There were torrential downpours last week in the area of the U.S. which I live. Spring showers on steroids, it poured and poured. I love the rain and I love a good thunderstorm. So I was feeling cozy in my house with a quick check of the basement to make sure it was dry, and we all headed off to bed.
Come morning, the quick check of the basement came with a shock as I stepped into two feet of water. Stress, obstacle, problem, adversity were all rolled into one as I realized that my one precious item – the family photos – were likely floating in the river that was once my basement.
As the adrenaline kicked in, I started to shake and then moved into decisive action. Waking my son up to help move the boxes to higher ground, I marshalled resources to pump the water and obtained floor covering and then set about placing the photos on every available area in my home. I’m happy to say the photos were saved. I can’t say the same of many of the other items. In the moment of crisis, I made a decision. I’m happy with it.
Long story short, one of the key leadership skills of emotional intelligence is resilience. Resilience is forged through challenge and adversity. How do you know how you’ll respond at heightened levels of stress and obstacle? You don’t. The only thing you can do is to prepare by embracing the skills and tools that create YOU – the emotionally intelligent leader.
Most anyone can become emotionally resilient with practice. It requires that you become aware of how you respond and what emotions get activated with stress, perceived disaster, danger, confrontation or seeming failure.
Your perception of the situation creates emotions. If you have practiced the art of recognizing your emotions and default behaviors, you can manage the emotions and avoid the knee jerk response. This means you can focus on purpose and what is truly important.
Some things to consider in challenging times:
- Problems are really opportunities for learning and course correcting.
- Reframing the situation to find the learning or the true perfection in it creates massive growth.
- Humor and optimism help.
- Reaching for what you can influence and then letting go of the rest creates focus.
- Avoiding blame of self, others or circumstances can create a swifter pathway for decision making.
- Feel your feelings (I had a good 5-minute cry!) but don’t let the feelings immobilize you.
Remember that resilience means to bounce back. When all else fails, sing an old tune:
Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again!