How to be Resilient in these Unprecedented times!

We are the toughest species on Earth
We survived when earth trembled
We survived when disease broke boundaries and spread mercilessly
We survived the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki
We survived when the coast was tormented by Tsunami
The picture was never perfect –
for
We resisted but in due course relented too
We turned rigid, almost gave up but found life when we flexed and changed with time.

Evidence shows that we not only survived but thrived as we built pillars of Resilience and Adaptation around the event.

What is Resilience and why is it important?

Resilience is a way of thinking. It is not a fixed trait that is ‘hard wired’ into us.
Some people incorrectly believe that resilience is something that a person is born with. However, whilst life experiences may shape our levels of resilience, with focused effort it can also be learned and developed.
In these unprecedented times, we need to learn to intensify our Resilience trait a lot. Why?
The world is changing exponentially, the velocity of change has created an unfathomable V.U.C.A. world for all of us. V.U.CA. stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity in the transactional world.
And each word describes the unpredictable times we are in. Business profit lines have thinned to fade away. Children have extended holidays and no curriculum to follow. Exams have deferred, marriages cancelled and worse, when an old aunt is cremated by neighbours and no one in the family could reach her in time.
On the other hand, nature is thriving in all of this. Nothing has stopped its growth. Birds fill the air with wonderful vocals, animals are reclaiming their space in sea and land, skies are clear. Nature has rejuvenated itself.

Growth is ceaseless, seamless and moves against gravity. Humans too have to toe the line. Come what may, when faced with a mountain, either walk around it, cross it or if need be, tunnel through it. The movement is mandatory, the free flow of energy is natural. Anything reverse means – Adieu Zindagi.
What ever happens never give up! Be bigger than your problem. Be flexible in your approach. A mind “set” while solving problems is already a defeated proposition since it will define the ceiling to your solution search. Uncork your mind to explore unknown pathways. To find solution, one needs to go out of the comfort zone, or in short find “out of the box” solution.
It’s a hard fact: If a person has only one option to choose in life, that stage is called “Being Stuck.” But if one has choices to opt from, this is freedom – true internal freedom of being resourceful.
How do we power up the Resilience trait within us?
Here are the 8 pronged path to become resilient in the upcoming times.

Self belief

Every lock has a key. Believe in your self that there is a solution to every challenge and that you are capable enough to weave out of the situation.

Prime your brain

Brain needs instructions to work upon. The thoughts you feed the brain with give the directional force to the brain. So, affirmations, definitions and revisiting the belief systems help in priming the brain.

Optimism

To watch a garden full of weeds and expecting flowers to blossom is not the definition of optimism. An individual needs to plant the right thoughts in the mind that will take the person towards a solution mindset. If surrounded by negativity, the individual cannot lead the victory march.

Map your territory

Know your strengths and limitations and work on options that can be achieved while up-skilling to upscale. The more you know about yourself, the faster you can flex with inner calmness.

Seek support

We all need coaches and mentors as we move through different stages of life. Reach out for help without any inhibition and deal deftly with the Post Covid situation. Seek support to empower yourself, so that when time demands you can extend your support too.

Network for Net worth

The more you are are known in your network, the more people are likely to recommend your product or services and even you.
Stay in people’s mind with good work and words.

Communicate, Listen, Read, Repeat

The more you communicate with the right people about the issues in hand, the better you will be able to get cognisant of the new situation. Listen to what people need. Read to be updated and then, continue doing these cycles.

Ruminate your plans well

80% planning and 20% execution… Plan your self well to be able to win a situation with less failures.

We are, at this very moment, living in an era, a history, that is a reality for each one of us. There are two options to choose from. To be a History maker or be a History reader. Makers choose while readers follow.

The romance of a New Normal is about to begin. Stay committed!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shilpi Khandelwal 
Being spiritually intelligent is the only answer to overcome the V.U.C.A. world. And it’s the same guidance Shilpi reinvents herself to stay at par with the industry needs. Shilpi has a training experience of over 15 years across diverse industries.

She is an NLP coach, a PPA assessor and EQ practitioner from Thomas International. She also holds an Executive coaching certificate from Franklin Covey. She initiated her training company, TOUR DE FORCE, which means masterly feat, in 2010. Her company has done 15000 hours of classroom training and 350+ outbound Trainings. Tour de Force is a compassionate Training company and everything around it is for a reason other than business. Her interest in Design Thinking made her hit the books and she certified as a practitioner from QGlue. She was an active participant in Nasscom’s Design4India Summit. Being an entrepreneur herself, she would like to train the startups and introduce this concept before they spend millions in launching a product and bleed their scarce resources in failure.

