Monday, 28 December 2015

The Resilience Factor And Its Significance To Women's Success

Author: Marcia Buxton, BSc, MA 

At a recent roundtable I hosted for women entrepreneurs, we discussed why resilience is important to our success as women in business. Each of the women in attendance mentioned the need to deal with constant pressure, daily challenges, and overcoming setbacks. Many challenges were common to all the women: lack of support at home, financial struggles, debt, and loss of a loved one; miscarriage; loss of a job; workplace bullying; loneliness; ill health; childcare challenges; and other traumatic events. Then there were the business and career challenges - bullying; contracts falling through; associates dropping out; cash flow issues and uncertainty. So how do women deal with such difficult events that change their lives and affect business?

Many people react with a wave of emotions, feelings of overwhelm and a sense of uncertainty. Yet, people can adapt well over time to such stressful and challenging situations. So, the obvious question is what enables them to do so? I believe it is the power to bounce back, the capacity to overcome - the resilience factor Recovering from the unpredictable is one of the biggest challenges faced by anyone, and you could say, particularly difficult for you as a woman managing your own business - including your day to day activity and your energy. Things change, people disappoint, setbacks happen, all of which can be beyond your control. We have all had difficult weeks and challenging periods in both our professional and personal lives. Sometimes things simply do not go to plan. Entrepreneurs talk a lot about balance and often feel frustrated at the lack of any in their lives. Wouldn’t it be great to know you have the resilience to bounce back quickly? And what about the ability to build a personal model for living and running your business in an adaptive, health and productive way? 

Resilience is the process by which you function well under pressure, recover quickly from adversity and develop adaptive coping behaviours. “Enhancing mental toughness, highlighting and honing strengths, and fostering strong relationships are core competencies for any successful entrepreneur.”

We all have three connected sources of resilience: 

  •  Cognitive resilience that supports positive and constructive thinking.
  •  Emotional Resilience supporting how we handle our emotions. 
  •  Behavioural Resilience supporting effective action. Strengthen these three areas and your resilience will be built on solid foundations. 

  1. For Cognitive Resilience: Be Optimistic Successful people are resilient because they exhibit a positive mindset. They are optimists. They see the facts with clarity and do not let negative feelings distort reality, that is, exaggerate the challenge or problem or limit their capacity to overcome. Decide to challenge your negative beliefs recognising any unproductive negative thinking styles and letting them go. Instead choose optimism and look for positive in all you do. Women who are optimistic believe they are in control of their futures, that they can influence the outcome and learning. Optimism correlates with resilience and therefore with success.
  2. Emotional Resilience: Recognise the Signs Self-awareness is important as you need to develop insight into your own emotional style and behaviour in stress situations. Although, easier said than done, relaxation works when feeling stressed, uncertain and overwhelmed. Setting aside some time to unwind can be a good way of easing the pressure. Whether its yoga or meditation, or even a walk in the park, time out of a normal busy schedule can help you get a new perspective and support you in building both your emotional and cognitive resilience. Take time to make sure you are having fun. After all, isn't that one of the reason why you are in business in the first place? Laughter can reduce stress and help us feel more positive. Even if you don’t feel ‘in the mood,’ making an effort to do fun activities, particularly when they are with friends, can mitigate the effects of pressure and overwhelm.
  3. Behavioural Resilience: Know your strengths and look after you. Think about what you do really well. What kind of work comes really easily to you? In what particular situations do you fly? The strengths you utilise in these situations, the strengths and capacities you are excited about when you use them, the strengths that set you apart are your core strengths. Whether - wisdom, courage, integrity, self-control, perseverance, forgiveness. Whatever they are — use them with confidence. Your competence level will determined how adaptable and resilient you will be. With energy, you have resilience. When adverse situations occur, you burn physical and mental energy to face them, often running down your reserves. But resilience will allow you to quickly get back into a place where your strength is renewed and you are enjoying life again. Women need to be resilient in order to keep functioning at the peak of their ability. One way to do so is to create a personal model for living that keeps the mind and body fit healthy and productive.
This approach will need to include simple strategies, such as: 
  • Making sure you have enough sleep 
  • Exercise and pay attention to your physical health.
  • Nurture and extend your support network. A strong support network of family and friends who believe in you, whether the winds are blowing your way or not. Have a positive influential group of supporters around your business who are willing to help you. 
  • Make time for creativity

Allow resilience to be the secret factor of your success as female entrepreneur. Resilience takes time to build, so it’s important not to be discouraged if you don’t see the effects immediately. Instead, persevere with the strategies you find work best, and be assured that resilience is not innate and is something that can be learned. 

The woman who trusts her ability to understand, perform and master the world around her will get up faster when knocked back, because she take this as a lesson rather than defeat - she has the resilience factor and it has a signature in her life.

I will like to end by sharing this quote by Mike Norton about resilience :-
Never say that you can't do something, or that something seems impossible, or that something can't be done, no matter how discouraging or harrowing it may be; human beings are limited only by what we allow ourselves to be limited by: our own minds. We are each the masters of our own reality; when we become self-aware to this: absolutely anything in the world is possible. Master yourself, and become king of the world around you. Let no odds, chastisement, exile, doubt, or any fears prevent you from accomplishing your dreams. Never be a victim of life; be its conqueror. 

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