How to be your best business self through Emotional Resilience

Research shows that people with ‘emotional resilience’ will have the best chances of not only surviving critical business events but thriving in life.

With emotional resilience being such an important factor in whether you and your new business start-up will be able to survive and thrive, we asked Geetu Bharwaney, Author of, “Emotional Resilience” to explain how you can build your emotional resilience to help you and your business succeed (ByteStart readers can enjoy a FREE e-chapter of the book here) ;

In this article, I want to describe my own journey in my 27 year business career, what Emotional Resilience is, and three topics which have made a big impact for both me and clients I help; ‘Living Legacy’, ‘Energy Management’ and ‘Adaptability’

First a personal journey….

In my early 20s, I set up a company after relocating with a job and then bailiffs arriving at the offices where I worked and my job coming to an abrupt end. After applying for jobs with well-known companies and being told that I was overqualified for my age, I decided to set up my own business. Looking back, this was a brave move at the end of 24.

A few years later, I was diagnosed with cancer in my late 30’s and that was another big shock. I knew I had to get to the bottom of what makes a healthy person. I have since spent the last 20 years focusing on understanding how emotions impact health and performance in life.

Now that I am turning 50 myself in a few months’ time, I am relieved to report that my health today is not the result of any artificial or invasive beauty procedure, but through a rigorous focus on understanding “Emotional Resilience”. Knowing how to handle emotions in order to be effective in my business life.

This experience of figuring this out over a long period of time has certainly helped me to help others. You could say, I have worked out from the inside out, how to live life in a healthy way.

I can assure you that this is work-in-progress and not the finished article, each day brings with it new challenges.

But why is ‘emotion’ important, don’t we just need resilience to ‘bounce back’?

Emotions are data. We know that every single decision we make involves emotion (with the only exception of a complicated maths problem), so we can’t get away from emotion!

The complication is that when we are stressed or overwhelmed, if an excess of stressful emotion (cortisol) is flooding our brain, we act impulsively and do things that we later regret. The high emotion stops us from functioning with a clear-head.

We simply can’t think straight to get the task in front of us done. In fact, sometimes we make mistakes under stress or make a bad choice in the situation. We find it hard to empathise with those around us when we are emotionally stuck and in a state of chaos.

Welcome to the life of most people I meet! A constant moving from one thing to the next, and not feeling fulfilled and wondering ‘Is there more to work and life?’.

The other complication with emotion is that if we don’t honour the information that comes from our emotion and we focus on suppressing, stuffing down and not dealing with emotions as vital signs for what is really happening, then we get stuck and this leads to health issues in a clear cycle of three steps:

1. Suppress/stuff emotions down;

2. ‘Medicate’ the emotions with a ‘drug of choice or some masking behaviour (by this I mean addiction to work, alcohol, sex, excessive talking, shopping or whatever is your ‘drug of choice’ to stop you from feeling difficult emotions and

3. Then issues arise in relationships, health, work through this inner conflict and despair.

As the challenges keep coming, a series of problems in rapid succession often results in illness – either physical, emotional or social illness.

We feel stuck, alone and disconnected even from our nearest and dearest at times. The more stuck we feel, the less we feel empowered to change things so over time, things can get worse as we age.

Far from being wiser, we seem to get stuck in the same similar situations – post divorce, the next relationship fails. As people around us change, the relationships change and require more effort.

Do you recognise this vicious circle of challenge in yourself or someone you are close to?

RELATED: How to recover from a business failure, fast

So, What is ‘Emotional Resilience’?

Emotional Resilience is about choosing the thoughts, actions, feelings that enable us to function at our best.

Whatever we are trying to do in our business, emotions matter;

  • Connect with a new customer?
  • Recruit a new team member?
  • Deal with a difficult conflict?
  • Cope with selling your business or retirement?

… emotions are always involved. Yet, this is something we have typically not learned how to do.

My framework for Emotional Resilience involves 3 steps:

Step 1: Understand where you are on 6 Essentials

The level of these are often set from a young age based on what we experienced in our formative years and how it shaped our personalities – these are;

  • Self-Worth,
  • Self-Control,
  • Mood,
  • Empathy,
  • Understanding and
  • Caring.

Step 2: Learn 5 emotion-based Skills

Once you have identified your natural level on each of these personality dimensions, you can then focus on learning five emotion-based Skills to help to adjust yourself so that you can adapt to the situation in front of you;

  • Shifting (emotions),
  • Problem-Solving (emotions),
  • Expressing (emotions),
  • Group Empathy (to read emotions in group situations) and
  • Dialogue (talking about difficult emotions).

Step 3: Apply to 4 Results areas

Finally, once you have learned this you can apply this, you can apply your Emotional Resilience to four Results areas of life – Energy, Thriving, Influence and Connection.


Whilst there are many topics which affect your application of Emotional Resilience in everyday business life, here are three relevant topics for thriving.

‘Living Legacy’

The word ‘legacy’ is often associated with what happens beyond death, what (financial) legacy have you left for the next generation?.

