Deflection: How to NOT Shrug off Responsibility and Pin Poor Performance and Decision Making on Someone Else
Accountability is the cornerstone of authentic and inspirational leadership. True accountability means you understand and accept that you and only you are responsible for your attitude, actions, decisions, communication, and health of your relationships. It’s hard work, requiring vulnerability, humility, integrity, and a willingness to put your ego aside. It’s uncommon to find this kind of accountability; for some reason these qualities are labeled as signs of weakness. I believe they are just the opposite.
Rather than hold oneself truly accountable, many people use deflection to shrug off responsibility and pin poor performance and decision making on someone or something else.
Deflection may sound something like this:
We shouldn’t tolerate this type of behavior from ourselves and from those around us.
So how do you stop yourself from being a deflector?
It starts with awareness. Think back on the times you were given tough feedback. Did you own it or did you blame someone or something else? Did you say thank you for the feedback or did you minimize your role in the situation? Be honest; you can’t make changes unless you embrace the hard truths about yourself. It may seem like silly advice but the only way to be accountable is to start being accountable. The only way to stop deflecting is to stop deflecting. When you hear yourself saying things like, “yeah, but” or “you always do XYZ” or “it’s not my fault” stop immediately and instead say, “I was just about to deflect blame and I don’t want to do that. Thank you for this feedback.” Then listen.
Next, take ownership and focus on the things you can control. Sure, there could be many reasons why something happened; it’s natural to want to look for causes outside of yourself, but the only way to improve a situation is to own your part. Don’t let yourself off the hook. And really, if everything is everyone else’s fault, then what part do you play in your own life? Do your actions not have any consequences? Are you truly powerless over the decisions you make and the outcomes that are a result of your decisions? I didn’t think so.
Now it’s time to create a new habit; an accountability habit. Ask someone to call you out when you start to deflect. Look for opportunities to take more ownership when things aren’t going perfectly. Pay attention to what triggers your “blame something else” mechanism so you can gain more insight around when you start to deflect. Apologize when you slip up and blame someone else.
Now how do you deal with a person who deflects all the time?
When dealing with deflection in the moment, the best technique I have found is to bring the focus back to the person by saying something like this:
Handling deflections in such a way does two things; first, it acknowledges that there are extenuating circumstances to every situation which may deserve digging into and second, it shifts the conversation towards accountability which is where solutions can be derived.
I also suggest giving honest and direct feedback. The deflector may not realize how often he or she does it and with a little coaching, could change the habit. Have a few concrete examples prepared and say something like this, “I want to share some feedback with you, if that’s okay. I’ve noticed that anytime we discuss the issues with this project, you shift the blame to someone else. For example, when you say things like “this project was handed to make like this” or “I wasn’t part of the team when that happened’ it makes you sound unaccountable and undermines your credibility as a leader and team player. I know that this is not how you want to be perceived so that’s why I wanted to bring it up. Were you aware that you’ve been doing this? Is there something going on that you want to get off your chest?” Show you care by courageously giving feedback.
Sometimes though, it may be best to ignore the “blame game” and focus on finding a solution. While shifting gears without addressing the deflection doesn’t solve the issue, it can be more productive than getting the other person to accept responsibility. There are times when you just need to move past the “what happened and who did it” phase to the “how are we going to fix it” phase. But even in those times where giving feedback in the moment doesn’t make sense, I always recommend circling back and having the conversation. No one can improve without candid feedback and we shouldn’t be fearful of giving it in a kind and helpful way.
My only other advice is to not take things the blamer says personally and don’t get defensive; I know dealing with deflectors can be frustrating but remember, their blaming isn’t about you, even if it feels like it. I also suggest trying to limit your interaction; habitual blaming can be a form of narcissism and most narcissists (at least the ones I know) have no interest in changing because they don’t think they are doing anything wrong.
There is nothing more honorable than accepting responsibility for your actions and decisions. Don’t be afraid to admit your role in tough situations. Show gratitude and compassion when others admit their own faults, too. We should encourage and applaud each other when we show up with sincere, honest accountability.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a quote from American writer Ralph Marston:
Concern yourself more with accepting responsibility than with assigning blame. Let the possibilities inspire you more than the obstacles discourage you.
