Why do we feel fatigued as soon as we start thinking about resilience?

COVID-19 has become part of our lives. It’s manifested itself into our existence and we’re all doing our best to adapt. But, how are people really traveling during these difficult times? Given the current challenges being faced with the roll-out of the vaccination program, and other uncontrollable events, you may be feeling wary about how we can achieve a world free of coronavirus – and this could be impacting your motivation in the workplace and your aspirations for the future.

Are you a little tired of being resilient? And, while resilience is a worthy goal, is it actually tiring you to constantly strive for a state of resilience?

In my last article, I discussed the need for leaders and managers of organisations to “dig deep” in navigating pathways forward … but how long are we able to keep “digging deep” while using the narrative of resilience?

After observing and participating in the hectic and demanding world of business for the past year of pandemic, panic, and upheaval, I believe it’s time to flip our thought patterns around the overworked term ‘resilience’. Let’s leave behind the exhaustion we feel as soon as we think we must be resilient. And let’s instead harness the power of what we’ve already got – resilient or not – and move forward.

Resting resilience and kickstarting success

Through the Masters In Me™ career leadership program which I created to position people for their future success, I’ve had many conversations over the past six to eight months with people who are experiencing career change – some welcome – some unwelcome.

A career change or transformation can be fulfilling, but it is a daunting and challenging process if you do not have, at the centre of your transformation, a clear strategy of what success looks like. 

What does success look like for you?

As Covid confronted us all, I used this question on myself. I flipped my thinking from, “What is going to happen here?” to “What does success now look like for me at the end of today? Or at the end of this week?” And I identified some success factors within those time frameworks to measure my statement by.

I encourage you to use this framework to support your focus so that you can move forward with intent and purpose.

Ask yourself:

“What does success look like for me today?” “What actions do I need to take, so that at the end of the day, I look back and know I have progressed forward?”

When planning for the future:

“What does success look like for me in 6 months?”


Perhaps, it’s as simple as:

“What does success look like for me at the end of this meeting with my boss?”

The purpose of asking these questions is to guide you to identify what tasks you need to complete to achieve success and what behaviours you need to demonstrate to support success. 

Most importantly, you are to answer the questions based on your very own definition of success. No one else can define success for you when you use this formula. 

Use this framework to identify your behaviours, future plans, and actions.

Repositioning for success

In adopting this framework, I’m proposing repositioning for success – from focusing on resilience to switching our mindset around how we see success and then using this to propel ourselves forward.

This thinking is about using our current state and current environment and being realistic. It’s about working with what is available to us in a strategic way to advance forward.

To begin, build yourself a platform consisting of your aspirations, skills experience, education and natural talent. In this stage, you consolidate yourself and start thinking about how you can deploy and utilise what’s around you – those elements that can launch you forward. You can encourage your own positive behaviours that will enrich, rather than hinder, your plans.

You may regard this framework as a resilience tool but, in its design, it’s really about moving forward and being proactive about your future.

When deployed consistently, you will achieve natural momentum for success, gaining traction with your goals.

Resilience … an incomplete response to adversity

I believe resilience can, at times, be too simplistic in any solution for overcoming adversity.

Resilience can commonly be understood as “bouncing back”, but during times of significant stress, trauma, or sustained uncertainty, simply returning to “normal” or “toughening up” can actually hinder our ability to recover. When we continue to try and meet daily adversity and stress with strength, we can suffer “resilience burnout.”

This might explain why resilience can often feel loaded with a negative, tiring, exhausting narrative.

So, for a moment, let’s forget the notions of being resilient and accepting that we just have to deal with it. Forget about striving for “normal” and “getting through”.

Think again about what success looks like for you. Success on your terms, stemming from your experiences. The impact you want to make on the world is unique, which means your definition of success should be just as unique.

Recovering from adversity viewed through this lens can be seen as moving forward with steps that are purposeful, clear, attainable and – significantly – motivational and sustainable.

Recovery from resilience

By using the framework of checking in with their own definition of success, my clients have frequently said they have been left feeling empowered. The methodology supports them to stand still, take stock, analyse past choices and behaviours and truly own their unique combination of skills, expertise, education, experiences and natural talents.

Deploying this framework supports people to be in control of their future, achieving a sense of purpose and creating the motivation and drive needed to move forward.

So, next time you are questioning your resilience strategy or trying to remain tough through adversity, I encourage you to flip your mindset and ask yourself simply, “What does success look like for me today?” “What do I need to do to progress forward?”

You might be surprised at the results you achieve and the change in your motivation to engage.

For more information about Steam Capital’s unique approach to positioning for success, contact us today.

Libby Marshall

Author Libby Marshall

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