How to: Emerge stronger and more resilient from lockdown in your career
Today is day 100 of being in lockdown.
This lockdown has transformed us in many ways. As humans, we crave connection and belonging. The rollercoaster emotional ride of feeling in control the one moment and feeling anxious the next, was a big reality for a lot of people.
This pandemic has also taught us many lessons. These lessons should be used as the foundation to emerge stronger and more resilient than before the COVID-19 lockdown.
Here are 5 tips:
- Consider your full stop
This has forced us to learn to prioritise a full stop to our day… indicating that it is time to close the laptop and start the “being home” part of your day. To successfully work from home in the future, you owe this to yourself. The always-on-mode just isn’t sustainable and ‘lockdown brunout’ is real as many people are working harder than what they would have in the office. Our bodies need to recover; recovery is a critical part for you maintain resilience and being a high performing employee. Simply taking a break is not good enough. Your brain needs 6 – 8 hours of sleep to be function optimality, but stopping does not equal recovering. Rest and recovery are not the same thing.
If there is a pattern, you need to have a conversation with your manager to agree and work towards a mutual understanding. For some, this will be a massive adjustment, but a necessary one.
- Revive rituals to restore resilience
The challenges and difficulties you face are not determining your outcomes and results. You are responsible and accountable for it. By building your resilience, you take responsibility for your own high performance.
When thinking of resilience, the Neurozone model is a good place to start. It is divided between foundational, emotional and high order drivers. Do not underestimate the impact of foundational drivers, such as: your sleep-wake cycle, exercise rituals, healthy eating and silencing your mind. Are you intentional about getting the basics, right? Or are you just going from one task to the next – operating in survival mode the whole time?
Your mental health is important and having rituals for silencing your mind for at least 15 minutes a day is a good first step. Also, consider breathing exercises – focus on deep breathing, ensuring you allow enough oxygen to enter your lungs and calm your mind. There are a variety of apps available that can help, such as Calm and Headspace.
According to Neurozone’s latest research: “The duration of exercise, destructive habit avoidance (remember those Easter eggs?) and optimism, have shown the largest increases in a likely positive effect on resilience compared to earlier data.”
- Adaptive thinking remains vital
The challenges we are currently facing are about the unknown – no one has been here before that can provide us with best-practice solutions. This adds a lot of uncertainty and pressure “to get it right”.
The best approach is to embrace a growth mindset by reframing change as an opportunity and not a burden. Another tactic is to adopt an adaptive thinking approach which allows you to do self-correction and reflection.
No one gets it right every time; you need to be willing to accept failure to make corrections as part of the process. Be open for experimentation; break the issue/challenge down into smaller parts and experiment, learn, adjust, repeat… Individuals that can learn the fastest will adapt quicker to change and uncertainty.
The ability to innovate and be creative is, therefore, more important than ever before. The World Economic Forum has listed creative thinking as a valuable skill in their recent report.
Creativity is a muscle that can be developed. Start by becoming aware of what your
thinking preferences are. If you are already good with fact-finding techniques or time structures, move outside your comfort zone towards less rigid, less structured thinking. For example, embark on picture simulation or nature walks or even art to give your inspiration-journey a jumpstart.
- Self-leadership is non-negotiable
Remain clear on your priorities. This is an easy way to ensure you are not side-tracked by unimportant, less urgent matters.
This is not limited to day-to-day operational priorities but includes your career goals as well. You need to revisit your actions to reach your goals and schedule time with a trusted colleague or mentor to soundboard your current plan. Your plan needs to be flexible to be able to adjust as you go along. Have a clear sense of what you want to achieve, but also have an open mind for new opportunities and resilience for some hick-ups along the way.
Self-leadership is also about taking accountability; not only for your behaviour but also the behaviour of colleagues, friends and loved ones. We need to learn the skills to speak up and share any issue you are concerned about by having a difficult conversation.
Own your voice – a difficult conversation is never easy, but it will become harder the longer you wait To be able to share your views candidly and respectfully is a valuable skill to have and will stand you in good stead in future potential roles. It is an empowering exercise, and you will be liberated afterwards. When you remember that it is part of growth and development it changes your perspective.
- Are you a chameleon?
The term “chameleon worker” has been coined by Accenture a few years back. This refers to tech-savvy individuals that can easily adapt to change and learn quickly. If you are not displaying these attributes you may encounter challenging situations in the future – the next step here is to prioritise your reskilling.
According to McKinsey, 62% of executives “believe they will need to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce by 2023.” Quite a high stat, if you think it is in three years.
Reskilling is the process of learning new skills for a completely different job – this doesn’t only just benefit the employer but also the employee as it will broaden your skillset and also make you more attractive and valuable.
An interesting fact about chameleons is that they change colours not to camouflage but rather to communicate with one another. By now, you should have “virtual collaboration” under the belt. Continue to find ways to have an authentic connection with your team mates.
The more real people are becoming in the workplace, the less pressure people will feel to show-up as someone they are not, enabling them to perform better.
Become a reliable resource to your team. Internal service delivery is critical and builds your reputation as someone with character which is open to collaboration.
This has been a bumpy start to the decade and (hopefully) a pandemic like COVID-19 doesn’t come around often. However, we live in exciting times as we navigate and transition our new way of working.
The one aspect you can do to be stronger after lockdown is to be conscious and intentional about the “normal” you create to go back to. Be firm in leaving the worthless and draining aspects behind.
Resilience is all about the ability to bounce back, grow and perform on a higher level and less about grit and tenacity.