Resilience. Now there’s a buzzword. Whether you’re parenting a child or running a company, resilience is an attribute in much demand. As we see daily with clients looking for the best business speakers on the subject, people everywhere want to know what it is and how to get more of it.
Practice makes perfect
Evidence shows that while resilience is a quality you might not have been born with, it’s something you can certainly cultivate. It’s also a topic exemplified by one of the very first business speakers that we worked with, Caroline Casey. Caroline speaks passionately about resilience and other topics at events around the globe, including in Davos.
In a live broadcast on Thursday 24th last, at WEF 2019, I watched with great pleasure and pride as one of our most in-demand keynote speakers declared on the world stage that after 20 years of hard work, and many setbacks, she had finally achieved her goal of getting disability inclusion firmly on the agenda of some of the world’s biggest companies.
Twenty years is a long time. Call it what you will – bounce-back-ability, tenacity – but to me, that’s the very definition of resilience.
Caroline was there as founder of Binc (inclusive business) and the increasingly influential Valuable campaign, which aims to get business to recognize the value of the 1.3 billion people on the planet who live with a disability – their value as workers, customers and members of society.
But it was actually 20 years ago that Caroline’s personal campaign began, when after hiding it for years she finally admitted to her then-bosses in Accenture that she was (is) legally blind.
Closing the Circle
So there’s a lovely symmetry in the fact that one of the first six companies to sign up for Valuable is Accenture. As Caroline says, ‘It’s closed the circle.’ She’s not stopping there though. The Valuable 500 campaign is seeking to get 500 companies to put disability inclusion on their business agenda.
And with the kind of resilience Caroline has always shown, I’ll bet they’ll do it too. Soon.
Resilience in Business
In business, resilience is often talked about in reverential tones. But while we know it’s something we want to have, it can feel unattainable.
I think this is because it (wrongly) can have certain negative connotations.
Resilience, to some, suggests ‘putting up with’ something we perhaps shouldn’t be tolerating. And when we feel like this, it can trigger resentment, fear, insecurity. Resilience also inevitably brings obstacles to mind. So particularly when it comes to the workplace, when asked to be more resilient, often what people actually hear is ‘brace yourself’.
True Resilience Brings Freedom
With true resilience, in contrast, there’s a certain joy to it – a freedom. Freedom from the fear that we won’t reach our goals or be able to overcome the obstacles. Because come they will; that’s life.
Use It or Lose It
As Caroline will tell you, resilience is like a muscle; you need to exercise it. Over time then, that muscle gets bigger, leaner, stronger. We become more energized and focused. We feel we can take on – and overcome – anything. The converse of this, of course, that if we don’t use it, it atrophies.
And just as Caroline has demonstrated with her work, with resilience, we start small. And then practice, practice, practice.
Know Your Enemies
As a starting point, it’s useful to identify your stressors. Observe how you respond to them and remember, however trivial they seem, for you they are real. Only then can you tackle them.
You’re Not the Only One
All of us have faced adversity of some kind and come out the other side, and it’s important to remember that. Celebrate your victories, however small. And celebrate others’ victories too.
Find Your Tribe
We all need encouragement, and it’s important to tap your best resources when you’re stuck or struggling. That usually means friends, colleagues, mentors, business speakers, family.
Make the best of what you have
We’re all aware of at least some of our strengths. So make the most of those while working on the skills you feel need improving. And if you aren’t sure, seek advice from others – a mentor, a career counselor, business speakers, whatever it takes.
These are just some of my thoughts on resilience. I would love to hear from others because I know there’s plenty more to know. Like Caroline and the Valuable campaign, I believe we all want to feel like we can conquer the world. Even if it takes more time than we think.
Because, the most hard-won victories – the dreams we cherish and hold aloft the longest – are the sweetest.
If you are interested in booking Caroline to talk about resilience at your event, please contact us today for more information about our business speakers.