The more funerals I have attended the more I realise that it is our living legacy that matters for fulfilment right now in life – what do customers, friends and family members think of us in our daily activities? How do we show up – exhausted, frenetic, serene, energetic?

Reflect on six areas of life and together how these impact how you spend our time on a daily, weekly, monthly, annual basis. The areas are Physical, Social, Spiritual, Career, Intellectual and Financial.

To work on this, first identify how you are operating in each of these areas and where there is pain or a gap. Then plan to set yourself a specific daily target in each.

The icing on the cake is to build a living legacy’, seeing on one page what is most important to you and the key milestones for achieving it (contact me for an example of someone’s living legacy – see footnote).

Having the combination of a Living Legacy plan plus being flexible, is what matters for your emotional resilience.

But how can we be flexible? That’s where Energy Management and Adaptability come in.

‘Energy Management’

Working on your energy management is essential for noticing how you are literally wearing stress on a daily basis. Ask yourself, what activities give you energy and what activities drain you?

Rather than stuffing the difficult emotions down and trying to avoid them, we list the activities and then identify what we can do MORE of to get more energy and LESS of to stop an energy drain.

A client of mine, did this recently and here is what he came up with:

Energy Audit Example: Fran

 Gives Me Energy  Drains Me
 Swimming  Conflict in relationships
 Walking (the dog)  The news and politics
 Laughing  People not caring
 Talking  My demanding family
 Eating a meal with my best friend  Mess
 Doing things with my family  The cat
 Reading  The dog
 Resting  My family
 Getting things done  Thinking about my future
 Being with my family  Fears about my health
 My best friend  Worrying what people think of me
 Being by the sea  My oldest sister
 My middle sister  Envy
 Cleaning and tidying, throwing things out  or recycling them  Thinking about my weight
 My mum and dad  Caring about things that don’t matter
 Helping others  Traveling
 Being alone and feeling like a grown-up  My grandma
 Coaching sessions  Friendships
 Time to reflect  IPAD, communication, technology, TV

From this, he used the six areas of life from ‘Living Legacy’ to identify daily goals:

Today’s priorities:

  • Physical – 10,000 steps per day.
  • Social – Time with my loved one + one meaningful emotional connection everyday. For this to be quality time, I need to reframe negative thoughts to the positive bigger when I allow critical self-talk to take over the conversation.
  • Spiritual – 5-10 minutes every morning to reflect on ‘what am I grateful for, from yesterday?’, sets me up for success everyday.
  • Career – Clear time boundaries for the time I am going to spend this week on a vocation that I love. Being realistic about how long things take by writing down tasks and timings.
  • Financial – 30 minutes per day for dealing with the basics-receipts, bills, financial matters.
  • Intellectual – 1.5 hours spent learning about, or doing a hobby including time spent planning.


Working on your adaptability is essential for being able to problem solve the difficult situations you face. Here are some other key questions:

  • Where in your life are you adaptable and where are you relatively less flexible?
  • When you are under pressure, do you become more or less flexible?
  • What messages do you hear from other people that are related to flexibility in the face of change? (e.g. is there anyone close to you who typically says “you always say that”, “you don’t change, do you?”, “why don’t you try something new?”).

Try a more flexible approach. When you consider the problem, ask yourself:

“Is this how X would see it (where X is a person whose opinion you really value)? “What other ways to see this problem might there be?”

Use methods to generate ideas; consult others to generate possible solutions, no matter how crazy they might seem.

“What would X advise me to do in this situation (where X is a person whose opinion you really value)?

“What other solutions might there be?”

A close colleague of mine often jokes about this with me – there is always a PLAN B, but sometimes a PLAN C or D might need to be put into action. We can only arrive at this if we are clear that there is another way.

Another way of experimenting with flexibility is to take a situation which feels very uncomfortable – for example, a key person in your business is thinking of moving to France.

Write down 5 to 10 possible positive outcomes of the situation for you… and focus on the different people in the scenario and what could be the possible outcomes. Whilst this is an imaginative exercise, the purpose is to force you to see a possible good outcome from an unpopular decision:


My colleague moves somewhere amazing and I join her and her family for all my key holidays for the next 10 years.

My colleague connects with new local friends and helps me to open up a new branch of my business or vocation not yet visible to me.

My colleague asks me the direct question would I go with her and set up a part of the company there which she can lead? She values me enormously and distance actually strengthens the quality of our connection.

Final thoughts on Emotional Resilience

Emotions are key to Resilience and thriving in life. Emotional Resilience can be learned. Our business lives present great opportunities for focusing on creating balance through a clear living legacy, energy management and knowing what to do in difficult situations.

‘The significant problems of our time cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.’

– Albert Einstein, German Physicist and Philosopher of Science (1879-1955)

About the author

This article has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Geetu Bharwaney, author of ‘Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best’Geetu is also Managing Director of Ei World, a coach to high achievers on how to be effective in work and life.

More on ByteStart

You can find lots more advice on getting the best out of yourself in these other ByteStart guides;

And, if you’re launching a new business, these will help you start on the right track;

Starting Up

Funding your business

Promoting your business

Motivating your staff

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