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We all screw up. Finding a person who hasn’t made a big mistake is like finding a purple unicorn bathing in a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow; it won’t happen. And if you have yet to royally screw up, don’t worry, you will. It’s bound to happen; you haven’t fully lived life until you’ve done so.
While making a massive mistake can cause you to want to crawl under a rock and never show your face again, it can also teach you a profound lesson. Screwing up can dramatically change your life for the better…if you choose to embrace the painful experience, for better or worse.
So let’s say you’ve really stepped in it. Now what? How can you embrace your screw up and move forward?
Don’t Dig a Deeper Hole
It’s easy to allow one bad decision to lead to another. You don’t have to keep digging yourself a deeper hole. From this moment on, stop the cycle, climb out of the hole, and commit to doing whatever it takes to fix the mistake.
Don’t Make Saving Face Your Priority
It’s natural to want to save face and minimize the reasons why you made the mistake. Remember, justifying is just a way of making excuses. Don’t defend, downplay, or omit parts of the truth. Truthful accountability is the only option and it’s far more honorable to fully own your screw up than to try to diminish it. Instead of trying to save face, make repairing the damage you’ve done your top priority.
Say You’re Sorry and Mean It
A heartfelt and authentic apology can go a long way to fixing the damage that occurs after a big mistake. While it doesn’t make the situation go away, showing honest regret gives people more space to forgive you. When offering an apology, be specific and ask for feedback. There is nothing worse than apologizing for the wrong thing. But remember, no one wants you to apologize incessantly; he or she only wants to see results, so apologize once (maybe twice) and then prove your remorse by taking action.
Make and Execute an Action Plan
Don’t let yourself off the hook after an apology. If there is no action…no notable change…then your apology is moot. Before putting a plan of action into place, dig deep as to why you screwed up; understanding your motivations, fears, and decisions is the key to not making the same mistake twice. Once you have a deeper understanding of what went wrong you can develop a plan to repair the damage. A good plan should address the root cause, not the symptoms. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; sometimes a path forward isn’t clear and seeking advice, counseling, and/or coaching can shorten your bounce-back time.
Keep Your Commitments
Do what you say you are going to do; hold yourself accountable to your action plan. The only way to revive your reputation and to bounce back is to follow through and keep your commitments.
Let it Go
Nothing good comes from beating yourself up over and over again. Negative self-talk keeps you stuck in the shame spiral. Embrace your screw up. Learn from it. Vow to never let it happen again. But let it go. The only way to move on is to allow yourself to move on.
Let Your Mistake Make You a Better Person
Making mistakes will keep you humble and will teach you all kinds of ways not do things in the future. Screw ups keep you grounded and (hopefully) cause you to be more forgiving of others because face it, none of us are perfect. Overcoming a face plant makes you stronger and more resilient. Embrace your screw up so that someday you can look back on it with gratitude; trust that what you learn from it will make you a better person.
While following this plan won’t take the embarrassment of making a mistake away, it will allow you to hold your head high as you gracefully and authentically handle the aftermath. Remember, you are not alone in screwing up; we’ve all done it and we will all do it again. The real growth comes from what you do after the damage is done.
As always, thank you for reading. Please share, like and comment if you are so inclined. Click here to sign up to receive my blogs in your inbox.
“You're always you, and that don't change, and you're always changing, and there's nothing you can do about it.” - Neil Gaiman
There is only one thing that’s certain in life and that is that things will change. No matter how much you deny, resist, or ignore it, the unfolding of life brings new challenges and experiences that you must adapt to, one way or another.
Each of us experience change constantly yet react to it in many different ways. While some of us embrace change and even drive it, most fall into the “change resistant” category. Our brains expect certain things to stay the same and when they don’t, the information we trusted breaks down causing us fear over what comes next. What we don’t know tends to scare us and change creates a lot of unknowns. Even positive change comes with challenges and discomfort. Change. Is. Hard.
In today’s fast-paced, quickly-evolving world, it’s important to develop your ability to handle change effectively. While it’s never easy, here are somethings you can do to adapt to change with a bit more grace.
Freak Out For a Minute, Privately
There’s nothing wrong with being scared of change, especially when it blindsides you, so go ahead and freak out for a minute. Just do it privately. Negative reactions on public display almost never produce good outcomes. Go for a walk alone, vent to someone you trust, write in your journal, scream into your pillow…let it out in a private place to release pent up emotions and then start focusing on how to deal with the change.
