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How to build your own resilience
Hello there and thanks as ever for listening today we are talking about developing, building your resilience. Now resilience comes from the Latin resilience, however you pronounce that, which is bouncing back. So the idea is really at its simplest, bouncing back from setbacks and in the context of business. I think developing your resilience, developing your confidence as well is absolutely critical. And it’s one of my five pillars in fact of creating a sustainable escape plan from the corporate nine to five.
Now it may be one of those buzz word topics, so apologies for that, but there’s probably a reason for that. I’ve been running a few webinars recently on stress and resilience for some of my corporate clients. You hear more and more about it in the media and of course the topic of mental health, such an important one is becoming a big important part of the national conversation, which is good, thank goodness.
So resilience, the ability to bounce back, to sort of integrate bad experiences and move on, to keep moving on.
Now, why is this important in the context of working for yourself in running a business or even just changing direction in your career? Well, the thing is you’re outside of the safety of your comfort zone. In particular, when you’re starting your own business, you’re no longer in full time employment or about to not be, you’re potentially alone, you feel more exposed. Now, ironically, and I keep reading things about this, so I think the mindset, the conversation is changing here as well.
Ironically, we tend to cling onto the safety and security of a full time job and yet people, and I’m sure you know people, if not you yourself, have been affected by redundancies. People are let go. There are restructurings, there are mergers and things in companies. Everybody faces redundancy at some point in their career and the economy is not always as stable as we want it to be. Now, I’m not saying that working for yourself avoids the economic downturn recessions and so forth. However, you are so much more in control of your own destiny. If you want to go big picture or your specific income, if you want to be a bit more mundane.
In particular, if you have a portfolio career, if you have different diverse income streams, if you continue with your corporate work in perhaps a freelancing capacity, at least in the short term and you build another business, you are so much more in control of your income. You are actually safer and more secure and certainly you have more autonomy, more responsibility and you have more freedom to take care of you, your loved ones and so on. And ultimately I think that’s what we all want to do.
So again, resilience so important because you are outside of the safety of that comfort zone of employment.
So not to say that it is any less safe outside of employment. In fact, again, I would argue that you’re safer when you’re working for yourself, assuming you’ve got certain things in place. However, if you have been in a full time job for many years, decades, even then of course it’s going to be very different for you. You’re going to feel quite exposed and you feel them really keenly these ups and downs. Now there’s the cliched roller coaster of feast and famine that we think freelancers experience. I don’t agree that there has to be the case. Some people will say, and I hear prospects and clients say, “Oh, I know that’s just what working for yourself is like.” No, it doesn’t have to be that way. And there are strategies we can take. We can redesign or refine our business model to diversify income streams. To have different types of packages, to work with different types of clients and so what now.
This is something we’ll be talking about in the coming weeks, but I wanted to focus more on sort of the mental mindset aspect of resilience. So why is it important? Because you are inevitably going to have some ups and downs. You are more exposed, you’re potentially lonely working for yourself by yourself. Now you may have a team, you may have a co-founder, but ultimately you’re very much more exposed than you were in a big team in a big organisation and so on. Not to mention all the safety nets of having your pension and your health insurance and so on.
So again, there are tangible aspects to building a resilience in terms of having savings, looking at your business model, revenue streams, financials. But here today we’re looking more at the mental or personal side of it. So in no particular order, and I don’t have any sort of catchy five top tips for you this week, I just wanted to almost have a stream of consciousness about a few different thoughts around developing your resilience. And one of the things is being flexible and adaptable and accepting that change does happen. And that’s hard. And by the way, that happens in your office as well, right? So your boss can move on or roles will change with the organisation structure and so on.
Some things are outside our control. So going, “Oh, that’s so frustrating.” That’s okay, but not then getting caught up in negativity and just wasting time and energy on really vexing yourself at all these things that you actually can’t control.
So thinking about, hang on a second, this has happened. Sucks for me. But what can I do in this context? How can I actually find the positive, right? Looking for the positive, not to be ridiculously naive and optimistic, but there are often opportunities in adversity. So sometimes people are made redundant and they realise that’s the kick up the backside they needed to go off and actually do what they really want to do. Sometimes there’s something very negative that happens, but actually out of that, out of the ashes will rise the Phoenix and there’s something incredible that you can now do because of this unfortunate circumstance.
