It’s January 2022, and for some of you, it likely feels like a fresh start and a new year. Perhaps you have new team members to onboard. With your business strategy set, your budget in place, and a new plan ready to share, you prepare for your upcoming kickoff. Now is the time to move forward and make things happen! Let’s leave last year’s challenges and turmoil behind us and make a fresh start!
The calendar has flipped, but you still feel stuck in the same place. Nothing has really changed. You are still dealing with the same pandemic economy and all the challenges that it brings with it. There is still the day-to-day grind of customer challenges, product gaps and revenue growth all on impossible timelines. Somehow it doesn’t feel like much of a fresh start, you are just plugging along and maybe hoping 2022 will get better.
Whichever situation describes your current one, there is one personality trait that you can cultivate to help you thrive right now. Building and leveraging your own resilience. It’s not something we think about much, it’s almost a reflex during difficult times or a gap if we don’t pay attention to it. I find most Customer Success Leaders and practitioners have a fair amount of resilience, and we use it to support our companies, our customers and our teams almost every day. Whether you are starting out fresh, or plugging along, it’s time to leverage our resiliency.
There was an article published in 2012 (ten years ago) and republished in 2020 (hmm, wonder why?) by the American Psychological Association talking about the importance of resilience. They define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. (https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience) That makes it pretty clear why resilience helps if you are just plugging along, but you might think, why do I need resilience if I’m starting with a fresh start?
Resiliency helps with stress and stress manifests itself as both emotional and physical tension. This tension can come from either difficulty or from success. It can be negative distress or positive eustress. Whether your situation is positive or negative, we all have our own reactions, positive or negative thoughts, strong emotions, and uncertainty. In reality, we are all resilient, most of us survive and even thrive over time regardless of the stress we face. Look back at what stressed you out three or 5 years ago, somehow that is unimportant now. This is in part due to building and leveraging our resilience. It likely wasn’t a conscious thing.
Increasing your resiliency takes time and intent but it is not difficult to do and it’s very worthwhile. Here are some key things you can do to build your own resilience:
Build Self Awareness
Pausing to understand your reaction to situations and thinking about what motivation is behind your reaction helps you to stay accountable for your actions and keeps you grounded in reality. You may not be able to change what is happening, but you have complete control over how you react and respond to it. Knowing yourself is powerful.
Be Fully Present
Use your listening skills and empathy with yourself to be aware of what is happening and how it is affecting both you and others. As humans, we naturally center ourselves and it is helpful to also be aware of what others are going through. As CS Leaders we all practice empathy with our customers, teams, and companies, but we need to also use it with ourselves. When you can balance your own self-awareness and be fully present with empathy for whatever is happening, it is much easier to move forward, be motivated, and work towards goals.
Let Go – Both Physically and Mentally
This one is hard for some people. It does not mean giving up control. It means to breathe and keep calm. It means to detach for a moment or a while. It is accepting change when it happens. Pay attention to the physical side. Notice if you have stress indicators (Lost your sense of humor? Not getting enough sleep? Not eating well?). Letting go and taking a moment or a day or a week for self-care and finding balance helps to keep your perspective grounded in reality, accept the changes that are happening and it also helps you know what you can and cannot control. With that frame, you can make good choices for how to proceed.
Focus on Positive Emotions
Think “what can I do to overcome this” instead of “why does this have to happen to me”. Using optimism brings you energy which can help to push forward in challenging situations and help you be resilient. Think about gratitude, we all have much to be grateful for, think about happiness that you have had, or will have, get out in nature and be amazed, know that you have the strength to survive, and learn. Optimism and learning are both powerful drivers of resiliency. What did you do in the past that helped you progress? Think about how past lessons can help you now.
There is so much value in connecting, finding a common purpose, helping others and leaning on your community, and asking for help when needed. This is what the CS Leadership Network is all about. Whether you come to our events, communicate with peers on our Slack group, or read our content, we are here because we want to connect with you, learn from you and we hope that you will connect with us too. Connection makes us all stronger and more resilient. We all need somebody to lean on.
Resilience is a personal characteristic that you already have. You just need to make it intentional. As 2022 begins, leverage yours to help you get through the inevitable challenges you will face, and still make it a great year. Personally, I’m thinking that when I’m looking back on 2022, I want to be able to say “My resiliency was impressive and I got done what needed to get done and I feel good about it!”