Give Yourself Time to Process
When change hits hard and fast, it can feel overwhelming. Your brain starts racing, making up a story which usually concludes with the world as you know it ending. But if you think back on all the times you freaked out over change, how often did the story end the way you first imagined it? Probably never, if you are like me. That’s why it’s good to give yourself time to process the change. I can promise that tomorrow, it won’t seem nearly as bad as it did today, so think it through and come up with a plan after sleeping on it.
Be Honest About Your Feelings
It’s easy to focus on the situation or person, blaming and barraging the bringer of change or the change itself. Don’t do this. Be accountable and own your fears and other feelings. Look inside to understand your resistance so you can clearly articulate why you have such strong feelings. Put words to your feelings by asking yourself questions and answering truthfully. Why do I feel this way? What am I afraid of? Why am I resisting? If I embrace this change, what’s the worst that could happen? What’s the best that could happen?
Get More Information
Don’t assume the story you told yourself about why the change is happening is true. It’s probably not. Ask questions and do more research so you understand why something is changing. The deeper your awareness, the faster you can settle your mind, fine tune your response, and adjust to the change.
Give Your Opinion
It’s okay to want to influence the outcome, especially if you feel passionately about something. Consider what you want to achieve, be conscience of your tone, listen to others, and then give your opinion. Always look for a positive solution; a win-win may not be possible, but you’ll feel better once you’ve expressed yourself.
Accept the Change
Life is so much easier when you stop resisting every little change, so pick your battles carefully. Sometimes change is worth resisting and sometimes you just have to accept things as they are. Resisting can make you miserable and you risk damaging relationships and your overall happiness. Take a deep breath and give yourself permission to surrender every now and then. Stop complaining about it to others. Look for the positive and give it some time. Before you know it, you’ll have adapted to the change and it’ll be a distant memory that doesn’t seem all that bad.
Change is what makes life interesting and amazing. It teaches us profound lessons and promotes growth and wisdom. It can take us to faraway places or deep within ourselves. It creates exciting opportunities and yes, sometimes it breaks our hearts. It’s what weaves the tapestry of our lives together, creating a colorful patchwork of experiences, emotions, thoughts, and relationships that make up our existence. Embrace it and do your best to enjoy the ride; if properly harnessed, change can inspire you to be the greatest version of yourself.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance” – Alan Watts
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One of most important attributes to becoming successful is self-discipline. It’s almost impossible to achieve excellence without it. Self-discipline helps you stay focused; it gives you the gumption to stick with something even when it’s difficult. It helps you choose winning the long game over short term gratification. Self-discipline allows you to overcome obstacles and deal with the discomfort of pushing yourself to new heights. With enough self-discipline, you can form life-long, positive habits; once you form a habit, it no longer requires discipline and you propel yourself towards success because it’s what you do day in and day out.
What is self-discipline? Essentially, it’s the ability to control your impulses, emotions, reactions, and behaviors. It’s the ability to forego short term gratification in favor of long term satisfaction and gain. It’s basically saying no when you really want to say yes.
How does self-discipline lead to forming habits? If you do something over and over again, it eventually becomes a habit and once something a habit, life gets easier; you no longer need willpower to force yourself to do it. For example, last year one of my goals was to do more yoga. I made a commitment to do it 30 minutes every day for 30 days. I felt so much better that I continued for another 30 days which turned in 6 months, etc. Now I get up an hour earlier to start my day off with 60 minutes of yoga. I don’t have to set my alarm anymore and I do it EVERY day. If you would like more insight on how to use discipline to form habits, read the Power of Habit. It’s a fantastic book.
The word self-discipline makes most people shudder just uttering it but being self-disciplined isn’t about leading a restrictive and boring life void of enjoyment, relaxation, and fun. In fact, it’s next to impossible to be self-disciplined in all areas of your life and I don’t recommend it. Instead, you should use self-discipline to focus your energies on what’s most important to you. Let it help you make the tradeoff between the short and long term so that you make better choices. In the long run, you’ll be happier when you have formed habits that make your life better.