Lock – Unlock

The Sun is about to rise. It is still dark and from my balcony, I can see the highway lit up beautifully. I can see the plant at a distance glowing in the silver light and chimney throwing up the golden flame. The interplay of lights here and there is making the sea water, in front, dance intermittently. I can see the birds flying and chirping happily as if singing in excitement for the Sun to rise. The sky is changing colours so beautifully making chariots of Gods come alive and disappear one after the other in different formations. One innocent redness is now visible just a little above the hill in the middle of the sea. The red ball is now climbing up the hill and the Sun rays have started their play on the sea surface. Here comes a pigeon and another one in the balcony adjacent to mine. The pigeon above says something to the pigeon sitting a little below and they keep communicating in total oblivion to everything around. They fly away a little later to join their other friends flying happily over the sea waters. I chant the Gayatri mantra welcoming the rise of the morning Sun and close my eyes to just listen to the chirping around . Silence has its own beauty and I don’t know how many minutes elapsed in that peaceful blissful silence. In silence, I hear the gentle sound of the church bell nearby announcing the beginning of the new day.

This all has been around every day. How come it just comes alive when everything, everyone is locked up? What is this new life amidst the dance of terrible fear around – the fear of losing it all? What is this emerging when everything else seems to have been denied, taken away?

I sit there quietly reflecting. It’s a lockdown. Lockdown of tea stalls, lockdown of Vada pav shops, lockdown of that small general store having all one needs. So, all this gets locked down. So does the income for these people and many more giving them daily supplies. How are they managing things for themselves and their dear ones? How are the emergencies being handled by them? It’s a lockdown of our office. How does the show go on? What’s the new norm of working, connecting and for how long? What’s happening in other organisations?

A part of me is still in the deep silence of early morning and all of a sudden, I again find myself getting consumed by this silence within and the play of nature outside – both mingling seamlessly.

As I get up to get ready to work from home and be nicely available to the office colleagues for the whole day, I am still wondering why it took a human crisis for the gifts of nature to unfold. I am still wondering while taking shower why it took a lockdown for our inner beauty and peace to open up to ourselves. I am still wondering while slowly eating my breakfast if it is possible for us to slow down; appreciate the beauty around and within; and make the focused difference to the world as well in harmony. The laptop beeps up with the first teams call for the day – Hello Mohit! Good morning. So, today ……😀😀😀


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mr. Mohit Kumar, Joint President – HR (Hindalco Industries Ltd.) is a Human Capital Strategist with 26 years experience in different facets of Human Resource Management in strongly HR oriented organisations like Hindalco Industries Ltd & Idea Cellular Ltd (Aditya Birla Group), Hewlett Packard, ITC INFOTECH INDIA Ltd (ITC group), SRF Ltd, DSS Mobile Communications Ltd and BCH (Eaton corporation).

He is a passionate thought leader, business enabler, employee champion; and is cross culturally adept having worked in different parts of India and with business and HR teams from over 12 countries. He is actively involved in leadership coaching and development, internal development assessment centers, talent & capability pipeline, sensitivity development and various other quality HR interventions towards creating a learning and winning organization.

Fight against no one

We become what we can’t fight.

We want to stay sane. Why? Don’t know. But we have to. There are things, in numbers quite large, we don’t like. We want them to not happen. We want them to end. We don’t fight them. Sometimes we “can’t” fight them. Why fight a battle that we will lose after we appear to win?

We are cowards. We are scared to risk what we may end up losing after we win. It kills us from inside. We fight against our own selves. This is a battle we choose over the one we can’t afford to lose, or win.

We are losers. We use our fingers, not our arms to convey what we want. We just can’t fight back.

“What the hell do I do?”, asked a voice inside me, one day.

“Why do you have to fight it? It is the way it is. Stop troubling yourself over it. You are not responsible for everything wrong that’s happening around you.”, came a reply in a slightly different voice.

When there is a conflict inside, one of the sides is assigned to the blood pumping organ and the other to the manager of organs. I couldn’t identify which one was which.

The following day, I argued against the notion of chasing dreams.

Defensive Pessimism vs Mindful Optimism?

In stressful times like these, many people adopt an inclination towards defensive pessimism: prepare for the worse and hope for the best. To my mind this is a losing strategy. Events are neither good nor bad. It is our thoughts that make them so.

Defensive pessimism keeps us on the lookout for the negative, and over interpreting events through a very dark lens. The problem is seek and ye shall find. Being inundated with negative thoughts keeps us stressed and feeling helpless— neither of which is good for our health and well being. To hope for the best may sound fine but actually on closer inspection it has a pessimistic outlook built into it that is absent from expecting the best. Hoping for something acknowledges that defeat is a real possibility. Expecting defeat through a series of social psychological processes too often creates defeat.

