While I did touch on many key pillars I think can help Innovation strive on my previous article What it takes to innovate, I deliberately kept an important feature out as I believe it deserves more space: Resilience.
The word has been trending a lot lately but before we get to my definition of resilience I think we should take a step back and understand what challenges us to be resilient in the first place.
Today resilience is definitely a feature we associate to COVID-19 first responders and health-care professionals as they fight their way through long-hour shifts to get the job done, or, using a pretty old-school agile change management term “Fix the plane while it flies”. Surely the recent global pandemic is a perfect example of event challenging people to be resilient.
So, did we need a global pandemic to prove our resilience? Luckily or unfortunately (depending on how change adverse you are), we have the chance to prove our own level of resilience on a daily basis. Be that during our latest ARMRAP at Crossfit class, while we commute to work or order our favourite meal at lunch, there’s always a moment in which we hit that Wall.
HITTING THE WALL
For those of you who are active people, you might be very familiar with the feeling. Hitting the wall doesn’t require any explanation as it is literally what it says, physically and mentally hitting an obstacle. The term is widely used by runners where in general, hitting the wall refers to depleting your stored glycogen and the feelings of fatigue and negativity that typically accompany it. Glycogen is carbohydrate that is stored in our muscles and liver for energy. It is the easiest and most readily available fuel source to burn when exercising, so the body prefers it. When you run low on glycogen, even your brain wants to shut down activity as a preservation method, which may lead to the negative thinking that comes along with hitting the wall.
However, proper training gives your body and mind time to adapt to these signals. Since you don’t use purely carbohydrate as fuel, you have the ability to continue running by accessing fat stores.
Now the sports analogy applies perfectly even to other instances such as private life or work where, challenged by an unforeseen event, you have to push through and be resolutive even when your mind and body are asking you to quit.
Ok so you hit the wall and bounced back up and you’re tough like the Tardigrade, is that it? Have we found the essence of resilience? As far as the term goes we should be done, but this is where things to me get interesting and I feel the need to add my two cents.
GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
We know our brain can be trained to hitting the wall as much as our body can, but sometimes both our mind and body need to adapt to changing conditions so bouncing back up isn’t enough.
During a fight, you can’t always push forward and get hit. You have to continuously re-adjust your strategyConor McGregor – Mixed Martial Artist
Having lived most of my childhood changing country, school and friends due to my fathers’ job I am quite accustomed to change and have learnt to deal with it very efficiently but never looked at it with an analytical eye. Since I was too young to change things, I just adapted to the ever-changing environment as that’s the only way I knew how to deal with stressful situations.
It is only in recent years that I started looking at the idea of getting out of your comfort zone as a way to develop our ability to adapt to stressful situations. At first it just feels like the phrase any random motivational speaker would say during his speech (here‘s a reference. If your not into motivational speeches, you should as they can be really inspiring at times) but when I looked into it a bit better something clicked in me: It is only by pushing yourself into uncharted territory that you can discover skills you didn’t even think you had.
I appreciate that for many people the simple fact of doing something completely out of their remit can be frightening, but no matter how scary the obstacle the benefits of getting past it are far greater.
By talking to a big audience you can gain self-confidence. By starting a new sport you can improve your mobility. By talking to a complete stranger on the bus you can learn something new. By simply doing things differently you can discover new perspectives that will help you become a better person and by doing so you can also train yourself to react more promptly to changing or adverse situations in future.
And this is really to me the key to a resilient mindset. Not just the ability to get back on track but the complex craft of looking inside ourselves after we’ve hit that wall, understand what is not working, what is required and changing our game plan as quickly as possible.
You can be resilient anytime if you are ready to embrace change when required, it’s just a matter of whether you want it or not.