Here’s the deal with leadership: it’s hard. And it’s not getting any easier. There are more challenges and more pressure on leaders than ever before. Impossible deadlines, endless projects, “firefighting,” and people issues fill the days.
To get through these challenges, we tell ourselves things like…
“As soon as this project is completed, things will get back to normal…”
“Once we hire for this position, I won’t have to work on these long hours…”
“As soon as I meet this deadline I can relax…”
“If only traffic wasn’t so slow, I could get to that meeting on time…”
The reality is that once you complete a project, there will be three new projects that require your attention. As soon as one deadline is complete, there are more to take its place. And for most of us, annoyances like traffic are a daily occurrence. These challenges are not going to slow down.
So how do you become an exception leader in spite of all of this? You must strengthen your resiliency muscle.
Imagine you are running behind for an important meeting because you are stuck in traffic. You do the speed up/slam on brakes motion to try to get ahead. You tailgate the car in front of you. You weave in and out of the lanes to get into the fastest moving one. You feel frustrated and annoyed that everyone else is going so slowly. “If only these people would hurry up, I could get to that meeting on time.”
Finally, you arrive at the meeting, flustered, grumpy and 15 minutes late. “Sorry I’m late” you grumble, “traffic was horrible.”
So, you’ve spend a chucnk of your valuable time stressing about something that you have no control over (traffic) and blaming everyone else for your tardiness. The time that could have been spent mentally preparing for the meeting was wasted cursing the cars in front of you. You are emotionally spun up over something you could not even change and that energy follows you into your meeting.
Here’s what the same situation looks like when you’re flexing your resiliency muscle:
You realize you’re running a few minutes late. You text your colleague to let her know. On the way to the office you are clear headed and use the opportunity to prepare for the meeting. You arrive at the meeting a few minutes late and apologize for the tardiness. You are fully prepared and ready for the meeting and what it brings.
Think of your challenges as opportunities. Opportunities to strengthen your resiliency and better prepare you for the next time an unexpected project pops up or an employee gives their notice. The next time a challenging situation arises, big or small, think about these guidelines for building resiliency.
What is my role in this?
How am I impacting the situation? Am I looking at someone else as the problem or is the problem me? In the traffic example, the driver placed blame on the other drivers. However, the more likely issue is that he didn’t allow himself enough time to get to his destination.
What’s my story?
What is the story I’m telling myself? In the example the story was “These people are so slow! They’re messing with my schedule! If they would just hurry up I could get there on time!” As a result, his frustration grew. When feeling frustration, tell yourself, “practice patience.” This will quiet the story and keep emotions neutral.
How flexible am I?
In this case, the driver was determined to get to the meeting on time, regardless of traffic. He did not consider other options like letting his colleague know he was going to be late or calling into the meeting instead of attending in person. This rigidity creates unnecessary stress and a heightened state of emotion. The ability to go with the flow increases your resilience and alleviates unnecessary frustration.
Want to learn more about resiliency in leadership? Give us a call at (888) 529-0240 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!