Adversity doesn’t discriminate. Every single person in our workplace has experienced it regardless of their skin color, age, position or other demographic trait we are often grouped into by society. What gets us through adversity are typically two traits: grit and resilience.
Studies show that these two traits define successful people and go hand-in-hand with individuals who often check in with their feelings, shake routines that may get them into constant ruts, and deeply understand their “why.”
But before we go further, it’s important we talk about the definition of both. It’s easy to group the two together as they are closely related. Grit is someone who has determination and perseverance to move forward and complete a goal, or get through a sticky situation. Employees with grit often have confidence, high levels of focus and have no issue making mistakes if they are bound to learn from them. You’ll be able to quickly identify employees with grit. They’re the ones who are consistently pushing boundaries, exceeding expectations and have a fierce passion for doing their best.
Next, let’s talk about resilience. While grit is about the consistent effort to make a goal even after we struggle or fail, resilience is our capability to rebound after we have struggled. So while grit will get us through, resilience, or ability to get back on track, will make sure we don’t quit. Without grit, we can’t have resilience, and without resilience, we don’t have grit.
When we talk about resilience, a TedTalk by Lucy Hone comes to mind. Lucy lost her 12-year-old daughter to a terrible car accident when they were suppose to be going on vacation. The situation could have been paralyzing, however, she was able to get through it and begin to educate others on how her resilience played a large part.
Here are three traits she started to realize people with high levels of resilience have:
They know that suffering is a part of life
Those with resilience aren’t necessarily welcoming terrible situations into their life, but they aren’t blindsided by them either. The “Why me?” mentality simply just doesn’t exist to them.
Lucy details her daughter’s death in her talk. Within weeks of the occurrence, she was greeted with several terrible statistics by well-meaning people and professionals, including that her marriage was much more likely to fail after the death of a child, she was at a significantly higher likelihood to become mentally ill and many parents who lose children will find themselves in deep states of grief for upwards of five years.
Instead of delving deep into the “Why me?” mentality, Lucy distinctly remembers telling herself, “It’s time to sink or swim.”
People with resilience often do this. They are challenged with what may handicap others, but see it as a time that they must get through in order to proceed with life. By switching the mindset from, “I can’t believe this is happening,” to “This is a horrible situation, but I need to get through it” allows people to rise to even the biggest challenges they may face in life.
Think back to when things got hairy at work. Who immediately stepped up and tried to help solve the issue, or provided insight on how you might move forward? Those are your employees with grit and resilience. Those are the ones you want to keep around.
They choose where they direct their attention
Our brains are naturally wired to notice threats and weaknesses. It’s how we stay alive. While it worked well when our lives were much simpler living in caves, it now bombards our brains with constant unrealistic fear triggers.
According to Lucy, resilient people have evolved from these triggers. They’ve created ways to “tune out” of the bad signs around them, and “tune in” to the good. Lucy is the prime example of this. When her daughter passed, she thought to herself, “You cannot get swallowed up by this. You’ve got so much to live for. Don’t lose what you have to what you have lost.”
Let’s bring this back to work. Imagine you just lost your biggest account. It’s a big hit and wasn’t expected. Look around the room. Who is wallowing or quickly hitting the web for a job search? On the other hand, who is diving in to try to reclaim the client or fill the revenue gap they’re about to leave?
Resilience and grit quickly show themselves in times of distress. In psychology, this trait is called “benefit-finding,” where individuals spend significant focus on trying to find the upside or benefit to situations around them that are less than ideal.
They ask themselves often, “Is what I’m doing helping or harming me?”
It’s so important to make an effort to tune in to what’s moving you forward. This mindfulness helps you not only navigate hard times in a healthy way, it also keeps you away from decisions that could potentially put you into more challenging times.
The question, “Is what I’m doing helping or harming me?” can be applied to say many different life situations. It’s the guiding light that allows you to navigate. It puts you back in the driver’s seat of your life, as Lucy Hone says in the TedTalk.
This simple question can be so powerful when we apply it to work. We’ve written before about the idea of “firing yourself” from your current position. No, not really terminating yourself from your company, but terminating the way that you do the work. Perhaps you do a lot of inefficient tasks throughout the day that have become an old habit, but don’t move the company and take up a lot of your time. Are they helping or harming you?
Have you been scared to ask for help on the big project you took on? Is that fear helping or harming you?
This eight-word question is so incredibly powerful. Make sure you ask it to yourself. Make sure you pass it on to your colleagues.