experiment, leadership, Reflections & Questions, Resources

What leaders need now: Resilience.


We’re living in unprecedented times, as became clear earlier this week when we learned that the U.S. won’t be receiving flights from Europe for the next month, that the NBA was suspending its season, that NCAA has canceled March Madness – not to mention the Dow deciding to drop it like it’s hot, officially marking a Bear market.

It’s A LOT to process, and every time you turn on the radio or look at social media, you can’t help but drown in more waves of details or bad news, depending on where you get your news.

Aside from washing our hands, limiting our contact with other people, and making sure we have supplies in case we need to self-quarantine, there’s not much else individuals can do to help stop this train – which is why a lot of leaders (who are used to solving whatever challenges are thrown at them) are probably experiencing a new feeling:  anxiety.

We are being asked to lead in a wildly VUCA world. (Check out this post, which explains in more detail how to cope in an environment that is increasingly Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous.) In addition to figuring out how to navigate this terrain, which feels about as stable as a rope bridge over a volcano, there’s one other critical muscle we can build, both in ourselves and in our teams: RESILIENCY.

Resiliency is our ability to withstand, recover or thrive in the face of adversity or challenging events, and – good news – it’s a skill we can all develop!

The first step in developing it is breaking it down so it’s not just a big, intangible concept. Whenever I deliver workshops on resilience, I encourage participants to think about it as having four different components:

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 9.20.21 AM

Hot Tip: These are not all created equally! In the midst of a broad crisis like this, start by focusing on the physical elements of resilience. Are you…

  • Getting enough sleep?
  • Eating healthy, nourishing meals?
  • Getting enough movement in your days?
  • Giving yourself enough breaks throughout your days and weeks?
  • Breathing intentionally?
  • Practicing self-care in ways that are meaningful to you?

It’s almost impossible to approach the other elements if your baseline physical needs aren’t being addressed. Also – if you had a record-scratch moment when you saw “breathing” on the list, you are a great candidate for exploring box-breathing, a technique that soldiers use to relieve stress and calm their nervous systems. Here’s a brief article on it and instructions on how to practice. TRY IT!

It may be tempting to throw physical exercise out the window since we’re being advised to spend as much time at home and away from others as possible, but there are some good options that still allow for social distancing:

  • Take a walk, go on a hike, ride your bike!
  • Try InsightTimer, an app and website with a huge library of free meditations (including guided meditations).
  • Check out Down Dog, an app that is offering free memberships until April 5, where you can do yoga, HIIT and barre workouts.

SUGGESTION: Take a minute to self-assess and identify ONE shift you can make to foster your resiliency by caring for your physical body. And please share what other options you’re finding to take care of yourself in these wild times!

I’ll write a follow-up post that focuses on cultivating a more resilient mindset next – but first, I need to eat a healthy dinner, turn off my devices, and crawl into bed early. See? I take my own medicine! 🙂

Stay well. Do good. Be kind. 

1 thought on “What leaders need now: Resilience.”

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