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Resilience is often the difference between bending and breaking. So it goes without saying that learning emotional resilience is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself. Wendy Bergsteedt, Group Head of Marketing at Coronation Fund Managers, gave herself that gift.

“My biggest teacher in rising above challenges was my career in advertising, where I spent nearly 20 years of my life,” says Wendy. “The ad industry is synonymous with excessive hours, a lack of respect for agencies (and the people doing the hard yards) and with very few rewards. I often wonder how I lasted in that industry for so long, but then I recall the specific disciplines that I had in place that got me through.”

She shared those disciplines with us. So we could share them with you. Use Wendy’s healthy daily habits to start building your own emotional resilience today.

READ MORE: “The One Piece Of Advice I’d Give My Younger Self” – Women Bosses Dish Life And Leadership Lessons

1/ Prioritise your mental health… every day

“I made my mental health a priority from early on in my career. I practised transcendental meditation every day for 20 minutes at a time. I’m also a firm believer in mindfulness and being present in the moment,” says Wendy.

2/ Take breaks after big projects

“I took breaks after peak periods and learnt to self-manage so that my emotions didn’t play out to my detriment in the workplace. (I hardly ever had a leave balance!) Rewarding [not taking breaks] normalises it – and this equals poor self-management.”

3/ Discernment

Seeking excellence over perfection was a lesson Wendy learnt early on. Learning to discern the difference between the minutia and the bigger picture (and how this affects profitability and efficiency) is critical. Seeking perfection can cause teams unnecessary distress and make processes unbearable, says Wendy.

READ MORE: Conflict At Work? Here’s How To Deal, According To A Mediator

4/ Exercise is key

“Exercise has always been part of my wellness regime, so I continue to keep up this habit by finding the time, despite being in a high-performing, busy environment,” says Wendy. Incredible how just the simple act of moving your body has mega pay-offs that ripple through the rest of your life. “I am grateful for the grooming in resilience because I didn’t know that it would be my armour for the rest of my career,” she adds.

5/ Know yourself – accurately

“Leadership science has introduced me to a variety of principles that enabled me to introspect throughout my leadership journey,” she says. “Self-assessment tools, such as the Enneagram (one of my favourite tools), have been a great help in getting a precise reflection of how I was being experienced by others. Accurate reflection is a critical part of self-improvement and self-mastery.”

6/ Welcome feedback (even the tough stuff)

“In my career, the biggest lessons I’ve learnt have been through feedback… and usually tough feedback,” admits Wendy. “One of my ex-bosses said that feedback is the breakfast of champions because it is critical to consider how our behaviour lands with those around us. It’s an important standpoint in our journey towards exceptional leadership. Sometimes seeking outside feedback can get us wound up and anxious; it can sometimes ruin relationships when there is judgement involved. But this can still be overcome through effective personal reflection.”

READ MORE: 4 Things You DON’T Need To Be In Order To Be A Good Leader

7/ Take up journalling

Wendy journals daily. “[I also] recap my behaviours and responses (and reactions) in difficult situations, so that I can independently highlight patterns of behaviour that I seek to change in myself,” she says. “Journalling is a big part of practising gratitude for me – it keeps my feet firmly on the ground and reminds me of how blessed I am. The biggest take-out, for me, is that to become better, we need to change. Nothing can improve without change, so my consistent question to myself is: ‘How have you evolved in the past 12 months?'”

[Ed’s note: Start your daily practice with the Go Hustle Gratitude Journal 2022 – available in-store or at the Media24 online shop.]

8/ Embrace diversity

“Human beings, by nature, want to be surrounded by people who reflect the views of their own,” explains Wendy. “We are all convinced that our own truth is the right truth, don’t we? So we surround ourselves with people who echo our own ‘truths’ and who reinforce our own beliefs. [But] this creates a bubble of comfort and complacency. To me, this is the living and breathing echo chamber that is not confined to the metaverse (social media and digital channels), but becomes our everyday view.” View distorted much? Yup – scarily so.

So, open yourself up to diversity. “Surrounding yourself with diverse views, ideas and experiences enables a richer and more balanced approach to life – so we should seek out contrarian views to evaporate the status quo. As I mentioned, the concept of the echo chamber is largely considered a digital phenomenon – but it’s the same in real life. We must consciously seek out diversity of thought, culture and people who abide by different ways of reasoning if we are ever to have a broader and richer perspective of life.”

Moving to a new city in 2016 inspired Wendy to get to a point where her inner circle reflected total diversity. “I sought out people who looked different and who had incommensurate views to my own. This inspired me to think differently – but without losing direction with my internal compass,” she says.

“So, quite simply, I believe in staying ‘schooled’, I believe that ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’ and that diversity in your inner circle will set you apart with a fresh approach to life.” We couldn’t agree more.

Photo by Thirdman.

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