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Lessons for creative leaders #3 – building resilience

by | Jul 10, 2019

Building resilience in a creative team will help it over those obstacles that derail lesser groups…

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

Elise Mitchell is my good friend, a 3x CEO, and my co-trainer on our Creative Leadership programme. When you talk about creating and seizing opportunity, taking a risk or trying something new then you also have to be able to bounce back when things don’t go the way you planned.

As a seasoned entrepreneur Elise has had her share of setbacks and challenges as she built her businesses to scale. Here are some of her tips for honing your resilience muscles:

  1. Learn to let go of frustration as quickly as possible and turn loss into learning sooner. Remember no one crosses the finish line first every time. It’s okay to be disappointed, but get it out of your system and move on. Set a deadline for mourning (e.g. a day or a week); then get up and get going again.
  2. Look for the lessons you can learn in the stumble – what went right, what went wrong. Then commit to applying those learnings as you move forward. See our article on the pre-mortem – a tool to help consider when things might go wrong before they do.
  3. Step out and take a chance. Go for it. Regardless of where you are in your leadership experience, be willing to explore the roads— even if you feel unprepared, unqualified, and unsure. You never know where it might lead, even if it doesn’t turn out the way you had hoped. You will have learned something valuable in the try. Persist.
  4. Embrace your fears and understand they are just a normal part of any leadership journey. Once you accept that reality, you’re one step closer to conquering them. And guess what? The more willing you are to face them, the less power they hold over you.

Resilience – AKA ‘Grit’

In my book In Your Creative Element  I identify the element of Grit – another word for resilience – and a subject that has been extensively researched.

Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Angela Lee Duckworth, TED 2013

What’s the difference between someone who overcomes obstacles, gets back on the horse, persists with that difficult problem, carries on like a dog with a bone, gets in the arena? Your personal levels of grit are a key factor.

  • How to build your personal resilience and develop it in your people is on the agenda on our Creative Leadership programme, running later this Autumn. Contact lucy@nowgocreate.co.uk for the prospectus and see more information here.

Don’t let your organization’s creative potential go untapped. Join our small, residential creative leaders programme to up your creative confidence and learn how to lead a culture of creativity underpinned by well-researched principles and methods. Find out more here.