January 25, 2020

Hardiness: Oh, the Places You Will Go!

The new year spreads out before us and expectations are that you’re feeling refreshed, renewed and ready to tackle what’s ahead in this New Year. But, what if . . . 

. . . you’re already back in burnout?
What if you have no energy for what’s calling you outside of work?
What if you feel stuck, devoid of enthusiasm, motivation
and passion for moving forward in your life? 

Maybe you’re feeling lost in the fog, floating on a big ocean in a little boat without paddles. If so, rest assured, you are not the only one.  

As Dr. Seuss said in Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place. The Waiting Place…

I was reminded of this during a recent weekend retreat where many of us chose a cherished Dr. Seuss book to read out loud. I’ve received this book with every new job and given it with every graduation.
But it’s been years since I’ve read it anew, and wherever you are in your life and career, it’s worth another look!
This journey, our journey, of moving forward, of leading with our longing is a hard one.

As the saying goes, the only stress-free person is a dead person. We’ll get into slumps, we’ll surely lose control and grit will not be enough to guide us through.
Dr. Paul Bartone, a US Army Research Psychologist, began intensive research on resiliency in the 1980s. He determined the most distinguishing characteristic to be what he termed, “hardiness.” His work led to the development of the Dispositional Resilience Scale (DRS), which was revised and relaunched as the Hardiness Readiness Gauge (HRG) in 2018.
Dr. Bartone teamed with Dr. Steven Stein (author of the EQ Edge) to author a new book, Hardiness: Making Stress Work for You to Achieve Your Life Goals, which consolidates 40 years of research on resilience and hardiness.

Hardiness and the Three C’s
Hardiness is a critical component of resilience and captures how we react in stressful situations, how we respond to unplanned and/or unexpected experiences, data, and events. It was once thought to be a personality trait that is present at birth (and there are correlations with Personality Type and cognitive styles).

However, like our emotional intelligence skills, it is now regarded as set of qualities that can be developed and encouraged—attitudes that act as “a stress resilience resource that protects people from the bad effects that stress can have on health, happiness, and performance (p.10).”
Hardiness is a general mode of functioning that influences how we interpret the world and make sense of our experiences through what Bartone and Stein call the three C’s:

Commitment—your ability and tendency to be engaged and see your life as interesting, meaningful and worthwhile.

  • Are you actively engaged and interested in life and its activities?
  • Do you have satisfaction in the balance of your life activities – work and family and play?
  • Do you believe life’s experiences and activities have meaning and purpose?
  • Are you self-motivated to find and support your fulfillment?

Challenge—your ability and tendency to see change, variety and disruption as interesting opportunities to learn and grow.  

  • Do you have an appreciation for and even thrive on variety and change?
  • Are you curious and motivated to explore and go on life’s adventures?
  • Are you motivated to learn from your failures?
  • Do you have an ability to be flexible and adapt to change? 

Control—your ability and tendency to have a sense of agency and the belief that you can influence outcomes in your life.

  • Do you belief you have the ability and the power to influence outcomes?
  • Do you feel a sense of control in your life even in times of stress?
  • Do you have a sense of self-confidence to make choices and bring about action?
  • Do you openly and readily accept responsibility for decisions and outcomes?

When I think of hardiness, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish immediately comes to mind. The doctor is included in Stein and Bartone’s book, and you can read a review of his story and book, I Shall not Hate. His is a story of violent loss and transformation.
But hardiness isn’t about comparisons, as in, “Your story over mine.” Hardiness is about how we live with meaning, purpose, fulfillment and stress management in a world and life filled with uncertainty.

And the path forward in the fog?  

I am certified in the Hardiness Resilience Gauge (HRG), but you don’t need to take the assessment to gain immediate insight.

Instead, ask yourself: Of the three C’s listed, which one am I most skilled at? How has it served me? How does it serve me now? Which one needs nurturing? Which one might provide you with some wind—and maybe a paddle—to move forward?

And as you mull this over, remember what we so often forget: we make change through small gains and incremental success. Don’t test the water with both feet.

To all the places you will go…

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Emotional Intelligence, Flexibility, Fulfillment, Hardiness, Interpersonal Relationships, Leadership Development, Problem Solving, Stress Management , , , , , , , , ,
About Deene Morris
Engaging Emotional Intelligence | Team Think Generator | Psychological Safety & Inclusion | Moving Positive Change Forward

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