How to develop and maintain a resilient mindset

Personal resilience is the art of holding your shape and bouncing back, according to change expert Heather Wildman, speaking on the second episode of Farming Focus, Cornish Mutual’s podcast for South West farmers.

“It’s about being measured, rational and reflective, keeping things in perspective and compartmentalising by determining what you can control and/or change,” said Heather.

“If something is starting to keep you awake, address it sooner rather than later – don’t put it off or bury your head.”

At one level, she suggests it can be as simple as recognising when to separate yourself from an issue, whether by going for a walk or letting yourself sleep. She also advocates talking to gain clarity on the issue at hand. “Some of the best conversations come from sitting in a car or going for a walk without the pressure of eye contact.”

When asked about gaining perspective, Heather felt a strong and diverse information platform was needed as a basis for making decisions: “The most resilient operators talk to their accountant, suppliers, land agents and neighbours, attend seminars and read around the subject so they see a situation from many different angles. Then they know they’ve done as much as they can before coming to an informed decision.”

This enables you to own a decision and learn from mistakes rather than blaming others, she said. “You have a choice of what business you’re in. You do not have a right to make a profit and must change when necessary to survive. We need to know what we’re doing well and what we can improve.”

Her advice for those with a tendency to escalate negativity is to write things down, both good and bad, achievements and disappointments. “You’ll soon feel like you’re achieving more than you realised.”

Translating these into long-term action plans and goals, Heather still uses the SWOT analysis as a mechanism for recognising what you can or can’t influence, finding the opportunities and seeing where you can add value.

Looking back to her Nuffield scholarship about influencing and motivating change, Heather advises preparing for the seven Ds: disagreement, divorce, debt, disability, disease, disaster and death.

“We are all going to die but some have the privilege of living before they die. Look at what is good in your life, what you enjoy and if you’re not happy, ask why you are doing it.”

Heather’s top tips on building personal resilience:

  • Be able to step back and take time to think, relax and review.
  • Take responsibility for yourself – what’s your ‘why’? Why are you doing it?
  • Understand your own value and how to learn from your mistakes.
  • Who are you away from your business? Make space for self-reflection and to gain perspective.
  • Have a good network of people you can talk to openly.
  • Look after yourself or you won’t reach your full potential.

Listen to Heather Wildman talking to Peter Green in episode 2 of Farming Focus - also available on Spotify or Apple podcasts.