So how do you become more self-disciplined? Here are my tricks:
You are the master of your destiny, the creator of your life. If you want your destiny to look, be and feel a certain way, then you have to develop the discipline to form habits. Vigorous habits will help you get to where you want to be. While it seems counter intuitive, I have found that I am happier and healthier the more self-disciplined I become. I think you will find the same thing, too.
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You are a collection of all the stories you’ve told yourself. That’s right, your life is a work of fiction and you are the main character.
We all tell ourselves stories about the things that happen to us, the decisions we make, and why other people do the things they do. You make assumptions and then act upon those assumptions. That’s how you create your life; your stories become your reality. You wear your stories like a warm winter sweater because they give you comfort that you actually understand what’s happening around you. You do this because your brain can’t stand not understanding why something is happening. It is constantly looking for patterns, assigning cause and effect, then creating a narrative that you subsequently believe, even if you have no access to the actual truth. Psychologists and scientists call this the narrative bias. We couldn’t survive without it.
There’s good and bad news to consider when pondering your narrative.
First the bad news. If you create a story that is negative, inaccurate, or based on a lie you’ve been told or that you’ve told yourself, you could send yourself down a path that might lead to poor decisions, low self-esteem and needless suffering.
The good news is that you can create a different story. You can challenge your assumptions. You can think about the way you think. You can break down belief systems that hold you back. You can build upon the positive things that happen in your life. You can choose to let go and move on.
Even though your story might feel real and unchangeable, it isn’t. It doesn’t matter if you’re living a charmed life or one of struggle and despair. Your story isn’t real and it isn’t permanent.
So pick the one thing in your life you want to change or make happen and tell yourself a different story. One where you are progressing, succeeding and winning. Then start taking action to create that story. It doesn’t mean it’s easy; it just means it’s possible. Be willing to do the hard work.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street. I am not saying you want his story (or maybe you do; he is very wealthy and everyone loves a comeback story) but it’s a statement worth keeping in mind.
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”
Thanks for reading,
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It’s hard to believe that another year is in the books; 2016 flew by and it will go down as one of the most intense years in history. I for one am glad it’s over, as I imagine many of you are, for a plethora of reasons that really need no explanation.
Now, 2017 is here and as with any New Year, we will be filled with the excitement of all the possibilities it brings. Perhaps we mistake this magical feeling for the deep sense of relief of having made it through the year; another trip around the sun and we are still here! Let’s raise our glasses and celebrate! We are sure that when the clock strikes midnight, our lives will change for the better. This year will be different, we just know it. We make resolutions to ensure that we will become the future versions of ourselves we so long to be. And then January passes and we realize that it’s just another day, week, and year. Sigh.
But it doesn’t have to be that way….
I think that in 2017 we all should throw caution to the wind. We should make a bold, courageous resolution and pursue it with gusto: we should commit to becoming really great at something that makes the world a better place or that brings great joy to our lives. Can you imagine how much better we would all feel if we pursued something that brought about real, positive change to our lives?
Sure, it may seem like a chasm to get from here to there, but it’s all in how you look at it. There is almost always a path; you just have to create the steps to get there. And you have to being willing to do the hard work. The first step is overcoming inertia; once you have momentum, it gets easier.
If you need some inspiration (or a good kick in the butt), I suggest these books to help overcome inertia and create a plan of action.
“The Compound Effect,” by Darren Hardy
“The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller
"The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure," by Grant Cardone
Remember, your dreams won’t happen to you unless you make them happen. Go for it.
Happy New Year,
Despite what the media sells us, there are more good things happening on this planet than bad things. There are beautiful people doing beautiful things with the goal of helping human kind advance into the brilliant, beautiful creatures we have the potential to be. Every day, each one of us has the choice to evolve or devolve. I choose evolve; I hope you do, too.
NOW is the time to change the world. So I am taking Gandhi’s words to heart, “be the change you want to see in the world.”
I believe the world needs leaders who can bring people together; thoughtful leaders who truly listen to what people have to say even if it’s not what they want to hear; leaders who are honest and transparent, who take action and ask for feedback; those who explain the why behind decisions and who are willing to change their minds. I am going to be this kind of leader.
