Threat: There is a fine line here, but it’s vital when building resilience to get good at reframing what you immediately see – or feel. As humans we are physiologically built to interpret obstacles as threats; when your brain’s amygdala is in overdrive and you’re flooded with cortisol, being rational tends to go out the window. That’s where the reframing comes in. Tell yourself, literally say it in your head, this feels like a threat, it is actually a challenge. And potentially an exciting one at that.

Become Open To Learning: Resilience is good friends with adaptability. The two sit adjacently within us so if we refuse to be rigid in how we act, think and approach our lives, it’ll inevitably lead to greater resilience. And one of the best ways to stay agile is to keep learning. It doesn’t need to be all work and career learning; just make sure you stay consciously curious and remain open to growth and your resilience will follow.


READ ALICE’S OTHER COLUMNS FOR THE HANDBOOK: Developing Resilience AND positive habits


Want to receive more great articles like this every day? Join our daily email now