So change doesn’t have to be terrible and tragic. It could be something a bit more neutral. It can be unfortunately something personally painful or whatever it might be. Whatever the case, once you’ve mourned, once you’ve been frustrated, you’ve shouted, whatever it is you need to do. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again as Fred Astaire would say, and the being flexible. Adaptable is such an important soft skill to have in today’s world, in today’s economy and certainly as a business owner. So being adaptable, accepting that change happens. Some things just outside of control and you know what? We can have a loose framework strategy. Don’t stick to religiously to your plan and then make sure that you’re able to adapt when needed.
Now I talked about looking for the positive as well. So however bleak, what new opportunities might there be as a result, if you are an eternal optimist, maybe that’s something you could ask. A more theoretical approach. How would you actually look at this? Related to this, we used to say at Proctor and Gamble that when in fact managers said, “Don’t come with problems, come with solutions.” So however junior and inexperienced we were, they wanted us to come, not just saying, “Oh my gosh, this has happened. What’s going to happen? This won’t be ready on time. What are we going to do?” But okay, here’s the context and think about it ourselves before we came to the boss.
Now the boss might then have a solution, which we haven’t thought of, but at least we’ve attempted to think about it. So looking at the situation with curiosity, if possible, a bit of objectivity. How would you advise a friend, a colleague, a client who faced this problem? In a theoretical brainstorming, almost do like a tree diagram. What are all the possible ways of responding and not reacting but responding in this situation? So really embracing problem solving, a problem solving approach rather than just getting caught up in problems. And I see this in so-called prospects, I guess you could potentially be clients, but I don’t think they will become clients because they’re not interested in looking for a solution.
They’ll just say, “Oh, that’ll never work for me because of my situation. You don’t understand now I’ve done all that. I’ve tried all this.”
But of course you haven’t tried everything. And if you have, you know then by all means I think it’s very unlikely that we will have tried everything. Probably you’ve only tried a fraction and you haven’t even tried very much at all. You haven’t worked with someone who is a few steps ahead of you and that can actually guide you. You haven’t actually taken a step back and embraced that positive constructive mindset of, okay, this is the situation again, FML. Is that it? Yes, FML let’s not sweater on the podcast and that sucks, but in this context it’s going to take longer. It’s going to be harder work, but this is so important to me. I’m so committed.
Again, that discipline we talked about a few weeks ago and so how can I begin to have a problem solving approach.
I have this knowledge gap. How can I fill it? There’s this issue. I’m not getting results from this. What can I do to change it? Now, those are sort of practical theoretical, intellectual things. A physical thing I want you to do is to take care of yourself because it’s so much harder to be resilient, to pick us up, to swallow your ego, to keep on going. When you’re not sleeping, when you’re lacking energy, when you’re unwell, I get migraines if I’m pushing myself too hard. If you’re not well then for goodness sake, how on earth you’re going to be all positive and problem solving and adaptable and so on. Right?
So please, please, please prioritise your self care as it’s called these days. Physical health, emotional, mental, spiritual, all aspects of your health, your wellbeing and make sure you’re ready. Prioritising that as a foundation to everything else you do. Related to that in terms of mental and emotional wellbeing, make sure you nurture your social connections. So I often talk about finding your tribe, an online or offline sort of business community. And I’d always recommend you to join my one step outside Facebook group if you haven’t done that already. One step outside and the outside as business accelerator as well as an alternative as a paid programme, where you can work alongside like minded business owners.
However, it’s not just the business context. And by the way many of these business people will become friends as well, which is incredible when you join a programme like this. But really thinking about personal friends, professional, having that community sense of belonging. And when I first started my corporate career, I think I was very lucky because some of the girls who had transferred from a different company in Germany, they only knew each other. I felt that they knew the colleagues. And so every day they’d be on their BlackBerries chatting about the latest perfume launch and dramatising whatever it was.
Because I had studied in Geneva before I started at the company there in Geneva. I had a network of friends who I would see and they’d go, “How was your work?” And I’d spend two minutes saying it and then they’d be bored and we’d talk about something else. So maybe you need people who don’t get what it’s like to be a business owner and who just can chat about something completely different. So really nurture your social connections. So you have that network, net, whatever you want to call it, of cheerleaders, of supporters, of people he can vent to, of people who do get it. People who don’t get it. Find the people who you need.
And I guess finally, although there’s so many things talk about here, I think we need a bit of a sense of humour.
