There are many traits that combine to determine our effectiveness and one such critical trait is resilience.
When I think of resilience, I think of our capability to bounce back from adversity. I think of an appropriate response to failure, and success. I think of our ability to persist when there are plenty of reasonable excuses to quit.
I used to think that resilience was a function of character. Some people are resilient, others aren’t. But now I’m not so sure. I’ve come to learn that our ability to cope is as much a function of how we design our approach to our work as any other factor.
If we let ourselves get into a situation where proverbially all our eggs are in one basket, then we may have a problem. If we’re over-dependent on winning a single client, or landing a particular job, or being assigned to a certain project, then it will be tough to handle the situation if it doesn’t work out.
The alternative is to distribute our ‘risk’ across multiple opportunities. If the client doesn’t sign up, then we can work with others. If we don’t get this job, then we can look at other options. If we’re not on this project, then we’ll prepare for a better one.
This is very much common sense. But we often lose sight of it. Experts in happiness speak of the importance of having a balanced approach to life. If we have strength in our work, our relationships, our family, our friends, our activities, then difficulties in any one of these at any time can be supported by the others. When people become overly focused in one area, then they are less resilient in times of crisis.
The same principle applies to our work. If we allow ourselves to get into a position of scarcity, where it’s all or nothing, then we’re at risk. Many gurus talk about abundance and the belief that there’s always potentially enough for everyone. And I think they’re right.
We will be more resilient, and likely more successful, if we develop our capability to work with multiple clients, if we grow our skills so that we’re capable of different roles and if we develop the reputation that will have us in demand for many different projects. This is often a conscious choice, a careful design rather than an accidental characteristic.
But, but, but…
It is possible to take this to an extreme. Some are guilty of hiding away from difficult decisions and clear thinking by pursuing so many opportunities that they have the convenient excuse of not having the time to do anything different. Try to avoid having all your eggs in one basket but equally, don’t keep endlessly adding to your collection of baskets.