Komal Minhas is on a mission to help you build resilience, so you can overcome challenges and achieve your best. And let’s face it—we’ve all faced challenges over the past two+ years.
An executive coach, resilience educator, interviewer and member of Oprah’s SuperSoul100 list, Komal joined us recently to share simple and impactful ways for everyone—employers and employees alike—to “fill their cup” and thrive in life and at work.
From surviving cancer to interviewing former First Lady Michelle Obama in front of an audience of 8,000, Komal has overcome adversity, achieved success on her own terms and built a career around helping others do the same.
First step: Ask yourself this question
The pandemic has been hard on everyone and many of us are feeling depleted or worse, burned out.
One of the first steps in improving our resiliency is looking back at the things we’ve overcome, so we make a mental note of our strengths. Komal suggests asking yourself and your team members this question:
What have you overcome over the past two years that you are most proud of?
The answer could be related to your family life, work, personal health and wellness, anything. The key is to recognize that you are strong and capable of overcoming challenges, and you can do so again in the future.
Step two: Foster wellness
Everyone needs to be healthy and well-rested in order to be resilient. It’s the basic foundation you need to take on new challenges in life. Eat well, sleep well, and get enough exercise.
Step three: Set boundaries with work
As someone prone to working to the point of burnout, Komal acknowledged that the only way you can be resilient—and lift others around you—is by setting boundaries between work and life.
You’ll be a better leader, worker and family member, not to mention less bitter when you see colleagues taking time off. She’s a firm believer that most of life happens outside of work, so it’s critical that we take the time to enjoy it to the fullest.
During the pandemic, we’ve been trained to think of life in a certain way: staying home, not socializing, avoiding the gym. We’re now in a unique time when we get to choose the things that used to feel great that we want back.
- Think of a time when you were really thriving mentally and physically. What did it look like? What were your routines like?
- Then, ask yourself: What does life feel like now? Is it difficult? What is missing? What do I wish I had more of?
- Pick three things that will get you back to your “season of thriving.” This is especially important for leaders, as they need to model this behaviour for their team, showing them the importance of setting boundaries with work. Perhaps it’s reading a new book, talking with friends, going for a walk at lunch, getting outside, etc.
- Be intentional about taking some time every day to achieve those three things. Make a commitment to yourself.
Step four: Get organized
One of the keys to managing through stressful times and building resilience is being organized. In a work context, Komal encourages leaders and their teams to plan for their on-season, off-season and pre-season.
Every team has an on-season (projects, events, busy periods, etc.) and it’s critical that team members are refreshed enough to tackle it fully by recharging during the off-season—taking vacations, flex time, personal days, etc. In the pre-season, start planning and think of ways you can prepare your team to function at a high level again, so there are no surprises and everyone is ready to start the on-season.
- Tip: Make sure vacations are booked in advance, team members take them—and they don’t take work along!
Komal also mentioned the loop that we all go through over and over as we move through life, grow in our careers and build our resilience.
Credit: Komal Minhas
We all go through this loop constantly, and the key is to keep moving and learning from one step to the next. You don’t want to stay in Stability too long or you’ll become apathetic and disconnected from work. Likewise, you can’t stay in creative destruction for long periods because you’ll burn out.
- Creative Destruction. In our lives, this is when we’re overwhelmed, grieving, or experiencing trauma. Perhaps we’ve lost a job or a loved one, or maybe we’ve had a health setback.
- Restructuring and Reorganizing. This is when we start trying to make sense of the “creative destruction” by asking ourselves questions like: What is life without that person? Who am I without that job? What do I want next? Tip for leaders: Burnout leads us to a mandatory phase of restructuring. We can make the pre-season, on-season and off-season less intense, so we don’t go through such a difficult time restructuring. Ask yourself: How can you help those going through a hard time restructure so they can learn to thrive? How can you help them grow into a new role, so they can enter the Stability phase?
- Growth and Traction: This is when you move into the next phase of deciding who you are going to be and how you are going to live in your new reality. You start forming ideas: This is what I’m becoming, going to focus on, etc.
- Stability, Achievement or Success: This is when you’re confident and can move forward. You’ve got the promotion, landed the job or reconciled your grief.
Practical exercise: Four steps in planning and organization
- Get started with task-based planning and making to-do lists every day.
- Look at how you plan your year: pre-season, on-season, and off-season.
- Look at the resilience loop and ask yourself: Where am I right now? Am I getting close to creative destruction and, if so, do I need to reorient myself so it doesn’t overwhelm me as much?
- Create a quarterly and annual personal and professional plan, covering financial objectives, personal goals and professional goals.
Step five: Self-efficacy
Self-efficacy is the cornerstone of being resilient. It’s our ability to dig into who we are and what we have overcome in the past, so we can face what’s ahead.
Five ways to build self-efficacy
On top of improving our wellness, setting those boundaries at work, and developing those planning and organizing systems that work best for us, building our self-efficacy is critical. Komal highlighted the five ways we can all build self-efficacy, courtesy of the late psychologist, Albert Bandura:
Credit: Komal Minhas
- Mastery experiences – These are things you have mastered, skillsets you’ve developed, wins you’ve achieved. Make an inventory list: When it comes to work, what are the accomplishments you completed in the past? What are the wins that make you feel alive and connected to yourself? What are the hard things you’ve overcome? Adversity tells us that we are strong and can do more.
- Vicarious experiences –We learn by watching others, reading about others, listening to podcasts about how others have overcome adversity, etc. Who else has had to navigate grief while working? Who else has had to handle a miscarriage while trying to build a business? Their experience shows us it is possible to overcome challenges—we are rarely the only person who has gone through something.
- Verbal persuasion – Everyone needs a hype human! These are the coaches, friends and colleagues who can build you back up in hard moments, and verbally affirm your potential to achieve your dreams.
- Emotional and physiological states – Take stock of your personal bandwidth. How much space do you have to feel well? How full is your cup? How do you feel about what’s ahead?
- Imaginal experiences – Imagine yourself succeeding, giving the best presentation ever. Athletes do this all the time, and you can, too.
This framework is Komal’s “secret weapon.” Whenever self-doubt creeps in, look back and ask yourself what you have achieved, what stories can give you confidence, and who can be your “hype human”—someone who can build you up. We all need a hype human.
We can all thrive
We can be joyful, make an impact and achieve our potential when we:
- Learn who in our life makes us feel well, alive and supported—and lean on them (our hype human)
- Prioritize our boundaries with work
- Prioritize our wellness and wellbeing
- Plan and organize
- Give ourselves the chance to build our self-efficacy
When you think you can’t handle something, these things will give us the strength and confidence to carry on.
Contact Komal to learn more about her coaching for individuals and groups: firstname.lastname@example.org.