5 simple steps to maximize resilience

Written by: Dr. Heather Mortensen, SKS Partner

As we approach this winter, our strategies around resilience are being tested in a way like they have never been tested before. Resilience is such a personal thing. The strategies we use to remain resilient are so dependent on who we are as individuals, our stage of life, and the organizations. Our strategies for maximizing resilience will vary depending on these important factors in our life.

Personally, the strategies that have worked for me include exercise, yoga, time with my family, and eating chocolate, but these strategies may not be effective for you or for the talent that you’re supporting across your organization. What works for me and what works for you, may not work for others.

There are plenty of ideas of what those strategies may be, so rather than share a list of strategies to try, I have identified a short process to help you, and your teams maximize their resilience. Use this process to support yourself and leverage it to support those around you.

#1: Pulse Check.

The first thing to do is understand your own life. How are you spending your time? What areas are most important to you? Where are their gaps between what is important to you and where you are spending your time? Take some time to really explore these questions. Once you understand and have some insights, then it is time to identify those strategies. What are those strategies that are really going to maximize your resilience in these key areas?

Opportunity: Leverage the SKS Talent Toolkit handout to help with this reflection process.


#2: Do Something.

Yes, that’s right. Just do something. We’ve learned that doing something is better than doing nothing. Leaning in, doing something, engaging in your resilience strategies, and focusing on doing something is going to maximize your resilience and overall well-being. Leaning into something is better than doing nothing.

Opportunity: Identify, commit to, and act on a resilience strategy (or three!) that is effective for you.  


#3: Reach Out.

Research tells us that connecting with people personally and professionally is really important. Being intentional about connection and support will help maximize your wellbeing and your resilience.

Opportunity: Identify 5 to 10 people in your professional networks that you want to connect or re-connect with through a phone call, virtual meeting, or messaging. As an example, schedule regular virtual coffee statuses with two of your peers one time a month or give someone a quick call who mentioned that they are having a bad day. As leaders in our organizations, there are opportunities to support others and to glean support from our peers and mentors.


#4: Tell Your Story.

Ask yourself this question: How do you look at the world around you?

We know that how we interpret the world around us is directly connected to how we feel and what we do. Research also tells us that we are at risk for focusing on the negative and things that we have no control over. So, it is critical to be aware of and then intentional about the story we are telling ourselves about our lives.


  • Be Realistically Optimistic. Being overly optimistic puts you at risk for not anticipating the challenges or seeing the risks. Instead, be realistically optimistic, focus on the good and then plan for the things that can go wrong.
  • Focus on What You Can Control. Research is clear: Thinking about the past (and your regrets) or about the future (and the things you have no control over) is associated with lower wellbeing. So instead, maximize your resilience by focusing on what you can control in the here and now.


#5: The last and final step is to Commit.

Be intentional, take action, and share your commitments with others. Give yourself the gift, during your busy day, to engage in strategies that will maximize your resilience.


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