Exploring your Blind Spots: 3 Ways to raise your resilience - and why it matters now

Karen Fleming

As we all brace ourselves for the second wave of Covid, and face a winter of restrictions and uncertainty, our levels of resilience will need close attention.   In this article, I’ll explain the importance of self-awareness in developing individual resilience, and which blind spots to focus on for maximum results.

Clarity around ‘resilience’

First, let’s just be clear about what I mean by resilience.  This is not about putting on a brave face and carrying on regardless (that’s going to result in burnout).  Neither is it just about coping better (your business needs you to thrive, not just survive)     Being resilient at work is about learning to adapt and to thrive, and for that to happen you need to have rich relationships at work, be engaged in work that is fulfilling, feel supported and support others, and look after your personal well-being (that whole self-care thing really matters now.)   Regardless of the role that you work in, developing your resilience will help you to adapt to change, optimise your performance and be more productive and happier in your role. If that sounds like an attractive proposition, read on…

I’m a big fan of developing self-awareness for self-improvement. As the late Sir John Whitmore said, “I am able to control only that which I am aware of.  That which I am unaware of controls me. Awareness empowers me”.     And, developing our resilience most definitely requires us to increase our self-awareness.  In order to improve our relationships and support mechanisms, enjoy our work and experience high levels of well-being, we must better understand our own drivers and strengths.  We must also explore how our emotions and behaviours are helping or hindering our progress in these areas of resilience.

What is self-awareness?

Awareness is having insight, knowledge and understanding of people and situations around us – the external factors in our environment.  Self-awareness is having insight, knowledge and understanding of ourselves; it’s about being able to reflect on our behaviours and objectively evaluate what drives and triggers our thoughts, our emotions and our behaviours.  When we lack self-awareness we don’t fully understand why we react and behave the way we do.  We don’t appreciate which aspects of ourselves have a positive or negative impact on others.   When we start on the journey to deep dive into our emotions and behaviours we gain self-knowledge and that puts us back in control of our reactions and behaviours.  It improves relationships at work and home.  It makes us feel more congruent which leads to a greater sense of self - and happiness.  And, it can most definitely improve career or promotion prospects.  

This may sound like a tall order, and indeed developing self-awareness does require a high degree of psychological effort to achieve.  However, there are 3 key areas of your ‘self’ that are worth paying particular attention if you’re serious about developing your resilience.

1.    Understand your values.  Our values are the principles that we base our decisions around.  They govern what motivates us at work (and beyond), the decisions we make and how we relate to other people.  Our values are the things that are important to us in life.  Raising your own awareness of what your values are will help you understand why you get upset/stressed/frustrated/angry in specific situations.  They’ll also help you understand how you prefer to spend your time.  And then you’re halfway there to addressing the issues.  Work with a coach who can elicit your core values and your work values.

2.    Identify your emotional ‘triggers’.  When we react negatively to people or situations at work, we feel bad about ourselves (no-one enjoys being upset or angry) and that makes us feel worse.  And the spiral of negativity commences.  It’s not just you that suffers too; your mood will affect your colleagues at work – probably more than you realise.   Understanding your values is a great place to start; after all, when our values are compromised, that causes us frustration and stress.  But more needs to be done if you want to be able to understand (and control) any negative emotions you experience.  Keeping a journal is a good way to identify emotional triggers through the objective analysis of your reactions.  And, don’t forget also to record the positive stuff too!  Identifying what makes you feel good (motivated, energised, fulfilled) is equally important.   

3.    Identify your strengths.  None of us are good at identifying our strengths.  Maybe it’s something to do with the British mentality of modesty; after all, it’s not polite to blow our own trumpets, is it?   But, if we aren’t aware of all the strengths we have, how can we utilise those in our life and work?  When we live life to our full potential, that’s good for our well- being and our resilience.   And, we’re not just talking about the skills you have that got you the job that you do (budgeting, project management, business development, etc).  This is about the personal attributes you possess such as empathy, determination, tenacity.  These are highly transferrable qualities.    However, it isn’t always easy to identify strengths for ourselves (the British modesty thing again gets in the way) so seeking feedback from others is a good move.  Ask your boss, your colleagues, your friends and family.  And, if you’re not comfortable having that conversation, drop them an email and tell them your coach has asked you to do this exercise.

Work on your resilience now and you’ll be in a better position to persist, adapt and thrive – whatever Covid (and life,in general) throws at you.

Karen Fleming is an Advanced Facilitator of the Emotions and Behaviours at Work (EBW) psychometric for Emotional Intelligence, a Licensed Motivational Maps™ Practitioner and an Accredited Resilience at Work (R@W) Toolkit User. She has extensive experience of coaching leaders and their teams across Europe, Asia, America and the Middle East