“Resilience is an essential skill in our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous work environments. Resilient people manage transition, stay productive, and continue to learn and add value to organizations even in the face of challenges” ( TD magazine, Aug 2019). Building resilience in our workplaces will build loyalty and decrease turnover. Getting teams out sailing is one of the best ways to build team member’s resiliency.
The problem revealed
I sat among workers in the mental health profession discussing the personal and business benefits that sailing teaches.
One of the benefits to sailing as discussed, was the improved resilience that sailors experience. A mental health provider in the audience who does employment placement counseling and testing was a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). He commented that the biggest issue he deals with in organizations is the lack of resiliency in workers.
Currently, a quarter of all employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Fernandez,2016). A global survey of Human Capital Tends conducted by Deloitte found that 57% of the respondents said their organizations were “weak” when it came to helping leaders and employees deal with changing information flow and stress (HBR,2016).
What the Business Media is Saying
In writing for the Harvard Business Review, Rich Fernandez, prescribed five tactics for improving resilience. These tactics include:
- Exercising mindfulness
- Compartmentalizing your cognitive load
- Taking detachment breaks
- Developing mental agility
- Cultivating compassion
In August of this 2019, The Association of Talent Development (ATD) suggested focusing on these 5 key elements to beat burnout and boost resiliency:
- Overall well-being including exercise, nutrition, and sleep
- Building your self-awareness
- Developing your personal brand
- Cultivating a network of people you can trust
- Become a personal innovator
Other publications have focused on the need to develop “grit” or mental toughness as the key.
A recent article in Forbes magazine offered leaders the encouragement that every struggle often comes with a tremendous opportunity. The article also reminded leaders that it is their responsibility to lead through good times as well as the bad times, and that a leader’s actions during a crisis serves as a model for followers. Reflective thinking is the key to growing through the tough times in our lives. All leaders have scars from their time in leadership. It is what we do with those scars that makes a difference in our lives and the lives of the people that we are called to lead.
In Bob Chapman’s book “Everybody Matters”, the author describes people that work in our organizations as “someone’s son or daughter, brother or sister, and someone’s mom or dad.” Chapman describes leaders as stewards of other people’s relationships. He says that what we do in our workplaces and how we treat the people that we steward, profoundly affects the relationships that our people have in their homes. Developing healthy resilient workers develops healthy resilient homes and families. Healthy homes and families result in a healthy society.
A Potential Solution
Over the years I have watched a host of new sailors develop resiliency as they met the physical and mental challenges that sailing can offer up.
Sailing offers resilience training when it is followed up with check-in times and review times. It has been useful in helping patients cope with the most difficult cases of PTSD. It has definitely helped corporate teams grow in their connections and care for each other.
Building resilience skills does not happen in a vacuum.
Sailing can be a series of problem-solving lessons as the new sailor has to navigate through changing wind directions, wave patterns, and equipment issues. As a boat crew works together at solving these problems and challenges — group resiliency grows. This group resiliency fosters trust and respect which further connects team members to each other.
What is taught on the seas, must be taken back to the workplace and reinforced. I have seen sailors who came back to sail after handling 10-15-foot waves and seasickness who failed to make the resilience connection in the office until they went through follow up coaching.
Organizations must find classroom learning which combines experiential learning for maximum application of the concepts. Each summer I teach sailing to veterans who receive counseling from the Veteran’s Administration. I do this with other Captains from Milwaukee as a part of the veteran’s overall program to beat the effects of PTSD and other emotional issues. The impact that sailing makes for these veterans is phenomenal.
Learn how a resilient team can grow your organization
If you are looking for a way to help your team members through a business transition, or through volatility in the market, we can help. Full Sail Leadership Academy will take your team through a land and sailing based workshop. As the weather turns cold in Wisconsin, we can facilitate a session in the warm weather climates, or we can help you plan for next summer in the Midwest.
Let’s schedule a time to get your team on the water.