5 Steps to Career ResilienceLately there has been a lot of talk among development and leadership gurus about resilience. Hardly surprising, in these challenging economic times. But what exactly is career resilience? And, more importantly, how can you get some?

Resilience in simple terms is the ability to bounce back from the brink. People with career resilience are the ones you hear about who were made redundant and turned their pay off into a successful business. Or those people whose manuscript was rejected hundreds of times, but kept peddling it until they won a publishing deal worth millions.

Although your tendency to be resilient is somewhat hardwired by genetics, the good news from neuroscience is that you can do a lot to develop what you were born with. By working on your resilience levels you can learn how to bounce back better. New neural networks develop which in turn will increase your resilience levels further. This ability of the brain to improve pathways of communication is known as neuroplasticity. Literally, energy flows where attention goes.

Here are five tips to help develop your resilience:

  1. Do a challenge appraisal – Researchers who studied cohorts of Olympic gold medal winners found when things go wrong in training and competition, the gold medal winners viewed it as a development opportunity. They did a challenge appraisal to see how mistakes could improve performance.
  2. Practice metacognition – Highly resilient, successful people develop a sense of themselves that goes beyond the immediate difficulty – they are not defined by it. A personal view of ‘regardless of what is going on right now, I am OK’ is useful here.
  3. Have a sense of purpose – for example, children brought up with backgrounds of multiple deprivation can have a strong sense of purpose about their education – viewing it as a way of escaping their ‘destiny’. Ask yourself ‘in my work, what is my purpose right now?’ Think beyond your pay cheque.
  4. Know your support systems – whether it’s a friend, teacher or colleague, we all need some form of support system and the understanding of when we need help and how to ask for it.
  5. Learn from difficulty – Carole Pemberton, a UK based coach who specialises in this area, proposes a four point plan to ensure your career resilience:
  6. Business awareness – keep on top of things, read the latest research, go to conferences, do your own PESTLE analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors)
  7. Skills currency – Continuous Professional Development that addresses what you need to learn to keep up with developments in your industry as outlined in the PESTLE analysis.
  8. Self-awareness – Trust in your knowledge and deepen your learning, don’t just clock up qualifications but work on how to apply and evolve what skills you have
  9. Magnetic marketing – attracting the right people because of the behaviours and attitudes that you model.
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