Three Steps to Hardiness

I was talking with a coaching client the other day who told me that things were calm at his place of work but he was expecting them to begin blowing up after the upcoming labor day holiday and that he was “buttressing himself” for the inevitable explosion. I asked him to explain what he meant.

He told me that his boss had been really great to work with the past couple of months. His boss had some vacation time, was able to knock off early to play some golf and took his kids to a bunch of baseball games during the summer. But with school starting and the fall workload picking up, he expected him to become grouchy and demanding any day now.

And “buttressing” was how he was preparing himself for this inevitable shift in boss behavior? He wasn’t sure how else he could approach it, since he knew it would be inevitable and “ugly”.

I brought up my resilience model to him and talked about the importance of having a “building hardiness” strategy to address predictable stressors that you know are coming down the highway. We talked about three keys

  1. Analysis: Consider what’s happened in the past that’s created good or bad outcomes. Sometimes these issues are outside your control and other times you can make real adjustments. Can my client get ahead of the curve by talking with his boss about what he (the boss) anticipates to be the challenges the next couple of months ahead?

2. Energy: Maintaining and building your energy is critical to dealing with stressful situations.  Now that the relaxing pace of summer is coming to an end, how will you assure yourself that you energy reserves that will carry you through longer work days, helping your kids with homework and greater project demands. Sleep management, exercise and nutritional awareness are some good places to start. Pick one and look for a 10% improvement on your part.

3. Create the Best Case: Professional athletes approach each game with the expectation of victory, but many of us approach our daily work games with the expectation of dread. Turn that around and visualize an excellent outcome to your workplace, family or personal challenge. Keep a log of three good things that happened to you today by your bedside at night and then start off your day predicting three good things that will happen for you today.

I think my client was convinced that his fear of what might happen in his workplace was predetermined and inescapable. It may be and he may be right that his boss will become a bear. But changing his behavior to be hardier and better prepared means he won’t be a victim and will have a greater hand in determining his and his company’s success.

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