Archana Law notes how to cope with life’s curve balls

Amidst increasing turbulence in both business and the world around us, the future lies with people and entities that can individually and collectively turn challenges into opportunities, progress and innovation.

In their book ‘Type R: Transformative Resilience for Thriving in a Turbulent World,’ authors Ama and Stephanie Marston write: “A Type R culture can be described as one in which shock absorbers enable people and organisations to cope with day-to-day stresses, as well as seismic events.”

This label is applicable to individuals, leaders, businesses, families and communities that transform difficult circumstances into positive change – from meaningful growth to breakthrough innovation and newfound strengths.

In a contemporary context, the often used term ‘resilience’ covers anything from psychology to management and strategy. Derived from the Latin verb resaltare, which means to rebound or bounce back or get moving again, the word resilience is used in a number of contexts with many nuances – most of which boil down to adapting to circumstances in the face of a shocking event.

Resilience has been recognised as an important phenomenon for understanding how individuals and even organisations overcome difficult situations. According to innovation consultant Pierre d’Huy, resilience is the ability to create a structure such that crisis or shock – especially when it is completely unpredictable – can be withstood (perhaps to the extent that the company could even be stronger after the event).

So how do we bounce right back? Here are some pointers.

LEARN TO ADAPT Charles Darwin’s observation that “it’s not the strongest of the species that survives or the most intelligent but the one most responsive to change” is true even today. Your experience and ultimate success is dictated by the attitude you bring to the experience, and how you manage your thoughts, emotions and relationships in your surroundings.

NO NEGATIVITY Try to drop negative words like ‘no,’ ‘not,’ ‘can’t’ and ‘bad’ from your vocabulary. When you think and talk positively, you act positively. When you have a positive mindset, you’re more open to other perspectives. And when you are more open to other perspectives, you’ll be more receptive to change.

LEARN TO LEARN According to Josh Kaufman, it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill but simply learning it can take less than 20 hours of ‘smart practice.’ The idea is that you learn the 20 percent of the material that will yield 80 percent of the result. To master it, you need to deliberately focus and practise the skill, and repeat the process over days, weeks or months. “The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways,” writes author Robert Greene.

TAKE A CHANCE Do things outside your comfort zone at least once a week. When you are in your comfort zone, your brain doesn’t want anything to change – your needs are met, you have zero stress and your brain recognises that the body is surviving. This is a perfect recipe for steady performance since your brain requires so much energy for day-to-day activities that it doesn’t want to release additional resources to do new things! Getting out of your comfort zone from time to time creates just enough good stress to ramp up your focus, creativity, pace and drive. And this helps you respond to life’s stresses when unexpected events occur.

NO FAILURE Develop and continually refine your competitive advantage. Whether you’re an individual, a professional or an organisation, no competitive advantage means failure. Always work towards learning and demonstrate a clear skill lead in your domain. Each day can be an opportunity to learn and grow.

NO RESISTANCE Acknowledge your emotions about the situation. Sometimes people who have suffered something like a financial loss don’t really realise they’re experiencing grief or resentment. Difficult emotions are hard to deal with but you can only move forward when you know what you’re dealing with. Resisting what has happened to you is like being in a maze – the more you struggle with it, the more stuck you will be. Only when you think calmly will you come out of it.

GET GOING There are underthinkers and overthinkers with hardly anyone in between. Underthinkers don’t think things through – and they hardly follow through. Overthinkers spend so much time planning that they forget to act. Action requires planning that’s sufficient for implementing something as soon as possible.

We have limited time on this planet before we’re gone. The quicker and better we learn and adapt, the more we’ll thrive. The problem is that we’re never really taught how to do so. The late Vince Lombardi, the former Hall of Fame football coach, once said: “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.”