Resilience = Results | Spire Perform

News and blog

Resilience = Results

Perform Press Office
29 April 2014

It has been shown that resilient people perform up to 85 per cent more effectively and have a better worklife balance than their less resilient counterparts - the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson immediately come to mind. But resilience doesn't just impact on performance.
The more resilient among us are 50 per cent less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, have an enhanced immune system, sleep better and wake up more refreshed, and have a 22 per cent lowered risk of a heart attack. What's more, they can live up to 15 years longer.

Why? Well, in health terms, resilience is the ability to modulate and harness the stress response, without which a football manager is more likely to succumb to problems with their heart health. There may be increased work load on the heart and circulation; greater likelihood of damage to he inside of the blood vessels; a thickening of the heart muscle (the left ventricle) and risk of serious heart rhythm disturbances.

All of these problems can lead to increased sympathetic nervous activity, driving up adrenaline and cortisol stress hormones and reducing the calming vagal activity that has a positive benefit on relaxing the heart and promoting heart health. So what can reduce our resiliency and how can we tell if it's happening?

“It is well established that stress interferes with mental processes such as memory, concentration, judgements and decision-making”

Society for Neuroscience 2008

Contributing factors

  • Excessive weight
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance and diabetes
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Regular timezone changes
  • Social isolation
  • Desk-bound lifestyles
  • Constant stress and anxiety
  • Stimulant and alcohol abuse syndrome

The warning signs

  • Loss of mental clarity
  • More prone to distractions and mistakes
  • Being edgy and irritable
  • Not able to relax and sleep
  • Feeling tired as an operational norm
  • Struggling to motivate yourself and others
  • Feeling the 'drain from blame syndrome'

When looking to restore your levels of resilience, it's important to focus on the things you can directly influence and change through your
behaviours. These are represented by the Circle of control in the diagram to the left.

The Circle of influence represents the things you have a great influence on (such as the team), but that require the help and cooperation of others to succeed. Building an environment of firm cooperation is therefore essential.

Finally, the Circle of concern reflects factors that you may be cognisant of, but simply cannot influence. It's important to not spend too much time, if any, worrying about these.

Certain behaviours can also help to build up levels of resilience, including taking moderate, but not exhaustive, exercise. This promotes the release of endorphins and helps reduce the production of stress hormones.

Taking 10 minutes every day to relax and practice deeper inspirations and expirations can lso help. It increases vagal activity, which helps to moderate heart rhythms, moves you away from the fear centre of the brain (amygdala) to the higher centres (cortex) and promotes decisional balance and clear thinking.

Try also to engage with others, building a good social support network of colleagues and family.

Man Up

It is also important to focus on psychological hardiness, a concept first introduced by Susanne Kobasa back in 1979. She highlighted the importance of hardiness in moderating the effects of stress on health. How?

  • Try to be involved in rather than alienated from lifestyle and managerial challenges.
  • Operate with a degree of control, adopting an influential approach rather than a confrontational or detached and helpless one.
  • Believe that change not stability is normal and embrace this, stimulating growth rather than perceiving challenges as a threat.
  • Try to teach yourself to enjoy rather than despise having to solve problems.
  • Make sure you bring fun and humour into your work; it promotes good endorphin chemistry.
  • Stick to your beliefs and values while still showing empathy and concern towards others.