When The Going Gets Tough…

March 29, 2022

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

No matter how hard we try sometimes; things don’t always go the way we planned or as we would like. Challenges and setbacks are a normal part of almost everything. The ability to bypass and overcome them is an integral part of executing plans and reaching goals. This applies at home and also in the world of work. 

The workplace of today is rich with opportunities to create success.  It has become complex and has many moving parts. For leaders some days it seems that all we’re doing is “putting out fires.” Careful planning doesn’t guarantee the best results. Unexpected challenges pop-up regularly like weeds (i.e., being short-staffed, having inadequate resources, sudden changes, etc.…) These things give us plenty of opportunity to practice growing and increasing our ability to be resilient and roll with the punches. Our roles require that we become resilient. Doing so is not only beneficial but is necessary to be an effective leader in today’s complicated world.

So as leaders – how do we build the abilities and skillsets that foster resiliency?  First, we must recognize that these things need to be developed. The first step is to practice mindfulness in yourself. Be fully present in interacting with those around you. Practice responding to what is going on, instead of reacting. Be flexible. Remaining calm goes a long way and sets the tone in the environment for all. And with your team; either say the right thing or say nothing. That is a tremendously positive skill and will bring many rewards. These behaviors and ways of being will become automatic in no time, and you will actually like it because of the changes you’ll see.

Learn to become more observant of the actual situation you are facing and of the dynamics involved. Try to see it not only from your perspective, but also from different vantage points.  The old adage, “walk a mile in their shoes” applies here. Consider how what is happening might be affecting others and not just the impact it has on you as the leader; or the bottom line. Ask team members for feedback. This invaluable information can be used to transform your reactions to any set of conditions. Try to truly understand what is happening and what your role is, in it.  Better decisions can be made which can only impact all involved in a more positive manner. As a result, people will feel valued which will engender trust and respect for their workplace leader.     

The idea is to look for the good and you will find it.  As humans many of us have a “natural” tendency to look for what is wrong; to put our efforts into fixing it and overlooking what is working and going well. A balanced approach is the way to go. Take the time to notice and encourage people’s continuous efforts to keep doing what is going right. Often, it’s just the “problems” and corrections that get the attention from leaders. Replacing the “lookout for the bad” mindset with “seek the good in everything mindset”, significantly increases resiliency in even the most difficult of circumstances.

Begin a habit of affirmation.  Recognize and reward positive behaviors.  Speak it out loud.  Practice it. Look for opportunities to practice this life-altering approach.  Marry this with an attitude of appreciation and gratitude and you’ll go a long way.

While on this journey, celebrate milestones along the way. You don’t need to wait for a monumental success story to reward yourself or others. When something good happens, take the time to savor the moment. The more you do this, the more natural it will become, and resiliency becomes “second nature” to you and your team. Then bouncing back from difficulty will be a much easier process.

Lastly, don’t ever forget that nothing lasts forever. Really not much to say about this, except that when we are in the midst of a “setback” your new approach may not be so easy to remember. But sooner or later, the difficulty will be over (one way or another.)  Why not try to handle it in a manner which will be much more productive and encouraging to others. It will benefit you personally as well.

Now it’s time to get going.  New habits and thinking may be tough to implement, but “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

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