How to live a good work-life: Resilience

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Just after the new year, I picked up a new book called “How to live a good life, a guide to choosing your personal philosophy”. It is a brief description of ancient and modern philosophies as well as religions. I am certainly not qualified to discuss these topics with my audience, however, it has inspired me to create a series of blogs in the coming months, covering relevant areas which could help improve one’s work-life, and here is the first one, which is “Resilience”.

What is resilience exactly? Surely, I am not speaking from the realm of Physics. I will define it as the energy and mental capacity available to deal with a situation, any situations. As we get older and wiser, we would have been exposed to a wide range of scenarios, from the daily repetitive actions, to challenges which may well rock our world at work each takes very different level and quality of “resilience” to deal with.

If we look at newspapers/business magazines and various media channels, we read about the many uncertainties (as well as opportunities) in the new decade.  It looks like there will be many more of the demanding, out-of-the blue situations than just do more of the same kinds of situations, so extra “resilience” will come in handy.

When you are “knocked over”, cannot find your footing, feeling frustrated or even angry, there might not seem to be enough energy to help you sail through these difficult times. Yes, feel the anger AND at the same time see how this energy can help propel you forward in to finding possible solutions, so that, ultimately, you can get back to your zone, where real thinking happens.

Let me use a pendulum as a visual example. When a lateral force is applied to the suspended weight, it moves sideways, and depending how big the push is, it can be taken really out of the original alignment. Some people get all bound up trying to stop the swing and holding on to the original equilibrium and end up staying out in that off-balance state, whilst narrowly looking for solutions back to what was . Others allow the push to take them to “new places” without a lot of holding back, which paradoxically allows them to swing back sooner and faster.  This motion, a few swings left and right (dissipating the frustration whilst looking for solutions from a wider angle/perspective) before trying desperately to find a new equilibrium position creates new possibilities.  This latter group look for the help of natural gravity (i.e. grounding, which is leads to more objective thinking) and energy to bring new opportunities.

So, what can we do to improve our resilience? I can immediately think of a few useful daily habits: reading widely and objectively, picking something you don’t usually read, and see how it helps add “depths” to your “internal processor”.  Another is open your ears to the conversations you don’t usually get involved, speak with people you don’t generally would engage, learn from others and their experience, maybe have some indirect experience of some OMG moments which could help infer how to buffer your own OMG moments when they arrive. And maybe most importantly, try to let go out your usual stories about why or applying meanings to your interactions based on your usual auto-pilot mode. Things are more intertwined and complex these days, they may not be what they appear to be. I reckon, at the end of the day, the key is to truly spend time to reflect, ponder, digest, and make those lessons stick, so that you could turn up your creativity knob to respond in a relevant manner.

In a long run, it would be hugely beneficial it to develop your resilience muscle memory and be ready to thrive in the new-normal set of circumstances. So, what are you doing to create more resilience at your work?