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Building Internal Resilience

I believe that leadership is an inside job. Meaning regardless of the valuable external techniques offered to improve our leadership, management or communication skills – it all boils down to our inner game.

By inner game, I mean what we believe about ourselves. Specifically, looking at our inner chatter – how we manage our resilience to things that throw us off course. Our inner game shows up – not when our business is rocking and rolling (although parts of it might!). But when we really find out what we’re made of when things “go bump in the night”.

Resilience is defined as: “(1) the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity; (2) the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”

You might ask, why is focusing on building resilience important?

Resilience is a leadership skill correlated with a commitment to the whole system. In other words, we are resilient for the sake of something larger than ourselves. It might be our families, our workplace, our communities, our country. Internal resilience reflects the organizational system in which it lives. It is considered a positive behavioral attribute – and one that breeds and attracts loyalty, one of today’s talent retention challenges.

What we don’t talk about is how to intentionally cultivate it.

How do we build an internal resilience? We begin by asking questions, such as the following, of our inner game.

1. When things get tough, how do I stay the course? What do I believe about myself or my company? What experiences have I had where I have been resilient? What happened then?

2. Who are the resilient people in my life? What do they believe about themselves and their future? How do those attributes translate to qualities of my own leadership?

3. What belief system is triggered when I’m out of my comfort zone? Not any one moment holds the whole truth. What information is available to me?

4. How do I intentionally return to a place where I know I’ll be okay? What do I believe about that place? Do I have a practice to strengthen that ability to come back to that place?

Once we look at our underlying beliefs, either personal or organizational, we have an opportunity to re-frame them and behave differently. In doing so, we underscore what we stand for. Our purpose. Our commitment. We have then practiced resilience.

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