As we discuss reopening the economy and returning to the office, our ability to adapt to the new normal will be tested. Now, more than ever, resilience, or “the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change,” is key. Resilience is an essential skill to cultivate, because it will help us drive forward and navigate a complex world.
Building resilience takes commitment and focus. You can do it by deepening your grit, adopting a growth mindset and playing the infinite game.
1. Deepen Your Grit
In her book “Grit” and her related TED talk, psychologist Angela Duckworth defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” Grit is about sticking to your goals, no matter what — day in and day out. It is critical when you are faced with failure, disappointment and despair.
When something isn’t working, try using other approaches to reach your goal — even, perhaps, taking several actions concurrently. Look at whatever isn’t working from a different angle.
In her book “Getting Grit,” positive psychology coach Caroline Adams Miller suggests that to build grit, do things with people pursuing similar goals. For example, let’s say you want to earn a promotion within a year. You can start by joining a professional association or even a virtual meetup group to invite others with a similar goal to share learnings, experiences and tips.
2. Adopt a Growth Mindset
If you have a growth mindset, you believe that you can grow through your efforts. In her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” psychologist Carol Dweck points out that people with a growth mindset can embrace challenges and persist when crises and setbacks occur. Research shows that if you believe you can grow and evolve through your actions, hard work and practice, your brain can actually change.
You can develop a growth mindset by following the four steps outlined by Dweck:
- Embrace your fixed mindset by accepting the little voice in your head that says, “OK, give up now; you’ll never get this.”
- Recognize what triggers your fixed mindset; for example, perhaps you hear that voice in your head when you are trying to receive a new project or a promotion.
- Create a persona or avatar for your fixed mindset, even giving it a name. Doing so will help you recognize, accept and separate your fixed mindset from your potential.
- Educate your fixed mindset. Dweck recommends saying, “Look, I know this may not work out, but I’d really like to take a stab at it. Can I count on you to bear with my effort?” This question creates space for you to start exploring ways to build your growth mindset. For example, before you jump into new projects that may be scary, practice with other, small things you were always afraid to try, such as practicing a new pose in yoga class, cooking a new dish or learning a new language.
3. Play the Infinite Game
As you grow in your career and cultivate your leadership with grit and a growth mindset, you will also face challenges, hurdles and crises. Building resilience is a long game. In this video discussing his book “The Infinite Game,” Simon Sinek points out that we cannot control the game or the rules, but we can choose how we play. To do so, he says, we need to identify a worthy cause (something bigger than ourselves) find a worthy rival to motivate us to do better and, finally, have the courage to lead.
For example, your just cause could be, “I want to help individuals and organizations optimize their performance by designing and delivering game-changing learning experiences.” Next, you might pick an organization or individual from the learning industry that you consider a worthy rival. In this step, Sinek focuses on extrinsic motivation as a lever for inspiration. Finally, deploy your learnings from grit and your new growth mindset to step up and lead. For example, you and your team might design a new learning asset, such as a how-to video, an online course or a job aid to help employees cope with the changes brought on by COVID-19.
By deepening your grit, adopting a growth mindset and playing the infinite game, you will be able to strengthen your resilience and rely on it to get you through difficult times, challenges and crises. Remember that all these skills are learnable, but they do take time, focus and hard work. Resilience is like a muscle: The more you cultivate it, the stronger it becomes!