Reading time: 3 minutes

Resilience is the new buzz word in leadership and management circles. Rightly so in a business world that is changing constantly with challenges, disappointments and tough decisions appearing daily.

Being resilient means different things to different people. For some its creating that super tough exterior, for others it’s about being vulnerable and feeling the blow of a decision that doesn’t go your way and getting on with the task anyway.

Kevin Dutton is the well-known post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, and a member of the Oxford Centre for Emotions and Affective Neuroscience.

His definition of resilience centres around the ability to adapt in the face of adversity, disappointment, threat or uncertainty. This could be anything from relationship problems or health problems to losing money. It could even be the everyday stress of being under pressure at work or struggling to make deadlines.

It’s not that, he says, resilient people don’t experience these things: ‘It just means a quality that some people have that, when they’re knocked down by life, they’re able to get back up off the canvas and come back stronger.’

All well and good, though how can you develop your own resilience muscle? Here are several suggestions proven to work.

The mind body connection

The mind, body and emotions are all connected and this fact is well documented. That being the case let’s start with paying attention to your physical wellbeing. During a recent interview Richard Branson talked about his passion for exercise and the impact it has on his mental and emotional state.

He builds in a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise a day into his plan.  Though we aren’t all billionaire entrepreneurs, starting with an hour of exercise could be a positive start.

It’s appropriate to talk about how you fuel your body, too. Food and mood are linked according to data provided by Fundamentals like eating regularly or smaller portions throughout the day are easy ways to control that tendency to be irritated, irrational and emotional; all because it was 8 hours since you last ate.

Start with end in mind

It’s easy to get gripped by the minutia of life or a petty issue in the team which can plug-in your emotions. Instead chunk up and think about the bigger picture and long-term vision that you have. Write your own personal plan statement and read it daily. This will help you keep perspective about what life and work is all about.

Look for the positive intention

Though it might sound like a glib statement, people really are doing the best that they can with the resources available to them. It’s also true that we can choose our response to events and circumstances in our life.

When you view your world from this frame of reference your energy lifts and you will be more positive. Think about what is going right rather than wrong.

Positive people are more resilient than pessimists, and you can work to become more optimistic as soon as today!

Hang around great people

Jim Rohn, the well-known entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker uttered the famous phrase that relates to who we spend our time with and what we do.

He commented “We are the sum of the 5 people we hang around with and the books that we read”. This relates to the law of averages, which is the theory that the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes.

When it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced — whether we like it or not — by those closest to us. It affects our way of thinking, our self-belief and often the decisions we make.

Logically then being buddies with positive resilient people will rub off.

Learn new things consistently

As a leadership and training geek this one is easy for me to achieve, though surprisingly this mindset can be missing in certain organisations and cultures.

Resilience is strongly linked to how we adapt to change. Nothing helps you cope with change more than expanding your mind.

As you become aware of new approaches to leading, your point of view can change. As you now know more and are experiencing different events, circumstances and ways of responding, your resilience muscle will also build.

An additional by-product of this is that your confidence will grow too.

Excel Communications has a 30-year history as a global leadership and communication skills organisation dedicated to exceeding the expectations of clients through the training and development of their business and people.

Best regards


P.S. Useful? If so, please forward to others in your organisation.