By Damian at Effective Challenge

For me looking after your environment is more than recycling our plastics. Have you ever taken a moment to step back and consider the impact your environment is having on your own resilience? When I work with people, I often ask that they complete this exercise. They usually find the results insightful. And for those who turn insight into action, they find out that improving their environment has a positive impact on their ability to perform at their best more of the time.

You may be wondering what I mean by environment? I like people to consider their environment in the broadest sense. By that I mean anything that comes into or can impact on their world. Very often people underestimate the psychological ‘drag’ caused by an environment not setting them up for success.


Here are a few examples to illustrate:

  • Badly defined role and job objectives. Leading to you spending unproductive time second-guessing what to do or duplicating work being done by others.
  • The quality of your relationships; both personal and professional. This can often lead to conflict and or the absence of trust and openness.
  • The quality of your workplace setup: IT, desk, noise.
  • The current state of your clothing. I get some odd looks when I ask people to consider this. There’s nothing like an ill-fitting wardrobe, perhaps because of putting on a few extra pounds to make you feel uncomfortable and therefore detract you from being at your best.
  • Ineffective childcare arrangements – generating pressure both at work and home.
  • Piles of papers you ‘will get round to reading…’.
  • The weather. Now you definitely cannot control the weather. That doesn’t stop many people moaning about it. For some, this is a part of their daily ritual. However, you do have the opportunity to reframe your attitude towards it.
  • The various inboxes or dumping grounds of unclarified and unprocessed commitments tugging away at you for attention each time you either consciously or subconsciously view them.

Hopefully, you get the idea.  It’s the big and the small that needs considering.


So how do you complete the exercise? Those of you that have read my contributions to Steve’s leadership newsletter before you will know I favour simplicity over complication. Here’s a seven-step process to work through.


Step 1 List all of the areas impacting on your environment. It’s common for people to come up with a list that exceeds twenty areas.

Step 2 On a scale of 1 – 10 rate how satisfied you are for each area.

Step 3 Step back and prioritise the top 3 areas you’d like to improve.

Step 4 Decide what next action you could do in each prioritised area to make progress. I push people to get specific here. ‘Improve relationship with my line manager’ is nowhere near specific enough.

Step 6 Do the action.

Step 7 Review progress and adjust approach if the desired outcome isn’t being achieved.


When could you complete the exercise?  Having completed the seven steps I’m confident your resilience will improve and as a result you will also see an improvement in your performance. Additionally, many find their overall happiness improves too. Just like fitness and good diet this does take effort.  However, the investment will pay back many times over.


As always, I’m interested in any results you achieve.