What kind of stamina will be needed to thrive post Brexit?
Stamina and resilience are strengths which get sports players through tough matches and the military through times of conflict. Both strengths seem to be missing in many of our politicians following the decision of the people to leave the EU.
It is quite incredible that no forward planning appears to have been undertaken by either side of the argument for what should happen next. In the wake of the publication of the long awaited Chilcot Report into the Iraq War we sadly have been shown that lack of planning is not a new phenomenon, instead it seems to be endemic.
Can we learn anything from these examples? Even good ideas and plans need those delivering them to have stamina and resilience; the strength of character not to follow the crowd (as most politicians did) but the ability and willingness to be different like Charles Kennedy and Robin Cook (who said ‘no’ to war in Iraq) and to be able to follow through, like Andy Murray in the finals at Wimbledon this year?
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We have seen from the Chilcot Inquiry that serious decision making should not be about having passion and belief for a particular stance alone but be based on evidence. Was it a coincidence that the Government of Tony Blair had the lowest number of lawyers for many years? Although lawyers are not alone in having the determination to seek evidence and ask awkward questions until the truth is revealed, it is a common strength found in members of the legal profession.
So how do we achieve peak performance in running our practices in this period of chaos after such a long recession? Is it about finding mental strength? Is it about having emotional intelligence? Is it about managing our energy? Is it about physical fitness?
Lawyers are task driven and work long hours. We clearly already have the ability to remain active for long periods of time and can recover quickly from fatigue. Can we though maintain such levels of stress without doing ourselves harm – either temporarily (e.g. through lowering our immune system and acquiring a virus); or, permanently (e.g. through suffering a stroke or heart attack)? http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/news/blog/lawcare-a-helping-hand
If we have the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and have a degree of toughness we may well bounce back from failures or problems that other people never recover from. How can we build this human capital in our organisations to help rebuild the UK after these recent weeks of uncertainty?
James Clear in his article The Science of Developing Mental Toughness in Your Health, Work and Life www.jamesclear.com says “What makes a bigger impact than talent or intelligence? Mental toughness.” It is the perseverance and passion to achieve long-term goals. It is perhaps the tortoise and not the hare which finishes the course and demonstrates that consistency rather than flair will win through.
It must be said that the living proof of that is the way in which Andy Murray has become a top 4 player in the world of tennis through sheer hard work to develop consistency of performance and most definitely mental toughness to see a way through a tournament a game at a time.
Achieving this ‘inner strength’ is about having a clear goal that we work towards each day. It is not about short-term profits which squeeze out time for tasks which incrementally make a vision reality. It is about developing the habit of doing the important things.
What does it mean to be mentally tough? It means setting yourself concrete actions which you perform no matter what because they are important to achieving your overall goal. That is why when asked to judge the Law Society Private Client Excellence Awards for the second year I was looking for consistency – the ability to develop a team not just once but over and over again so that the firm is resilient in the face of competition and uncertainty.
The brain is a muscle which needs to be exercised. It needs to learn to be resilient. If you push yourself successfully in small ways time and time again then when you face a real difficulty you will not wilt but fall back on what you learnt in practice.
Clients will come back again and again for advice delivered reliably and consistently irrespective of any obstacles that get in the way of the provider such as lack of secretarial support; computer melt down or other excuses. You will never lack clients if you maintain consistency and keep on track to deliver the advice or actions you promised.
Whether we are dealing with clients or colleagues; peers or adversaries a key sign of resilience is the ability to handle interpersonal relationships sensibly and judiciously. In Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/emotional-intelligence emotional intelligence is said to include three skills:
- Emotional awareness
- The ability to harness emotions & apply them to tasks such as thinking and problem solving
- The ability to manage emotions including regulating your own and affecting others such as cheering them up or calming them down
“EI is now moving front and centre to corporate boardrooms where it is becoming the latest leadership buzzword. Organizational psychologists are finding that leaders must have the ability to understand social interactions and solve the complex social problems that arise in the course of office life. From resolving disputes to negotiating high-powered deals, business leaders need to be able to read each other’s signals, as well as understand their own strengths and weaknesses” says Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D in her piece https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201302/unlock-your-emotional-genius where you can test your own level of EI.
Resilience is arguably built on having energy to see things through – let’s hope Theresa May has bucket loads of it! Do you rely on getting energy from your favourite cup of coffee like me rather than running around the block; playing a game; cycling to work or going to the gym?
A dip or longstanding drain on your energy level may need attention. I certainly will take seriously the suggestions on Webmd’s website http://www.webmd.com/women/features/10-energy-boosters?page=1 to improve my energy levels over August.
It is hard to face change and challenging work conditions without energy – so eat breakfast; take five minutes to relax at various points in your busy day (even if that is just turning your phone off or taking a short nap); and find something or someone to make you laugh.
Part of being on top of things in the office is being physically as well as mentally fit to get things done. It is almost impossible to be creative and approach that difficult file or staff issue when stress is making you so tight and stiff that everything is an effort. We are all guilty of being desk bound rather than gym bound at some time or other. Why not try a daily walk during the summer and between showers not just to reclaim some calm thinking time but also to loosen up the muscles and take in some fresh air. I plan to take a walk each day during August – I’ll keep you posted on my progress via twitter.
Let’s use the coming months to raise our game, practice and improve our EI skills and build some valuable energy and muscle to take us through with stamina and resilience the months ahead when the details of Brexit become a reality. It is about finding mental strength. It is about having emotional intelligence. It is about managing our energy. It is about physical fitness.
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