• Scott McInnes

#32 | Resilience in a headwind.


The weather's been nice here recently so, as a - proud - MAMIL, I've been cycling to work a bit. It's a 12km spin along the coast of North Dublin and it's beautiful. Except when it's windy - then it's a bugger of a cycle. Like a day last week. I was cycling into a strong headwind with others flying against me, barely pedaling because they were being merrily blown along!

It got me thinking about resilience and just keeping going in the face of adversity (with a small 'a' in this example, in fairness).

Giving up when things are tough is easy. Getting the head down and pushing on is hard, particularly in the face of significant challenge. In my case, the other morning it was a simply a headwind (physical vs metaphorical). But, in a work context, that 'headwind' can take many forms - bullying, disengaged teams or bosses, rotten culture, lack of career progression or development, poor working conditions and more. Layer on to that the many physical, emotional and financial challenges people may face outside of work and you soon create a great big recipe for disaster.

One option is to chuck it all in - to get off the bike, lock it to a lamp post and get on a bus. But, often, that's not really an option. So, the other is to build resilience to help you through those tough times.

But how do you do that? There are a million articles on this subject on the internet. I can't lie and say I've read them all but I've read a few and I thought this list by Barry Winbolt(.com), summed them up pretty well:

  1. Cherish social support and interaction. Strong relationships with family and friends and others are vital. Being active in the wider community also helps.

  2. Treat problems as a learning process. Develop the habit of using challenges as opportunities to acquire or master skills and build achievement.

  3. Avoid making a drama out of a crisis. Stress and change are part of life. How we interpret and respond to events has a big impact of how stressful we find them.

  4. Celebrate your successes. Take time at the end of each day to review what went well and congratulate yourself. This trains the mind to look for success rather than dwelling on negativity and ‘failure’.

  5. Develop realistic life goals for guidance and a sense of purpose. Do something each day to move towards them. Again, small is beautiful; one small step amid the chaos of a busy day will help.

  6. Take positive action. Doing something in the face of adversity brings a sense of control, even if it doesn’t remove the difficulty.

  7. Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps to build resiliency.

  8. Keep a realistic perspective. Place challenging or painful events in the broader context of lifelong personal development.

  9. Practice optimism. Nothing is either wholly good or bad. If we allow our thinking to dictate how we view something it will take over. Make your thinking work for your benefit, rather than letting it stymie you with doubt or by seeing only the bad side.

As far as tips for a happier life go, they aren't rocket science, but they can make a difference. The key for me is realising that you've got an issue and actively doing something - perhaps from the list above or something else - to address it.

So if you’re cycling into a headwind, take a minute to see where you are and what you can do to get the head down and keep going.

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