If you’re a regular reader of the Admin Slayer newsletter, you know all about our 2019 theme of Resilience and can skip right on by this section and on to the meat. If you’re new around here: welcome!!! Thanks for joining our community and we’re looking forward to helping you build resilience into yourself and your business.
Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or stress. It’s the capacity to not only recover, but to spring back into shape - stronger and more powerful than ever before. We think resilience is a necessary ingredient for success in business, which is why we made it our theme for the year. Each month, we are bringing you practical, concrete ways to build resilience into all areas of your business, including your finances, your team, your new business pipeline, your technology, your self-care, and (this month): your emotions.
No, this isn’t going to be a little chat about your feelings - so don’t run away just yet. Emotional resilience is one of the most vital kinds of resilience a business owner can build. It’s your ability to persevere through difficult times. It’s optimism, and awareness of your own feelings, where they come from, and why. It’s believing you - and no other - are in control of your life.
Your ability to deal with stress - and boy, do you have stress to deal with - is a key factor in your long-term sustainable success. While we did chat with you about self-care and nourishment, this piece of your puzzle is ever-so-slightly different.
As a business owner, entrepreneur, leader, your world is quite a bit different than the world of those who have more traditional jobs. Back when you had a job (if that was ever the case), you had a boss. In this role, you are the boss. Now, this might sound all sexy and exciting, but if you’ve been doing it for a while, you probably have found that some of the shine on your Boss Badge has started to wear off. Why?
Expectations: Ah, the double-edged sword. When these are fuzzy, you’re frustrated, unsure, and making assumptions that will inevitably lead you down the wrong road. When these are clear, it’s easy to see the finish line and the way to win. When expectations are set (or not set) by others, it’s pretty clear who has to take responsibility for the eventual outcome. But when you’re the boss, you have to set allllll the expectations - for others on your team, your strategic partners, and yourself. Setting expectations and communicating them well is hard on its own. When you’re fumbling in the dark while creating a new thing, it can seem nearly impossible.
Responsibility: The buck stops with you. All bucks stop with you. You are surrounded by a veritable herd of bucks. Some of them are dollars, but many of them are just angry deer with sharp hooves and pointy antlers. Even if you have a fantastic team, the biggest and thorniest problems will be escalated into your lap. An angry customer, a sticky HR situation, a sudden cash flow crisis - these are your problems. It can be easy to feel like people are mad at you all the time, and that you’re getting most things really, really wrong.
Reward: Remember gold stars, straight A’s, and raises? Oh, the good ol’ days. Today, very few people tell you when you’ve done a good job - it’s your job to do a good job. If you’re a good leader, you make a point of recognizing when your team goes above and beyond. But who hands out the rewards when you do something awesome? Nobody.
That’s not how your brain was trained to recognize when you’re on the right track, and the difference can be jarring. Throughout school and the workforce, whether you loved it there or not, it was clear how you could “win”. Now, in the complex world of business, winning looks a little different than it used to. Sure, revenues are an easy way to tell if you’re winning but what if your revenues are kind of crap right now? What if your revenues are great but your staff are leaving? What if you’re playing a long game with different ideals?
It can feel nearly impossible to stay positive when you’re on the receiving end of problems all the time. As a human, you need positive reinforcement to stay motivated - you need to know that you are pointing your ship in the right direction. You may not be receiving this externally, and there may be no one in your business who is positioned to provide it.
How to build emotional resilience as an entrepreneur
First, get back there and read our previous posts on self-care and nourishment. If your body and mind are in terrible shape, you’re not going to have the energy in your batteries to grow. Start there first, then come on back here.
Recognize and share your wins. You have wins. You have them every day, every week, every month, and every year. As a future-focused business owner, you may not even give those wins a passing thought. It’s all “thank you, next” and you’re zooming forward. Make a habit of sharing your wins with your team, especially if you feel super silly doing it. Self-congratulation can feel pretty weird, especially if you’re a Canadian. Read our article on Celebrating Your Wins from back in 2017 and allow us to add these additional gems:
If you’re having trouble thinking about what you did last week, consider using time blocking, not only for the great reason that it gets your life in order, but it also provides a great record of what the heck you were doing last week, making it easy for you to suss out a win.
Echo chambers feel kind of weird and self-serving? Maximize it as a team building tool and create (or have your team create) a document where everyone can share at least one positive from the previous week. This can help you get a quick temperature gauge on your team, and understand what really motivates them.
Include a list of no more than 3 priorities for the week ahead. This will help you focus your energy on what is truly important. Having your team do the same, and share this, will help you guide them towards what is most meaningful for your business, as well. Remember to get in to the document at the end of the week to tick them off. At Admin Slayer, we use a shared spreadsheet for this, and it’s really useful for team engagement, focus, and of course, resilience.
Use design thinking processes to build understanding and review your own day-to-day. What is design thinking? Oh we’re so glad you asked. Design thinking is the 2019 theme for our sister company, Spring Plans, and as they say, “Design thinking is a solution-focused, action-oriented, preferred-future creation system”. It applies 5 very clear steps to any potential problem or issue:
Empathize: Gain an empathetic understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve - typically through research. Empathy is crucial to a human-centered design process because it allows you to set aside your own assumptions about the world and gain real insight into alternative perspectives.
Define: Accumulate the information you created and gathered in step 1. Analyze your observations and synthesize them to define the core problems you have identified so far.
Ideate: Generate some ideas. The solid background of knowledge gained in the first 2 phases allows you to start to think “outside the box,” looking for alternative ways to view the problem and identify innovative solutions to the definition you created in step 2.
Prototype: This is an experimental phase, with the aim of identifying the best possible solution for each of the problems identified in the first 3 phases. Produce a number of possible solutions to investigate.
Test: Now that you’ve got a few solutions, it’s time to test them out to see if any gain traction or get you where you’re going. It’s what we like to call the Hudson’s Bay Start. While this is the final step in the process, the results could bring you all the way back to step 1, with new or more robust definitions of the issues you are solving, which allows you to come up with new, robust ideas, prototypes, and tests.
Define achievements and build real rewards into your process. Since no one is going to give you gold stars, you’ll have to do it for yourself. This could include increases in income based on the same metrics that you use for a team member, time off, that sweet pair of new shoes, or - if you’re particularly nerdy - investment in some new education you’ve been dreaming about.
Nominate yourself, or have someone else nominate you, for awards in your industry. A little bit of outside recognition - not to mention marketing - never hurt anybody.
Find a mentor or coach who can help you think differently. This could even be a peer - just someone you can talk to about your experiences who will empathize when you’re struggling and celebrate with you when you’re throwing punches in bunches.
Build a peer group of people who are like YOU and have similar experiences so you can share in them and learn together. If you don’t have people in your network you can build with, join a group like TEC, EO, YPO, WPO, WEC, FWE - or the myriad of others - to get the support you need. Yes, it’s a need, not a want. A powerful support network is what we often get at work as a team member (if we’re on a good team), and what is sorely lacking in the lives of most entrepreneurs and leaders.
Want to do all the things, but kind of busy with this whole running a business bit? We understand. If you’re already working with Admin Slayer, just tell your slayer which ones you’d like to start with and we’ll weave it into your process. If you’re not working with us, you should be, but you can get moving on your own. Know that everything is better with a process, so start with recommendation #2 and build out from there.