Preemptive Power: How To Cultivate A Resilience Mindset

If you’ve been meditating on the Van Gogh quote I shared in my last article Checking Your Gauge: Resilience & Your Emotional Energy Tank, Part 2, have you noticed how many minor nuisances irk you throughout the day? These pesky incidents sure do add up, detracting from your emotional energy. Is your computer being persnickety? That can eat up 1% of your tank load. Another 1% was leaked out when you found that message you’d been waiting for buried in your spam folder. For me, getting stuck behind a slow driver drains my emotional energy reserve by 2%! I call it “my hell”.

For much of our lives, we can squeak by without our tanks drying out entirely. Sure, you may feel like you’re always on the go, anxious, defensive and impatient. This does eventually lead to exhaustion. But somehow, you’ll manage to muster up the emotional energy to power onward. However, like everyone else, you will encounter life events that lead to severe rough patches. These times will require an emotional energy reserve that’s perhaps stronger than the one you’ve been maintaining. Being proactive will make the difference between career burnout (or worse) and managing through those crises, while emerging on the other side with a sense of gratitude, emotional growth and lessons learned.

Your Secret Ingredients For Bouncing Back

Unexpected crises can run the emotional spectrum: losing a job or a loved one, being assigned to a new team that you just don’t jibe with, or not getting that promotion you were promised. Times like these are when you feel knocked down, causing your emotional energy to gush freely from a finite tankful. We may not have the power to change a situation, but we can ultimately choose how we accept the situation.

Employing resilience is, naturally, your key to adeptly bouncing back. But unless you’ve equipped yourself with a healthy dose of resilient experience, the task is “easier said than done”. My advice is to brand a growth mindset into your brain, and begin to actively practice the use of perspective. Do it daily, just like your other good habits of drinking lots of water, exercising and eating 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables. These two amorphous concepts will take shape as your game changers, and will be there waiting in the wings to inform your every move when crises arise.

Be Proactive

It’s human nature to sometimes drop the ball by letting these resilience virtues slide. To make matters worse, our culture promotes the formula of relying on pain relievers instead of avoiding the sources of pain in the first place. Remember, just like there is no quick fix for emotional defeat, there’s also no express route to acquiring resilience. It’s important to have it in place before you need it. The more deliberately you cement it into your daily routine (much like embedding a habit), the more deeply-rooted that resilient mindset becomes. Then, when crisis comes knocking, you can slide into your reframing mindset organically.

Steer Out Of That Skid

Let me offer a helpful analogy. Years ago, I attended a pedal-to-the-metal driving class at Skip Barber Racing School where I practiced techniques to brace for high-speed driving challenges. The part of the lesson that stays with me today is a skid pad exercise. On an oil slick, I was instructed to accelerate while driving in circles, with the anticipation that at some point, I’d skid. At first it was frightening and way outside of my comfort zone (Was my vehicle going to roll over? Would I eventually be injured?) After 15 minutes of immersion, I realized that none of these things were going to happen. I learned the intricacies of steering into the skid to straighten my vehicle out. The benefit to me is that, to this day, I’m in control of my car during snowstorms to a degree that most others aren’t.

When you apply some high-speed driving lessons to your career, you’ll find yourself steering out of emotional skids daily. In my follow-up to this article, I’ll lay out some skidding lessons for you to meditate on, prompting you to further exploit the preemptive power of resilience.