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What do a “growth mindset,” high self-awareness and mindfulness have to do with becoming a resilient leader? Turns out, everything.

All the research points to two factors that make up resiliency: talent and effort. We need to apply effort to our existing talents to develop an actionable skill. According to Angela Duckworth in “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverence,” what makes effort twice as important is our ability to apply consistent effort to our developed skills, so they translate into high performance.

In my work with high-performing leaders, I’ve discovered that they share three traits that make them resilient and set them apart from their peers.

First, they see the world as their classroom.

They possess an insatiable desire to be constantly learning new ways to help themselves, their colleagues, and their company’s vision and mission. They embrace effort with the knowledge that they are going to occasionally fail but will get right back up and keep trying.

They see that their role as a leader is to do everything that they possibly can do to be better. They draw inspiration from other peers and colleagues and search them out for mentorship and guidance.

They seek out feedback from others and leverage it to guide them on their path to self-mastery.

Resilient leaders don’t need to be right all the time. They show the courage to be vulnerable and understand that failure is a lesson that leads to success. In “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” Carol S. Dweck shares that leaders’ self-confidence allows them to not fear being rejected.

Second, resilient people have high self and emotional awareness.

They’re capable of getting clarity around identifying not only the type of emotions they’re experiencing but the intensity of them as well. This allows them to choose the appropriate response, which leads to better decision making.

Self-aware leaders understand the power of pausing before they respond to triggers so they can get outside themselves and rationally examine how to best take positive action in a way that embodies kindness and compassion.

Self-aware leaders are comfortable in their own skin. They have their goals in line with the things that matter most and a fierce understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.

They intuitively know that humility underpins every encounter they have with colleagues and is at the center of every decision they make.

Lastly, resilient leaders live in the moment.

“Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time,” a book by Susan Scott, examines how leaders understand the profound impact that a single conversation can have on a colleague or a business. Strong leaders have the wonderful ability to be present, in the moment, and without distraction.

Resilient leaders are mindful of the effects stress can have on their physiology, which can lead to a litany of health risks from high blood pressure, poor digestion and lack of proper sleep.

They choose the path away from emotional tension to one of creative tension. Creative tension is the contrast between our personal vision for the future and clarity around our current reality. Resilient leaders thrive on this creative tension to pursue their goals knowing that along the journey, obstacles will have to be overcome. And, per Peter M. Senge’s “The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization,” they see the obstacle as an opportunity for developing an innovative way to achieve their vision.

In closing, I’ll share with you a four-step, two-minute exercise I deploy prior to any significant conversation or upcoming meeting I’ll be attending:

  • Close my eyes
  • Take three deep breaths while listening to my breathing
  • Visualize what a successful outcome would look like
  • Apply your senses to the desired outcome – feel it, hear it, experience it

Two key components of resiliency are a passion for believing in our personal vision and the ability to persevere through the challenges that lay between where we are today and where we see ourselves in the future.

The choice sits between our ears. What choice are you going to make?

Jeff Mariola is Chief Development Officer of Mariola Unlimited. With more than 25 years of successful, CEO leadership experience across two multi-national businesses plus two entrepreneurial startups, Mariola has a reputation for creating cultures that consistently outscore other high-performing companies in engagement, growth, empowerment and leadership. His ability to inspire management teams to stretch beyond their expectations is a testimony to his compassionate, direct management style. Now, as a co-founder of Mariola Unlimited with his wife Michelle, he collaborates with companies to develop their management teams through leadership workshops and one-on-one executive coaching.

To learn more about how you can become a resilient leader, check out his four-part vlog series.