Sometimes things seem to conspire against you and you lose the plot; stress hormones get released, your heart starts pounding and your sense of humour makes a swift exit ‘stage left’.

Feeling pressurised and flustered, you find yourself making poor decisions, ones you’ll regret later. Sound at all familiar? How much better would it be if we were able to remain resilient in the face of all the challenges we face every day that can take so much out of us?

Business owners, managers and employees who are resilient have a definite edge; they perform better and are able to sustain that performance when the going gets tough. They have more energy, are more resourceful, creative and connected and embrace change, successfully leading their teams who in turn achieve more.

I have found that people in leadership positions who have been identified as being resilient have some specific qualities and skills. Most crucial are three fundamental capabilities; self-care, pacing and being able to gain perspective on whatever you are dealing with.

So how can we develop and strengthen these capabilities?

  • Look after yourself; your physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing. This is everything from good nutrition, regular exercise and sufficient sleep to good social and support structures and positive relationships. Hobbies and interests that you enjoy and which bring you into community and collaboration with others are part of this. And don’t forget that part of looking after yourself is having some fun! Having a conscious focus on enjoying ourselves and laughing on a regular basis may not seem very ‘business-like’ but it has proven health benefits.
  • Pace yourself; so you have time to accomplish your tasks and space to think, and this means saying no when you need to and prioritising well. Along with self-care, good pacing supports your ability to avoid being overwhelmed, a key source of stress for most of us. When we are looking after ourselves and have time to think, plan and deliver effectively, we have more energy so that when a sudden surge is required to tackle an urgent challenge or emergency, we can release the energy we need and bounce back much more quickly.
  • Get perspective on situations; this means being able to stand back and see the big picture, to view things from the perspective of others and to realise just what is important to us in any given situation. Is it really vital I respond to that email immediately or could it wait? Is the real reason I keep saying yes actually that I just want to please?
Resilience is fundamentally about our ability to learn from our experiences. When we become aware that we are not looking after ourselves, saying yes when we need to say no or responding without a sense of perspective, then we can do something about it. Those who learn from their experiences and take action, however difficult, can improve their resilience and protect themselves from stress.

By Charlotte Hitchings, Area Governor, Toastmasters International