By Essie Bester
Resilience – that ability to bounce back quickly when something goes wrong rather than collapsing under pressure – is like a muscle. You can only exercise it if you have to react to a stressful incident. The more you are knocked down and get up again, the stronger and more fearless you become.
Resilient people are those who manage to adapt well in the light of misfortune, such as a serious accident, a financial setback or something similar. Of course, like any other person they still experience the intensity of a difficult situation – but they have found a better (and quicker) way to tackle it, says Dr. Kristen Lee, a Boston researcher and professional speaker about mental health.
Resilience can be acquired
All of us possess a measure of resilience. Although some people are by nature more resilient, this behaviour can be acquired – something that is essential for a successful career.
Nowadays work environments are often uncertain, complex, erratic and ambiguous. The company you work for may be laying off workers or you are overlooked for that promotion for which you worked so hard – all scenarios that can threaten to derail your career.
Unavoidable career challenges like these can only be overcome if you possess resilience. Dr. Lee’s research shows that purposeful efforts to cultivate our resilience, strengthens our tendency thereto. Specific habits, conduct and thinking patterns can in other words help to improve our resilience.
The following strategies will help you to cultivate resilience and achieve career success:
- Develop an effective network
An effective network is much more than handing out name-cards. It is a process. With time you build bridges which can benefit you and your contacts, provided you focus on building relationships and not contacts. Begin by cherishing your existing network while eventually establishing new contacts. Don’t just ask what you can get out of the situation, but also see what you could mean to them.
“All of us are natural networkers who liaison with others the whole day,” says Samantha Crous, general manager of the Corporate Research Foundation (CRF) South Africa. Any meeting with another person as well as the quality of every conversation are important – even those at the dentist, a children’s party or the gym.
- Manage your career like a business
Take ownership of your career. Manage it as if you arening run your own undertaking. Tom Peters, the well-known American author about business management, says you should view yourself as the chief executive officer of your own company. Identify your strong points and unique qualities and build your brand around them.
Ask yourself: What is important to me? What do I want to project? Does my image resemble that? Then make sure you communicate clearly who you are and what you do. In this way you will stand out and attract the attention of prospective clients and employees. You have to instil trust – then others will invest in you financially and emotionally.
- Become a life-long learner
Continuous learning is a key component of career resilience. Keep abreast of the latest technology, complete online courses and attend business conferences. It is extremely important that you take the lead yourself when it comes to your development and honing your skills. Knowledge is something that will benefit you your entire life and anything you can do to develop your expertise will boost your self-confidence and resilience.
- Regard setbacks as opportunities
An unfavourable incident can offer a potential opportunity. Learn to cultivate an optimistic mind-set. It is after all not what happens to you, but how you handle it that makes the difference.
History proves that often the most successful people are also the most resilient. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter manuscript was rejected by 12 publishers before being accepted. Walt Disney was fired by the editor of the Kansas City Star because according to him Disney had no imagination or good ideas.
You are more resilient than you realise. The secret is to when next you experience a setback in your career, think back on a time in your life when you were able to persevere and kept going.