Why Building Resilience is More Important than Ever

I once read that we spend a significant portion of our time dwelling on mistakes, regrets and improvements, rather than deservedly relishing our successes. This certainly feels true from a career perspective. Whether it’s a project, deal, or promotion, celebrations pass fast and it’s usually only a matter of time before we pursue the next target.

In a world overshadowed by a global pandemic, we are again being asked to slow down what already feels like a snail’s pace. As we approach the end of the year (still utterly unbelievable) it seems we have to accept a slower pace as our reality for the foreseeable future. Despite the shock, the lack of travel and everything associated with it – whether it’s between countries or meeting rooms – has in many instances gifted us with more time and a rare opportunity to assess where we are and take stock of our accomplishments to date.

I would like to share my journey and my four top tips on harnessing resilience – a trait that has followed me through my journey and will be increasingly important as we navigate what feels like a constant state of uncertainty.

Open Mind, Open Doors

Like many, I rather blindly chose my university degree. A sheltered upbringing in Kenya, and a society and culture with a narrow definition of success, meant that I followed the seemingly pre-set route of studying accounting and finance. After graduating and starting work however, I quickly realised that numbers weren’t for me. They say luck favours the prepared and, in hindsight, I’m grateful not only that I followed my heart, but also kept an open mind. In trying to quit, I was talked into something else – something within the industry, yet something which made me feel happy and confident. As with a telescope, a small movement can give us an entirely different view. But unless we keep our minds open, we cannot benefit from the myriad of opportunities which are often a lot closer than we think.

Tap into Positivity

As I started my journey in International Tax, allowing me to travel extensively, my exposure to different people, places and cultures ignited passion. But it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies – I was often out of my comfort zone, in rooms where I was the only female voice, feeling overwhelmed and at times under-qualified. Instead of backing down, however, I was bold, took risks, and persevered. What helped me was tapping into the positives of building relationships and developing a keen interest in my niche area. A genuine enjoyment blossomed in helping clients reach their goals and translating complex ideas in a light-hearted, personable manner. My clients loved seeing a personality and in turn, I loved putting them at ease and making a difference to their worlds. Friendship, confidence, and trust were built as a result – something my clients and I value more than anything.

Keep Connected

Zooming forward a good few years, and having recently been made a Partner within GE, I am now leading the firm’s international tax presence – a position I had never dreamt of. I can’t help but wonder however how easy it would have been not to get here. There were many moments of anxiety, and I recall interactions where the easy option was to simply nod along and go unnoticed, but this would not have got me anywhere. Not only did I speak up, but I listened well. Whilst it is true that anyone with partner-level aspirations must take charge of their career, this is not possible without help, conversation, and collaboration. We live in a world which is all about connection, but little of it is made of human connection based on experience and trust – in my view, this approach is vital in your toolkit for getting ahead.

Respect Your Happiness

There is no job in the world which is worth losing what makes you happy. The list of what is precious to me starts with my family, husband, nieces, and friends. Compromising on any of these people for work would have created a sense of bitterness. Be real about what makes you happy and ensure the balance is there.

Reflecting on the past, almost inevitably I think of what could have been done better, but I now make a conscious effort to also acknowledge what has gone well and what helped along the way. I was open to opportunities, harnessing resilience despite the odds being against me at times, and I am incredibly grateful for the support I received to develop my career. This simple exercise of positive reflection and gratitude inadvertently boosts confidence, recognises strengths, and helps us remain resilient in an unpredictable landscape. As my measure of success starts shifting to my team and their growth, I look forward to the journey ahead, continually striving to make an impact for our people, clients, and the firm.

XLNC MAGAZINE | No. 06 | October 2020


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