By Christine Brown-Quinn, The Female Capitalist®
Uncertainty and change is now the ‘new normal’ in business. And the rate of change is accelerating, largely as a result of new technology and global competition.
So where does that leave you and your career? Resilience is one of the most important career strategies when you’re navigating an uncertain business environment. Everything around you is changing – the business is never on hold. On the upside, it’s precisely in these challenging times, where opportunities present themselves .
To position yourself to take advantage of change, two key things have to happen: 1.Align your talent, experience and interests to the evolving needs of the business (consider the issues facing your department, your company & your industry); and 2. Increase and maintain your resilience – physically, mentally and spiritually. The alignment of your career very much relates to my earlier blog & webinar on Owning Your Career Strategy. So how do you improve your resilience and why does it matter to the business?
Although there is much talk in the corporate world about “wellbeing in the workplace”, it can often be disconnected from the realities on the ground. The workplace isn’t getting any easier – ie targets, deadlines and accountability are not getting any ‘softer’. How then do I focus on wellbeing and at the same time fulfil my professional responsibilities?
First and foremost, resilience really does matter in business. This is what enables you to be focused, and energised, and equips you to make sound decisions, manage risk and problem solve. Thus meeting targets and looking after your own resilience are not in conflict, but rather are absolutely DEPENDENT on one another.
Having worked in the chaos of a trading floor for many years, I understand first -hand the challenges of increasing and maintaining career resilience. The most important thing that I’ve learned is that no one is going to look after YOUR wellbeing. As a professional, you’re the one who’s expected to manage you.
Over the years, I became aware of my own peaks & troughs in performance – sometimes referred to as body rhythms. For example, I noticed for that if I didn’t leave the office by 6pm, the next morning I was unenthusiastic, impatient, and lacked creativity in dealing with the challenges of the day (and there was never a shortage of these!). I also noticed that if I didn’t stop for a proper lunch break, my mood and mental outlook (and thus ‘output’) would suffer considerably. Once I came to that realisation, I no longer felt guilty taking lunch breaks or about leaving the office . At the end of the day my manager expected me to responsible for certain deliverables and it was up to me to figure out how to do that. By managing my own resilience I was also better able to focus on the key priorities and be at my best. Word of caution – there isn’t one optimal way of working – you need to observe your own work patterns and figure out what works best for you.
In sum , here are my top three tips for gaining more control of your personal resilience and productivity:
- Acknowledge (and then manage) your perfectionist tendencies. Perfection doesn’t pay – it’s not what gets you to the next level in your career. Think about the effort level that a particular situation warrants – not all situations are equally important! And accept that you can’t do everything and that making mistakes is just part of life (and an opportunity for growth). This was an ‘ah ha’ moment for me that changed by entire outlook on how I approached things at home and at work.
- Think about when you’re at your best . When do you feel most attentive, focused, and energetic? This is when you should tackle your toughest issues. Organise your day accordingly. Being at your best also means taking all of your vacation days! One of my coaching clients has just come back from vacation and her team has noticed that she’s ‘”on fire”! Vacations are like super food for your brain – they give you a new perspective. Vacations are also key to feeding your spiritual side – those personal relationships are what sustains us in tough times.
- Figure out where you get your energy from. And then it’s important that you’re making room for this in your daily routine. For me it’s exercise and fresh air. I do my best thinking when I’m exercising. So often our lunch times are also being ‘taken over’ by meetings and conference calls. I make it a habit to always take a break mid-day, which sustains my energy levels for the rest of the day. I find that going for brief walks – even a 10 minute walk – also reenergises me! I come back to the office with a much clearer head and ready to tackle the next issue with a degree of positivity and creativity that would not have been possible without at break.
Investing in your wellbeing, IS investing in your performance, and thus is investing in the business! When you’re at your best, everyone wins!