Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend time with job seekers at the Harvard EdPortal. We were discussing the importance of being change ready and resilient. We talked about how important it is during a job search. And, how important it will continue to be once they land their next opportunity.
Here are the five tips I shared with them on being resilient in the ever-changing world we live and work in.
Stay positive — what is the opportunity?: The natural human reaction to change is to think about what you are losing or have lost. Instead, think about what opportunities a new or unexpected situation is affording you. How can this benefit you even as you help the organization? What skills do you bring to the table that will help you thrive? What will you need to do differently to make that happen?
Focus on what you are learning: Every experience in life allows us to learn something, and nowhere is this more true than in a changing environment. It may be we learn more precisely what it is we like to do (or not do). Or where we excel and where we struggle. If we remain open-minded, we often find new ways of seeing and doing things. New experiences can also tell us what we need to unlearn. What is it that is no longer serving us well? What mental models are getting in the way? The greatest skill development comes when we are faced with new challenges – if we face them with energy and intention.
Change ‘either/or’ to ‘both/and’: Too often, we look at situations as “either/or.” For example, I may think that I either stay or I go. It’s either good or bad. More often, especially in the complexity we face today, we need to move to thinking “both/and.” Both/and thinking would be more like “How can I stay and contribute while preparing for the possibility of leaving?”
Identify what is not changing: Even though it may seem like everything is changing, there are many things that are not. Who you are as a person, what you bring to a situation, and the skills, experience and capabilities you have are not changing. In a more tangible way, there are probably many things about your organization that are not changing. Does it have the same mission? Are its core values immutable? Is what delights your customers the same?
Focus on what you do control: Usually we have more control than we initially recognize. Too often people feel like change is something being done to them. They feel there is no option but to just accept it as it is. In some ways, this can be true. For example, if your company is being acquired, you can’t stop the sale from occurring. You do, however, control how you think about and respond to the change. You can choose to resist or make the best of the situation. You can ask how to best contribute to the new organization. You can seek out information, education, and new projects that align with the changes. You can provide constructive feedback in a positive way at the appropriate times. You can reach out to help others make adjustments. Ultimately, if the new situation isn’t to your liking, you can opt to move on – maintaining your relationships and reputation as you go. Control is much more of an internal state of mind than an objective, immoveable reality.
Build a support system: The most resilient people are not resilient because they can face any situation on their own. They are resilient because they have a network and support system that helps them in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s emotional support. Sometimes it’s resource support. Sometimes its expertise. Sometimes it’s something you don’t even know you need yet.
Resilience is a multifaceted skill, which can be purposefully developed over time. It’s also a state of mind. As either a job seeker or a leader looking to develop resilience where you are now, it begins with how you think about the challenges and changes in front of you. What are you focused on?
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