Decisions come at all times.
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Highly resilient people know who they are. Self-identity is the root you stand on. If it is strong, you don’t worry about being “blown over.” You can take the unexpected with the confidence that while it may change your surroundings, it won’t change who you are. In this position of strength, you can make a decision as to how you will move on and do exactly that.
Tasha Eurich added to this when she wrote, “Research suggests that when we see ourselves clearly, we are more confident and more creative… We make sounder decisions.” When I interview highly resilient individuals, they almost always have a clear sense of who they are. I’m not talking about a simple Myers-Briggs profile—although I have always found it valuable. I’m talking about knowing oneself deeply in terms of values, principles, and beliefs.
Does it make a difference when we look at organizations? And it is. Does a strong, clearly articulated mission correlate with higher performance and more resilience? Essentially but not sufficiently.
Companies that have a clear mission and a consistent brand image are stronger and more resilient, but there is another level that reinforces this. Companies with a consistent set of values outperform the general market by orders of magnitude. And when a company is looking for a partner, most often, it considers the values of the potential partner. When I read trends like these, I become curious about a specific example that would illustrate them. Finally, I found one.
Resilient companies: A specific example with benefits both ways
Recently, I presented a list of ideas to an executive who would have been within his rights to tell me to go away with complete comfort. The wonder of it was that he took every point I made and gave a thoughtful response—some a big yes, others a final no.
From his response, he had clearly taken in what I was proposing, assessed it, and gave me a clear decision on each point. It was a real pleasure. I even found it possible to enjoy it when he said no because I could see why that decision was made.
Now, I’ve worked with this executive before. I knew his company of him and what they profess to do and how they claim to do things. The values and principles that guide their work are out there. As I considered this, I realized that his ability to take in new ideas—even ideas that were out-of-the-park—was because he knew how his company was rooted. The decision did not begin with money. It began with the values and principles that guide the company’s work and, obviously, guide his decision-making. There was never a threat to him or his company from him to consider each idea.
I’ve been in the executive suite for decades. I know management theory and practice. I know that values and principles are important. I have even written about their ability to guide decisions, but this was a first. An executive who used this self-knowledge of his company’s values and principles as not just a framework for making decisions but as a clear sense of identity that gave him the confidence to take in the new (crazy) ideas, knowing that they did not frighten him or jeopardize his company or even waste his time.
What I saw was how he used each idea to see how it worked with his values and principles. He knew that when there was a direct conflict, the decision had to be no. But when there was a difference that didn’t negate the principle, he looked at how it could leverage the principle. He actually looked for opportunities that wouldn’t look immediately obvious but, with a little thought, could bring benefits.
There was an efficiency in his response to me that I valued. I knew exactly why he made each decision and how I could benefit as well as he could.
Now it’s your turn:
Do you have clear enough values and operating principles that can allow the unusual or the unexpected to come in without changing the identity of the company?
If you know and are clear about who you are, you are more resilient and able to handle the unexpected more effectively. Fear of change does not enter the decision because you are confident that the change is not about who you are or what your company is. Your decision about the next steps comes more easily—whether you are a person considering a career decision or an executive considering some new ideas.