Resilience and Wellbeing

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, our resilience and wellbeing have been challenged as we’re currently navigating the VUCA environment comprising volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It’s critical to build our resilience to ensure that we’re equipped to successfully navigate this obstacle.

Resilience is often associated with a person’s ability to merely bounce back from adversity; however, we can adopt a holistic stance and implement strategies that allow us to navigate challenging scenarios, proactively. This philosophy is outlined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who stated: “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

Build Self-Confidence

Professor Cary Cooper, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at the University of Manchester says that “Feelings of competence, effectiveness in coping with stressful situations, and strong self-esteem are inherent in feeling resilient.”

Building confidence and self-belief that we can manage the challenges and setbacks that life offers us, can be developed and strengthened by changing our mindsets and thinking patterns.

Adopt a Growth Mindset

Acknowledging that we can improve skill sets can help us improve our self-confidence. Positive thinking and working with our strengths improve our competence in dealing with unfamiliar scenarios, such as COVID-19.

While we may not immediately recognise areas where we flourish, we can believe that we have the strength and potential to do so by adopting a Growth Mindset, as outlined by Carol Dweck.

growth mindset

Those adopting a Growth Mindset have a desire to learn and demonstrate tendencies associated with the Path of Possibility. These include a willingness to embrace challenges, confront obstacles, use maximum effort when completing tasks, whilst seeking inspiration from others. This mindset leads to the accomplishment of achievements, therefore, enhancing self-confidence.

Conversely, those adopting a Fixed Mindset exhibit prohibitive behaviours such as a lack of desire to learn from other people and a tendency to give up when faced with challenges. This leads to a pessimistic outlook being formed and consequently, self-confidence decreases.

Strength Spotting

If we know our strengths and have the opportunity to work with them, then we are much more likely to be:

–    Competent – as things will come easier to us

–    Confident, Energised and Motivated – as we feel good when working with our strengths

Research by the Corporate Leadership Council found that when leaders focus on the weaknesses of an employee, their performance declines by 27%, whereas when they focus on the strengths of an employee performance improves by 36%.

Knowing our strengths helps with greater vitality and motivation, a clearer sense of direction, higher self-confidence, productivity, and a higher probability of goal attainment.

Reframe Your Thinking

As humans we are programmed to seek out potential threat or danger, to keep ourselves safe.  When faced with uncertainty and ambiguity we will tend to think negatively or adopt a fixed mindset. However, to successfully build our self-confidence, we can adopt the Path of Possibility model and associate a problem with the potential avenue for possibility.

While adopting a predisposed mindset of negative bias is a philosophy that inspires a sense of safety, embracing a positive mindset will build our resilience and improve our wellbeing.

Managing our Responses

Whilst navigating difficult challenges, we must control our human response and a desire to act instinctively; we need to be able to recognise when we’re entering fight flight freeze mode and use appropriate coping mechanisms to ‘respond’ rather than ‘react’. 

Practising E + R = O helps us acknowledge that an event that triggers the instinctive response requires a pause to convert our Reaction into a Response to achieve a Successful Outcome. For example, short simple breathing exercises can calm our fight-flight-freeze response, increase energy levels, and reduce stress.

Educator and author Steven Covey communicated this message through his Response-ability Model, that we must adopt the role of an author, rather than a victim, consciously choosing our response to an event, to orchestrate our desired outcome.

The Circle of Control

Steven Covey also outlined the importance of being proactive and indicated that we devote attention to what we can affect, rather than attributing importance to things that are beyond our control.

Currently, we can’t control the COVID-19 pandemic and the government guidelines that have been put in place. However, we can influence the impact by adhering to the measures and by focusing on what doing what we can through what we do know and can control. 

Focusing on what we can do now to influence the future, both in a business and non-business sense, can provide a sense of purpose, improve morale, and enhance resilience and wellbeing.

Power of Connection

Evidence indicates that when we’re connected to others, we feel less stressed and this can improve wellbeing.

With social-distancing and self-isolation restricting our access to society, embracing the power of connectivity is imperative; maintaining communication with loved ones, friends, and colleagues is essential.

Human connection can enhance positive social relationships and create a collectivist culture. This is particularly relevant for workers who may be working remotely, with leaders and colleagues encouraged to use time not only to discuss work tasks but also to check on each other’s physical, emotional and mental health. 

Our need for connection is not limited to other human beings, connecting with animals and nature can also improve our wellbeing.  Owning a pet can decrease depression, stress, and anxiety. Moreover, it can decrease blood pressure, improve immunity, and reduce risks of heart attack and/or stroke.

There is much evidence that spending time in green spaces improves our well-being. 

Similarly, studies have indicated that simply by placing a houseplant on your desk improves concentration and productivity (by up to 15%), reduce stress levels, and boost your mood.

Future Focus and Flexibility

Establishing where you want to be in the future and adapting your practice accordingly will help you overcome difficulties.

By envisioning your future and setting high yet attainable goals will act as personal stimulation and motivation to navigate the obstacles that may get in the way to achieving them.

Targets can be applied across a sustained period: what do you want to achieve in the short, medium, and long-term? However, there may be instances whereby we need to be flexible and adaptable, realigning goals depending on circumstances.

Flexibility is the ability to adjust to short-term change quickly and calmly, while adaptability is the willingness to change to suit different conditions.

COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of the Path of Possibility and practising flexibility and adaptability by adopting a Growth Mindset. For leaders, managing expectations and demonstrating adaptability is essential in supporting workers who may be managing work and family life simultaneously, with these work arrangements likely to have an impact on goal completion.

Currently, businesses are experiencing increased risk. Therefore, contingencies need to be put in place to help colleagues to adapt whilst reviewing goals accordingly. Although it may be tempting to tackle challenges individually, consulting your team, working collaboratively, and managing by output is essential.

Demonstrate ‘Grit’

In her presentation, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Lee Duckworth identifies the power of these characteristics and their roles in helping us achieve long-term objectives.

Four key aspects can be attributed to people with a ‘gritty’ personality: passion, a thirst for knowledge, sense of purpose, and a positive outlook whereby they sense that things will get better.

In demonstrating these characteristics identified by Duckworth, we can build our resilience and wellbeing, even when times are tough. However, we must ensure that we fit our oxygen mask, metaphorically speaking, before helping others, to ensure that we’re sufficiently equipped for the road ahead.

Access our recent blog Mastering Mindset and Motivation to learn more about how we can manage our energy on many levels to improve our well-being further.

Do you need support in developing a resilient mindset to improve your wellbeing? Contact Co-Creation on +44 7876 024555 or email, our specialist consultants would be delighted to help.