Have you ever given up on something or someone, only to be surprised? Last fall my wife bought a Christmas cactus and it flourished for a good many months. We enjoyed the beautiful blooms and the greenness of the plant. Earlier this year, though, the cactus turned brown and dead-looking. My wife tried re-potting it. She changed the amount of water she gave it. She tried moving it to a new window. It didn’t seem like anything would revive the poor cactus, so my wife gave up and callously dumped it outside, over in a corner of the yard that was in need of a little more dirt. Then, just a few weeks ago, my wife walked in from the backyard and declared, “That ol’ cactus is still alive!” The green had returned and new segments had sprouted. Despite the challenges it faced, the cactus was able to come back even though we had given up on it.

This event got me thinking about resiliency, that ability to adapt and recover no matter what adversities one faces.  In study after study, people cite work as the number one stressor. The ability to adapt and persevere in the face of stress and challenge is vital to the workforce.

An article entitled “The Road to Resilience” by the American Psychological Association gives a list of factors that contribute to resiliency. I see a number of different ways that team-development experiences can help:

  • Positive relationships are important. When a person has a trusting support network to go to, they are better able to bounce back from adversity. How can you help this happen in your work place? Team-development experiences are fun and memorable. Many of the activities provide a great opportunity to get to know co-workers on a deeper level.
  • The skill of problem-solving develops confidence when facing trials. When challenges come, a resilient person will feel confident that she can figure out a solution. This, too, is a vital aspect of team-development experiences. The more a team engages in guided problem-solving activities, the better they become at the process. Then, when adversity arises in the work setting, the group has the confidence to tackle it.
  • The ability to determine goals buffers a person from feeling overwhelmed. During times of stress or trauma a resilient person can set and focus on achievable goals, rather than being overwhelmed and distracted. In a team-development activities, participants are often asked to set goals for themselves, and execute plans to achieve those goals. Afterwards, the discussions center on the process of goal-setting and how it translates to work situations.

When employees thrive, organizations thrive. If you’re noticing that your employees are stressed or struggling, address it. Take the time to develop a supportive culture and give your people an opportunity to practice the skills that will lead to resiliency. Equip them now so that they can still bloom on the other side of adversity. And remember, there’s always hope – even in a forgotten corner of the yard.


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