Personal resilience and Sustainability
The second week of May is usually a week of recovery for me as the local elections tend to be on the first Thursday. I’m halfway through the four year term I won in 2019, but I was campaign manager and agent for our candidate for the second seat in the ward, and we missed out by a few percentage points after throwing everything at it. I won’t go into the yah-boo politics here, but let’s just say that, for the first time in my political career, I’m not taking defeat with good grace.
While I’m exhausted and more than a little angry, I’m not despondent. One of my personal resilience tactics for elections has been to set a challenge for myself for the summer. In 2018, when I lost my own seat, training for a triathlon kept me going both through the campaign and the aftermath – I needed to quickly up the training load and do some open water swimming lessons so I didn’t go round in circles on the day. This year I have a number of solo hiking and bikepacking trips planned, so yesterday I unpacked all the new kit I’ve invested in over the last few months and set up camp in the garden to check out how it all works. In the evening I started making some travel bookings, so I’m getting rather excited. Suddenly defeat doesn’t seem so bad.
When it comes to delivering Sustainability, the magnitude of the challenge means that setbacks are inevitable. Therefore personal resilience is an essential ingredient in the Sustainability professional’s make up. While some people are naturally more resilient than others, I believe that the rest of us can boost our resilience by training ourselves to follow certain behaviours.
Here are some of my favourite principles:
- Accept failure is an important element of success. If you are not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.
- Keep your eyes on the end target – that’s what matters most, not your favoured way of getting there.
- Control what you can control (an old sports psychology maxim). Don’t obsess over the stuff outside your control.
- Always have a Plan B, preferably lots of them, another project or scheme to launch.
- Bounce ideas off other people – the way forward may be blindingly obvious to someone who hasn’t invested so much in the failed project.
- Look after yourself physically and mentally. Exercise your body and mind.
Don’t forget, we offer coaching for Sustainability Professionals so you can get the most out of your own capabilities.