Build Up Your Resilience in the Executive Suite

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Are you grinding your career through challenging, uncertain, and unprecedented times? 

Every business article seems to suggest you are—though I’d argue that the current times are always challenging, uncertain, and unprecedented. 

Dot com bubble. The 2008 Subprime greed wagon. Money-printing, isolation-inducing Covid fest. And whatever is happening today (check the grocery store shelves and housing costs for more information). 

Furthermore, the constant bombardment of news about crises, natural disasters, and global challenges can leave you feeling helpless and overwhelmed. This impacts your career, too.

If you’re facing a mountain of headaches from adapting your career—you may need to get used to the only constant being change. 

You’ll have to get better at bottling up all these self-defeating emotions and never telling anyone about them because you’re perfect.

Especially if you work in tech and definitely if you’re an executive leader.

You must steer the ship through calm and troubled waters as an executive. 

And often with praiseworthy confidence—even when you don’t always know the direction and don’t have time to slow down to assess everything in play (including your emotions).

Your resilience and grit apply to the organizations you lead, yourself, and your personal life, too.

I’m not talking about imposter syndrome. I’m talking about bitterness and resentment.

I’m addressing a question from a reader frustrated with their challenges during an arduous executive transition. 

For more context, their search has been significantly longer than ever before. Perhaps more frustrating is that their offers have been notably lower than their earnings from a decade and more back. 

Career stagnation is one annoying hurdle, but regression is a mental ass-kicker on another level. They’ve grown bitter to the whole landscape.

“Jacob, how can I shift from an apocalyptic mindset into a heavenly nirvana?” 

Firstly—let’s not kid ourselves. The market today is abhorrent. 

I’m all for self-awareness and optimizing for improvement, but not everything can be taken hyper-personally. 

There is no need to beat yourself senseless for underperformance. Bitterness can also be a side effect.  

Secondly, while I’m honored to be asked how to stay positive and create a more heavenly mindset, if I’m honest, I struggle with all of this crap too. 

I mean, I’m pretty damn bitchy. This is Execs and the City…  

I’ve personally invested considerable time studying stoicism, which teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions. But I’ll save the details of that for an upcoming CORE Connect event.  

Today I share other ideas that I’m studying as a humble student — and in no way want to present myself as a positive mental state warrior. 

The following has helped me and some of my clients.

You Must Exercise Gratitude 

You must consciously focus on the good rather than dwelling on the negative. 

I can acknowledge the challenges I face, but being the try-hard I am, I want to find a solution right away, especially if it’s a problem I’ve had to solve before (like getting a new job or a raise or a promotion). 

Hands up if you’ve felt that way.

You want to fix things, not always tip your cap to the world’s beauty, kindness, and love. It’s not easy to be glass-half-full all the time. 

One thing I’ve enjoyed about working with executives is that their job challenges are not life or death. 

Even when it sucks, it’s still pretty good compared to most of the world—at least you are in the conversation for earning a big-time paycheck.

If you experience frustration—or an apocalyptic mental state—it’s time to remind yourself to be grateful for what you do have.  

It turns out that it’s scientifically proven that practicing gratitude melts anxiety. Don’t wait for turkey day.

By shifting your focus towards hope, resilience, and compassion, you can embrace a positive outlook and contribute to creating a better world. Corny, I admit.

It may make you more attractive as a leader as well. 

Plus, as an executive, you’re in a unique position to impact sometimes hundreds and thousands of others around you. You can put a lot of cascading gratitude into the world. 

What are you grateful for today?

Cultivating Resilience & Growth Mindset

Maybe gratitude isn’t your cup of tea. How about working to become tougher than nails? Battle-hardened, as it were. 

Resilience is one of those traits every executive says they have, but I’ve discovered that it’s often not the case. 

Many leaders become discouraged and defeated throughout their careers. That’s okay. 

Even the most successful executive leaders will have notable career setbacks. 

I once worked with a gal in her mid-fifties who locked down a $2.5 million-a-year VP role at a software company that you use. 

She shared that three times in her career, she needed to take 50%+ compensation hits and title decreases at less than sexy opportunities due to challenging macroeconomic times. 

Yet, here she is today, a multi-seven-figure earner. 

Was she frustrated? Yes. 

But she continually invested in her career and network—and polished her executive gravitas and resilience through the tough times. 

Instead of feeling defeated by your challenges, you can see them as opportunities for growth and transformation. 

Building resilience involves adapting to change, learning from setbacks, and bouncing back stronger. 

By nurturing your ability to withstand adversity, you can face your career more confidently and optimistically. 

Yeah, it’s not easy. But remember, the pain is temporary. Let’s learn from it.

Foster Connection and Compassion

Yeah, I’m here again to harp on the importance of networking. 

Did you know you can network simply to connect and share part of your journey with others? It’s not always about back-channeling a job or asking for a favor. That sort of networking for ME approach is pretty sleazy in the grand scheme of things.  

Furthermore, connecting with other leaders with similar challenges can be therapeutic. That may be why masterminds and community groups have become so necessary for many. 

It helps to work through destructive emotions by talking through them with others who may be feeling the same.

Sometimes it’s nice to know that you’re not alone. 

Getting help isn’t a weakness, even when our society sometimes makes it feel that way. 

I’ve found that self-preservation often takes precedence when we find ourselves in apocalyptic thinking. This can lead to a breakdown in social bonds, further perpetuating the problems.

Losing social bonds will be destructive to your career, as the further up the ladder you climb, the more you will need to lean on others to help keep you there. It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.

It’s probably why Meagan and I have been hell-bent on understanding community and supporting executives worldwide. We’ve felt the isolation and destructive emotions and have found solace in our friends and network. Though, admittedly, most people don’t get it.

A heavenly mindset emphasizes fostering connection and kindness with others. Acts of compassion benefit those you help and give you more fulfillment and purpose. 

Maybe the next time you feel down on yourself, you can use that emotion as a trigger to give to someone else. 

Maybe your spouse could use an extra hug. 

Perhaps you can send a book to a former colleague. 

Maybe treat your kids to a day off and a family adventure. 

Surrounding yourself with love and the people you love can help you overcome the feelings of frustration, doubt, and apocalyptic mindset that creep in occasionally. 

Here’s to making today a more positive one.

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