7 Resiliency Muscles for Career Professionals

Resiliency / resilience

As we launch into 2022, I think many will agree the past two years have been a rollercoaster of challenges. As I write this, we now face a new health crisis caused by the spread of the Omicron variant. As career professionals, we are the calm in the storm. We help clients follow their passion and find purposeful careers while we’re all immersed in a world of chaos. To be able to weather the storm, we need to be flexible and prepared. There is a way to protect your energy while you help those navigating through turbulent times. Let me introduce you to the seven resiliency muscles all career professionals need.

What is Resiliency?

So, what does the word “resiliency” mean? Most people would say it is the ability to bounce back from challenges, and I agree.  But I also like taking a proactive approach to being resilient. I consider self-care as being the foundation for our body and mind to withstand disruption and to recover well from it when it does enter our lives. Being a yo-yo — bouncing back and forth — can be very energy-draining and stressful, but we will recover stronger if we’re equipped to withstand the storm of change. The HeartMath Institute defines resilience as “The capacity to prepare for, recover from and adapt in the face of stress, adversity, trauma, or tragedy.”

A Method for Building Inner Resiliency

I learned about building inner resiliency through a program called Prosilience, developed by Linda Hoopes.

There are so many golden nuggets in Linda Hoopes’s book, Prosilience: Building Your Resilience for a Turbulent World. The real gem of this program is the concept behind the seven resiliency muscles; muscles that are for learning purposes only, not actual physiological muscles. Each of us have these seven muscles; it’s the level of strength we possess and how/when we make use of the muscles that dictates our overall resiliency.

The concept behind the seven resiliency muscles is that, together, they are there to help you manage stressful circumstances, change, and disruption in your life.

The 7 Resiliency Muscles

Muscle #1 is Positivity

This muscle is an important one to keep strong, especially in these turbulent and emotional times. The Positivity muscle allows you to channel your energy to manage/master the change, versus letting it suck the life out of you.

Muscle #2 is Confidence

This is your “Can-Do” muscle. It provides you strength and courage to believe in yourself, take full ownership of a situation, and understand how your actions can make a difference to all.

Muscle #3 is Priorities

This muscle is key to getting things done! For me, this muscle was found to be my weakest during my assessment — it was the  chink in my resiliency armour. The Priorities muscle focuses on what is important, staying on track, and delegating effectively. It also includes establishing boundaries and saying NO when necessary. By following the Priorities rules, you will be ready to navigate the changes in your life that cause you stress.

Muscle #4 is Creativity

This does not necessarily mean you should start drawing or painting! In terms of being creative, you are an idea generator, and you are open to new ideas and input; you listen, you use humour, and respect other points of view. By building a solid Creativity muscle, you are better prepared to make better decisions based on fresh, innovative ideas.

Muscle #5 is Connection

This is another vast and strong muscle for building resiliency. As we are all experiencing during COVID-19, isolation can be debilitating and cause an even more significant strain on our wellbeing than the actual virus. Connection means reaching out, having a support network; but it also means asking for help when you need it. When faced with extreme life challenges on the job or at home, asking for help allows you to make sound decisions, get things done, and reduce the feeling of overwhelm.

Muscle #6 is Structure

The Structure muscle includes systems, habits, and processes that allow decisions to be made fast and with high accuracy. As career professionals, we live and breathe checklists, methodologies, and proven systems, which reduce our stress levels by helping us decide what to do under pressure. By building these efficient systems, we can focus more energy on effective, thoughtful execution of our work with clients.

Muscle #7 is Experimenting

This is the final muscle and it plays a crucial role in executing solutions. As career practitioners, we may not be testing our Experimenting/risk-taking muscle very often, so exercising this one is vital. If you have a strong Experimenting muscle, you can work outside your comfort zone and try different approaches to any issue you face.

Strengthening and Maintaining the Muscles

Just like physical muscles, the more you use these seven resiliency muscles, the stronger and more balanced they become. Most people who examine their resiliency muscles find out they have one or two dominant muscles and a few they may seldom use. To be super-resilient, you need to be able to draw from all the muscles at some point.

The key is to have 7 well-balanced muscles and not overuse just one as your go-to in times of disruption. Overusing one specific muscle means you are leaning too heavily on that one and atrophying the others. Weakening the other six muscles will bring you out of balance and diminish your resiliency to the point of creating stress.

Putting Resiliency Into Action

Now that you have a brief overview of how to be resilient, the next step is to identify how you operate and what muscles you use when faced with stressful circumstances. A great place to start is to flex your resiliency muscles on micro problems. Most large-scale challenges we face are built upon several micro challenges. Once you master handling those, you are ready to manage most of what life may throw at you.

Call to Action for Career Professionals

I recently became a certified practitioner to help share this powerful program. If you are interested in learning more about resiliency, specifically the Prosilience program, please feel free to connect with me. The program can be delivered online or in person and is an excellent tool for professional development and team building. If you’d like to do a personal deep dive into the content of the program, the book by Linda Hoopes, Prosilience: Building Your Resilience for a Turbulent World, is a fantastic guide to help you build your own resiliency plan.

Resiliency is something we do, not who we are. It’s time to hit the “resiliency gym” and begin strengthening our resiliency muscles so that we are fully prepared to handle the change, challenges, and disruption we face daily!

Arjuna George is a Certified Work-Life Strategist (CWS) and Certified Career Strategist (CCS) through CPC. He is also a Certified Talent Manager Practitioner and Certified Personal Resiliency Instructor. As an executive coach and consultant, Arjuna specializes in helping Chief Fire Officers navigate their careers with excellence while mastering stress and building resiliency. He retired from the Fire Service in 2021 after serving for 24 years. To learn more, visit www.silverarrowco.com. 

Photo by deeaf on 123RF

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Thanks, Arjuna – Resilience is a much-needed trait in our society today and you’ve articulated the concept of 7 muscles that we all need to continue to develop and use.

Thank you, Jayne, I love the simple and visual concept these seven muscles bring to our learning of our own resiliency. I am happy to expand on any of the muscles if anyone would like. Thanks for the comment Jayne. Arjuna

I am this model. Love the idea of a resiliency gym. Thanks so much.

Thanks for the comment Maryfrances, we could all use a resiliency gym and one that can’t be closed due to Covid either 🙂 You mention you are this model, are you familiar with the concept? Thanks for reading. Arjuna

A great article. Thanks for sharing. “Routine” really spoke to me – this is my foundation – my predictable place. I trip up when it comes to being creative though as this disrupts my routine. Maybe I need to plan my “out of the box thinking” better.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve

Fantastic Steve, thanks for your comment, routine is such an integral part of a resilient life. Stay well.