“Obstacles are those frightening things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” Henry Ford
Regardless of how the pandemic has touched your life, one of the things that we all have in common is the fact that social-distancing has taken an enormous toll on our ability to be resilient.
The funny thing about resilience is that we are all born with tons of it, but it becomes more and more difficult to hang on to as we progress through life.
Just think about how often toddlers trip over their own shoes and how quickly they shake the experience off, and you will see what I mean.
Yes, they cry when they fall but two minutes later they are back on their feet doing laps around the coffee table with the family dog as if nothing had happened.
On a fundamental level, toddlers don’t yet possess the mental maturity to feel sorry for themselves or experience regret. They view stumbling as little more than a frustrating interruption of their mission to play and learn and explore, and they are so focused on pursuing this goal that they can hardly wait to get up again.
But what about adults? If we put aside the fact that our bodies take longer to heal physically as we age, is there anything that we do to ourselves that makes bouncing back so difficult?
And if so, is there any strategy that we can employ to counteract this tendency?
Let’s think about this for a minute.
When we suffer a setback, an illness or a loss, do we remain focused on moving forward? Do we bounce right back up on our feet or do we increasingly tend to focus on the physical and/or psychological pain of our misfortune to the point that we sabotage our efforts to recover?
In short, is it possible that when we stop focusing on moving forward we actually create (or manufacture) obstacles in our own minds that make it more challenging for us to remain resilient in the face of difficult circumstances?
Interestingly McKinsey & Company, the global management consultancy firm, released a report earlier this year. It identified 56 foundational skills to help people thrive in the future of work and highlights the importance of coping with uncertainty as being a key part of achieving personal goals.
In the context of our discussion about resilience, this would mean that if we make “remaining resilient” a personal goal, then we can achieve this goal simply by strengthening our ability to cope with uncertainty on a daily basis.
In other words, by merely challenging ourselves to find a way to make peace with the fact that we are living in a time of great change, we can recover our ability to enjoy life even though we may not have a clear picture of what the future holds.
In doing so we can literally change our perception of the bumps and disruptions that we experience along the way, viewing them not as obstacles to maintaining our old way of life but as part of the process of journeying towards a new and better future state.
Will this decrease the number of times we stumble? Perhaps not, but it will definitely bolster our confidence that we can achieve any goal.
Robin Trimingham is the chief operating officer of The Olderhood Group Ltd and a virtual presenter, journalist, podcaster and thought leader in the fields of life transition and change management. Connect with Robin at https://bit.ly/3nSMlvc or firstname.lastname@example.org