By Steve Beseke, Doctor of Life Resiliency and now a part of the Lennick Aberman team – www.lennickaberman.com. Check out my newest e-books at www.resiliencyfirst.com. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Overarching statements about most anything can, well, be truly overstated. From studies and professional/personal experience, however, understanding why work resilience is one of the most important aspects to your career success is definitely not one of them.
Having a resilient mindset at work separates those who want from those who do. I rarely say something so starkly in my worldwide articles or presentations, but this mindset is absolutely essential for your success. While enjoying the good times in life, it also allows you to overcome those unique work challenges that confront us – yes, sometimes every day.
I talk about ways to use your mindset in my third resiliency e-book: “Liking Yourself And Being Happy Even When Your Boss Or Your Spouse Gives You That Chilling Stare.” It will be launched on my web site – www.resiliencyfirst.com – most likely next week for your reading enjoyment.
To give you a taste, I have updated one of the book’s many resiliency articles highlighting ways to use such a mindset for your absolute advantage at work – and life. Please enjoy.
This is absolutely not a political article, but early in his 2008 successful presidential campaign, Barack Obama said something very enlightening.
The President mentioned he used a resilient mindset in keeping on track at work, staying focused, understanding how other people see him and staying emotionally healthy during highly stressful days.
Wow! In times of struggle for all of us, the lesson I learned from the President is the need to look hard at your resilient self, your work/career objectives and understand the work needs you want achieved.
Whether you are looking for work or are employed but maxed out, all of us should adopt or fine-tune our own resilient mindset. This will keep us from going nuts!
The challenges you face can be very daunting in your career: Ever-increasing budget cuts, workload expectations going through the ceiling panels, working more with a lot less and, yes, the notion that layoffs are not over yet to name a few.
As you look at your work resilience, you may want to mull through the following questions many typically face every day at work:
- Do you deal difficult customers, colleagues or supervisors?
- Are you involved in chaotic or exhausting work events?
- Does it seem like you have to solve the challenges and problems of your direct reports even before your first cup of coffee every morning?
- Are you asked to solve work issues assigned by your boss that seem overwhelming or unsolvable?
- Do you find that you are becoming less resilient to taking sometime challenging work events in stride?
If you’ve said “yes” to any of these, don’t feel alone. A national survey of employees found that 78 percent said “yes” to at least one of these questions. More than 50 percent said “yes” to all of them…
Are you surprised? I wasn’t. I have spent nearly 30 years successfully (or mostly successfully) stamping out the work fires that probably keep you up at nights. Some of my “fun” has included:
- The last second “request” by the CEO to tweak his approved upcoming speech – and do it in the next hour for his plane ride review…
- The direct report who was to present a white paper at a conference, but accidentally deleted the presentation 15 minutes before his presentation. The IT guys had fun with that one.
- Staying up all night to meet a project deadline that unknowingly during the day had been pushed back two weeks. My AA was busy planning a luncheon celebration and never gave me the message…
You, of course, can probably fill in unique examples in your career that fit this bill.
There have been more than a few times I have been knocked down trying to navigate through the turbulent currents we call “the office.” But most of my work life has not been on the “dark side” but trying to stay within a healthy resilient mindset.
As you probably have, I’ve been mostly successful at overcoming the work obstacles many of us face everyday – and ride the resilient wave helping solve a myriad of work issues because of a few strategies I’ve learned along the way.
I use the phrase “resilient mindset,” which I define as dealing effectively with all aspects of your work life, including challenging customers, colleagues, being patient and persistent with your team/boss, or possibly being nervous that this challenging economy might still affect your job.
Such a mindset also means springing back from adversity to take pleasure in the quiet moments of fun with your spouse, significant person, children, friends or yourself. And even realizing that work/life balance is more than just a concept on a corporation’s blotter.
To keep your work resilience at a healthy level, I have found the art of workplace compromise, adaptability, finding common ground, and understanding strengths and weaknesses are more important than just a feel-good brown bag seminar topic.
They can truly make a career difference for you. A bit of resilient detail for you to noodle over:
Compromise: At least in American culture, the word “compromise” is not always seen in the best of light in the workplace. Typically, many of us are brought up to stick to our beliefs and not give in unless absolutely necessary. Well, in your job and career, this narrowly-defined attitude can spell ultimate failure. There was a study that showed that not being able to compromise was one of the top reasons work relationships fail.
For me, compromise does not mean always giving in to the eccentricities or demands of your co-workers – or even your boss. It is finding ways to give a little on both sides to find a common middle, even when the other side does not realize it.
That approved CEO speech I mentioned earlier is a good example of how I used the art of compromise to my fullest advantage. Could I control how he ultimately reacted to the speech? No. Could I control how I reacted to him. Absolutely yes. After the tweaks, and very humbly speaking, the CEO received a standing ovation after his speech, and I received a company award.
At lunch, a senior manager friend recently struck up a conversation with an hourly worker about the new work/life balance plan of the company he was presenting to the entire company the following week in the afternoon. The worker was interested but asked how will it be communicated to his friends on the “grave yard” shift. The manager said they would have to attend the presentation or call-in to the 2 p.m. meeting when all the company executives would be attending.