I believe the world needs more businesses that give back to their employees; ones that believe in spreading the wealth by paying people decent wages and providing good benefits; businesses that allow employees to partake in the success of the company through employee ownership and profit sharing; ones that treat their employees with respect and dignity and who actively help their employees improve their own lives and those of their families. I am going to create this kind of business.
I believe the world needs managers who know how to hold people accountable while at the same time being compassionate to their employees’ individual emotions, experiences, and situations; managers who care about their people, wanting them to succeed; those who are willing to put the team first and who can admit when they make mistakes. I am going to be this kind of manager.
I believe the world needs smart people who are lifelong learners; those who challenge their belief systems and are dedicated to “never stop growing”; those who are committed to reading more books, becoming better writers, considering opinions that differ from their own, traveling outside their own little worlds, and letting go of fears that hold them back. I am going to be this kind of person.
I believe the world needs good parents; those who teach their children to be resilient, accountable, and kind; those who help their children learn the valuable lessons that failure teaches; those who model the value of hard work, honest communication, and perseverance; those who love unconditionally and discipline effectively. I am going to be this kind of parent.
The world needs more communities that are filled with people who are kind to each other, who give back and get involved, who support strong education, healthcare, and infrastructure systems, and who shop locally. I am going to be this kind of community member.
There are many ways to be the change you want to see in the world. Don’t just sit on the couch and complain about the way things are. Do something about it. I encourage you to take action with kindness, compassion, inclusiveness, and with an open-mind. Choose to evolve, not devolve. Choose to change yourself for the better and in turn you’ll change the world for the better.
As always, thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment, like or share if you are so inclined. Please click here to receive my blogs in your inbox.
I wrote this post almost exactly a year ago today and I believe it's even more prevalent now than it was back then, so I am sharing it again. In a country and world as polarized as ours, and with leaders who seem to think this is a good thing, it would behoove us all to stop and question why we, too, think separation is really the answer. This dramatic change...transformation really...starts by each of us questioning our own thoughts and belief systems with the understanding that there is validity to all view points, even those we may vehemently disagree with. The only thing that is for sure is that there is no such thing as THE right way or THE truth. I hope this piece allows you to pause and see your thoughts from another perspective.
Have you ever stopped to question your thoughts? Where did this thought come from? Why do I think this way? Is this thought even true? It’s a pretty powerful moment when you wake up and realize that the way you think might not be the truth. In fact, it’s probably not THE truth.
Here is a perspective…as you read any one of my posts, you are having thoughts about it. You love it, it resonates with you, and you can grab hold of something from a post and take action right now! Those thoughts are based on your experiences, your preferences, your judgments, your emotions, and most likely your feelings and/or perceptions about me as a person/leader (whether those perceptions are true or not).
Someone else reading my post is having a completely different experience. She hates it, thinks I am writing nonsense, and can’t find anything in any post worth trying to implement. She thinks I'm just a "fill-in-the-blank" insult.
Both experiences feel like the truth to each person, but who's truth is right? The answer is neither and both.
We live in an age where we tell ourselves that being RIGHT is worth fighting, even killing for and where tolerance, acceptance, compromise, and admitting that you are wrong are signs of weakness. But here’s the kicker: WE ARE NEVER RIGHT BECAUSE THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY. There are 7(ish) billion people on this Earth which means there are 7(ish) billion different ways to think about everything there is to be thought about. That’s mind blowing! So if there are 7(ish) billion different ways to think about the thought you just had, how can you be so sure that yours is the truth?
Questioning your thoughts is extremely powerful. Yes, it can create discomfort, especially when you challenge your own belief systems (you can read why I think discomfort is a good thing here) but it is also eye opening and life changing. Not believing that your thoughts are true…that your way is the only way…can lead you to new perspectives, new ways of thinking, to stretch yourself, and most importantly as a leader…to making better decisions. Not believing everything you think allows you to make room for other people’s ideas and solutions. It cultivates tolerance, acceptance, and compromise. It helps you be a better person, parent, and leader.
Here are some questions I ask myself when I am feeling passionate (ok, defensive) about the way I think or feel about something or when I am being judgmental about a person or a situation. Sometimes I can detach from my thoughts and sometimes I can’t, but this process always helps me put things into perspective and helps me be more open and compassionate.
Why do I believe this? Why are my feelings so strong?
