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Building Resilience by Making Choices

Heather Grace, Guest Post. 23 February 2018, 5:00 am
Building Resilience by Making Choices

Earlier this month we featured an article about resilience being vital to your success. This week, we are going to drill down on just one aspect of how to build resilience in others. These tips apply to your children at home and they apply to members of your team at work. If we build resilience in others, we will not need so many ambulances at the bottom of the cliff.

There are many ways of helping other people to build resilience, but if we can all do this one simple thing, it will make a vast difference. Here it is:

Help other people to make their own choices

That might sound simple - and it is - if it is done the right way.

We all make decisions and make choices every day. Most of us are OK with the little things, but some decisions are scary. The more important the decision is, the more stress we feel. Why? Usually because the consequences of more important decisions can make a huge difference to our feelings of success or failure.

To make good decisions we need to understand the benefits of getting it right and the consequences of getting it wrong. Plus, we need to feel confident in our ability.

It starts at a very young age. If we grow up being allowed to make our own choices, and we succeed, then we feel confident about making good decisions as an adult. However, if the choices we make in our early years lead to disaster, this will knock our confidence in decision-making.

To help young children become confident in making decisions, you need to help set the boundaries. For example, if you tell Sally, your four-year-old daughter, to choose whatever she wants to wear, you may find Sally dressed in a tu-tu and gumboots to attend your sister's wedding! Your negative reaction to this will knock her confidence and she will clearly need to get changed before the event. This will make her feel like you do not trust her, or that she is stupid. The way around this, is to lay out say, three suitable outfits for Sally, and ask her to choose which one she would like to wear for the occasion. Sally gets to make a choice - within the parameters you have created. She will make a good choice and it will give her confidence and experience in how to make the right choices in the future.

If you are wondering why I am explaining how to help a four-year-old, the answer is this: the same thing applies to people in your team. When you have new people in your team, they are learning their roles. Some will cope with being thrown in the deep end, in a sink-or-swim management style, but many will not. People who are new to your organisation or are in a new role, need the chance to make choices, within parameters. You need to define the parameters for them until they are confident in making those decisions.

They need to be empowered to make choices, so they can grow and develop as a person and give better value to the team. If you always make decisions for them, they will not be confident in making choices. If you expect them to make choices without knowing the parameters, they may make choices that are not appropriate. It is easy to blame your team member for making the wrong decisions - but first ask yourself if they knew the parameters to work within. How can you assist?

The thing is, at work we are all adults - or almost adults. So, it is easy to expect everyone to make good decisions. When people make the wrong choices, they will feel bad and you will feel frustrated. This is a vicious circle. Your team members will feel less and less confident about making choices if they are berated for making mistakes. This can lead to painful indecision and the slowing down of productivity. For the person at the core of this, self-worth goes down the drain.

Everybody makes mistakes. It is OK to make mistakes - as long as we learn from them. What you can do to help is limit the potential for mistakes by making sure others know the parameters to work within. Then good choices can be made and confidence will grow.

Once people have a good track record of making the right choices, they will build up a natural resilience. If they usually make good decisions and every now and then they make a bad one, they will be more likely to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and carry on. Once they have a belief in their own ability, small setbacks are simply a chance to learn and grow, rather than cause for anguish. More on this topic to come soon.

Success With Grace is home of the TechBiz Success Academy, coaching and training to help technology based organisations thrive. Heather also invented the "Use your Yo-Yo" system for building resilience in people and organisations. For information about TechBiz programs go to 


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