Thanks to Russell Harvey The Resilience Coach for sharing this post.
Listen to Russell’s Resilience Radio Show every Saturday at 3 pm on Yowah Radio.
As babies, human development is all about trial and error. We can’t learn to walk without stumbling; we can’t learn to talk without babbling. It’s accepted that making mistakes is all part of the development process. Babies have to fall over many times and keep getting back up again – this demonstrates that humans also have a great level of innate resilience! As adults though, many of us are conditioned by our schools, parents, and other peers into believing we are not allowed to make mistakes. This learned attitude hampers growth and learning as we get older.
Try new things.
By trying new things, making mistakes, and finding out what works and what doesn’t, we can learn so much. How good we are at this all depends on our attitude to risk. Some are more risk-averse than others, but becoming more comfortable with making mistakes and taking risks can be very liberating. Learning to say to yourself, “sure, this might not work, but let’s do it anyway” can open up a whole world of possibilities. Richard Branson’s biography is called “Screw it, let’s do it” and this sums up his entrepreneurial spirit perfectly. He has taken many risks, and not all of them have paid off, but on balance, I think we can agree that like him or not, he has been extremely successful.
Taking risks takes confidence – something not all of us have in abundance, but the more times we try new things and learn something beneficial from them, and the more times we take a gamble and it pays off, the more we build our confidence to keep taking those calculated risks. If you feel you need to develop more confidence, working on your resilience regularly, and using the Resilience Wheel, can help.
How we learn is all about evaluation. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we are always evaluating the world around us. In a traditional classroom learning environment, we start by evaluating the credibility of the teacher. Our first impression of them will greatly impact our ability to learn from them. If they create a good impression and the right learning environment, we will feel in a place of psychological safety. This means we are more likely to open up and share our true thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment, getting things wrong, or looking silly in front of our peers.
This is also true at work. In the workplace, it’s essential that senior leaders create a psychologically safe place so people feel confident and able to share ideas and concerns freely. Harvard University’s Dr. Amy Edmundson highlights that we now live in what she describes as the ‘knowledge economy’ where ideas and insights are the currency of company growth. But as she points out in this YouTube video, if half the workforce in an organisation feels unable or afraid to speak up, the company is losing enormous value.
Amy also highlights the potentially devastating consequences of not having a psychologically safe working environment. The results can be catastrophic when people feel unable to go to their boss and tell them something went wrong or could be about to. If people feel unable to speak out about potential problems, highlight risks, or offer alternative ways of doing things, not only can this stymie innovation, it can undermine company growth and even pose a material risk to lives, depending on the type of business. Amy concludes “psychological safety is mission-critical to success in the knowledge economy”. I couldn’t agree more.
If you’d like to understand more about creating a psychologically safe work environment, or about building your own/your team’s resilience, I’d love to hear from you.