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Resilience is an Inside Job

Bouncing back.

That’s an expression you hear a lot these days. The economy will “bounce back.” You will “bounce back” after uncertainty, stress and staggering change bend you all out of shape. You’ll “bounce back” from dealing with working from home, tending to the kids, enduring ‘Zoom fatigue’ and general mental, emotional and physical disruption. It’s a nice, encouraging idea. But maybe it’s kind of wrong.

I’m thinking it’s more about “bouncing forward.”

Being resilient, in my opinion, isn’t about bouncing back, like how a marshmallow resumes its previous shape after an aggressive finger press (sort of). No, resilience is about having the wherewithal to spring in a different direction or become something new necessitated by the circumstances.

It takes energy to make that leap from being down, defeated or sleep deprived. Or to rebound after a punch to the chin (figuratively, of course). I don’t know about you, but I feel very ‘knocked around’ by the present-day challenges (personal health, economic, social and political). It has drained me.

So, what do you do to make yourself ready to spring forward in whatever direction is mandated by the moment? How do you soar after arising from a heap of ashes?

In my years as an executive coach, one of the ways I help clients build and maintain resilience is to help them understand and manage how well their “Core Needs” are being fulfilled.

Understand Your Core Needs

 We all have a set of Core Needs – the types of experiences that energize, engage, satisfy and fulfill us.

Examples of Core Needs include achievement, connection, collaboration, reflection, fun, being part of something bigger, travel, purpose, freedom, creativity, etc. Each of us have anywhere from 8-20 of these that make up our unique profile.

From time to time we all need to experience each of our Core Needs. Without this, we become de-energized, discouraged, unfulfilled and burned out.

Knowing your Core Needs and seeking to get them fulfilled is the cornerstone of having the energy and motivation to be resilient.

Do you know your personal list of Core Needs? As one of my clients said “I wish I knew this twenty years ago. I would have made different decisions.”

Pinpoint Your Low Points

Your Core Needs list is the source of help in being resilient. On those days where things just aren’t going well or you feel overwhelmed, check your Core Needs list to see which of those needs is not being well met.

It’s a great diagnostic for knowing where to focus your time and energy to improve the situation for yourself.

You don’t have to be a victim of circumstances. You can take intentional action,but you have to know where to start… your Core Needs list.

 Manage Your ‘Gas Tanks’

 Think of each of your Core Needs as tanks of fuel that power you around. If one or more of these tanks is low, you’ll feel it zap your energy. While few people have all their tanks full all the time (I’d sure like to meet them!), you need to have at least some gas in every tank to function.

When a Core Need requires some attention, you can intentionally do activities to “fill the tank.” For example, if you have a Core Need for connection and you used to get that fulfilled by being in the office with colleagues, it’s likely that in this work-at-home, Zoom-filled world  your connection tank might be low for you.

However, connecting with your family or having a heartfelt conversation with a friend or colleague can put some fuel back in that tank. You don’t need to fill the tank to full, just get enough to get your through the day. Knowing your Core Needs and the new activities you can use to ‘fill your tanks’ is important for maintaining your energy.

 Check Your Beliefs

 Even when you know your Core Needs, getting them met can be another story. We all have beliefs about our needs. Sometimes these help us and other times they interfere. For example, you may have beliefs about whether it is possible to get your needs met or whether you might be expecting too much. You may wonder about whether you deserve to get them met or if doing so makes you selfish. Still others think “I need to put everyone’s needs before my own.”

 Know the Core Needs of Your Team Members

 Do you want engaged, energized and resilient employees? Employees are excited and fulfilled when their Core Needs are being met.  Keeping this in mind, your employee engagement strategy needs to be understanding the Core Needs of each person on your team and providing an environment where they can get them met.

Perhaps you can assign projects or duties that play well into an employee’s Core Needs. Or, you rearrange or swap responsibilities to make it work better for your staff. Someone may not be in a role that best suits their Core Needs. Move them toward a role that does. After all, knowing your Core Needs is foundational to making career decisions that are fulfilling and drive performance.

Help your staff understand their Core Needs. You can download the Core Needs and Employee Engagement Quick Reference with a list of questions you can ask to learn more about your employee’s Core Needs in your 1:1 conversations.  Or, put them through a team building program that explores their Core Needs and getting them met in the team.

#leadership #executivecoaching #newnormal #coreneeds