Why is it that some people are always upbeat and positive, with an optimism as clear as a cloudless sky? What gives them the power to override stress, recover from failures as if they never happened, and continue to perform at top-notch levels?
Research indicates that there seems to be an ineffable – indescribable – nature of humans that allows peoples to be set-back, knocked-down or pushed-back and rebound – bounce back – just as strong as before the incident that caused stressful or negative feelings or behaviors. Psychology Today says, “Research shows that, on average, human beings are hardwired to be more optimistic than not. It’s an admirable quality, one that can positively affect a person’s mental and physical health.”
Resilience is the individual capacity to withstand, recover, grow and function competently in the face of stress, adversity and changing demands. It is a capacity that studies show can be cultivated by people that gives them this leadership quality enabling superior performances. Leadership factors that are affected, that make people resilient are optimism, cognitive problem-solving skills and goal achievement.
In other words, resilience can be cultivated – built, sustained, supported and reinforced within each one of us to effectively control our behaviors – our optimistic attitude – regardless of the daily situations we encounter.
The benefits of being a highly resilience leader include:
- Increased confidence;
- Improved judgment and problem-solving abilities;
- Focus and performance under pressure;
- Improved coping skills
- Decrease in depression; and
- Enhanced relationship building and reduced anxiety.
Following a five-year study, the U. S. Navy teaches the following four area, or domain, of human beings that can improve optimism, attitude and overall performance.
Four Domains of Resilience
Domain #1 – Mind
The mind – controller of all our thoughts and behaviors – is the foundation of the combination of the four domains of resilience. With the mind, we can use resources and foster emotional, cognitive and active coping strategies.
Using our mind in an enthusiastic and positive manner, we can reinforce resilience with these thought processes.
- Build and sustain an optimistic attitude regardless of behaviors around us
- Laugh, especially at ourselves, maintain a sense of humor in leading
- Engender flexible and positive thinking
- Ensure awareness of negative thoughts – change how you think about them
- Manage your emotions with mindfulness, relaxation techniques
- Build and maintain self-esteem and self-confidence
Domain #2 – Body
There has always been a mind-body connection in relation to our emotional intelligences and behaviors. Both can be affected in a positive manner, physical manner.
Embrace the ability to adopt and sustain the healthy behaviors needed to enhance health and well-being. Study after study reinforces the fact that a physically fit body enhance greatly performance and studies support these reinforcing resiliencies.
- Maintain a physical fitness and exercise program – three times a week for 1 hour minimum
- Become involved in physical and recreational activities
- Power nutrition, healthy eating habits, with a disciplined limited intake
- Restful sleep – 7 to 8 hours a night support feeling energetic and vibrant
Domain #3 – Spirit
Spiritual Intelligence has become a positive leadership ideal that supports the proven techniques of emotional intelligence, physical intelligence and academic intelligence. Leaders need a sound awareness of their own spiritual nature and the spiritual nature of those they lead. Cindy Wigglesworth’s SQ21: The Twenty-one Skills of Spiritual Intelligence, and Blackaby Brother’s Spiritual Leadership provide some great insights into building and sustaining the spiritual nature of our body and mind.
The Spirit Domain encompasses the following attributes:
- Value clarification, and Core Value Convictions;
- Spirituality: faith and prayer; and
- Religion and altruisms
Domain #4 – Social
The social nature of mankind enables us to initiate, maintain and use social resources and connections in order to build strong, esprit de corps and relations with those with whom we work and lead. Enhancing our social domain enables Maslow’s belonging hierarchy of needs.
Building the social domain means going way beyond the popular social media avenue that promote self-photographs and other forms of entertainment. It is more about making connections, such as the business term of Networking, as well as leaders building positive relationships with those in their organization.
Reinforcement of the social domain entails:
- Time management and family involvement;
- Cultivating friendships;
- Participation in community activities and events;
- Building leadership relationships – building esprit de corps; and
- Positive reinforcement and mentoring
The National Center for PTSD created a Response to Stressful Experience Scale (RSES) to determine factors that people can follow to cultivate resilience in their daily lives. The following are just six of those factors.
Resilience – how to get it and keep it
- Positive outlook – Optimism; always poised; keeping emotional control of oneself
- Spirituality – Faith; prayer/meditation; value system; purpose and meaning of life
- Active Coping – Find creative ways of problem-solving – don’t give up; face your fears; expect to handle problems and bounce back
- Self-Confidence – expect to handle problems and work through challenges
- Learning and Making Meaning – find strength in meaning, vision and mission of life
- Accept limitations and circumstances – know what can’t change
PTSD is not just about recovering from combat. It is also about overcoming traumatic events that happen in our daily lives. These events can be anything that disrupts our daily routine, minor or major. Understanding the Mind-Body-Spirit aspect of ourselves combined with a social network of support is crucial to building and preserving individual resilience.
Keep the Resilience Quest Alive!
* The information contained in this article is taken from the U. S. Navy Task Force on Resilience that is the result of a five-year study on ways to improve resilience in Navy personnel. It is designed to improve readiness, resilience, and reduce suicide in the Navy. The information is invaluable for anyone suffering from a traumatic event in their lives.