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10 Habits Of Resilient Employees And How Company Leaders Can Support Them

“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”—Paul Brandt It’s not accidental that some companies have higher employee engagement, morale and productivity and lower absenteeism, burnout and turnover. What are they doing that separates them from organizations lagging behind? They make employee resilience and well-being top priority. But there’s an irony to this story. By putting employee self-care at the top of the list, top-notch companies automatically boost the organization’s bottom line.

A Winning Frame Of Mind Michele Sullivan, former President of the Caterpillar Foundation, was born with a rare form of dwarfism that created many challenges in her daily life. She is the epitome of a resilient corporate leader, having once told me: “For you, having a door held may be a very nice gesture from a stranger. For me, it is a requirement to enter most buildings that do not have automatic doors. It requires me to ask for a lot of help, and once I finally learned to embrace that reality, the universe answered back with thunderous support. Where I had once seen obstacles, I changed my perspective and viewed them instead as advantages. I now call this the ‘Looking Up’ philosophy, and it is how I live my life each day. “ Michele is so caught up in looking at the advantages that they eclipse her losses. She’s a challenged woman living a rich life, simply because of her perspective. Few of us have Michele’s challenge and still have difficulty coping. Compare Michele’s perspective to that of Ralph, who came barreling into my office during tax season, slinging his backpack onto the sofa and spurting curse words. When I asked him what was the matter, he groaned that he had to pay a half million dollars in taxes. When I asked how much he made for the year, he offhandedly mumbled, “Oh, five or six million.” Ralph was so caught up in his loss that it eclipsed his gain—a rich man living an impoverished life. Some career people are born with pit-bull determination, less affected by stressful situations and more resilient to change. Others are more vulnerable to the arrows of everyday pressures. But regardless of where you fall, you can cultivate a winning frame of mind also known as a growth mindset—the belief that defeat happens for you, not to you. If you have a growth mindset, you consider success and failure a package deal—like a hand and glove, milk and cookies, flip sides of the same coin—twins, not enemies. It’s an understanding that avoidance of failure morphs into avoidance of success. In order to attain what you want, you recognize you must be willing to accept what you don’t want. Instead of giving up, you welcome obstacles, setbacks and disappointments—no matter how painful, frustrating, big or small—as opportunities to grow and learn instead of as defeat. You think of defeat as a personal trainer when hopelessness sets in after a setback: an impossible deadline, a lousy review from your boss, a missed promotion or the rumble of your own self-doubt. You tell yourself you want to give up, but you don’t really want to quit. You just want the hurt and disappointment to stop, understandably so. At the time that might feel like the only option, but it isn’t. Perhaps you haven’t actually failed. Chances are, “failure” is what you call it when you don’t meet career expectations, things don’t turn out the way you planned or you’re simply traversing a valley that everyone goes through before reaching the mountain of success. Failure is heartbreaking, but it can also be an impetus to keep going when you possess the following traits:

10 Habits of Resilient Employees 1. Grow thick skin and expect rejection and setbacks. Commit yourself in advance to facing the many smack downs you will encounter like all successful people before you. 2. Ditch the desire for comfort and step into growth pains. Be willing to go to the edge of your emotional pain so you can be fully present with what lays beyond the barrier. 3. Be willing to postpone immediate gratification in the short term for the fulfillment of your goals in the long term. 4. Cultivate spring back sustainability. Think of yourself as an elastic band that bends and stretches to a certain point before you spring back higher than you fall. 5. Refer to previous experience. Reflect on past obstacles you’ve overcome in your climb. Point to lessons learned and your personal resources and underscore ways you have grown stronger through past hard knocks. 6. Identify self-doubts that have cramped your work style or crippled you from growing fully. Harness them—instead of running from them—and channel them into useful skills so they don’t paralyze you. 7. Stay off the roller coaster. Manage the ups-and-downs of your life by treating highs and lows equally. Celebrate the highs but don’t take them any more seriously than the lows, and don’t take smack downs any more seriously than upswings. 8. Eschew the what-the-hell effect. This attitude only adds insult to injury. Face letdowns by taking the towel you want to throw in and use it to wipe the sweat off your face then ask, what you can learn that will help you grow. 9. Practice positive self-talk and optimism. Avoid negative put-downs and criticisms. Instead of bludgeoning yourself after a setback, give yourself positive affirmations and encouragement to get back in the saddle. 10. Catch yourself when you fall. After a setback or discouraging situation, your motivation bounces back quicker when you support yourself with compassion. Instead of kicking yourself when you’re down, be on your own side, wish yourself well, and be your number one cheerleader as you progress on your career trajectory.

Exemplary Companies Support Workforce Resilience In order to achieve your career goals and move the company in the right direction, resilient workers need the support of upper management. When an employer’s support is absent, workers feel like they’re on an island on their own. Truth be told, they are. Several 2020 surveys show that the American workforce feels unappreciated and ignored from higher-ups and gratitude and appreciation is what they want to improve their engagement, performance and mental health. Although resilience is each worker’s individual responsibility, it’s difficult to accomplish—no matter how resilient, motivated and devoted to the job—if the employer isn’t on board with their well-being. But when companies put policies in place that foster workplace resilience, everybody benefits. So what does resilient leadership look like? In a resilient workplace, company higher-ups make employee mental and physical health a priority. They have a clear vision for workers and display strong, confident leadership. They give meaningful and balanced feedback and dole out appreciation and gratitude like throwing doubloons at a Mardi Gras parade. Resilient companies prioritize self-care and understand it goes hand in hand with job performance. They listen to employees and show empathy, factoring worker concerns into their decision making. They are committed to creating psychological safety and open communication, and they set the stage by example. When resilient leaders are wrong, don’t have an answer or make a mistake, they admit it instead of covering it up, and they encourage employees to do the same. This type of honesty builds mutual trust and provides psychological safety, giving employees autonomy to make decisions and think outside the box without fear of reprisal. Once you have the support of a successful workplace in your hip pocket, the rest is up to your growth mindset. You start to accept failure as an essential stepping-stone to career success, you give yourself permission to make the mistakes necessary to get where you want to go. The more you accept failure, the more opportunities you have to accept success and bounce back higher than you fall. And every time you fail—instead of giving up—you do what every successful career climber before you did: take the towel you want to throw in, wipe the sweat off your brow and plot your next forward move. Source:

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