Nothing knocks you down?
Using the FiRE Model of Resilience to improve performance and aplomb when facing pressure, complexity and uncertainty
As a manager, you are expected to be creative, make decisions and lead people in order to make your company successful. Although this gives you a lot of room for manoeuvre and a sense of satisfaction, it also creates a great deal of pressure: an overfull schedule, numerous business trips and very little real leisure time determine the pace of your life. Responsibility for the company, the employees and your own career often weighs heavily on your shoulders.
A new key competence of today’s managers is therefore considered to be their ability to withstand this pressure, their resilience. Resilience is understood to be people’s ability to deal constructively with the pressure to perform, changes and crises, to remain capable of acting and, ultimately, even to emerge stronger from all of this. Part of this skill is innate, but much of it can be acquired.
For this reason, we have spent the past ten years – following extensive research and continuous ongoing development – developing the FiRE Model of Resilience, whose individual levels are analysed and processed during coaching sessions or workshops. The acronym FiRE stands for Factors Improving Resilience Effectiveness.
It forms the core of the model and stands for the traits of one’s personality that are genetically inherited and those that were acquired during the defining phase of one’s life. This is the Sphere of Resilience, which is the most difficult to influence, as only individual facets of each person’s “basic personal makeup” can be modified. Work on this level primarily requires self-awareness and self-reflection. This level of personality work can be supported by external feedback and professional tools, such as the Workplace Big Five.
Experiences and decisions taken consciously or subconsciously in the course of a lifetime are consolidated in the process of socialisation into mental patterns that often affect a manager’s self-control and their leadership behaviour. On the one hand, these convictions that lie deeply concealed within a person can release unforeseen energies; on the other, they may also have adverse effects on that person’s social environment and their personal sense of satisfaction. Life crises that have been overcome are another aspect of this sphere, as they are a valuable source of experience for dealing constructively with stressful situations in future.
This level is mainly about becoming aware of and examining these mental ‘programmes’, and possibly revising them.
An individual’s inner attitude plays a central role in coping with pressure, crises and setbacks. People, for instance, who choose to adopt the role of the victim, instead of the creator, and who frequently blame others for their fate, will not be able to act assertively and confidently. It isn’t always easy to relinquish the victim role. We all know that. On this level, we help our clients to develop strategies, so that they can adopt a more positive role.
This sphere is all about the ability and the will to constantly evolve, to react flexibly to a rapidly changing environment and to respond serenely to insecurity and complexities.
Being open to new experiences is a character trait that is pronounced to a greater or lesser extent in each individual’s personality – but everyone can train their mental agility “muscle” by leaving their comfort zone.
In the field we look at finding simple and fast-acting mechanisms for raising your energy level, thereby improving your sense of well-being. It can be seen as a first aid kit for anyone who wants to ground themselves again and recharge their batteries so as to be well prepared for difficult situations and view them with a little more distance.
Whether you do sport, listen to classical music, go to the spa or theatre, do handicrafts or something completely different, depends on your individual preferences and is, therefore, very personal. Hence, this level is about developing corresponding strategies for self-guidance that help you to consciously control your thoughts and emotions, so that – even under a lot of pressure – you don’t get stuck in your hamster wheel.
The neurosciences have demonstrated that our body, thoughts and emotions are far more closely interlinked and influence each other much more than was previously known.
That is why they should be given equal consideration. However, it is often not easy to reconcile this - particularly on the physical level- with a manager’s lifestyle: a large workload, frequent travel and a “no weakness culture” make it difficult to cultivate a healthy sense of one’s own energy reserves.
Work on the mind-body axis takes into account the amount of sleep you’ve had, your eating habits and various forms of physical exercise, including meditation. In actual fact, the body is the most powerful lever for positively influencing the emotional colouring of our thoughts and, by extension, our performance and aplomb.
For instance, the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) method, which combines physical and mindfulness exercises, has proven to be particularly effective. Heart rate variability (HRV) measurements provide an important indication of the stress levels a person is exposed to.
Having a network of trusted confidants, where power and titles are unimportant, is extremely important for managers who are always expected to be able to resolve any problem. It helps them to deal with pressure, setbacks and uncertainties. Authentic relationships to friends, close colleagues, mentors or coaches gives managers a forum to voice their doubts and fears, and this is what makes these relationships so valuable.
This level is, therefore, about taking stock and evaluating your existing relationships in terms of how supportive they are to you.
Many successful people lead their lives in the fast-track lane. The key question everyone should be asking themselves is: what is the “higher purpose” for which they are doing all this? The answers to this question provide a value system for a person’s actions.
Only those who see a purpose behind their actions will also have the necessary energy to constructively process crises and setbacks. Meaning is frequently not just a given, but has to be actively developed. This level is, therefore, about how to clarify the issue of meaning for oneself.