Benjamin Friedman '97SW

Benjamin Friedman '97SW

Founder, Build Scale Grow, Inc

Resilience May Be Your Best Leadership Skill

While studying business at Columbia, I attended the School of Social Work. The main theme of my studies was understanding a person in their environment and the interplay between people and surroundings.

As social entrepreneurs look to impact the world, knowing yourself and remaining true to your passion are critical to success. While turbulent times bring change and uncertainty, you can remain steadfast.

Resilience can be built and reinforced with intention.

Self-awareness: Understanding yourself is critical to effective leadership and responding to the world effectively. As pressures build, awareness helps focus our mind and our behaviors.

I’ve worked with many leaders who would get in their own way. Awareness can eliminate hidden obstacles, build on your strengths, and allow you to move forward.

There are two paths to self-awareness: knowing yourself better from within (e.g., meditation, journaling, and challenging yourself) and improvement through others (discussed more below).

Positive Self-talk: Face stress knowing that while you may not always control your environment and circumstances, you can find ways to take control of your life and your response to them.

Treat yourself the same way as you would a friend. Given the same pressure, what advice would you give to someone you love? Then realize that applies to you as well. If the pressure is caused through mistakes, focus on learning from them, not suffering them, to best serve others in the future.

Connect With People: Review your current relationships and contact those people who support you on a regular basis. You must find the courage to ask for help whether you need specific advice or general support. At the same time, distance yourself from anyone who does not support you.

Some people support you no matter what, and that is fantastic. However, to grow, seek feedback from a different type of person. Solicit people who are willing to be critical (constructively). You may solicit three to five people directly or consider anonymous reviews (scary but rewarding). In both scenarios, ask open-ended questions (e.g., “What’s one way I could improve?” and “What’s next to be a more effective leader?”) and push for a response. Facing the fears about your performance ultimately will make you stronger.

Nourish Yourself: Add time regularly into your current schedule to take care of yourself. These activities include rigorous exercising at least three times a week, healthy eating, connecting with family and friends, and enjoying at least one fun activity a week. If you are not seeing the desired results, adjust your routine or seek professional advice.

Another way to sustain yourself is by putting yourself in a different environment. Try exploring new spots in your local area, taking a course in an area where you will be the beginner, or visiting cultural centers and museums. Shifting your perspective may bring gratitude, excitement over learning, and spark ideas on growth.

Keep practicing resilience. The goal is not perfection, but incrementally improving yourself. Success is a long game. If you feel scared and dejected, accept those as temporary setbacks and focus on moving forward as soon as possible.

When Dr. Wayne W. Dyer says, “My goal is not to be better than anyone else, but to be better than I used to be.” This applies equally to us and to the world we are trying to positively impact over the long journey.