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Choose Resilience
Jen Shirkani, author

Adult; Self-Help; (Market)

Most of us want to be happy and comfortable in life, but what if staying comfortable was the very thing keeping us from our happiness? In her second book, Choose Resilience, speaker and emotional intelligence expert Jen Shirkani challenges the notion that comfort always equals good and she inspires readers to break out of their safe spaces to the personal and professional life of their dreams. With the backdrop of her own story of struggle woven throughout, Jen shares helpful strategies for overcoming personal challenges with motivation, optimism and stress tolerance. Readers learn the importance of leaving their comfort zone behind in order to reengage in life and gain more confidence by learning to get comfortable with risk. After working with hundreds of organizations and thousands of employees, Jen has seen the power of emotional intelligence build interpersonal strength, stamina and resilience. This book provides a motivating and inspiring message and helps readers see how maintaining a healthy level of challenge and struggle can enable everyone to be more powerful at work and in every aspect of life.

It may be a matter of semantics but I am of the opinion that those in greatest need of resilience are least likely to “choose” it and will become more resilient only if and when the given circumstances allow no other choice.

* * *

In her previous book, EGO vs. EQ, Jen Shirkani suggests that the nature and extent of an executive's emotional intelligence (EQ) will probably determine the nature and extent of her or his effectiveness as a leader and manager. She shares this explanation by Daniel Goleman that EQ is "the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships."

She focuses on eight traps and explains how to avoid or overcome them. All are directly or indirectly the result of what I would characterize as an unhealthy ego, one that is essentially narcissistic in nature, and one with an insatiable appetite for attention, adoration, and approval.

All of us have a comfort zone. Of course, its nature and extent vary…sometimes significantly…especially these when the world seems more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I recall.

Shirkani observes that during interactions at work and elsewhere, “I rely on EQ daily. It helps me recognize my emotional state and reactions, read my audience and the environment I am in, and respond in ways that meet the needs if the people I am with or what the situation calls for, to get the best results from the interaction. Most of the time it works, and when it doesn’t, I can usually think back and see how I might have been my own worst enemy.”

It really helps to be guided and informed by these three key elements of EQ:

1. “Recognizing yourself: EQ involves high self-awareness about your strengths and weaknesses. It means you know your personality style, your communication style, and your conflict style.”

2. "Reading others: With EQ, you can pay better attention to others and your environment. The golden rule is ‘Treat others the way you want to be treated’ — but the EQ rule is ’Treat others the way [begin italics] they [end italics] want to be treated.”

3. “Responding appropriately: Instead of allowing your preferred approach to dictate your behavior, you can use self-control and make temporary adjustments that are usually uncomfortable but more effective.”

Jen Shirkani thoroughly examines each of these three key elements throughout her lively and eloquent narrative. With all due respect to the substantial value of a comfort zone, however, as already suggested, we cannot remain here indefinitely. This is what she has in mind when observing, “Resilience is the key to overcoming unexpected difficulties and recovering faster, while growing stronger with each challenge life throws your way. When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, you build your endurance, confidence, and a sense of accomplishment.” Quite true.

Comfort zones can serve several valuable purposes so long as the zone does not become a prison cell and then a mausoleum. I rely on my own comfort zone to re-energize my resources (mental, physical. emotional, and psychological) as well as to reflect on what awaits me when I leave that zone.

Then what?

Once embarked on re-engagement in a VUCA world, the Most Model (See Chapters 3) can help to accelerate personal growth and professional development by relying on its four pillars: self-Motivation, Optimism, and Stress Tolerance. EQ provides the “secret sauce” to success.

I presume to add one final point. This book is a “must read” for executives who have supervisory responsibilities. One of their most important responsibilities is to master the power of EQ, of course, but then do everything they can to accelerate that same process of personal growth and professional development for the direct reports entrusted to their care.