Resources: Blog Post

August 7, 2015

Resiliency at work — there’s a science to it

Resiliency when faced with adversity

We all face hardships and setback in our lives – at home and at the office. Some of us seemingly cope with ease, though many of us find it difficult to move on. Why do some seem more adept at bouncing back? What abilities do those that cope have that others don’t? Is it innate or teachable?

The University of Pennsylvania Resiliency Program believes it is teachable. Originally designed for students, the program teaches people to detect inaccurate thoughts, evaluate the accuracy of those thoughts, and to challenge negative beliefs by considering alternative interpretations. The program also teaches a variety of strategies that can be used for solving problems and coping with difficult situations and emotions.

Based on Penn’s work, the U.S. Army has implemented its Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program. It consists of three components: a test for “psychological fitness,” self-improvement courses available following the test, and “master resilience training” (MRT) for drill sergeants.

MRT is compared to management training — leaders learn how to embrace resilience and pass on their new knowledge. It is divided into three parts: building mental toughness, building signature strengths, and building strong relationships. It was originally piloted in a number of U.S. school environments and adapted to be relevant for an army environment.

The Harvard Business Review looked at the program a few years ago and described the MRT like this:

“It starts with Albert Ellis’s ABCD model: C (emotional consequences) stem not directly from A (adversity) but from B (one’s beliefs about adversity). The sergeants work through a series of A’s (falling out of a three-mile run, for example) and learn to separate B’s—heat-of-the-moment thoughts about the situation (“I’m a failure”)—from C’s, the emotions generated by those thoughts (such as feeling down for the rest of the day and thus performing poorly in the next training exercise). They then learn D—how to quickly and effectively dispel unrealistic beliefs about adversity.”

The entire HBR article is available here. It’s a great read by the “father” of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, who is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the best-selling Authentic Happiness, and Learned Optimism.

The Canadian military has also adopted a mental health program that includes resilience training. In August 2013, Lt. Col. Suzanne Bailey of the Canadian Armed Forces visited SCNetwork to talk about the benefits experienced by the military as part of its Road to Mental Readiness program.

You can read what Bailey had to say at SCNetwork about the Road to Mental Readiness in this Canadian HR Reporter article: Armed and ready – to tackle mental health

Resiliency CAN be developed and this month SCNetwork is giving you a jumpstart on fostering your skills. Join BMO Senior Advisor for Leadership Development, Andrew Soren, at our August session when he will demonstrate how to become more resilient and give concrete examples about why it’s important for you and your organization.

What business scenarios are the most difficult to remain resilient in?
Join the conversation on LinkedIn

Register for SCNetwork’s August 19 session: Ordinary Magic: Using the Science of Resilience to Build Better Organizations

Image of Michael ClarkAbout the Author

Michael Clark is director of sales and marketing at Forrest & Company in Toronto. Forrest is an organizational transformation firm, with more than 25 years’ experience in developing the organizational and leadership capacity in organizations. 

Photo Courtesy: Ray Smith

Filed under: leadership, michael clark, organizations, resilience Tagged: leadership, michael clark, organizations, resilience
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