With long periods of lock down all over the world, many small businesses are becoming increasingly vulnerable. With more than 5 million self-employed people in the UK, entrepreneurs make up 15% of our working population, a significant part of our economy.
As a career coach and leadership development trainer, I’ve met many fellow entrepreneurs over the years. Entrepreneurs are usually good at learning from failure and being persistent and this has often been crucial to their success.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all entrepreneurs are resilient in all parts of their life and work. We are all human and have our ups and downs. If your reserves are already low because you’ve been struggling to keep your business afloat since the start of lockdown, then one more thing may push you over the edge. Particularly when thrown a real curve ball like the loss of a friend or family member.
So why focus on our personal resilience at this time?
Entrepreneurs often contain others anxiety, whether that be staff wondering if they have a job, clients wondering if you can still deliver or shareholders and investors worrying about their investment. Our partner, children and/or relatives may also be looking to us for support.
It’s common for women to experience this double bind of having a heavy caring responsibility or expectation, even when we run businesses or are the main earner in our homes. This can easily lead to burn out or mental health challenges if we don’t focus on developing our personal resilience.
How to spot if your resilience levels are low
Signs to look out for in yourself and your colleagues or loved ones showing that their resilience is low include:
- Perhaps your emotions might be closer to the surface and less easy to manage. For example a client cancels and you burst into tears, when you would normally take it in your stride. Or you call a customer angrily because their invoice payment is late, when usually you would have sent a reminder email and waited for their response.
- Or you might notice physical changes such as becoming ill frequently.
- Or maybe you just find it really difficult to be hopeful and positive.
Useful Questions to Ask Yourself
When we think about resilience, it can be broken down into a number of areas:
Your perspective – Can you accept what you cannot change, and focus your efforts on those things that you can?
Your Emotional Intelligence – Do you acknowledge your feelings and express them appropriately?
Purpose, Values and Strengths – Do you have a clear sense of your own values and act in consistent a way consistent with them? E.g. fairness
Your Connections – Do you have a strong and reliable network of colleagues inside and outside of work that will help you through difficult times?
Your Physical Energy – Do you make time for activities that give you joy and help you relax?
A Tool for You
And here’s a tool that I find really useful for boosting my personal resilience levels: I have, I am, I can.
I have – first think about what you have in your life, what is a secure base for you and what external resources you have access to. Things like trusting relationships, structure and rules, role models, encouragement, access to health and education benefits and maybe the ability to be autonomous.
I am – next consider what strength and self-belief you have. What are your beliefs about yourself? How confident are you? For example perhaps you loving and empathetic, or maybe you’re proud of yourself for being autonomous and responsible or you may be filled with hope, faith and trust.
I can – lastly reflect on your interpersonal skills and what you have that you can make use of such as your network and how they may be able to help. So you might say I can communicate / I can problem solve / I can manage my feelings and my impulses / I can seek trusting relationships.
The process of going through I have, I am, I can enables you to recognise your unique qualities and skills and that of your support network.
I encourage you to give it a try. Take a few minutes out today to think about what you have, what you are and what you can do. I hope that as a result you’ll feel a lot more resilient
One final tip I’d like to share with you is don’t forget to breathe.
Take A Breath
This may sound odd, as I’m sure you are breathing all the time. But how are you breathing?
When we are anxious or stressed, we often breathe in a shallow way and that leads to not taking on enough oxygen. When we breathe in a shallow way, the body remains in a cyclical state of stress. Most of us breathe from our chest, rather than our belly. When you breathe, your chest and shoulders should stay relaxed, but your tummy should extend, and then contract when you exhale.
I like to breathe in for 5, hold for 5 and release for 5 and when I exhale, say something I want, like peace, or joy, or calm. It’s a great act of self-compassion, also essential to developing your personal resilience. Give it a try, I hope you find it helpful.
Register for our Free video series – 7 Days to a More Resilient You to gain some further resilience strategies and skills
RETREAT: Bounce Forward – Personal Resilience Retreat: If you are looking to do some deeper work to:
- develop a deeper connection with yourself or others
- manage your mood and outlook
- take back a sense of control and hopefulness.