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  • Writer's pictureLeana and Andrew

Resilience in business

Updated: Apr 17, 2021

A major feature of times of change that often concerns people, is the accompanying uncertainty and subsequent disquiet that it can provoke in us. This is especially so when change is enforced, arrives unexpectedly or turns out to be much more significant than predicted.

When we are able to initiate change for ourselves, or ‘manage it’ when required of us by others, the difference in relative control means that change is much less of a concern. When an aspect of the business or our work in general is dissatisfactory, part of what is enabling for us is our ability to see past our concerns and to picture and describe a preferred position. Then, an adapted or even new business plan can be produced.

New language and new phrases often emerge at times of change. This seems especially so when change is unpredicted or unexpected. You may be thinking of some right now. The mind may be trying to make sense (prefrontal lobe) of unique or new experiences and phenomena. The mind turns to what it already knows and tries to integrate new experiences with the old. This can be helpful, and it can also lead us up a cul de sac. Thinking about part of the process of change as the ‘new normal’ may offer some comfort i.e. ‘This is new but phew, it’s still kind of normal.’ This way of thinking may also be self-limiting as the need for comfort or soothing outweighs creativity and potential innovation which are also part of the human condition. Our creativity and capability to be innovative are part of our natural resilience. For our resilience to become engaged or tested, diversity is needed. In this way, resilience needs adversity.

For businesses that have to respond to unpredicted levels of change, especially those operating at full capacity or have little slack in their systems, the personal applied resilience of people who work in them is a highly desirable characteristic if qualities other than fight or flight are to be accessed. Adaptability is a key factor for businesses that want to survive – or even thrive. Even when having been in survival mode, reflected on the experience, and especially if business has picked up, it is worth being mindful of one’s mental health. You may have been coping as part of survival and that is when you may be vulnerable - as you relax. (Sound familiar?) Post coping and survival is a good time to reflect. Ask yourself: What happened? What did I do to get through this? Who else did what? How did it feel? What was I thinking throughout? Then consider what sense you make of your responses. What has coping, being in survival mode and succeeding taught you about you? And others? What has it taught you about running your business – especially in times of change?

Learning from your experience is your building block of resilience. In the same way that practice is your building block to enhanced confidence.

Most likely you will find that you have been looking after your mental health in various ways. What have they been for you? How can you learn from that and use the learning in support of yourself going forward? What have you learned about your resilience and how you cope in times of change?

With the current level of unpredicted change, like many of you, we adapted our business as soon as we could. We moved from face to face therapy to electronic formats. We invested in a new ‘therapy specific’ online platform. We promoted four e formats, we adapted our homes as workplaces, we communicated more with each other, we learned from other / similar businesses, we stayed ready to open our rooms again – adapting them as social distancing environments. Many of our clients were keen to return to face to face conditions and we were ready to do so when permitted - and have now done so. Similar adaptation practices occurred for many companies. Businesses that made clothing items adapted to include face masks; engineering companies adapted from making engine parts to ventilator parts; dog food producers moved to local delivery services to overcome transport problems; tutors and choir leaders moved to online provision. You know the stories and no doubt have your own to celebrate and from which to learn.

Again, as part of current universal challenges and how they apply to business, social distancing remains in the foreground. However, even that new phenomenon is already subject to adaptation borne out of resilience. Some of us learned that to some extent, distance is a state of mind and online communication has rocketed in use and even popularity. Many people observe that there is a refreshing comradery in business. There is more willingness to freely give and receive. For those that have suffered heavily in business and employment in general, previously unheard of central and local government grants have been provided. There has been much talk of the possibility for a great social and economic turning. Business is and can be a part of that should it choose to be.

Helping people to build resilience, manage change and of course support good mental health are significant aspects of our business. We are receiving inquiries from people who have their individual challenges and are facing them in the current context of unexpected levels of change. We are keen to work with people in offering counselling and psychotherapy as methods of support in these times and use them as opportunities to help people to learn from their experience and build resilience. We are also keen to offer people the opportunity to use the Innovation Potential Indicator. This a psychometric profile that provides people with a measure of and insight about their ways of being innovative. This includes people’s motivation for change, their propensity to be challengingin the pursuit of innovation, their methods and applications of creativityand, their level of comfort with the unfamiliarand how to enhance it.

It is often the case with the ways in which health issues are organized and presented in our health system, that aspects of our physical health take precedence over our mental health. Our health system is coming to terms with the reality that physical and mental health cannot be neatly separated out in order to understand and respond to the challenges of maintaining good all-round health. Developing research and practice in the field of neuroscience provides the evidence base. We are learning more and more about the connection between mind and body. This makes it even more important to us as therapists to focus on our mental health as a window for understanding our whole health. It is so important to look after our mental health.

Finally, a huge congratulations to businesses out there who are learning from their current experience in this changing business world. While you do so your resilience will build – both as a business and as the people who work in it. We would love to hear about your experiences and offer counselling or coaching support to help you maximise the potential for learning.

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