Resilience at Work: Turning Personal Challenges into Strengths

examples of resilience and how to turn personal challenges into strengths

You Can’t See Within the Fog

You know when it’s foggy, I mean really foggy outside? It’s tough. You just can’t see anything. It’s hard to drive, hard to walk up the street, etc. If you need to work outside, you just have to wait it out. If you’re trying to get someplace, you have to stop. And, here’s the final statement about that… It’s not over until it passes, and, you have no control over that.

So, what does this have to do with anything you may be thinking about as you read this. Bear with me. I promise it will make sense.

When I had Breast Cancer, I was initially in a fog when they gave me the diagnosis. I was in uncharted territory. Then, I was in a fog when I found a surgeon and discussed the options. (In fact, I always took someone with me to medical appointments so they could hear what I didn’t hear.) I was in the fog.

Then, when I started preparing for chemotherapy and radiation, I needed someone to help me hear all the talking points, the concerns, the dangers and also what the “aftermath” would be. Left to go alone, my eyes would glaze over, my ears stopped hearing … it was too much to take in.


Introducing Adversity

So, what does this have to do with work and with HR? It’s important for you to understand the feelings, the concerns, the fears that come up with someone facing illness or other serious issues. Me, having cancer is only one experience. Others may have a heart condition, an auto-immune disease or let’s stretch beyond even that. What if one of their loved ones is going through a major illness? What if they’ve lost someone close to them and are dazed and unbelieving? What if there was an accident that left someone holding on by a thread? What if someone’s home and all their possessions were washed away in a flood? Refer to how Hurricane Sandy taught Lessons in Collaboration, Change Management & Resiliency.

It’s all the same. It’s adversity. It’s difficulties, misfortunedisaster, heartbreak, suffering, woe … and we could go on and on. Yes, this is a heavy, dark topic. However, it is reality and it happens every day. Rarely does someone escape the doom of a tough situation.

I apologize for sounding like a downer; however, it’s is true. Every day, in someone’s work environment, things like this are going on in the background. It’s the way the world works. It is part of the human condition.

The takeaway? Stuff happens. How it is dealt with, however, is another story.


The Company Role

What if you were part of a team that created a safe environment for people to be however they are? You line up counseling through your EAP, you help to gather a team of HR professionals to take on helping these individuals? With permission, you ask teammates to chip into the efforts to be of service and to help. You hire someone to come in and do training on the topic for all to attend. You hire a crisis coach to work with them.

You see, adversity can hit anyone, anytime. It is non-discriminating. Every one of us has stories of things that have happened to ourselves or our loved ones. 


Now We Introduce Resiliency and Ultimately The Way out of The Fog.

On the other side of recognition of the human condition, is the concept of resiliency. How do you help others to be resilient? What can you do to contribute to easing that person ’s profound situation? In fact, what is resiliency? Simply, it’s the ability to bounce back from adversity. There aren’t really steps to follow to bounce back. There are however a few words that describe characteristics of resilient people. They are optimistic, persistent, full of heart, unstoppable, have a positive outlook, flexible, and are determined. Life examples of resilence 

Ask yourself, how do we, as a team or company, tap into the resiliency of our people to help them come through something difficult. Then, as a team, put your heads together and come up with a plan. Your place, your individual strengths, will pull people out of the fog. How to Apply Strengths Finder For your Personal & Professional Development.

Having a caring workplace community and a culture of respect and helpfulness is the cornerstone of a great company. It means they can pull together and be of service and help to their team. They help to bring people out of the fog and into the sunshine.


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Ann Fry

Ann Fry, MSW, PCC has been working within organizations as a change management specialist and a leadership coach. She is known for creating change through chaos. She disrupts systems so they can then reboot and shift. She is also a cancer survivor who coaches high-level individuals thru their cancer (or other serious illness) issues as they struggle to balance work, family and career. She recently launched http://www.workplacecancercoaches that offers coaching for employees with major serious illness. It is very new and in the process of launching. She is a regular blogger for Workology.


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