Building resilience in the face of COVID-19 is key to enhancing leadership, according to author Heidi Dening.
It is something this business leader has managed to achieve after overcoming potentially life defining setbacks including paralysis, being kidnapped at gunpoint and facing a tsunami.
The best-selling author of ‘Her Middle Name Is Courage ’shared some of her hard-won, empowering insights with FINSIA members at a recent webinar.
With an audience poll revealing 61% were either stressed out or burnt out, Heidi’s talk focused on practical ways to build resilience habits with her ‘bucket ’theory.
“Building resilience is important so we can become strong leaders, even in times where it feels like things are completely out of our control,” she said.
“It doesn't matter if you are leading a large organisation, a small business, a team of remote workers, or a group of volunteers.
“Being able to build your resilience is the foundation that will allow you to navigate through these stressful times. Adversities like COVID-19 remind us that there is so much in business and in life that we have no control of.
“If we want to be a survivor of COVID-19, rather than a victim of it, we all need to focus on the things that we do have a little bit of control over, and building resilience is one of those things.”
The author - whose accolades include Best International Keynote Speaker (Asia Pacific) for the 2020 Influential Businesswoman’s Awards, Westpac’s International Women’s Day Local Hero Award and NSW Government’s Inspirational Women showcase in the entrepreneurial and empowerment category - has delivered resilience, self-leadership and wellness programs to Accenture, Westpac and Maetcash.
Talking about her unique way of building resilience, Heidi added: “I'd like you to think of your resilience like a bucket.
“When life is good, your bucket feels strong and sturdy and you're on fire. You know those times, when you have thousands of customers who are happy with the way you're managing their money.
“Then there are tough times, times just like now. Our buckets get a little fragile. Little rusty holes start forming, and these potentially become big rusty holes and when this happens all your strengths and capabilities start flowing out.
“You feel lethargic, you can't focus, you make silly decisions, poor mistakes. You get cranky over nothing, teary over nothing and you lose your motivation.
“Leadership is hard when you are not physically and mentally at your best. So what do we have to do?”
Strong bucket formula strategy number one, is to be still, Heidi says.
“I know it’s difficult, but I really encourage you to gift this to yourself. Whether it's just sitting doing some deep breathing, listening to the sounds of nature, or listening to mindfulness apps, but for 10 minutes a day, it is only 0.7% of your day. If you want your brains to continue to perform, you have to give it a break. If 10 minutes is too long, start with two.”
The second part of this formula is to find joy.
“There is so much negativity right now, but we have also seen some of the best of human behaviour that has made us all smile. So proactively look for things that bring you joy, make you smile, make you laugh out loud and giggle. One hour a week would be great.
Number three is to chill out.
“As leaders in the financial services industry, you are doing long hours, you are not segmenting your work life from your home life. When that happens, your resilience is getting chipped away. Diarise a Saturday morning where you can have a sleep in, stay in your JimJams, slouch on the couch, read a great book, or binge on Netflix.
Fourth on the list is to live life.
“Have something that you are going to look forward to. We can't travel very far at all, but what if by the end of the year that you could travel to one of the regional areas of your State that was decimated earlier this year by Bush fires. What if you started looking into that town or where you're going to stay? Where are you going to eat? What things that they had for you to do and start planning to live life again. Often it is the planning of good things in our lives that can bring us so much joy and have something to look forward to.”