Resilience the Key to Career Success

As an executive coach, I know that the path to achieving professional success is not easy and nor is it what it used to be.  The idea that career success is climbing the corporate ladder and then hanging on with loyalty until retirement.  Or even spending your whole career in one organization or industry, seems less than common today.

Since June, I have worked in a career outplacement center for several hundred mid-career, professionals and executives who were affected from a large corporate merger.  I’ve watched individuals and groups flow through the stages of job loss, share a few tears, feel enormous frustration, and even celebrate each other’s success.  img_2011

From my personal experience, I know that you can’t predict the future and where it will lead; but you can take control of your career and achieve your personal career goals.  Within the weeks of opening the career center, I noticed that successful candidates all demonstrated one of the most important skills necessary to lead at work and in life — resilience.

Resilience is key.

I define resilience as your capacity for stress-related growth, and there are two key aspects to resilience. The first is durability or strength to effectively manage life’s everyday stressors and challenges.  The second is bouncing back or the capacity to effectively recover and grow from stressful life events, like a career transition.  I’d even include that resilience involves limiting damage during turbulent times, absorbing hard knocks and regrouping.  It’s the ability to start feeling better and boost your confidence after a setback.

You can build resilience.

I know that resilient people are not born with an unique ability to bounce back or forge ahead — just like those who attended the career center.  Rather, they learn behaviors, attitudes and strategies that allow them to keep going and growing, even in difficult and uncertain times.  By learning to become more resilient you can create a more successful career path, and at the same time experience greater enjoyment in the rest of your

Here are my six tips for career resilience:

  1. Get connected.  Start developing a strong network of positive relationships.  Don’t wait until there’s a work dismissal, start now extending your circle of contacts.  Join groups.  Be actively connecting and sharing your insights on LinkedIn.  Engage with other career transition groups for support, professional networking and career planning workshops.
  2. Be optimistic.  Positive people are more resilient than pessimists.  Stop thinking so much about what goes wrong and start focusing on what goes right.  I recommend to write down the three things you’re most grateful for or the good things that happened today in your journal.
  3. Keep learning.  The most innovative and resilient professionals are willing to engage in learning and personal development.  When you are apt to learning, your perspective changes and you spot opportunities that you never saw before.
  4. Think like a business owner.  Take ownership for your career and know that nobody else is going to map your path.  Run your career like a one-person business —  think about your brand, identify who your potential employers are, and be clear about ways you add value and be willing to work hard.
  5. Have a compelling vision.  Write a short personal vision of what success might look like for you five years from now.  Be sure to include all areas of your life, your values and what you really want. Even if you are in transition, knowing where you want to be will help guide you with short term decisions more easily.
  6. Stay fit.  Your career is influenced by everything you do to be fit – physically, emotionally and spiritually.  To do your best work and to build the resilience – you must manage your fitness and energy level.  Get to the gym, take your favorite barre class and make time to meditate.

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