Surely the intent to become more resilient is based in learning, growth and advancement.  For most of us anyway.  We want to become more resilient because we want to be better at something or to deal with something more effectively.  Positivity, therefore, is crucial to building resilience.


Positivity makes resilience inspiring

If I ask you to think of a ‘resilient’ or a ‘mentally tough’ person, what comes to mind?  A grizzled, experienced ‘old hand’ in the business who has seen and done it all.  A person who perseveres and endures no matter what the crisis?  A person who simply swats problems aside and ‘soldiers’ on?

Forget about these stereotypes if you want to be resilient.  Do you really want to be someone who simply endures?  Endurance is no way to live and no way to work.  Endurance will only get a person so far.  Eventually, the battery will run out, no matter how tough you are or how many problems you have swatted away in your time.

Positivity is what makes resilience inspiring and enjoyable.  Resilience doesn’t have to be about enduring through tough times.  The truly resilient person is the one who sees the good in any situation, seeking to learn, grow and progress.  The truly resilient person will likely radiate positivity without appearing to be bubbling over with optimism or to be ‘full of the joys of Spring”.

The truly positive person can come across a little differently.  For them, positivity is about having, or choosing, a positive approach to their job, their colleagues and other aspects of their daily working experiences.  Many of these ‘positive’ people can even come across as dour and not very positive.


How does positivity enhance resilience?

I can best answer this question with a personal story.

Approximately 8 years of my career have been spent working for an extremely toxic manager.  I am not using the word ‘toxic’ lightly here and resilience was definitely required.


This manager was deliberately toxic and vindictive, telling team members they would be broken.  I was promised that I would be ‘broken’ by ‘bullying’ and she subsequently dedicated six of those eight years to this aim.  The lowest, or maybe toughest point, came when we almost lost our three-year-old daughter to anaphylactic shock.  She took a severe allergic reaction and we thought we had lost her as we were still waiting on Epi-pens from the health service.  Luckily, she pulled through (a tough little warrior to this day).  My manager refused to approve my request to take leave, forcing me back to work a couple of days later and certainly before I was ready to return.  On my return, she goaded me on the experience and kept asking me questions like “how close was she to death?”  This type of behaviour was a daily experience.


It could so easily have sent me on a downward spiral to negativity.  To being broken.  To stop this happening, I turned to positivity.  My efforts to work through the usual channels in the organisation were rebuffed.  So, I decided that I had to flip the behaviours and experiences and make them positive.


Each time my manager behaved in this fashion, I noted the situation and behaviour in a journal and detailing my immediate reaction, recognising the actual triggers for this reaction.  I then spent some time exploring how I could handle it better in future, writing down my learning experience and a future strategy.


Each incident became a positive learning experience, despite remaining extremely difficult to deal with.  My resilience was developing and getting stronger each time.  It brought me some joy to watch my manager trying to figure out what was going on.  This approach started a pathway that led directly to the establishment of my own business and the creation of the etimes2 employee engagement platform.  Positivity in crisis led to my most creative moment.


So, how can you become more positive?


5 Tips to Cultivate Greater Positivity

Like all the skills I am addressing here in this Resilient Leader blog series, positivity is something you can develop and practice so it gets stronger and more natural as time goes on.


  1. Gratitude

The truly positive mind sees the good in each situation because it actively seeks to learn and grow.  Fortunately, we can train our minds to be more positive by practising gratitude.


Gratitude is one of the 15 skills in this ‘The Resilient Leader’ blog series.  I will be writing a more detailed piece on it later with easy to apply tips.  For now, you should write down 3 things you were grateful for at the end of each day.  Make this the last thing you do at the end of your working day so you leave with a positive feeling.


  1. Positivity is contagious

There is an old saying that suggests ‘you become what you hang around’.  So, surround yourself with positive people.  These can be work colleagues during the day and simply good acquaintances outside of work.


These positive relationships provide support, enjoyment and fun.  They allow you to decompress and provide balance.


  1. Positive self-talk

Positive self-talk has the ability to increase happiness, reduce stress and anxiety while promoting self-confidence.  It isn’t about ignoring the negative aspects.  It is about approaching these issues in a positive way.


The first thing to do is learn to identify negative thinking and negative self-talk.  Then learn not to say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a good friend.


  1. Practice self-care

This needs to be a priority.  Even if you only have a small window of time, do something you enjoy every day.  This can be physical exercise, mindfulness, spending time with positive people, playing or talking with your children, or simply sitting outside and reading a book.


  1. Stay flexible

Part of our need for resilience at work is to deal effectively as things around us change.  We all know that change is a constant in the workplace and so represents a significant challenge to our resilience.  It can seem such a chore, so you need to first reframe it.


Embrace change, choosing to see it as an opportunity for growth, development and advancement.  To optimise these opportunities, you must learn to be flexible and adaptable so you can adapt to what is needed.

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