Hoover Dam

Build Quake-Proof Resilience During Turbulent Times

If there’s one skill that trumps all skills during turbulent times, it’s gotta be …

Resilience.

We don’t need to be a psychologist to know that people react to life events in different ways.  We all know someone who becomes easily overwhelmed by everyday hassles, while another person is reacting favourably to a much more challenging situation. 

How is it that a resilient person can quickly bounce back from adversity and positively adapt to the unknown demands of a new and unexpected circumstance? 

Whether they are aware of it or not, they’ve developed strategies that enable them to be firm and flexible when faced with situations that shake them to their core.


Talking of shaking.  Several years ago, during a site seeing visit to one of America’s most successful public works projects, I was inspired by a sign that read:

“Welcome to Hoover Dam.  A marvel of engineering and the human spirit.” 

Exactly what did it take for the engineers of Hoover Dam to make it one of America’s most successful public works projects?

Resilience.

This marvel of engineering was constructed to withstand an earthquake because it was built with firm pillars that are set deep into the ground. This allows it to flex and tolerate the shaking of an earthquake.

The same holds true in nature.

Trees stand firmly in their roots, yet the branches are flexible so the trees may sway with the wind.

The same holds true for professional service leaders like you.

Quake-Proof resilience requires you to have a:

  • FIRM foundation in who you are as a leader, and the
  • FLEXIBILITY to adapt and adjust to the people and circumstances around you.

So how exactly do you quake-proof yourself as a leader and by doing so, build greater resilience in your team?

A FIRM foundation is built by having clarity on your purpose, your values and strengths as a leader – who you are as a leader, why you lead, how you lead, and where you want to take your team.

No matter the circumstances or conditions you find yourself in.

No matter how doom and gloom things may feel.

Having confidence in your purpose and your own worth and abilities enables you to face obstacles with a high degree of perseverance.

When the going gets tough, you can stand firm in who you are and let that be the north star in your leadership compass.

Psycho-Cybernetics author, Maxwell Maltz said it powerfully when he said,

“Our self-image, strongly held, essentially determines what we become.” 

Knowing who you are gives you power in the midst of all the noise, the uncertainty, and the doubt. That is a much deeper place to lead from, to build your team culture from, and to grow your business from. Knowing who you are connects you with your real power and influence as a leader.


FLEXIBILITY is built by learning to adapt to others needs and changing circumstances without losing yourself in the process. 

In the middle of  coaching an IT consulting team, I noticed a shift in their demeanor.  They lacked motivation and were feeling very negative about a significant change in company strategy. 

Worst of all, they felt devalued by senior management. 

It was a time of uncertainty where projects that were once imperative were now on the chopping block.  Yet, the new focus wasn’t clear to them.

Having a complete stop to previously important projects without clarity on what was important, left the team feeling like they were not valued.

However, senior leadership didn’t devalue them. Yes, the change in direction did mean that projects they worked on were no longer required.  But, the IT team took it very personally.  They made the loss of projects they poured their hearts and souls into, mean “we are not valued.”

This was far from true. 

The reality was, that the work they were doing under the old business strategy was valued.  However, now that there was a new business strategy, things changed.

  • A new direction in the company required a new direction for the team. 
  • It didn’t require the team members to change who they were – just what they were working on. 
  • It required the team to stay true to who they were, yet sway with the changing circumstances.

Change is difficult for many people because they equate change with loss.  It makes them feel helpless and that they have a loss of control.

Strengthening one’s resilience means looking for the positive opportunities that come as a result of change.  It also means effectively deal with its impending challenges.  

For this team, I needed to coach them to strengthen their belief in themselves and develop strategies that allowed them to sway but not break during the shaking.


Let’s face it, you will experience many successes, failures and changes throughout your career and personal life. 

It’s important to engineer a firm sense of self and adopt effective flexing strategies that enable the human spirit to thrive through adversity.  

Being both firm to who you are and flexible enough to adapt to the changing tides will enable you to marvel at your own resilience.


Lisa Holden Rovers, MSc, is a certified leadership coach and award-winning human resources professional.  She helps purpose-driven professional service leaders learn to lead and build resilient team cultures.  Schedule a complimentary discovery session to begin the journey of becoming a more resilient and influential team leader.

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