I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again: Lessons in Resilience
Does the phrase Tubthumping sound familiar at all? You might know it better from the lyrics “I get knocked down, but I get up again!” Tubthumping is a song written by the British rock band, Chumbawumba (how fun is that name!!), released in 1997 and somewhat of an anthem for resiliency (although, I can’t say in a credit union blog that I could recommend listening to all of the lyrics outside of the chorus, as it describes a night of too much fun at the local pub).
Nevertheless, the chorus repeats over and over the phrase, “I get knocked down, but I get up again!” and that’s what resiliency is, pulling yourself back up even after falling down. This is a great sentiment, but getting knocked down can be painful, embarrassing and downright discouraging when it continues to happen. The chorus to the song suggests, and many people tend to think, that resiliency is easy. You just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep moving on…but that’s simply not true. Resilience needs to be fostered, grown and supported – otherwise we stop moving for fear of falling down.
As a leader, you can play a critical part in building resiliency in your team. According to Erika Andersen, readiness consultant and author of Change from the Inside Out, “Fostering resilience in our teams is a matter of helping them build skills and mindset that support a hopeful, solution-oriented response to obstacles, challenges and unanticipated change.” Resiliency is not just a tool you pull out of your pocket when things get stressful, but rather part of the culture you need to cultivate as a leader. The groundwork needs to be laid each day with intentional actions; here are a few for you to consider:
Set the example, be authentic
Challenges and stress are different for each person, and no one escapes either of them! Portraying an image of invincibility might seem like something a good leader would do, but making your team think you can handle everything and that you never have a bad day or make a mistake tends to backfire. Instead of seeing this behavior as something to be admired, it causes others to feel like they can’t make a mistake or that feeling overwhelmed by change is weak, or if they show vulnerability, they have taken the first step to being the weakest link on the team. When you allow your vulnerability to show, it gives permission for others to do so as well. Ask for help when something is challenging, lean on the strengths of your team and show them that, together, you have the capacity to get through any obstacle.
If change is coming, communicate as much as you can. Explain that you know there are tough days ahead, but you are there to help in any way you can. As a team, if you all lean in, offer grace and pick up where others left off, you’ll get through. Resiliency is knowing that when you get knocked down, someone else will be there to help you get back up.
Reframe your thinking
How we view an event or a situation helps us to consider what we need to get through it. If we frame something as a challenge to overcome rather than something to get through, our perception determines the resources we have to deal with the situation. Begin to see challenges through the mindset of assumed success. Verbalize to yourself and your team that you will succeed or handle the situation, you just need to figure out your plan of action. This mindset also sets innovation and collaboration in motion, two keys to building resilience.
Society today is pulling us apart and creating more and more isolation. Resilience is built on relationships, trust and coming together. Social supports help us handle stress, solve problems and identify opportunities. Look for ways for your team to connect. A team lunch, birthday bingo, daily check-ins, an in-person staff meeting, education sessions…all of these are great ways for people to connect, laugh and build deeper relationships to further resilience among your team.
Talk less, listen more!
Too many leaders try to provide the answer right away or assure the team that all will be fine before anyone has had a chance to process or express their feelings. Allow your team to feel their feelings and share their thoughts without trying to talk them out of it. When you listen, people feel respected and cared for, which helps to lessen the feeling of being overwhelmed, and is the first step on the pathway to seeing through the situation to then envision the solution. Help your team focus on the end goal and what’s in it for them. When people understand the why, resilience continues to blossom.
Building resilience is like exercising – working on it consistently and intentionally builds long term success! And if Chumbawumba can embrace resiliency, so can you! After all, as educator Jaime Escalante once said, “Life is not about how many times you fall down. It's about how many times you get back up.”
Jeanne Heath is the learning and engagement champion for Vizo Financial Corporate Credit Union. Ms. Heath has spent the bulk of her career conducting training within the financial services industry with a strong focus on technical and change management training during mergers and acquisitions. Jeanne has developed and implemented a dynamic onboarding program which immediately immersed new employees into the company culture of “positively impacting people’s lives” through an atmosphere of high performance, high accountability and high care. She is a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and has earned her Credit Union Development Education (CUDE) designation.