Have patience. Be resilient. Stay positive.

How do you transition from a school schedule into real life? How do you prioritize family, friends, and career? Shannah Henk will give you all her strategies, including how to build a Formal Development Plan strong enough to put in front of your boss.

Shannah is a driven learning & development professional. She is currently an associate manager of L&D consultation at Best Buy’s corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In her current role, she connects the dots between company strategy and learning to drive performance. Shannah received both her bachelor’s degree and MBA from the University of North Dakota.

Developing Professional Resilience

The working world can sometimes present challenging situations and obstacles. One of the most important aspects of success in business is the ability to overcome these stressful situations and make the best of tough experience. By doing so, you grow as a person and can even better your career. But how exactly does one develop professional resilience, especially when your job is on the line? Here are three ways to become resilient and make sure you keep moving forward, even when it feels impossible to do so.


Socialize and Support

A Gallup poll revealed that individuals with best friends at work tend to do better and have more positive working experiences. While it may not be realistic to have your very best pals in the office with you, developing a social support system can help to increase feelings of resilience and make the workday overall more enjoyable. This might be as simple as chatting with your desk mates or gathering around the water cooler. However, getting involved in the office culture may be an even better chance to socialize. Some examples are:

  • Volunteer on committees
  • Schedule group lunches
  • Start a book club
  • Do something nice, such as bring in coffees for your coworkers


Avoid Spiraling and Catastrophizing

So much of resilience comes from your emotional reaction to a given situation. If there are rumblings of big changes at your company or possible layoffs, it’s easy to start worrying early. However, you still have control at this very moment. As opposed to jumping to the worst possible scenario such as being fired, give yourself a mental break. There is nothing to be gained from worry before there’s any reason to fret. You may also consider speaking directly to your manager or supervisor. Express your concerns and find out what information they may have. Although sudden changes are just that – sudden – that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to put your mind at ease during a stressful time.



Practice Mindfulness

Though it may sound like a new-age buzzword, mindfulness has come to be known as a powerful technique both in the personal realm as well as in the office. At work, the practice of mindfulness means focusing on the present instead of worrying about past mistakes or future anxieties. It also means interacting with those around you without judgment or negative feelings. A study performed by the University of British Columbia showed that this practice can not only improve performance but can also cut down on interpersonal conflicts and miscommunications.


In order to engage in mindfulness, consider the process much like meditation. Find a quiet space throughout the day to sit and be comfortable. Try to focus on your breath and your body. Take note of how you’re sitting or your body’s positioning. Think about how you’re feeling at that moment, without any concern over the work left at your desk, or the upcoming staff meeting. Doing this consistently throughout a workday can improve your overall mood and make you more resilient should negative experiences arise.


Resilience is an incredibly valuable trait, but practicing it or bettering yourself can take time. Don’t beat yourself up if you find that you’re stressing throughout the day; instead, use it as motivation to approach these obstacles in a positive and proactive manner. By engaging with others at work, using negative feedback as an opportunity, journaling your thoughts, and practicing mindfulness, you can be well on your way to improving your career and becoming more resilient

What Is Resilience?

Actress Mary Pickford once said, “This thing we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down.” Whether in work or personal life, resilience is one of the most important and beneficial traits a person can have. Overcoming obstacles, standing up to naysayers, and moving forward when the going gets tough requires a ton of grit and perseverance. And though we often speak about the importance of resilience, defining how it looks in daily life can be tricky. Let’s take a look at how the motivation to keep moving can play a part at work, with your friends, or at home with the family.


Resilience at Work

Though it can be extremely rewarding, the professional world is equally full of challenges and obstacles. A study performed by the American Institute of Stress found that 40% of workers said their jobs were very or extremely stressful. This stress can come from a variety of sources, but research from the staffing firm Accountemps revealed 33% of workplace anxiety is caused by heavy workloads and difficult deadlines, with struggling for work-life balance (22%), and unrealistic expectations from management (22%) not far behind. Beyond these consistent factors are difficult professional events that are isolated, such as:

  • Layoffs
  • Arguments with coworkers
  • Missing out on promotions
  • Relocation
  • Negative feedback from managers


Resilience in a workplace means learning to tune out these frustrations. Throughout your career, you will undoubtedly encounter one, if not many, of these instances.  A resilient individual uses these moments as a chance to move forward in a positive way. Consider journaling your progress in a position, and review your entries regularly to remind yourself just how far you’ve come. You may also consider asking for more frequent discussions with a manager or executive. Though it might be frightening to do so, a proactive approach can often prevent future problems.


Resilience with Friends

Our social circle is more than a list of folks who will help us move, or head to the local bar for our birthday. The connections we forge define us and enrich our lives for the better. In fact, a study done at Michigan State University found people who reported having supportive and good friendships had fewer chronic illnesses, as well as reduced stress and boosted overall emotional states. But how do we define “good friends?” One important way is through resilience.


People want to be around people who care, plain and simple. We strive to feel supported, to know that our emotions or experiences matter to our friends. When a companion is going through a difficult time, the best thing you can do let them know you’re there. Offer to cook them a meal, take them out for the night, or just listen while they vent. This will help them work through their emotions.  Your resilience may just rub off on them and help them pull themselves up, too.


Resilience with Family

Dr. Froma Walsh, a top research authority on family resilience, defines it as the ability to “withstand and rebound from disruptive life challenges, strengthened and more resourceful.” Certainly, all families are different, but Dr. Walsh’s studies helped her break down resilient family dynamics into the categories of beliefs, organization, and communication


  • Beliefs – sometimes tied to spirituality, help family members find meaning and encourage a positive outlook.
  • An organization can foster mutual support and connectedness, allow for flexibility and creates social networks
  • Communication is open and clear, allows for the expression of emotions and opinions, and is used in problem-solving


Resilient families provide a safe space for all members. It should be a healthy and welcoming environment, and one built on give-and-take. Just the same as you can go to a sibling or a parent for advice, you too need to offer a shoulder, an ear and helping hand.


Resilience is one of Alpha Kappa Psi’s most important core competencies. Life is full of wonderful and exciting opportunities, but in order to reap the benefits, we must first be able to push through the less-fun and more difficult moments. Whether it’s in the workplace, with a group of friends, or in a family meeting, resilience can help you uncover the true happiness and reward of life.

Overcoming Fear and Finding Your Tribe

Join us for the inaugural episode of Business Edge to learn all about the do’s and don’ts of joining a college campus. Kim Saxton, a clinical professor of Marketing at IUPUI and author, tells us what professors are looking for and how students can make the most of their time on campus.

Kim believes marketers should make data-driven decisions to improve their effectiveness.  She came by her interest in data-driven decisions naturally, with a bachelor’s of science in marketing from MIT, reinforced by an MBA and PhD in marketing from Indiana University (IU). Kim was recognized with a Woman’s Leadership Award by IUPUI’s Office for Women in 2018.

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