Six steps to building a bulletproof vest: Why resilience matters

Six steps to building a bulletproof vest: Why resilience matters

So someone gave you some negative feedback, a client complained, a helpful colleague shared that mistake you made with the entire office. You want to curl up in a ball and hide under your desk until the next asteroid comes and wipes all life from the planet.

Or perhaps the economy took an unexpected turn and business today isn’t what it was last month. Maybe you lost a client. Perhaps a client went out of business, short-changing you on compensation owed. You’re left wondering why you bother at all.

While dealing with significant life-changing events is one thing — and a whole other post — it’s our ability to cope with the day to day challenges of work that really sets the survivors apart from those who give up at the first challenge. It’s where leaders are made and followers fall behind, desperate to catch up.

The best means of coping with the day-to-day challenges that come up is by preparing yourself for the worst. So get your bulletproof vest on by deploying the following six key strategies:

  1. Stop and consider the broader perspective. Get your priorities in order and the day to day setbacks you experience will find their place on the scale of what really matters too. Don’t wait for setbacks to remind you of the broader perspective but rather keep the big picture at the forefront of your activities: this big picture could include everything from your ultimate career goals, to your family at home or a great project you’re determined to achieve no matter what comes your way.
  2. Separate work from life. While there is merit in ‘blending’ these two areas of our lives, those who find they’re easily distracted or put off by minor setbacks in the office should do everything they can to build boundaries around their work and keep it well away from life at home. Setbacks are easier to deal with if they can be contained. Close the door of your office, walk away, and return with a clear head in the morning.
  3. Remember your ‘write a plan’ strategy. A good way to prepare for the worst is to remember you can always plan your way out of it. Experiment with one of your previous setbacks as practice: what would have been your five-point strategy for getting out of it? What’s the one lesson you can take away from the challenge you experienced?
  4. Consider how time will soften the blow. Think, will this setback matter tomorrow? Probably. How about next week? Probably not. And next year? It’s highly unlikely. Time heals many things and it can often be all that’s needed to get through those setbacks that seem utterly debilitating when they occur, but hardly worthy of a mention later on.
  5. See every setback as an opportunity. The best lessons in life come from actual life experience. All the little setbacks we encounter present a chance for learning something about ourselves, about others, or about our work. Expect setbacks to occur and remember they make progress possible with the lessons they teach.

Know what goes up must come … okay, so not everything has to come down. But the feeling of making it ‘up there’ will only be as satisfying as what it’s taken you to get there. If a great day at work was easy to achieve, everyone would be having it. If it was easy to get the success you want, everyone would be getting it. The best victories are those that saw setbacks turned around.


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