Resilience: Holding Your Life Together
By Shama Yunus-Joynt BA, CPHR, SHRM-SCP
One of the words that has gained frequent use during the era of Covid-19 is Resilience. Dictionary.com defines resilience as “the ability of a person to recover from illness, adversity, major life changes, etc.” During this time of unprecedented global crisis, resilience has almost taken on a new meaning. Not only have we had to recover from largescale changes in our daily lives, but we are looking at ways to be successful during this time as well. For instance, the optimists among us are looking for the ‘silver lining’, the business-minded are looking to ‘pivot’ but some are still stuck in crisis or grieving the aftermath of the lockdown. What is it about adversity that brings out the best in some, and the worst in others?
There are a myriad of books, articles and personal and professional development plans that have sprung up in response to our experiences in the last 15 months, each one touting the importance of flexibility, thinking outside the box and most importantly, resilience; how to find and to build it within lives and organizations. Naturally, we debate about whether this is genetic, learned, or a little bit of both. We talk also about mindset, in particular Carol Dweck’s work on fixed vs. growth mindsets and how that can govern our reactions and therefore our resiliency1. While the debate continues, I would like to talk about what resilience means for each one of us, no matter our genetic makeup, education, experience or circumstances.
Simply put, resilience means to never give up on the one hand, and on the other it means to adapt to circumstances and still be successful. However, in the era of Covid, the term success itself has undergone some change. We used to work really hard to keep up the veneer of success (appearance, title, cars, holidays) but that all came crashing down in March of 2020. Now we are conducting meetings wearing pajamas and shorts with dogs barking and toddlers demanding, and for the first time and in a new way, we really saw each other as human beings, all experiencing the same thing. The playing field became more even and for so many of us, this changed what we really wanted from our lives. Maybe now the focus was on more work/life balance or quality time rather than the relentless pursuit of success as we used to describe it.
Being resilient, and therefore successful, now means being able to work, play and relax in new ways that are actually more beneficial for our overall well-being. We successfully hold ourselves together by recognizing the gifts of adversity; adapting to a life that in the end is better suited to our overall well-being than the one afforded to us in pre-Covid times. Resiliency does not necessarily mean working harder, rather, it is about how we view our circumstances and choosing our actions rather than feeling trapped. Resiliency shows up not only in our thoughts but also in our actions; whether or not we want to admit it, specific actions are always the result of choices that we make. Those who can find the strength to act on the basis of choice even in the most dire of circumstances are truly resilient.
As with all things related to Covid, it is important to understand that we need to support ourselves and each other. For those who are presently suffering from Covid-related losses, do not forget that you must reach out for support. If you don’t feel strong, you need to build that resiliency back by looking at all that is available to you and figuring out the way forward, no matter what the circumstance. Remember, resiliency is about looking at what you have and putting it to use for the betterment of your circumstances; asking for help is a big part of that. Remember also that resilience is built by making choices to become so; once you have gained it, you can put it to use over and over again, no matter what life throws your way.
About the Author
Shama Yunus-Joynt is an experienced Human Resources professional specializing in culture and engagement. She has a background in coaching and mental health which she combines in a very unique way towards helping companies define and execute an extraordinary people strategy. Connect with Shama on LinkedIn to learn more about her.
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