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  • Writer's pictureDave Disbury

Five Common Features of Resilient Workers

We are hearing so much about resilience right now. March felt like a long year, the months that followed even longer. In the face of so much change, loss and uncertainty, the ability to process, adapt and manage challenges never felt more relevant. But what does resilience look like? Here are some things I’ve noticed in people around me where this quality has seemed to rise.

1. Expectations

There is a realistic expectation that challenges and disappointments are a normal part of the journey. They normalise failure as a natural part of life. They look for hope. Not dreamy or lofty visions, but grounded, gritty hope.

2. Emotions

They can step into the discomfort of disappointment and allow themselves to honestly seek to unravel what they are feeling before jumping to a response. “Resilience is more available to people curious about their own line of thinking and behaving” (Brene Brown).

3. Agency

They recognise that there are things they cannot control and focus energy on what they CAN affect. There is a mature sense of self awareness about whether something might be helpful or harmful in a particular situation. They ask for help: advice and practical help. They build and value community and know they cannot grow alone. They also recognise when systems that prevent thriving need to be acknowledged or challenged. A viral tweet stated it beautifully: "you cant yoga your way out of a toxic work environment."

4. Rhythms

They are aware that big plans are made up of many tiny, intentional steps. They acknowledge the complexity of the intersection of work and home life. Building work resilience is far broader than decisions made about work. Rather than viewing work life and home life as a ‘balancing act,’ they look for “sustainable rhythms” (Jo Saxton) and regularly check in with their household capacity and wellbeing.

5. Worth

They know that their worth goes beyond work achievements. They give themselves permission to say no. They are not afraid of others getting the credit if the overall benefit aligns with their values. They celebrate others’ successes generously. They can say yes to rest. Rest reminds us that we are more than what we produce.

What features have you noticed in people you see as resilient?

It dawned on me that the people I called to mind when thinking about resilience have all known really tough times. I’m not saying resilience depends on suffering, but each person I pictured had allowed themselves to pause and sit with discomfort, making space for processing before reacting. They operate a constant process of separating their worth from their circumstances and separating their failings from ‘being’ the failure. Resilience rises in the midst of uncertainty and disappointment in supportive community. It should not be an unrealistic demand, covering up oppressive systems or lack of resources.

How do you think resilience can be developed?

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