A bit of the FML sucks for me kind of approach. You know what? It’s hard if you don’t know whether to laugh or cry when something happens. In a few weeks, months time, you can tell a story, you can write a blog post about it, you can share it as a vulnerable post and you can write an article. Share it in a podcast episode in the future and you can go as I often do. You know what? When I was first starting out, this is what happens and this is what I learned.
So in the future, and try to do that, by the way. Take a step back. Imagine, am I going to care about this in 10 years time? Probably not. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at the situation. It’s so ridiculous. You know what? What can we do? It sucks. It’s rubbish. I can’t believe all these things have happened in one go. And one day I thought I had 10 contracts coming in. Now I have none or this has happened. It’s completely out of my control. Ha, ha, ha. Oh well. And then again, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try something else.
So really having a sense of humour I think is key to that resilience. And again, if we just take everything super seriously, and I did talk last week about taking a business seriously, but that doesn’t mean that we need to be super serious and hardcore all the time. Really enjoying the process. And as a tangent, I was talking to a client about this the other day. He was exploring developing sort of a passion project potentially into a side hustle, a business. And he was getting stressed about it because he is incredibly good at what he does and he really wants to do an amazing job. But I reminded him, hang on a second and he reminded himself, the whole point of this is to be enjoying this. The whole point of us designing these businesses is that we’re loving them, is that we’re enjoying the work we’re doing. And yes, there will be aspects that we don’t love. And yes, it’ll suck when some things go wrong, but overall, ultimately we want the sum of positive things to be more than the negative.
So if it’s not, you know what, then we need to make some changes. But ultimately again, these ups and down, the roller coaster, it doesn’t have to be so extreme. We can make savvy business choices to even out those ups and downs. And by the way, we need to even out the ups as much as the downs. Now this might sound a bit negative, but it’s very easy. And I see this again, again, for people to celebrate. Oh my goodness, this incredible thing has happened, it’s so amazing. And you get carried away and then you come crashing down all the more painfully when you have that inevitable dip. And it’s not to say that we shouldn’t. And in fact it’s really important to celebrate when things go really well. But just acknowledge it, celebrate it, and then okay, back to work. Keep doing what I’m doing. Whether it’s a negative, it’s a dip or a massive peak, and if it’s a positive an incredible thing, acknowledge it, mourn it, celebrate it depending on the situation and then just keep going.
Again, we talked about the discipline the last few weeks. Last week we talked about really embracing the mindset of business owner, showing up, doing the work. I’m always talking about being consistent all the time. Now, of course, again, there will be times when we’re not very well. There will be stuff that we need to deal with that will take longer. That’s okay. Be in it for the long haul. Know that these are setbacks. They might be major setbacks, but it’s okay for now. You put it to one side, you do what you have to do and then when you’re ready you pick it up again. Maybe you’ll never be ready and that’s okay too, or maybe this will be dealt with quite quickly and you can move on again.
Now I’m just talking in very general terms. It’s hard to speak to a specific personal issue, but I hope you’re hearing me. I hope this is resonating perhaps with something that you’ve been going through or certainly will go through at some point because we all do. So again, this is the ability to bounce back, to integrate bad experiences, to see them as learning opportunities, challenges, temporary setbacks, and then to focus on the long haul to keep plugging away. To keep moving forwards, to make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves, to nurture our social connections and not just the business ones, the mentors and coaches, but also friends and family who are going to pick up the pieces. But also not understand, in fact and just and give us a complete break from the craziness that is running your own business.
Look for the positive, be flexible, adaptable, embrace problem-solving, rather than getting into that spiral of negativity and listing all the reasons why this is never going to work.
And above all retain your sense of humour. You will laugh about it at some point, don’t you worry. So maybe you can’t right now, but just take a bit of a step back. Think, you know what, from a massive big picture perspective, this isn’t the end of the world. It’s really disappointing. But Hey ho, off we go and let’s try again.
So I hope that was a little bit inspiration, a bit of a push maybe I’m in the right direction. Certainly I’d love for you to think about what you could do to build your resilience. And I’m sure you can come up with lots of other things. It’s such a big topic, but really think about how you can get better at managing those ups and downs. And again, we’ll talk business strategy in the coming weeks, but for now we’re looking at sort of the personal mindset attitude side. So have you found that interesting. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next week. Bye for now.
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