A colleague of mine teaches a class on resiliency, and I’ve been a participant in both his full-length session and several mini sessions for work groups or leadership teams from across our organization.
He starts the class with a tale of two leaders: Don and Donna. He tells the group about the differing mornings that Don and Donna have had before arriving at work. Don, woke up 15 minutes late, he had a fight with his teenage daughter and spilled coffee on both his pants and his handouts for his first presentation of the day. Donna wakes up 30 minutes early, she exercises and meets a friend for lattes before carpooling with her friend to the office. My colleague then asks the class, “Which leader will feel better and have a more productive day?”. The class usually responds with varying answers, ultimately agreeing that Donna will obviously have the better day. It’s at this point that my colleague drops a truth bomb.
The truth is, it depends. The major concept that catches participants by surprise each time he delivers his content is CHOICE. Most of us would rather have a magic wand or someone else to blame than to be told that our own happiness and success depends on our personal choice. How dare you put this back on me, teacher guy!
And yet, that’s the truth. None of us choose what happens to us in our lives, in our businesses, or in our entrepreneurial pursuits. What we do choose is how we react. We can choose accountability over a victim mentality. We can choose to not let spilled coffee define our day. We can even be like Steven Schussler in chapter 19 of “It’s a Jungle in There.” He tells a reporter (and means it) that he has never had a bad day in his whole life, while a utility crew dug a 25-foot hole in the street to cut off the gas line to his home, once and for all.
Resiliency isn’t about putting on rose-colored glasses, sugar coating the situation, or any other overly positive analogy that you can think of. Resilience is the capacity to be resourceful and creative, to make choices, and to take effective action no matter what is going on– Definition provided by the Mission Health Center for Leadership & Professional Development.
As individuals, when we are resilient, we are making a conscious choice instead of letting the world and all its forces just happen to us. And while this may seem like a “fluffy” concept, one that might be told to you by a woman smelling of patchouli at the Asheville drum circle, the concept of resilience has been extended to and accepted by the business community.
PWC, one of the world’s leading business consultants, defines resilience (in the business context) as “the ability of an organization to recognize, rapidly respond to and recover from changes in the environment and their resulting risks. Resilience allows businesses to seize the opportunities hidden within those risk events.”
Even if you feel like Schussler was a little out of touch by saying he’s never had a bad day, recognize and appreciate the sentiment behind his statement. Developing our own individual resiliency and resiliency within our businesses might be the most effective and accountable thing we do all week.
*That is a picture of my Gumby and Pokey figurines that can be found in the window of my office. My boss gave them to me. Most days I choose to be helpful and flexible like Gumby (shown holding a “sandwich sword”).