Stress has become an inevitable part of daily life. It is inevitable. But leaders adapt quickly without being thrown off course by the uncertainty and rapid pace of the modern world, thanks to resilience.
The only thing that sets a leader apart from others is a resilient mindset.
Resilience is the ability to withstand pressure and challenges while maintaining one's psychological and physical well-being. Rather than waiting to take action until Burnout has struck, practicing a resilient mindset is a proactive measure.
If you build your mental strength before you really need it, you'll have an extra tool in your toolbox to help you avoid the desperation of hitting rock bottom.
What is resilience?
Research by Stanford psychologist Dr. Alia Crum and her team found that your stress mindset - how you interpret the pressure you're facing - matters immensely when it comes to the impact stress has on you.
Those who can see stress as an improvement and recognize the benefits of being put under pressure do best in almost any measure including physical health, exam scores, and psychological well-being.
The result of this research is this: what we think about the requests we face matters. If we think a little pressure is a good thing, we see it as a challenge. On the other hand, if we think the stress is overwhelming, it will be. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The best leaders have a natural tendency towards challenge. They perceive the pressure as a motivator rather than a barrier. They see the opportunity before the difficulty, and they decide to face the challenge even when there are barriers in their way.
There are three ways to start changing your stress mindset.
Ask yourself why
Begin to think about why that prompts you to take an action. By understanding why what you are doing is important, you align your mindset with purpose - and that makes you more resilient.
It may be that you have taken a job to develop new skills that you know will be useful to you in the future. Maybe you are working hard now to make sure your family is okay and has everything they need. Or maybe you have a deep sense of personal fulfillment in making a difference through what you do.
The next time you feel overwhelmed, try zooming in for a moment and remember why what you are doing matters.
Focus on how you will grow
Some degree of stress is needed if you are pushing yourself to reach your full potential. You can't grow without pushing your limit, learning new things, or stepping out of your comfort zone.
It is normal to be nervous the first time you have to write a report or give a speech, but the next time it will be easier. This is true for every time we strive.
Extending into new territory isn't necessarily fun, but it is this pressure that allows for improvement. You can become more resilient by intentionally seeking what you have to gain from a situation.
Change your perspective
Recognize that you have the ability to change your mind and think about pressure differently. You can choose to see a stressful situation as an opportunity.
The whiny coworker may give you the opportunity to become a better leader as you help him reinterpret his frustrations and seek solutions. The traffic on your daily commute can give you a perfect, uninterrupted space to learn new things through audio books or podcasts.
By practicing self-awareness, you can nullify your default thinking and reframe your experience. The more you do this, the easier it becomes to catch yourself in unhelpful thought spirals.