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Resilience and Camping

ResilienceWhen I was in fifth or sixth grade my mom sent me to a primitive two week camp. I had been to overnight camps before and generally loved them. In the camps I loved the bathrooms were close and the facilities comfortable. But this camp was P.R.I.M.I.T.I.V.E, at least from my perspective, but we did have a rusty old cabin to sleep in, along with a family of mice.

It is a perfect week for me to have received this weeks’ Time Magazine, the article “Bounce Back”, by Mandy Oaklander, on personal resilience speaks strongly to me. I had to laugh when the author tells a story of a father and son kayaking in miserable conditions and when it was all over the son told his father he “never wanted to speak to him again.” I had similar feelings towards my mom who abandoned me at the worst camp ever!

But when we go into business being resilient is an important skill to have and one that keeps us moving along in tough situations. I say skill because according to the Time article and my experience it is a skill that can be learned and improved.

I was recently speaking with a friend who opened a business a few years ago about how the highs and lows even out. Dealing with an unexpected bump is much easier once you have dealt with the problem or one like it before. We were specifically discussing the first time we had to let someone go and the first time someone quit unexpectedly. After we compared notes we found both of us spent days in turmoil over these types of situations the first time we encountered them. Now that we have both been down that road it is far less alarming when we lose a team member. We also now know that loss will create space for wonderful new team members. Each time we have a change to our team we learn more about what to look for when hiring as well.

According to Mandy Oaklander experts suggest a number of tips for resilience:

  • Develop and hold fast to a core set of beliefs.

Knowing who you are is important in new endeavors it gives you a compass to navigate through stressful situations, I have seen good people flounder and cave in desperate times because they simply let go of themselves rather than stick to their belief system.

  • Find meaning in stressful situations.

My feeling on this is we can then use it to improve our reactions to similar future scenarios. Stay positive. When asked at work “How are you?” I generally answer with some form of good-even on the days that may not be entirely true. I believe that sometimes you have to will yourself there but language and actions will help you get to a good place. That being said sometimes you just need to vent it, purge it and move on! (That is what your partner is for, generally not your employees…)

  • Learn from others who are resilient.

Currently my biggest teachers of resilience are mothers. With a 3 and 5 year old I spend a lot of time around other mothers and I watch all of us struggle with parenting decisions (which are the hardest decisions there are!). But we all bounce back the next day to give it our all even after setbacks!

  • Face the things that are stressful and scare you.

In small business there are tasks that fall in this category. They are usually last on the list of the things that you want to do, but what a great feeling to conquer them!

  • Don’t hesitate to get support when you need it.

We all need help and a new perspective at times. Someone with experience that we don’t have can be valuable in effectively moving you through a situation. We are fortunate that Bill has a friend who has started and purchased a number of businesses he made successful. When we get stuck he is always willing to give us valuable advice.

  • Learn new things.

Currently, I am learning how to post blogs and work in a digital arena. I have a list of things that is always growing and as I have the time continue to learn about new things, some to improve our business some just for self-fulfillment.

  • Exercise.

I like to walk, jog, bike, take Pilates and biocored. I like a varied routine but I think we all benefit by having the physical and emotional release that any movement provides. Don’t ruminate on the past and mistakes you’ve made. This keeps us from moving forward productively and stymie’s finding good solutions for the task we are currently up against.

  • Own your own strengths!

We all have them. Make your own list and then ask the people close to you what they see as your strengths.  Use the skills on these lists as something to rely on when you are facing challenges.

While at times I think we were sleep deprived and delusional when we decided with a 2 year old and 2 month old to open a new business, one of many benefits of having kids is that resilience is improved. I am yet to meet a parent who firmly believes they have parenting all figured out. Even if we do feel like we find a good working solution for our families that is just the time new challenges start up. But, as parents, we keep trying with every ounce we can muster to help our children learn and succeed. For me, parenting while also developing a business has been helpful because I find new resilience almost every day!

In hindsight I should probably thank my mom for sending me to that camp, leaving me there for two weeks in order to help build my resilience!

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Susan Fleck May 27, 2015, 1:15 pm

    Good article and reminder of the need for resiliency! Oh and I can imagine you at that camp!

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