Resilience – Standing Tall After the Floods Recede
The Queensland floods have astonished us all. No doubt, many of us in Australia know people who live in the areas affected by the floods – through friends, family, property or those we know through our businesses. And as I write, many Victorian towns are threatened by flooding and storms are lingering over large areas of Queensland.
Australians have a long history and a global reputation of pulling together in times of adversity. Amidst the tragedies of this devastating flood, we will no doubt continue to hear stories about some of the heroism that occurred in the midst of danger but also of the tremendous outpouring of generosity and great spiritedness that will help to rebuild the lives and communities of those affected. It will be a hard road for all involved. Spare a thought for those who had already cleaned up after one flood only to be hit harder by another.
As the waters recede, it’s going to be tougher to deal with the aftermath and see a way forward. In crisis, people tend to respond incredibly or to be lousy – but it’s the days, months and years that drag on that test our character and our resilience – our ability to bounce back.
There is a great deal of research on what makes for personal and business resilience. A colleague of mine, Bruce Braes (who has a website at http://www.organisationalresilience.com.au/ ) has commenced his PhD on the topic of organisational resilience. I have consistently found that there are many qualities and characteristics that both individuals and organisations share that build resilience, helping you to thrive despite circumstances and to be “in the game” for the long haul.
Here are a few tips and principles to work by, then, to help you be resilient in the face of the challenges of 2011:
- Develop trusting relationships. This is something to do before the floods hit, but you can also develop them in the midst of a crisis. Set aside ego and rely on others. When you find good people, do your best to never let go. I always say “Hang on to them for dear life.”
- Welcome and seek help – even from the unlikeliest of sources. In our own business (which is consulting and coaching), we also make use of external consultants and coaches to help us remain successful even in tough times. This has been part and parcel of our success. On a personal level, when my wife and I first found out that our youngest daughter had brain damage from her birth (and cerebral palsy as a result), we were overwhelmed despite our own training and expertise. But we sought and continue to seek help from other experts (a list that is pages long), friends and family. If we hadn’t, we would have gone insane. Plus, we also wouldn’t have been as successful with Alyssa as have been to date. Use any good help you can get – it’s an investment that will pay off. And sometimes a crisis brings out the best in others – even those you thought weren’t all that friendly.
- Communicate! Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has done a fantastic job throughout the floods crisis of communicating with Queenslanders, local, state and national agencies and the Australian people. She has kept them informed all the way and thus provided tremendous leadership. By communicating so thoroughly, she and others have been able to let the rest of the nation know what the needs of Queenslanders are and how to fulfil them. She’s also built on partnerships and resources in order to help her people. And she has done this with a great depth of honesty, openness and genuineness in her reactions and responses to the tragedies and difficulties of the crisis. Let people know how things are going. Be honest and genuine. Ask for help if you need it.
- Maintain your “corporate health”. If it is at all possible to swim against the tide, it’s not going to happen if you aren’t fit. Personally and corporately, you need to maintain your fitness so that when trouble comes, you have the strength to endure it. Keep equipment and resources ready and be prepared and anticipate problems as much as possible. When the crisis comes, it’s not a good time to find out that your insurance didn’t cover flood damage, nor that your boat is leaking.
- Keep perspective. There’s usually someone worse off than you. For all that we are continuing to be astonished by the power of the floods, watching cars and whole buildings rushing by in the waters, we can be happy that it is not thousands of people being washed away. That’s what happened just a few short years ago with the Boxing Day tsunami and often happens when floods hit third world countries. Australia has infrastructure, equipment and people to help. We’re blessed to be able to rely on it. Keeping perspective also includes having a sense of humour about your situation and sharing a relaxing moment with your mates whenever and wherever you can. Aussies are very good at that.
- Focus on core values. If your values are half-hearted or self-centred, you’ll find it awfully hard going in a tough situation. This is the time to focus on what is most valuable. As an individual, it might be your own beliefs or faith – look to that. Businesses and organisations often state values such as customer service first, or that their people come first. But do they stick to those values when the crunch comes?
- Accept what you can’t change and make do. Prepare for any eventuality, yes, but when push comes to shove, stuff happens that you just don’t expect. There's a time to grieve or to be disappointed. Do that, but accept what can't be changed and move on. Pull together all your resources and make do – but remember, people are far more important than things.
- Get everybody to pitch together. “Many hands make light work”, so the saying goes. Use all of the talents of the people at your disposal and pitch in together to make things happen. The tremendous number of volunteers who bussed around Brisbane to help clean up are testament to how encouraging this can be, and to how you can get things done so much better.
- Look to the Road Ahead – if you can’t find it, find a guide. Individuals and organisations are often saddled with the burden of accountability, responsibility without being given any hope. If you’re still alive, then there is a path out there, you just have to find it.
- Look outside yourself and help others. If you have an external focus on how you can help your clients or those around you, even when you are facing difficulty, then it will help you to focus on doing your best and overcoming your difficulties in order to help others succeed. Give them a cuppa and a load off their feet. Use your own experiences to see how you can help others.
Floods are still hitting the Eastern portion of Australia – they’re not out of it yet, but they will be soon. Let's keep them in our thoughts and prayers and do whatever we can to help.
For all of us, 2011 will be another year of opportunity and change for everyone. Life’s like that.
What do you find helps you to be resilient?
(Note: Photos taken from ninemsn and the ABC.)
Authentic Speaking® - Feb 10-11 2011 Workshop
There are a couple of spaces left in our first Authentic Speaking® workshop for 2011, from Feb 10-11.
Visit www.authenticspeaking.com.au/Workshops.html for workshop details or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Murdoch University EEEC Management Communications Course
Enrolments are now open for the Management Communications course that I have created and will deliver for Murdoch University's Executive Education Extension Centre.
In an environment of increasing corporate risk and amidst the distractions and difficulties encountered in communicating effectively with staff and stakeholders in our technologically-driven environment, this program takes an integrated approach to examining all of your communication activities—conversations, meetings, presentations, emails, written correspondence, online media and speeches/presentations—and managing them in the most appropriate and effective ways. It is highly interactive, focusing on building your communication skills and tools in all areas of management communications.
The first course will run from March 10-11, 2011.
For more details and to register please visit the MEEEC site.
Alternatively, contact Karen Thompson at MEEEC at +61 8 9360 1780 or email Karen. Let her know that you read about the course through the Lamplighter newsletter and she'll provide you with further information.
Thanks for your comments.