News & Blog

Read the latest business news, blogs and thought leadership articles from our members, as well as updates on the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce's work in the city.

News & Blog

Business Resilience – How to overcome all the hurdles that come our way…

Posted: 18th June 2015

Being a leader or manager can be a challenging and lonely role especially in a SME company. On a day-to-day basis often alone you are required to deal with a wide variety of challenges from growth opportunities and customer complaints through to staffing issues and operational matters. It can often feel a very isolated role, one where you don’t achieve everything you want and where a perceived lack of feeling valued can be tough to handle.

But it is also an inescapable fact of life and our ability to deal with isolation and not feeling valued has a major correlation in determining how successful and happy we feel.

Happiness is often seen as the opposite of depression, however according to psychologist Peter Kramer resilience is the opposite of depression. If you think of anyone who you admire, most of them didn’t get where they are today without any negative experiences, rejections or failures. In fact the opposite is often true, that part of your admiration or belief in them comes from the how they coped with the journey, to where they are now. Most of them distinguished themselves by their ability to keep on trying to jump over life’s hurdles, even if a few of them have tripped up on the way.

So what do resilient people do that sets them apart from others who can become demotivated and disenchanted by not feeling valued and working in isolation. Firstly, they tend to have a realistic optimistic outlook rather than blind optimism. This means that they combine a positive outlook, with the critical thinking that can dominate in some pessimistic approaches, which together can lead to greater resilience and thereby happiness. I believe resilient people prepare for the worst, expect the best and accept whatever comes along and don’t see using plan B or C as a failure.

Resilient people experience both positive and negative emotions and building resilience is not just about blind optimism but also experiencing the setbacks. Rather than just looking on the bright side and ignoring any negative feelings, they let themselves experience both their positive and negatives feelings and let them sit side by side. This enables them to both acknowledge that they are disappointed or upset while at the same time understand how they can use this life experience to their benefit in the future. Another way of thinking about this would be to say that they accept and rationalise the negative experience and turn it into a learning experience.

What else do they typically do? They ignore rejection. Rejection wears down our self esteem and confidence, making it harder to bounce back and the more times it happens the harder that bounce back is. As a result, it impacts on our happiness and wellbeing. We all experience rejection and it is an inevitable emotion of life and choosing to reject rejection can ensure that you don’t became a prisoner to your own self limiting beliefs. It is important to be aware that everyone is experiencing different paradigms of life or situations and in some cases no matter what you say or do, they will always reject you, your ideas or thoughts. If you adopt this mindset/ approach that rejection says more about them than you, it will help you rationalise not to take rejection personally.

Resilient people are also good at noticing, appreciating and celebrating all success that come their way whether big or small. In this way it keeps them from feeling that the world is against them and that ‘everything’ is going wrong. Research has shown that the ideal ratio is 3 to 1 positive to negative experiences for building resistance and boosting your happiness. In any review situation always start off with ‘what went well’, before reflecting on ‘what didn’t’ and never finish without answering the question ‘what I will do differently next time’, as this helps rationalise the negatives and build confidence as you turn the rejection/failure into a learning experience.

The old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ comes to mind, as it also helps to build a strong support network. If you get knocked down or rejected, it is important to have the resources to bounce back asap. which includes having a network of people who you can lean, on as social support boosts your resilience to stress and disappointments. Your support network is a great way of getting a different perspective/ paradigm view of any given situation.

Resilient people out for growth opportunities which will boost their self-reliance, personal self confidence and ability to make decisions which in turn makes them feel more in ‘control’ and gives them greater self esteem and an enhanced ability to bounce back from rejection and failure and leads to a greater feeling of happiness and contentment. Greater self confidence and reliance means they are happier with uncertainty or new situations and can persevere longer in the face of repeated knock backs or negative experiences. Those who have mastered the art of resilience know that setbacks and challenges can be our most powerful learning and growth opportunities. Remember that many of the world’s most successful people have been made redundant, fired or rejected/ turned down by others and have used that experience to learn both for the future and about themselves.

And finally they appreciate what they have and enjoy being alive. Appreciation and enjoyment are known to boost health and wellbeing and resilient people tend to have better physical and mental health than those who focus on complaints and problems. Appreciating what you have is an excellent way of keeping life’s everyday stresses in perspective and reminds us of the most important things.

Remember the overall ethos needs to be prepare for the worst, expect the best and take what comes and enjoy. After all we should never forget that as a business leader, day in day out, we are key in enabling our organisation to prosper and grow, creating employment and making our colleagues working lifes more fulfilling and interesting. You are the person which makes things happen, turns ideas into reality and makes a positive impact.

On Tuesday 22nd September I will be at Edinburgh Chamber delivering a one day workshop on Business Planning & Strategy Development. Contact the Training Team for further information or call them on 0131 221 2999 (option 3)

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
Read more here