The 7 characteristics of an Explorer Mindset – #1 Personal Resilience

Posted: 16th January 2019

Back in the 1800s, Charles Darwin, University of Cambridge Alumnus explained: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” 

Today, we work in a fast-moving, 24/7, highly-connected world with constantly evolving technology and a workplace that is increasingly demanding resulting in high stress and burnout risks.   Developing Personal Resilience is key to survival and we see it as one of the seven key characteristics of an Explorer Mindset, a mindset for 21st century leadership.

What is Personal Resilience?

Personal Resilience is the ability to respond well to change, challenges, problems and set-backs and it includes the speed at which people bounce back from disappointments, their tendency to see things as within their control or influence, and their fundamental belief in their ability to overcome obstacles and thrive during adversity.

We tend to have certain, often self-limiting, beliefs about ourselves and the world that influence our base level of Personal Resilience.  However, Personal Resilience also needs to be nurtured in order to be sustained during challenging periods and the Explorer Mindset programme gives participants the tools and frameworks to be more resilient.

Why is Personal Resilience important?

It has been said that a person’s levels of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails.  The research on Personal Resilience shows that it supports mental wellness , including our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. People with a higher Personal Resilience tend to experience much lower incidences of depression and anxiety (Judd et al., 2003). In the workplace Personal Resilience has been shown to predict an employee’s capacity to change (O’Herlihy, 2016). Some aspects of Personal Resilience are also highly associated with people achieving their potential due to their ability to predict behaviour such as taking high levels of personal responsibility (Judge, 2009).

However, Personal Resilience is not fixed, it needs to be nurtured in order to be sustained (Egeland et al., 2003).

What does Personal Resilience look like?

We identify that having high levels of personal resilience involves people:

  • Having an unwavering belief that they influence their own destiny
  • Believing that success is certain, it just may take a little more time or effort than initially anticipated
  • Believing in their own ability to get the best out of most situations
  • Being honest with themself about mistakes that are made, but spending little time dwelling on the mistake and more time thinking about what could be done differently

We also identify that having low levels of  personal resilience involves people:

  • Doubting their own ability to overcome challenges or adversity
  • Being fatalistic and believing that there is a lot in life that cannot be influenced or controlled
  • Having a tendency to worry a lot
  • Having a tendency to be highly self-critical and dwell on mistakes

Jim Collins in “Good to Great: Why some Companies Make the Leap…..and Others Don’t” (2001) famously recognised what he termed “the Stockdale Paradox” –  named after Admiral Jim Stockdale, a US military officer held captive for 8 years during the Vietnam war.  Stockdale recognised that the resilience he had to develop to survive his ordeal was not based on blind optimism but on both confronting the brutal facts of the current reality, whilst also retaining faith that he would prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties.

How can leaders build Personal Resilience?

Our Explorer Mindset Programme addresses Personal Resilience on many levels, including developing self-awareness on levels of resilience as well as an optional wellbeing programme; sessions on Transformational Leadership with Ruth Berry; Mindfulness with Michael Chaskalson; Communication and impact with Christie Jennings; Strategy, Competitiveness and Complexity with Sudhanshu Palsule, and in addition Personal Resilience can also be focused on and developed during the inter-modular project and inter-modular coaching.

This is the first of seven New Year insights in which we will briefly cover the other six characteristics of an Explorer Mindset including:

  • Preparedness
  • Leading Innovation
  • Ambiguity Tolerance
  • Approach Orientation
  • Risk Tolerance
  • Perspective Taking

For more information on Personal Resilience or the Explorer Mindset please feel free to contact us.