Resilience In Transition - A few thoughts

In early October, I spoke at a breakfast meeting hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Senior Executives Group (GPSEG). Attending were about 25 mostly C-level executives, all of whom were in various stages of career transition. The meeting moderator had asked me to speak about resilience in recession, which I did for the hour I had been allotted. Although there was no time to take a deep dive into the Adaptiv skill set, I was able to give the participants a reasonable framework around the concepts, and even a tool or two they could use to help themselves stay more focused, energized and optimistic despite the long and uncertain road that lay ahead for most of them. I knew from the level of attentiveness, positive head nods, and post-session feedback that this material was just what they had come to hear. As I was leaving, one of the participants mentioned that while she considered herself to be extremely resilient, transition was testing her profoundly, and she found my material to be helpful.

On my way back to the office, I thought about what these downsized executives were facing, and it occurred to me that it was not all that different from what sales professionals were going through as they dealt with lengthening sales cycles, shrinking budgets, and increasing quotas. From our field work and statistical analyses, we know that the best way to build Self-efficacy is by boosting Causal Analysis. That is, if you become a better problem solver, you will be more likely to achieve success, which naturally lifts self-confidence and self-esteem. The problem for this audience, much like for salespeople, is that as the time between wins increases, it gets tougher and tougher to keep your self-efficacy and optimism in place. Then performance begins to suffer. Just when they need their resilience the most – to network, to line up meetings, to take high profile interviews – they lose their edge.

In my 10/1/2010 blog post, I offered some tips for sales professionals to keep themselves in the game. These came directly out of Adaptiv's research on how people remain resilient in recession, and I believe that the same advice holds true for anyone struggling with career transition. (If you haven't read my 10/1/2010 blog post, you can reach it from here.) Here is a brief recap:

  • Actively reach out to other people and seek out new challenges, no matter how uncomfortable it feels. Give freely of yourself in spite of your own dwindling resources.
  • Forge deep and meaningful connections to something greater than yourself – family, community, country, God – something that was there before you arrived and will remain long after you're gone.
  • Take time to enjoy beauty – watch a sunset, take a quiet walk in the woods, visit an art museum.
  • Actively seek out humor – spend time with a funny friend; go to a comedy club.
  • Avoid the negative – turn off the bad news, and after you've done everything in your power to move your cause forward, practice positivity and optimism.

I'd like to hear from our readers about this. What's working for you, whether you're struggling with a sales slump, career transition, or just the recession in general?

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