You've Taken Care of Business: What About Personal Capacity Building?

by Shonali Burke on March 4, 2010

Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series by guest contributor Patrica Frame that looks at the many facets of resilience in women and how we can build our own capacity. This second post in the series takes a look at personal capacity building.

So many of us understand the importance of building the capacity of our business, but ourselves? Not so much.

We’ve discussed investing in your professional development. But developing your personal capacity for resilience is also critical.

Resilience allows you to push past difficulties, cope with tough times, and maintain your mental health.  All those are vital to any entrepreneur, not to mention to most humans!

Sure you already know what you should be taking care (yourself, your health, and all those new year’ resolutions)… so how do you understand and build your personal resilience quotient?

First, learn how your brain works

Do you understand how you react to challenges? How your temperament influences your actions?  I see executives all the time who are so tied up emotionally in some problem that they are sense-less or crazy-making.

Understanding personal style and temperament can help you be more effective – and resilient.

If you understand these, you can choose to change when you need to or to cope better with issues that you face.

If you know that what drains your energy and what bolsters it, for example, you can work smarter. One easy introduction is the free Keirsey Temperament tool. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is another.

Read the amusing economics book “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely to see how and why we so often over-estimate small risks and are not rational about our decisions. It will help you think smarter the next time you are making a business move, hiring staff – or buying chocolates.

Brain science is rapidly developing—a little attention and you can use yours to help you grow, to develop greater capacity, and to be resilient.

Second, evaluate past experiences

We rarely use our past difficulties to inform our present. You’ve had times where you overcame an obstacle or dealt with something you did not think you could handle.

Take a moment to consider what your past experiences tell you.

Make a couple of notes, similar to the success stories you have about your work: what was the issue, what did you do, how did you get through the bad time?  Learn from your own stories.  How can you build on the skills and abilities you demonstrated then?

How do you give yourself credit so that you reinforce your resilience?

Recently I discovered that my unflappable husband felt he never could have handled the casualty notifications that I did years ago. I saw them as a terrible time, but now am refocusing to find strengths I could use again.

And for a little encouragement, consider historical women. International Women’s Day is not for a few days, but here is a fascinating collection of photos on women’s progress that reminds us of their resiliency.

Ask your mother or other women you know to help you identify your strengths and resiliency. Get them to talk about their hard times and share skills.

Third, build your coping skills

The techniques you learn to handle problems more effectively at work can be used in your personal life and vice versa.

The American Psychological Association makes a great series of pamphlets available online for the general public.  They cover a wide range of topics, including coping skills, grief, etc.

Advice on becoming happier or more productive and self-help guru’s books are everywhere.  The real challenge for most of us is to actually try something new, to make it a habit to challenge our own thought processes, and to face our fears full-on.

Developing resilience is neither easy nor hard. But it does pay high dividends at work and at home if you do so before your next challenge hits.

What resiliency tips are you willing to share? We’d love your ideas to help us all.

Want to keep reading? Here’s Patricia Frame’s first post in this series.

Image: Library of Congress via its Flickrstream

Patricia FrameGuest contributor Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, speaker, and executive with expertise in human capital. Launching a new Women Grow Business series on human resources for small business, Patricia is founder of Strategies for Human Resources. She helps small to mid-size organizations achieve their goals through more effective human capital strategy and management. She can be reached through her website SHRinsight.com, where archives for her ongoing management series can be found.

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