The worker said presenting info about work/life balance policies is great for those on the right shifts, but the presentation for others – especially on the grave yard shift -might be a burden with families, sleep, etc.
The light bulb went off and the manager added presentations at the times convenient for the shift workers. It meant a bit more time for him but ultimately was seen as very proactive in getting the message successfully out.
The manager compromised – not because of superiors – but because he listened to a typical employee. He could have stuck to his original schedule but he didn’t for the good of employees. It ultimately caused him less stress because he did not have to go back and “fix” something out-of-whack.
What ways you could “compromise” with a superior, co-worker or direct report that might make your day and week go smoother. Not everything needs to go your way, and the skill of compromising in some situations can be seen as a very positive career enhancer and part of your work resilience.
The workplace point: Sometimes your co-workers or other colleagues are right on about the implementation of a project. I suggest not letting status and (yes) egos get in the way of a great idea.
Adaptability: We have all learned to adapt in our lives one way or another – whether at work or personally. Personally, I’ve had to adapt to a life-long disability known as Cerebral Palsy, which has at least initially affected perceptions of me at work.
The old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover” definitely applies in my case and possibly many colleagues you deal with every day – possibly you. Sometimes initial perceptions get in the way, which might affect you or your team’s productivity at work. Such unfounded perceptions can cause you stress and may make you pop a few antacids during the day.
I’m now in my 50, but 30 years ago I was a par golfer. Phil Mickelson I was not – although I was a lefty, too. But I sank my share of putts for birdies in my time. The point…
Don’t worry that a person may be of a different generation, different gender, different belief or – like me – a bit different physically.
I suggest leaving all that at the door and judge folks on their work and how they get along with you/others. Sounds easy, but I know perceptions can become reality if you are not careful.
Very early in my career, a supervisor was so caught up with my disability, he would go down to the lunch room to get me something to eat, never schedule a meeting if it was not a long distance away from my office, etc., etc. He was under the mistaken impression that I could not do normal activities. He later said he thought I was in pain when I walked.
Disconnect to the max. He assumed something that he never asked me about and adapted much of his free work time “to help me.” Finally, I sat him down and very gently let him know I never need help unless I ask for it.
He was shocked I walked around the State Fair, and lettered in tennis and golf in high school, etc. When I told him this, he was shocked. But it effectively released him from having to adapt a lot of his day to make my work day better. This, of course, was well before the Americans with Disability Act was enacted in 1988.
The workplace point: My personal example may be on the extreme side, but a resilient mindset partly means you need to be successfully adaptive in your work style with others. I suggest never assuming someone can’t do something or only has a certain skill set without asking or observing the person first.
Please think about two adaptability and compromise moments at work that relieved your stress in the past, or ones you would have like to have done differently.
Knowing Your Strengths – and Weaknesses. Now let’s talk about how your resilient mindset plays into strengths and, yes, our weaknesses. All of us have tremendous personal and professional strengths – and, of course, a few weaknesses along the way.
As we talk through this section, please think about ways you use your tremendous strengths to be a great person, employee and/or supervisor.
When doing this, then think about the ways your perceived weaknesses sometimes mask the best that you are. As employees, all of us want to feel great about our work and have a sense of accomplishment without feeling like you are gasping for breath or waiting for the next crisis to hit.
While we need to understand our weaknesses, I contend (for our health, happiness and well-being) we should focus on what we do well in at work, instead of always dwelling on the things we don’t do so wonderfully.
It’s definitely easier said than done. I know I could list work weaknesses easier than writing down the same amount of strengths. Studies show that our strength/weakness thought process is just the way our brains are connected and how societal norms prompt us to view ourselves.
In a job, though, I have found my greatest success when I am totally focused on what I do best. I know we don’t always get accolades on your strengths at work. Rather, some corporate cultures rate you more on your possible missteps.
I m usually a very laid-back consensus-builder type of guy at work, and I am not at my best when I step out of character – being too inflexible and stubborn. I definitely can exhibit all these sometimes-perceived weaknesses but my strength I strive for is being the compassionate, team guy in most work situations
What type are you at work?
Knowing my particular strengths have helped successfully stay on the same resilient page. When I was asked to create a layoff communications plan a number of years back that would affect so many of my work friends – and ultimately me -the first draft was not seen as “hard enough” by the executive team. I’m not good at being too hard.
I took the critique by upper management, and used my strengths of adaptability and patience to craft a more direct yet sensitive communications plan that was implemented.
The workplace point: Unless you lack some core skills, I suggest not worrying as much your weaknesses. Spend at least 80 percent of the time demonstrating your strengths to your work world. You’ll feel happier and a lot better of yourself, while showing what you do best. You were hired for your strengths – showing this part of your resilient mindset every day will keep you healthy.
A study has show that workers can improve their strengths by up to 30 percent. If they use the same amount of time to improve their weaknesses, they can only get less than a 10 percent improvement rate. If we have a glaring weakness, that is a different story but…focus on your strengths, my friends.
In Part II of this article next week, I will talk about finding common ground, dealing with work setbacks and enjoying your time at work – where you may spend more than one-third of your years in life.
Your comments have been very inspiring…thank you! I appreciate linking to my resiliency site – www.resiliencyfirst.com – and I will talk with you again next week about some amazing news!
Photo By: alibubba