At Peak Dynamics, we have been doing a lot of research around decision-making, behaviour, grit and resilience of late.
Why? Because every action we make is a decision and some of those actions require passion, energy and perseverance in order to stick at the task.
We see those traits in particular when we are working with some of our clients, whether they are corporates, sports people, the military or adventurers. The results from all the data show a strong correlation between good decision-making and strong resilience. They seem to go hand-in-hand.
It is interesting to read about Andy Kolinsky, a Professor of Organisation Behaviour at Brandeis International Business School who takes some of his students outside their comfort zone. Something that we also do at Peak Dynamics with such events as our Arctic trips or with our Performance Under Pressure programmes.
For some people it is a pretty terrifying experience. One of his students, an Indian MBA who was learning to make small talk with strangers, described it like this: “The nervousness, anxiety, thumping heartbeats, and panic attacks I got before the event were similar to if someone asked me to walk on a tightrope.” She is not alone. For many of his students and for many of our clients, it is terrifying to step outside their comfort zones in these consequential situations — and if you think about it, that’s completely natural.
Many of us feel similarly in situations outside our comfort zones, so much so that we often avoid these types of situations altogether. We do not push the bar outwards, because more often than not fear holds us back or we do not have enough energy to confront it.
One thing that both we and Kolinsky see is people are far more resilient than they imagine. They systematically underestimate their resilience in challenging situations. Their fears about being assertive, speaking in public, networking or completing a task that they have never done before are a completely unhelpful, inaccurate guide to what it will be like when they actually take the leap and stretch outside their comfort zones.
In his research, he observed the following:
- We are more flexible than we give ourselves credit for. Throughout your life, you’ve been trained to adapt and adjust your behavior across contexts.
- We are braver than we think. Consider all the things you’ve already done in your life that took serious guts.
- The situation we are worried about probably is not as bad as we think. Fear gets in the way of clear thinking. We worry about the worst possible outcome. There’s always a slight chance that the worst will happen, but the reality is a bit more nuanced than that.
- We have more resources than we think.
We assess and run performance under pressure and resilience workshops targeting the three pillars of ‘performance resilience’:
- Commitment – tendency to see life as interesting and meaningful.
- Control – belief you can control or influence events.
- Challenge – preference to explore and try new things.
From our work and collection of data, we are seeing a trend appearing which shows that people are weaker when it comes to Challenge.
Challenge - involves seeing change and new experiences as exciting opportunities to learn and develop. Resilient people view a difficulty as a challenge, not as a paralysing event. They look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth. They don't view them as a negative reflection on their abilities or self-worth.
Interestingly, we are seeing Control as the strongest part of resilience.
Control - is the belief in one’s own ability to control or influence events. Resilient people spend their time and energy focusing on situations and events that they have control over. Because they put their efforts where they can have the most impact, they feel empowered and confident. Those who spend time worrying about uncontrollable events can often feel lost, helpless, and powerless to take action.
In situations outside our comfort zones, we can feel weak and/or powerless. But we can leverage the capabilities that we already have inside ourselves to march into unfamiliar situations with confidence. Do not underestimate how flexible, brave and capable human beings, such as yourself, actually are and can be.
Give it a go, and the chances are, you will probably end up surprising yourself. You will also feel a huge sense of achievement and a boost to your self-esteem and confidence.
If you need help, then please contact us.