If you ever went to an amusement park in the '80s, you’ll likely remember a game called Whack-a-mole. You’d drop a quarter in the slot, pick up the hammer, and then wait intently. Within seconds, small electronic moles would pop their heads up at different intervals in front of you. The purpose of the game? Whack-a-mole as hard as you could on its head. If it went back down its hole, you’d score a point.
The moles, they were resilient little buggers. No matter how hard they got hit, they’d pop their tiny heads back up seconds later ready to have another go. And essentially, this is what you and I aspire to do as well: stay focused on our purpose and be strong enough not to let setbacks and office politics throw us too far off course.
Social intrapreneurs are employees who find ways to tackle tough social and environmental challenges with corporate resources all while still delivering traditional value to their business. Their ideas are often off traditional management’s radar. Therefore, countless social intrapreneurs get repeatedly shot down. Personal resilience is critical to their success… and survival.
Until recently, their tips and tricks were closely guarded secrets. But not anymore thanks to the League of Intrapreneurs who have launched the free Cubicle Warriors Toolkit. The League of Intrapreneurs represents a global movement of corporate changemakers working to transform business from the inside out. The five unique tools in the Toolkit are designed to help social intrapreneurs and innovators, like you, step up your game.
The latest tool in the series focuses on how to cultivate your personal resilience. If you take the time to integrate the following five easy tips into your working life, you’ll be in a much better position to meet the challenges you face at work.
Every seasoned social intrapreneur will tell you to prepare for a marathon and not a race. Their advice: Picture your end goal. Anticipate the hurdles. Plan how you’ll jump over them if and when they pop up. Define your personal boundaries. Honor them. If something feels like a distraction, double check if it fits your envisioned plan. If it doesn’t, chances are it will slow you down or even take you off course. But also stay flexible and change your course if it feels like the right thing to do.
Your supporters will give you words of encouragement. This will feel good. Your champions, on the other hand, will challenge you in ways that help you grow as a person and as a professional. This will feel uncomfortable at first. But give them permission to do this, and accept it gracefully. You’re bound to learn new things about the way you think, feel and behave which will enable you to stay strong even when you don’t have your champions by your side.
Don’t use good energy in bad ways. Pick your battles wisely. When something doesn’t go your way, ask yourself "Are my expectations realistic?" If they aren’t, you may find you need to reframe your goals. We’ve noticed that the best social intrapreneurs find ways to work within the existing corporate culture and norms rather than try to change the company outright. Are you doing this?
Not everyone is going to get your initiative. Try putting yourself in their shoes. By starting with where they’re coming from, and not your own agenda, you’re bound to discover new opportunities and ways to reframe your argument and approach. Try it out and notice the positive difference it will have on your ability to influence others, and the health of your relationships.
Several passionate social intrapreneurs shared stories with us about how they couldn’t bounce back after their project failed to get the green light because their ego took too big a hit. It is critical to remember that you are not your project. Always be cultivating your self-esteem and self-worth in multiple ways—and not only from the success of your project. If you tie your ego too closely to your work, you are bound to run into serious trouble at some stage in your career. Pay close attention.
If you want your innovative ideas to really take shape in 2014, it is worth spending an hour of time reading the rest of the insights and tips shared in the Resilience tool and the four other tools the League of Intrapreneurs have created for social intrapreneurs and other innovators. You can download all five tools for free right here and read them at your convenience.