Since March 2020, the world has been in a stand-off: us against the virus. Being able to be resilient in the face of such circumstances has been a significant challenge for most people, it seems. In this blog series, we looked at resiliency in the supply chain and resiliency in the workforce. Now, we turn our attention to creating resiliency in ourselves. This is the third installment in the “How to Support a More Resilient Workforce” series.

Bruce Feiler is a student of the human condition and an author who has explored the stories that give our lives meaning. Even before Covid (but then into it), Feiler met with people who’d been through the toughest and happiest of life-changing experiences, whether losing jobs, losing loved ones, changing careers, or changing relationships. He then spent a year studying and coding these transition stories in order to identify the patterns and takeaways that can help us all thrive in the face of the most challenging of events and experiences. He found these five things can help all of us get through.

  1. Realize where you are. Feiler discovered there are three phases through which we go in a transition: (a) the long good-bye, (b) the messy middle, and (c) the new beginning. We tend to be in the phase we are strongest at and we get bogged down with the one where we’re weakest.
  2. Identify your emotions. When in transition, many people experience three emotions. First people have fear for what the transition might be (or fail to be). Next, people report a sadness as the reality of the transition hits full steam (e.g., sad that it has come to this, sad of what will be lost). Third, people experience shame, especially when they realize the help they need to go through their transition. 80% of people use rituals like singing, praying, or getting a tattoo to help deal with these emotions while going through the transition.
  3. Try something new. In the messy middle, people tend to purge things like bad habits (or whatever happens in a sweat lodge). Often, people do this to open the way for what comes next like openings in creativity and innovation.
  4. Share about the life transition. It is simple, but it is profound. Sharing with others about the transition through which one is going helps to unhook for what there is to invent.
  5. Rewrite our life story. A life transition is a narrative and meaning-making experience, and we’re called to write then rewrite the story. We control the stories we tell about our lives. We all need to be the hero of our own stories. 

Check out Feiler’s book, Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age (2020) for more on this critical topic and approach. Covid has taught us all that the notion that people will have one job, that they’ll be in the same relationship, or that the world will stay as we like, is hopelessly outdated. It is fair to say all of us are impacted – either personally or through the others in our lives – by this upheaval.

As Feiler says, all of us spend about half of our lives in this unsettled state, and either you or someone you know is going through one now. Being able to be resilient in the face of that so as to emerge stronger and thriving on the other side is the source of something extraordinary.

This was part 3 of 3 of this blog post series.

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