There’s a lot of talk in leadership circles about resilience and how leaders have to be resilient. I agree but the way it’s talked about it comes across as this mystical state that is only available to a lucky few. Resilience is simply the ability to bounce back quickly from adversity. It’s a skill that helps us move beyond those tough experiences life throws at us and may even make us stronger in the process. Although there are people out there who exhibit certain personality characteristics that enable them to be more resilient there are certain strategies that you and I can do to develop our own resilience.
Psychologists refer to resilience as ‘hardiness’…resilience sounds cooler though. What they’ve found is that there is a certain personality type that is naturally more resilient. This personality type is called the C-Type. C-Types have a different way of looking at the world than other types; other personality types include the A-Type, B-Type…and even the E-Type. How the C-Type perceives things gives them the edge. Researchers have found that there are three traits which distinguish the C-Type Personality from the others and makes them more resilient to tough times. Let’s discuss these individually…
C-Types see stressful situations as challenges which produce a very different psychological response than seeing stressful situations as ‘another insurmountable problem’. They consider it natural for things to change and they’re comfortable with ambiguity. They view change as a useful stimulus for creativity and an opportunity to solve a problem. They thrive under conditions of challenge, difficulty and adversity rising to the occasion every time.
C-Type personality types have a stronger commitment to tasks and find it easier to be content in whatever they are doing. To coin a phrase, they do what they love and love what they do. They are rarely at a loss for things to do and when they’re involved in something they do it with zest and with maximum effort. “Be committed but detached” could be their catch-cry. They are committed to the outcome of what they want to achieve but detached from the emotion, the setbacks and the obstacles they run into along the way. They know they’ll overcome them and, as above, see obstacles as just another challenge to overcome. This approach enables them to be flexible and “not sweat the small stuff”…and remember…”it’s all small stuff.”
C-Types have a sense of control over life and what life throws at them. They believe they can influence events and their reactions to events, they believe they can shape them to be how they’d like them to be. They take the time to reflect on difficult situations and look for ways to turn them into opportunities. They have a strong sense of initiative and they’re slow to give up on a challenge. This type of mind-set is often referred to as having an internal locus of control. On the flip-side, people with an external locus of control tend to be fatalistic seeing things as happening to them and that there is little they can do about it. They tend to give up easier and are, in general, a lot less successful in life.
Here’s what the research tells us about those who show a higher sense of hardiness (greater resilience):
- They have a greater degree of happiness in their lives;
- They have less frequent and lower boughts depression;
- They have higher self-esteem;
- They have a higher sense of energy and vitality;
- They are higher in optimism and therefore luckier in life; and
- They have a higher sense of meaning and direction in their lives.
I mentioned earlier that resilience is a skill and like any skill it can be learned through time and effort. Life isn’t going to stop throwing obstacles in your path because it’s inconvenient for you. Wouldn’t it be better to learn these skills so that no matter what life throws at you it only has a temporary impact and you can continue to move forward with energy, vitality and a sense of direction?
If you’d like to know more about how you can develop greater resilience in your life, or if you’d like to explore how coaching can help you become a better leader (of others or yourself!), or even if you’re just generally curious about what professional coaching can offer you, please contact us at any time for a free consultation.