While most of us carry the stress of work with us later into the night, worrying about our last heated discussion with the CEO, there are others who manage to avoid stress altogether – people who seem to be able to completely shut it out. They are resilient. Astrid Weidner knows a thing or two about resilience. The self-employed industrial engineer was born blind, and had to develop her own sense of inner strength, of stress resistance.
With her company Trimentor, Weidner advises top executives from global corporations – and helps them to improve their own resilience. For more on how she does it, Weidner spoke exclusively to Experteer.
Astrid Weidner, a German native speaker, looks to the English translation of the German word “Resilienz” to better demonstrate the polarity of the concept. In German, the word refers to inner strength and invincibility. But she also draws on the importance of flexibility, of being able to adapt to all situations. “This is how resilient people carry themselves,” says Weidner. “They combine their own inner stability with the ability to adapt.”
Studies and literature show that resilient people can handle stressful life situations extremely well. “Essentially, it comes down to what kind of defense mechanisms an individual has to protect them from longer periods of stress,” says Weidner. “For example, if they’re naturally healthy, or if they have a strong psyche, or are well-off financially so they can afford a therapist or a lawyer.” Family and social circles also play important roles in avoiding stress and burnout. “Is there support available from friends and family? And is the person affected ready to accept help from others?”
Of course, it’s not necessary to have all of these resources readily available at once. “Anyone can reinforce their own basis for resilience.” Weidner specializes in showing executives how to do exactly that, which comes in handy for senior managers under tremendous stress. For beginners, she recommends asking oneself the following questions:
- What dynamic and atmosphere have you created for yourself?
- How do you build relationships?
- How do you handle life’s biggest challenges?
The goal of resilience training is to identify resources that can help one cope in tough times – in other words, things that make dealing with stress easier to handle – and how to access these resources when necessary, explains Weidner.
Astrid Weidner also recommends the 4 steps, developed by therapist and author Sylvia Kéré Wellensiek:
Identify any concrete stressors and possible risks.
- Stress Relief
Next, identify opportunities for stress relief – where can you get the support you’re looking for? What do you need to change?
- New Orientation
The next step is to determine an exit strategy to eliminate the crisis and to determine a clear goal.
Finally, it comes down to how you handle the issue. It’s important to take small steps, says Weidner. “For those who are unhappy in their jobs, they can first start by scanning for new positions on job boards, or signing up for a career service. They should also work to remind themselves of the positive aspects of their job, or to look for a healthy outlet outside of work.
This 4-step process can help resilient people in any stage of their life become more self-sufficient. “Resilience isn’t just important for the individual, but also for teams and companies,” says Weidner. For example, Weidner says that if a company is undergoing a massive restructure, a change process can be successfully implemented at each level to integrate a sense of resilience in every step.
With these questions, start to foster a culture of resilience in the teams within your company:
- Which values and traits do team members bring to the table?
- How does the team solve problems?
- How do team members communicate with one another?
Weidner’s goal isn’t to impose the same views on every employee. “Rather, it’s about making the different perspectives within the team known, in order to determine similarities and even benefit from potential points of friction.”