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Looking up from lockdown: Five ways to be more resilient during the coronavirus

5 minute read

Phillippa Hurrell

If ever there was a time for us to increase our personal resilience, it is now.

Resilience is our ability to cope with, and bounce back from, setbacks. Issues are inevitable, but how you choose to deal with them impacts not only you but your business and its performance.

Being resilient is not something innate that we have from birth, we can all choose to develop it. Business owners that have high levels of resilience manage stress well, recover quickly from setbacks and promptly come up with innovative plans to move their business forward.

This article will take you through five steps that, if you put into practice, will increase your resilience and help your business grow, even through uncertain times.

1. Acceptance

Have you accepted the impact COVID-19 has had on your business and life?

Acceptance is a simple concept; it means we understand that what has happened cannot be changed. Acceptance is important as it allows you to open up to new possibilities. You no longer put energy into fighting or questioning it. Instead, you put your energy into moving forward.

First, we must acknowledge what has happened. This cannot be rushed, it might take you a few hours, days or even weeks. We are human beings and, by our nature, emotional. It’s important at this phase to acknowledge the emotions you are feeling and be honest about them.

Write down how you are feeling, tell a trusted friend or family member. Sharing emotions is like a release valve that lets the pressure out. It’s one of the first steps in solving a problem. Emotions do not make you weak, they make you human and it’s a question of what we do about them and how long we choose to sit on them. Just be aware that the longer you choose to sit on the negative emotions, the more ingrained they become.

Ask yourself questions that can help you move out of this phase such as: is my current response appropriate and effective? Will it help my business? What can the business learn from this situation? What positives can I find in this situation?

2. Radical responsibility

Are you being 100% accountable for what you do next?

When bad things happen in our lives the invitation is there to blame others and become bitter for our bad luck. It might be tempting to tell all that will listen of your unique bad luck in a certain situation. This stance is called learned helplessness and involves telling a story so often that you cannot do anything to help yourself but believe it.

The alternative perspective is to take full-blown responsibility for what you do next and what you choose to learn, what opportunities you choose to see and whether you choose to do something useful and positive. Our brains are amazing machines; they do what we instruct them to. Are you instructing your brain to find the possibilities and ideas to move you forward?

3. Positive mindset

Are you choosing a mindset that is going to help you?

Our mindset is a way of thinking, a set of beliefs that govern how we feel and how we choose to react to situations.

Your mindset has a huge impact on the course of your life.

Is yours helping or hindering you? There are two particular mindsets that will help boost your resilience:

Focus on not merely surviving but thriving

Our lives are built on change; just think about how much change you have already successfully navigated in your life. From school to technology, moving house to changes in your family, friendships groups and illness and bereavement. You have so many examples of where you have been resilient and come through the change stronger.

Having a mindset fixed on your ability to not just survive during change but thrive, will help. Some businesses and people will come out of the current pandemic stronger, more customer-focused, streamlined and confident – so why shouldn’t you?

Gratitude

The second mindset is one of gratitude. If you are grateful for what you have, you will end up with more of it. Choosing every day to fix your mindset on what you have and what you are grateful for changes how your brain is wired and you very quickly start to notice all the amazing things that you have access to.

Focus on all that you have rather than what you lack. Spending one minute everyday writing down three things you are grateful for will help you think positively during these uncertain and worrying times. 

4. Self-belief:

Do you believe you can get through this?

One of the biggest studies on the impact of self-belief was carried out by Albert Bandura and he found that a person’s self-belief is a significantly better predictor of future success than the actual results people have produced in the past.

So, what you have done in the past does not matter as much as how much you believe in yourself right now!

A good place to start in building self-belief is to notice all of the brilliant qualities you already possess. You are hugely valuable, you are unique, you are what has created your business and no one else has your specific set of skills, knowledge and capabilities.

Some people believe how valuable they are is based on their net worth or how big their business is and how many customers they have. Your value is ‘you’, you created all of those things. We forget where our success comes from and that we are capable of creating so much more.

5. Positive goals

Have you got clear, defined and inspiring goals?

Goal setting is a simple way to help you feel like you are back in control.

Step one: Start by visualising what you want to happen.

Think about one year ahead (be positive and realistic) and allow your mind to create a vision of your future. How will you be feeling, what have you learned, how are you serving your customers? Having a clear purpose is really important for remaining resilient. Are your goals compelling? What could make these goals a 10 out of 10 for you? 

Step two: Write down all the ways you could start to make these goals happen and all the options available to you.

Stretch your thinking beyond what you would normally consider. What could you do? What have others done in the past? The more you stretch your thinking, the better you will feel. It reinforces how many ways there are to look at any given situation or solve any problem, which stops you feeling stuck.

Step three: Choose the best options and start to research steps to move this forward.

Imagine if you took positive action every day to make these goals happen. Where would you be in six months? Information can empower you and it can stop you feeling stuck. A person with a smartphone now has more information, insight and data at their fingertips than world leaders and the biggest companies did 15 years ago.

There is so much research and advice online to help you understand and act on the current climate. From what the experts believe the impacts will be (McKinsey & Company’s website has some interesting reading) to data on the changes in consumer habits in economies that are coming out of lockdown ahead of us.

Research how your specific industry is adapting and how other businesses are changing. What can you learn from the last recession and the companies that came out of that stronger? What can you learn about innovation, strategy and helping your business pivot? And what can you learn from consumer forums? It’s about what proactive research you can do to gather insight that will help. Research, insight and data helps but is all pointless if you don’t take action and learn.

And lastly, what we practice, we become, and most people have spent their lives telling themselves they can’t go after what they want, holding themselves back and playing it safe. Maybe it’s time to really think about what you want and have the courage to go after it!

For other helpful and practical advice on running a business through COIVD-19, take a look at these resources:

Phillippa's focus is on helping people and businesses transform. Having been Head of Department in her 20’s and Company Director in her 30’s, Phillippa now consults with senior boards and leadership teams whilst still running three businesses day-to-day. Phillippa's specialism is supporting individuals and organisations that want to make a step change in performance.

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