Developing Personal Resilience By Lesley McLeod

This year has been hard for everyone. With considerations turning to how the country can cope with new waves of coronavirus Lesley McLeod, chief executive of the Association for Project Safety [APS] – a professional organisation for people working in design and construction health and safety risk management – talks about developing personal resilience and about how to keep calm and carry on.

Try your best

Then you have nothing with which to reproach yourself: regret is corrosive

Attention to the little things ends up quicker, in the end, saving time, money and jangled nerves. Getting it right first time reduces delay and creates confidence in your ability. But you should also practice leaving well alone – you can build in errors by fiddling with things and it’s better to complete three out of four tasks well than all of them badly.

Learn to say no

If it can’t be done, or you can’t do it, say so: don’t set yourself up to fail

When you are keen to make a good impression – and your boss wants something – it is all too easy to say ‘yes’. But it does no one any good to take on more than you can manage or promise something you, subsequently, can’t deliver. That doesn’t just make you look foolish, but it can hold up and damage any project on which you are working. In design and construction health and safety risk management – as in many other walks of life – this can have real life and death consequences so learning when to say ‘no’ is a vital survival skill.

Take control & have a plan

It helps to be in the driving seat and to know where you’re headed

You can help reduce stress by controlling the things you can – while developing a healthy disregard for the things outside your sphere of influence. When you are managing other people, it makes their lives – and work – infinitely better if they can be involved in developing the policies and projects with which they are involved. Everyone works better if they know where they fit and how their role – which may seem small and insignificant – slots into the bigger picture. Remember the triangle player in an orchestra – it may look to be a bit part, but you notice when the ting doesn’t come! So, if you don’t know what makes your role matter, ask until you get an answer.

Develop an outside life

Everyone needs a life beyond work: don’t take it home

The most difficult lesson to learn, but, as the country migrates to more home working, it becomes more and more important to learn to stop, marking the end of the business day with a shift to personal time. A routine helps and – as a manager – a gentle understanding of the stresses facing colleagues goes a long way. It doesn’t matter what your outside interests are – growing dahlias, gourmet cooking or playing the double bass – but everyone needs something just for themselves. We all need it to recharge our batteries – coming back, refreshed and reinvigorated, to do our jobs well.

Don’t avoid difficult decisions & tasks 

They just shout in your head until they’re tackled

It is easy to put off things you don’t like or that are scary. But troubles delayed just grow, like monsters under the bed. They leak into your thoughts, undermining your confidence. You’ll feel much better once they are out of the way. So, don’t prevaricate – build in a task you like and that’s easy to accomplish to follow the one you hate. And then just plod on eating the elephant, piece by piece. Things rarely look so bad when you see them in the rear-view mirror. 

Finally, learn to laugh at yourself. A sense of humour helps a lot.

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