Henry Ford famously said: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right”. Time and time again we see how peoples’ beliefs affect their behaviour. We often influence the outcome of an event because of our attitude going into it. And it doesn’t stop at our personal lives. The beliefs we take into our workplace are just as self-fulfilling, whether it’s negotiating a deal, making a cold call or trying to win a pitch.

Read more: Attitudes effect performance

Stress describes a human reaction, not a situation. When people say something is stressful, they mean that it’s mentally tiring or threatening; we feel drained, tired and worried. But the facts of the situation remain the same no matter how we react to them. This is an important distinction: facts and feelings.

In workshops, I sometimes ask participants to list their challenging, or ‘hard to do’, tasks. It might be something like making cold calls or dealing with conflict. Then I ask them to describe their feelings towards these tasks.

Typically this generates words like frustration, resentment or anger. Next we look at the consequences; how they react. It’s rarely positive or proactive. It’s often procrastination or avoidance, and low motivation.

Read more: Can you separate facts and feelings?

Have you ever used your knife and fork in the opposite hands, just for fun? Or have you tried to walk down a familiar path with your eyes closed? These behaviours can help spur creativity, which in turn will inspire and energise you. 

Breaking out of habits helps to wake up the brain. Science actually shows this: our brains become so efficient that neural patterns start to fire when prompted by a repetitive behaviour. 

Read more: Unleash your team's creativity

Resilience means bouncing back from adversity. It is a useful skill in the workplace, because it means ‘getting on with the job’ after a failure, letdown or stressful event. It allows people to adapt to change quickly and effectively

Turning adversity into opportunity

When faced with stress, some people breakdown while others thrive. This is seen in a study outlined on the American Psychological Association website. Psychologists at the University of Chicago conducted a 12-year longitudinal study into resilience, looking at the characteristics of people who cope well in stressful situations.

The researchers studied the impact of a major downsizing operation that occurred in 1981 at Illinois Bell Telephone (IBT). The business cut its staff of 26,000 by almost half in less than one year.

Read more: Tips for improving your resilience
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