9 Skills You’ll Need to be Resilient This Year

Good or bad, it’s impossible to predict what the future holds. So the best we can do is build our capacity for resilience. Resilience helps us bounce back from challenges and prepares us to succeed in a world full of unknowns. To be resilient means to have a growth mindset. To see yourself as a work in progress and to look forward with optimism and openness. Whatever the future, resilience will help you and your team adapt to the inevitable changes ahead—and turn them into your greatest opportunities.

So, how might you become more resilient this year? As food for thought, we asked a few of our instructors and expert guests from the Creative Confidence Podcast to share one skill they think professionals should cultivate this year. We hope their answers inspire you to push the boundaries of your comfort zone and find your growth edge.

Learning through curiosity
Sara Kalick, Former VP, SYPartners & From Superpowers to Great Teams Instructor

I would say the one skill professionals today need to learn is how to learn. How to get curious about a problem, and design and fuel learning journeys for themselves. Our skills are going to need to be constantly refreshed, and faster than ever before. The more people can build their own curiosity, experimentation, and mastery muscles—and tap into their own intrinsic motivation to do sothe better.

Navigating Tension
Rochael Adranly, IDEO Partner & General Counsel

One skill professionals should cultivate (if they have not yet) is holding and navigating tension. Appreciating that people bring different views, lived experiences, and visions to a situation and that navigating skillfully can bring all involved to a place of deeper understanding and perhaps higher level work and/or wisdom. Often people are uncomfortable with tension so try to head it off before it arises or avoid it once it arises, which can short circuit the opportunity to move to a more integrated place.

Asking better questions

Didier Elzinga, Founder & CEO, CultureAmp

I like to focus on skills that have a multiplier effect on other skills and impact. Given how much work we are doing with leaders and company culture, the skill that I see sitting under so much is how to ask better questions. From a 1:1 management point of view, to driving performance, embracing diversity and creating change for ourselves, I see the questions we ask sitting behind it all. Hat tip to Dr. LeeAnn Renninger at LifeLabs Learning who helped me see this.

Warren Berger, Innovation Expert & Questionologist

If there were one skill you could embrace in 2020 that could help you be more creative and more innovative, would you do it? What if that same skill could also help you adapt to the many changes that will be coming at you in the new year and beyond? And what if it could also help you be a better leader--as well as a better friend or spouse? What if it could even help to bridge some of the divides that separate us all today? And what could do all of that, you ask? The answer: asking questions. Ask more questions. Try to ask more ambitious, honest, open-ended ones; ask with curiosity and wonder, but also with empathy and respect. Try not to be the person with all the answers, or with lots of opinions, or too much advice that nobody asked for. Instead, be the one who is curious, confident, caring, and bold enough to inquire.

Deep empathy

Sheryl O'Loughlin, CEO, Founder, & Startup Advisor

Our country is multicultural. Women are already the majority and soon people of color will be too. Our leadership and teams are not reflecting our consumer base. We must become more diverse and inclusive to attract the best people and ideas. It’s critical to uplift and amplify the voices and ideas of those who have been impacted by systemic oppression and give them decision making power. Deep empathy is required to be relevant and thrive as companies and to embrace this shift as an opportunity for improvement. This is the key to innovation and better decisions leading to growth and profitability as proven by the research.

Generating creative options

Mike Peng, IDEO Partner & Cultivating Creative Collaboration Instructor

It's often easy to say what's wrong with something, but much harder to come up with creative solutions in response to the critique. As the questions we answer become more complex, just saying "yes" or "no" will no longer do. We should all take one step further to either build on the ideas of others and/or help generate options to nudge people in the right direction.

Self reflection and compassion

Margo Downs, Former Chief People & Culture Officer at Stitch Fix

This is very much on my mind. Particularly today, as I’ve just been reading about Ram Dass, as he transitioned yesterday. In order to grow, we need to face what we fear. I was recently reading a piece from Ram Dass where he said (loosely quoting here) that we should lean in to that which we fear. Gently, compassionately. Growth pushes the edges and can be uncomfortable. Leaning in with compassion inspires an opening to learning.

Jennifer Riel, Global Director of Strategy at IDEO & Designing Strategy Instructor

The one skill professionals should cultivate in the coming year is metacognition: the ability to think about our own thinking—to reflect on what we believe and why we believe it. Metacognition enables us not just to understand our own point of view, it is the first step to being able to question that perspective and to engage productively with others who see the world differently.

An iterative mindset
Michael Hendrix, IDEO Partner & Global Director of Design

Nothing is ever "done" in the digital age, but our mental models and systems haven't caught up to this idea. When Kanye West released "The Life of Pablo (Which One)" it broke the music business. After this album was first released it had at least five different track listings with variations of songs in each listing, sometimes eliminating guest contributors, adding new ones, adding verses, or even changing arrangements. Even a whole new song called “Saint Pablo” didn’t show up on any version until four months after the first release!

Kanye didn’t let the rules of the business dictate his product. On Twitter he said, "Life of Pablo is a living breathing changing creative expression. #contemporaryart.” While this caused him some headaches (music charts aren’t designed for this kind of iteration and fans weren’t always finding his most recent version), it hit #1 on Billboard and was nominated for a Grammy.

In this age, maybe we need to shift from a concept of “done” to a concept of “versioning” for all products. A mindset of “versioning” requires a different perspective on completeness and time. It remains open to the idea that all things are progressing toward improvement.

As you imagine your own creativity how do you reframe your own expectations for what is finished, perfect or done? How might you design “change as an asset” into your creations?

Having fun at work

Jake Knapp, Designer & Author

This year, try building the skill of having fun at work. I don't mean taking a foosball break (not that there's anything wrong with that, if you're into foosball). Instead, I mean cutting loose and cultivating joy in our actual tasks and conversations whenever possible.

Of course, it doesn't ALL have to be fun, and it never will ALL be fun. But you can find moments to be playful, even if you have to give up a little productivity. Maybe it's letting yourself geek out on some nerdy part of your job that you secretly love. Maybe it's asking for a high five once a day, even though you might get branded "that high five guy." Maybe it's being playful with a task instead of treating everything seriously. Maybe it just means that, instead of algorithmically designed focus music, you listen to some guilty pleasure songs from your youth to get yourself pumped.

I'm working on this myself in 2020, and I think that, if we can do it, we'll be better at our jobs and get more out of life. At the very least, we'll have more fun. And we'll listen to more Van Halen. 🤘🎸

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