Mindful Optimism, on the other hand, is not burying one’s head in the sand with a certainty that all will be fine, but still helps us live fully moment by moment without stress. Uncertainty is not newly upon us. Everything has always been uncertain. It feels new because people tend to confuse the stability of their mindsets with the stability of the underlying phenomena. That is, all is and was always changing and not fully knowable but we may have felt we knew because we were oblivious to the inherent uncertainty.

We can worry or relax and things can turn out to be good or bad. If we worry and everything turns out fine, we’ve stressed ourselves unnecessarily and wasted precious time. If we worry and if turns out to be bad we’re no more prepared for it than if we didn’t worry. If we relax and it turns out bad we’ll be stronger to deal with it and if it all turns out to be fine we can continue behaving adaptively.

So what should we do if we want to adopt this more successful life strategy of Mindful Optimism, in the time of a pandemic?

Make a plan for yourself, such as frequent hand washing (which is always good) and engage in social distancing and then go back to living fully moment by moment with the implicit expectation that all will be fine.

About the Author

Ellen Langer


Dr. Ellen Langer, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and the first female professor to gain tenure in the Psychology Department at Harvard University. She is the author of eleven books and more than two hundred research articles written for general and academic readers on mindfulness for over 35 years. Her best selling books include Mindfulness; The Power of Mindful Learning; On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity; and Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility.

Dr. Langer has been described as the “mother of mindfulness” and is also the founder of The Langer Mindfulness Institute. Among other honors, she is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and three Distinguished Scientist Awards, the World Congress Award, the NYU Alumni Achievement Award, and the Staats award for Unifying Psychology. Most recently she received the Liberty Science Genius Award.

I want to be…

Reserved, ever-so-calm and meticulous Manoj is in accounts. Manoj is 38, his wife is a school teacher and his only son who is in 6th standard wins almost every olympiad.

On Monday, Manoj was attending a training session, with his team, where the trainer asked all the participants to introduce themselves and share something unique about them. Manoj introduced himself rather shyly. The trainer probed him to share something unique too.

Manoj smiled. With a twinkle in his eye, said “I want to be a professional music composer.”

Suddenly, the room burst into laughter.
A voice in the room said, “Manoj, you are going to be our next Finance head.”
Another one said, “Building castles in the air.”
Yet another one said, “It’s nothing but weekend hangover.”

Manoj turned red with embarrassment. He felt as if he had stripped off in front of so many people. He hardly spoke that day, everyone had fun at his expense the whole day.

The night was getting even more difficult to get through.
“Why did I even speak up?”
“Really stupid of me to have frivolous aspirations.”
“How am I going to face people tomorrow!”
His own thoughts were the demons in the room, not letting him sleep.

The next day wasn’t a usual one. There were some critical audits scheduled, so everyone was on their toes. Manoj got into high gear and before he knew it, the day was over. There was something unavoidable in the evening, a planned team celebration with the Head of Finance. Manoj got an award this year, and that was one of the reasons for this celebration. Everyone got into their cars and moved to the party venue.

As Manoj entered the venue, one of his colleagues said,
“Look who is here. The next big musician.”
Others started laughing.

Manoj, by now, knew that this wasn’t going to be easy. He just smiled. The party began, and all those who got awarded were asked to say something.
Manoj got to the stage when it was his turn.

“A very good evening everyone.” He began.
“This recognition means a lot to me.
I always wanted to qualify CA and be a great accountant.
This recognition marks the accomplishment of my dreams.
The dreams that I had when I was 15, the dreams that were never mocked at and never suppressed.

When we were younger, we were always asked what do you want to be when you grow up. Whether we said doctor, engineer or CA, we were always encouraged.
I didn’t know much about accounting when I decided to be a CA.
That didn’t matter.
Everyone knew I will learn with time.

Why don’t we ask each other the same question now?
What do you want be after 10 years!
We are more self-aware and worldly wise now.
We can make amazing choices that inspire us, and can motivate us everyday.
We have stopped dreaming and we don’t let people around us dream too.
Isn’t that just sad?
In 10 years’ frame, we can be anything we want to be.
We can try, fail, learn and grow.
My humble plea to everyone here is to never stop dreaming.
It’s the best thing in the world.
A dream is the best gift that you can give to yourself.
So, yes… I want to be a professional Music Composer in 10 years.
I will start working on it today, with what I am doing.
And however far it may seem, I will take a step a day and I am sure I will reach there.”

The room burst into claps.