What if I believed something different? What would change?
What story am I telling myself about this person or situation? How do I know that story is true? What other stories could also be true?
What assumptions am I making?
What would happen if I just let this thought/feeling go and it never crossed my mind again?
Is this how I really feel or is my ego getting in the way?
Why am I being judgmental?
Most of us can agree that the world would be a better place if we weren’t always arguing, judging, defending, and warring. If we want to change this about our world, we must change it within ourselves first.
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One of the top investments you can make in yourself is to hire a coach. Seriously…find a way to fit the cost into your budget. It doesn’t matter if you are an executive or not, there are all kinds of personal development and life coaches who specialize in various types of clients. You can find one who will fit your needs no matter where you are in your career or personal life. I promise, you won’t regret it.
I started working with two coaches a few years back, a life coach and an executive coach, and I have benefited greatly for it. My goal was to find a coach who could help me understand myself better and grow as a leader. I needed someone who I could bounce ideas off of…someone I could say anything to without fear of being judged as being emotional, irrational, or flat out wrong. Someone who I could say to, “I don’t know how to handle this situation.” I was looking for someone who would help me hold myself accountable and teach me new tools for handling hard situations. I was lucky enough to find the two coaches I still work with today and they have helped me do all of these things and so much more.
So what can a coach do for you and why is it so important to one?
There is great benefit in talking with someone who isn’t attached to you or your situation. Even if those closest to you are great listeners, they are still impacted by what you say and do and cannot be completely unbiased. A coach is there to support you and only you and will listen and give feedback accordingly.
Candid feedback is a gift, even if it sometimes hurts. Unfortunately, it’s rare to get direct, constructive criticism and advice. As you move towards higher levels of management, getting feedback becomes even more important. Unfortunately, you’re less likely to get it and if you do, it’s probably not accurate (face it, most people are too scared to tell the boss what they REALLY think). A good coach will give it to you straight.
Learn New Tools
What good is getting feedback if you don’t know how to address your issues? A coach will offer fresh perspectives and can provide you with the tools to better address the challenges you’re facing. For example, your coach can teach you how to be a better listener, how to employ feedback models, how to stop yourself from interrupting others, how to calm yourself down in an instant, and much, much more.
Holds You Accountable
Personal accountability is the cornerstone of success but sometimes you need help; it’s too easy to let yourself off the hook, make excuses, and fall into victim-hood and the blame game. A strong and assertive coach will support your accountability efforts and should point out when you aren’t holding up to your end of the deal.
Learn More About Yourself
Self-awareness is key if you want to grow personally and professionally. It’s critical that you understand the impact you have on those around you. Effective coaching will allow you to develop self-awareness skills by helping you understand your emotions, experiences, vulnerabilities, strengths, weaknesses, personality traits, and to uncover unresolved issues that are holding you back.
To be effectively coached, you have to want to be coached. There’s no point in spending the time and money if you aren’t prepared to look deeply into the mirror your coach will hold in front of you. It takes grit, resilience, and strength to be able to take feedback, address blind spots, and make the necessary changes to become a better leader, parent, employee, and most of all, a better person. But it’s worth every minute (however painful) and every penny (however expensive).
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Sometimes life just doesn’t go your way. Rejection, disappointment, failure, and hurt feelings are an inevitable part of life. How you deal with such events, though, determines how happy and successful you are in life. That’s right...your attitude, mindset, and actions can turn tough experiences into positive, life changing ones…if you choose.
The key to bouncing back is being resilient. Psychology Today says that resilience “is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on.”
Sounds great! Who doesn’t want to be able to turn misfortune into fortune (or at least be able to appreciate and learn from the lesson in it)? But for most people, it’s easier said than done. Here are some ways you can build up your “bounce back” muscle.
