Sustainable performance is often ill-defined or even misunderstood. A major component is individual resilience and the ability to recover quickly from failures and losses. The biggest challenge to both is change – itself constant and inevitable. Awareness, acceptance and action are key parts of addressing change constructively.
We all know people who have experienced loss, “never got over it” and suffer serious consequences of illness, burnout or even premature death as a result – hardly good examples of sustainability. On the other hand, there are also many cases of people who have overcome unimaginable losses and recovered their inspiration and joie de vivre. Dr Edith Eger, the American psychologist, Auschwitz survivor and leadership mentor, has written extensively about these themes, in her bestselling memoirs.
Remember that acceptance is not the same as resignation. As Eger puts it: “We all have a story, but I refuse to be my story. I was victimized, but I am not a victim.” It is essential to retain your sense of personal power.
Research shows resilience, and the ability to recover fully, can be maintained and reinforced based on four practical pillars of wellbeing: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
The first is relatively straightforward and can be addressed largely by staying fit through exercise, diet and adequate sleep. The others present different challenges, touching on issues of personality and belief. Emotional awareness encompasses shame, guilt, anger, depression and fear as well as, by contrast, joyfulness. Sustainability also embraces broader themes, such as finding positivity in mindset and achieving work-life balance. Spiritual sustainability involves finding the purpose, meaning and trust in your life.