Resilience at Work

For several years now, I have been fascinated with the subject of “resiliency.” Maybe it is because I know that success as a small business owner is hugely a matter of being resilient with all of the ups and downs that are part of the ride. A high degree of resilience is required to be successful, over the long run, in any business environment—large or small.

I’ve often wondered why some people go through trauma (we all do eventually) and come out stronger. Others recover to the level they were before the event, and many, many others crash and never recover, sometimes adopting a sense of learned helplessness. Why the different outcomes?

As part of research I’ve conducted on this unique subject, I read a great book that speaks directly to resiliency in the work environment.  The book, Resilience at Work, by Salvatore Maddi and Deborah Khoshaba, is a great resource for anyone interested in improving their own abilities around resiliency, and/or creating a work and organizational culture that fosters resilient attitudes and behaviors.

The authors point out that, in their opinion, the key to resilience is “hardiness.”  World War II pilot and POW Lou Zamperini, whose story is told in the great book, Unbroken, is an example of an individual with an unusually high degree of hardiness.  To grow in hardiness, an individual needs to approach life’s inevitable changes and problems with an attitude of the 3 C’s:

Commitment— to your job, to your family, to your life’s pursuits
Control—take direct, hands-on action
Challenge—to embrace change as a normal and beneficial part of the life process

The opposite of these 3 C’s is to approach change with an attitude of isolation, powerlessness, and threat. These attitudes can lead to a downward spiral to despair and hopelessness.

My personal goal is to become more and more resilient, and to embrace and recognize the growth that comes through working through adversities. I’d like my organization to have the same culture. The two books mentioned above are great references to improve one’s personal or the organization’s overall capabilities to be strongly resilient.

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