Take Responsibility for Everything that Happens to You
The only way you can build resilience is to take responsibility for your life. Resilient people refuse to be a victim. Things don’t happen TO you, they happen BECAUSE of you. This may sound harsh but adopting this mindset is the only way to empower yourself to change your situation, no matter what. To do this, I employ counterfactual thinking. According to Wiki, “counterfactual thinking is a concept in psychology that involves the human tendency to create possible alternatives to life events that have already occurred; something that is contrary to what actually happened.” Let’s say your boss gives you feedback that you completely disagree with. In your mind, justify why you are right and she is wrong. You tell yourself that she just doesn’t see all that you do and she isn’t worthy of being your manager. You shut down and don’t make any changes. This type of thinking gets you pretty much nowhere, keeping you stuck and unhappy, the opposite of resiliency. If you employ counterfactual thinking, you might ask yourself, “What if she’s right? When have I exhibited this behavior? What do I need to do to change? How can I step up and improve myself? Perception is reality so what do I need to do to change this perception?” Owning it means you can change it. If you want to be resilient, refuse to retreat, deny, ignore, or blame. Remember, things don’t happen to you, they happen because of you.
Change Your Approach
Once you’ve accepted responsibility for your situation, now you can change it. Analyze what went wrong and why. Come up with a plan to make necessary changes. Then put your plan into action. Let’s say the feedback your boss gave you is that your performance is mediocre. She feels that you only do the bare minimum to get by and that your teammates feel you don’t pull your weight and are becoming resentful. After some self-reflection, you start to see why they feel this way. You never stay late, never offer to help your co-workers, and never volunteer for side projects. Sure, you have a life outside of work, but so does everyone else on the team and they are making sacrifices to be great teammates so why aren’t you? After acknowledging their feelings and apologizing, you decide that if your teammates stay late, so will you. You take on a small side project for your boss so you can start to build her trust. You ask her to give you real-time feedback on your performance and you find a co-worker who will agree to hold you accountable to being a better team player. There’s nothing like changing something that is holding you back to build self-confidence which leads to being able to bounce back from hard situations.
Build Your Support System
Having a shoulder to lean on makes all the difference in the world when bouncing back and people who are resilient take the time to build a strong network of people whom they can rely on to help them through tough times. It doesn’t have to be a big network, just a strong one. My network includes my husband, my mom, a few mentors, and a few highly trustworthy co-workers. It also includes people who help me stay well such as my massage therapist and acupuncturist. It’s not huge but it has depth. If you don’t have a strong support system, it’s not too late to start. Reach out to a few people you can trust and start to build friendships. Hire a therapist or a life coach. Lean on members of your family. Don’t fall into the trap of telling yourself that you alone and that no one cares…doing this only weakens your “bounce back” muscle.
Do Something That Makes You Happy Everyday
There’s no better way to improve your life than by doing something you love every day. No matter if everything is going right or everything is going wrong, doing something that brings your joy, happiness or satisfaction will increase your resiliency. Read a good book, ride your motorcycle, do yoga, play with your kids…do whatever you need to do to bring a little joy into your life. Feeling lost about what makes you happy? Go for a walk. I promise you, there is nothing better at improving your mood than moving your body and a walk will always make you feel better.
Take a Deep Breath and Let it Go
Letting go is the only way to truly be resilient. There’s no point on holding on to old baggage…all it does is weigh you down. And beating yourself up over and over breaks down resiliency. So do yourself a favor, stop the negative self-talk, forgive yourself and anyone else involved, learn from the situation, and move on. Just take a deep breath and let it go. It is what it is; the most important thing now is doing what you need to do to go forward.
Don’t Give Up
The fastest way to not bounce back is to not bounce back. Giving up is an excuse. You have to always keep trying. Yes, you will have to change, grow, and ask for feedback. Perhaps you will have to get professional help. But whatever you do, don’t give up…not if you want a happy and successful life. Think of the most successful people you know. Maybe they seem like they just breeze through life but in reality they, too, have had to overcome setbacks and negative experiences. You must dig deep and summon up the determination to handle whatever life throws at you and to persevere no matter what.
Life takes all kinds of twists and turns. Sometimes it meanders along; other times it feels like everything is right on track. Then again, maybe sometimes it feels like it’s in a free fall towards rock bottom. Being resilient allows you to go with the flow, no matter the situation. Don’t let your mistakes and failures take you down. Look at them as research on how not to do something and bounce back stronger than before.
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A Quick Blurb on what this blog is about.
Welcome to my blog! My name is Kerry Siggins and plain speaking, honest leadership is my mantra. My intention is to help those who lead (or want to lead) become better at saying and doing what needs to be said and done in a way that it can be heard and seen, one person at a time.