Tag Archive for: Resilience
So, what can you do?
- Growth and development take time.
- Learning takes practice.
And then it changed.
In our virtual session, all of the participants were viewing images representing different experiences or emotions connected with 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞. Each participant was to select an image that really resonated with them personally.
I asked the session producer to select one of the many images and asked participants to identify themselves if they had selected that specific image. The producer randomly chose one of those participants… and then it began.
The image chosen – 𝐝𝐞𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧.
I asked the participant why this image resonated with her. She then shared a portion of her life story that had been filled with adversity, physical challenge and major setbacks. Yet there was a determination not to let those setbacks get in the way of her own ambitions. In that moment, we all listened intently, in wonder and awe – each of us touched by her emotional testimony. I’ve tried hard to imagine what her life may have been like.
No matter whatever life had thrown at her, she chose to carry on enjoying the challenge of life with optimism, a positive outlook and a gritty determination.
Resilience is a choice, we can all develop much more.
What is your reaction in the face of adversity?
In difficult times, I frequently find little gems of insight by revisiting defining moments in my life. Fortunately, I have recorded lots of those occasions in my journals. This weekend was a challenging one and I turned to my journals reading excerpts from 1982 and 1983. A powerful lesson emerged that I’d like to share.
What was happening in 1982?
My journal entries reveal a lot about what was happening in 1982. The Falklands War. Margaret Thatcher held a huge majority. Italy won the World Cup. ET, Gandhi and Chariots of Fire were all in the cinema.
Friday 14th May 1982 was my last day at school and 5 days later I turned 17. I had no immediate plans and found some casual work through family and friends. (It was a number of years before I made it to University.) My entries reveal that it was a time of testing and trial. Mum & Dad gave me regular encouragement, in time becoming my cheerleaders. Summer quickly passed into autumn and a regular pattern emerged in my journal.
It was abundantly clear that I had loftier aspirations, and my journal indicates that I expended daily effort to find alternative employment. In fact, there are entries aplenty of a journey of exploration into lots of different possibilities, where I focused on writing letters, making applications and securing numerous interviews. It was evident that I was determined to make progress. On reflection, all these years later, I recognised that establishing habits and routines made me strong enough to endure the constant disappointments of the almost daily rejections I received through the post. Quite incredible really, for a young 17 year old. Sticking to a task, with gritty determination to succeed, appeared to be my mindset of the time.
And it came to pass…
One entry stated in early October stated that I had 47 live applications in due process! 47!! Eventually, success arrived. After six months of trying, on 23 December 1982, my efforts were rewarded with a job offer from Standard Life Assurance (as they were then). A few weeks later I walked to Dunfermline Station, starting in Edinburgh on 10th January 1983 and I caught the train into Waverley Station. I worked with Standard Life, for around 12 months before embarking upon another great adventure in London.
My life has taken many twists and turns in the ensuing years, travelling near and far in the leadership development world. Remarkably, after 37 years, in some serendipitous twist of fate, I have come full circle. Over the last 18 months, (as an associate with https://www.ontrackinternational.com) I have had the marvellous opportunity to work with Standard Life Aberdeen (as they are now) once again. I have been lucky to facilitate a whole range of learning and development programmes and absolutely loved it. Now, these same sessions continue virtually! When working in Edinburgh, once more I walk to the same station and catch the train into Waverley, feeling a sense of deja vu! At peak travel times, sadly some of the rolling stock still looks very similar from years gone by. Fortunately, I do earn more in a day now, than I earned in a whole month in 1983!
In the midst of times of trials, we can choose how we wish to respond. There are two kinds of knowledge – cognitive (what we learn and know in the mind) and experiential (what we learn by doing). Upon reflection, I’ve recognised some key knowledge principles that got me through the challenges of 1982 and throughout my career too, yet they seem even more valid for the struggles of 2020. It is a simple formula for success, let me share it with you….
Encouragement: The action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope
+ Effort: Use of energy to do something; physical or mental exertion; a try and attempt
+ Exploration: To search out, to look into closely, investigate, to examine
+ Endurance: Ability to last, continue or remain, to hold out
= Rewards: Something given in return for effort, service or achievement
- 𝙀𝙣𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙖𝙜𝙚𝙢𝙚𝙣𝙩 + 𝙀𝙛𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙩 + 𝙀𝙭𝙥𝙡𝙤𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 + 𝙀𝙣𝙙𝙪𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚 = 𝙍𝙚𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙𝙨
I recognise that these 4 E’s have been constants in my life. Indeed, they have been key principles that have enabled me to get through the toughest of challenges and most difficult of times. I’ve learned never to give up.
As you reflect upon your own challenges of today, please consider who encourages you, what efforts you need to apply in your own life, what do you need to explore and how can you endure it well? Although the road made appear to be filled with many obstacles at times, I know that following this simple pattern, always leads to success.
- Who gives you encouragement to succeed?
- Are your efforts appropriate for the challenges of today?
- Are you exploring your possibilities?
- What daily habits and routines have you established to enable you to endure well?
As a coach, facilitator, mentor and trainer, I regularly use this formula to help others find their way.
Earlier this morning, I discovered this poem circulating on social media – appropriately written for our time. Before hastily returning to your pre-lockdown life, please consider these words. I hope we will all choose a better way. Enjoy!
“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
𝑨𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒏𝒐𝒕𝒆: The poem is attributed to various authors from 1869, 1919 and even now in 2020 variations of the name Kathleen O’Mara, Catherine M. O’Meara and Kitty O’Meara. My own research indicates it was written only a few weeks ago for our day by Kitty O’Meara.
What are you choosing to change?
Life remains fragile.
Like many people all across the world, I have been moved and concerned about COVID-19. It has led me to reflect upon how fragile many things really are. Under the semblance of control we think we have, sadly, we are sorely inadequate at so many things.
In the case of a fleeting few days, the world as we know it, has changed. Its actually a little scary to recognise how vulnerable and delicate our planet and life as we know it really are. The feeble foundation of the global financial system is one thing. The deep cracks within many nations, another. The volatility and ferocity of Mother Nature. The frailties of the human body. Need I go on? All have been exposed to turmoil and disruption.
Let’s be mindful of our fragility and 𝗴𝗿𝗮𝘀𝗽 hold of it, snuggle up to it. Oftentimes it is the fragile nature of something that makes it very precious.
Consider where you are unnecessarily fragile.
In the days ahead as we rebuild our lives and society starts to recover, lets be ever mindful of the 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘮𝘴 that will return once more. We must choose to construct our houses on rock, just like the wise man and not on a sandy foundation, like the foolish man.
All of us will need to dig deep and ensure that we stand on solid foundations so that we are prepared and resilient enough to withstand the storms which will inevitably return.
In the course of our life, we do not exactly know what lies ahead. 𝙏𝙤𝙙𝙖𝙮, people all over the world are fearful of the challenges ahead. What we do know, is that it will be filled with worry, anxiety, hazards, uncertainty, peril, difficulties and risks. The world is in commotion – pandemics, economic strife, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, panic buying – and that’s only this year.
I am however and always will be an optimist. Our capacities are likely to be tested and stretched. On occasions our hopes may even fade. But this dizzying moment of alarm and discouragement 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 pass. We will recover, triumph and bounce back from these setbacks and adversities.
In one for the many workshops I have facilitated over the last few years, I recall Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” in it he states, “it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to 𝙖𝙙𝙖𝙥𝙩 and 𝙖𝙙𝙟𝙪𝙨𝙩 to the changing environment in which it finds itself”.
Top Tips for building resilience:
– Remind yourself of your personal purpose in life
– Generate positive thoughts
– Connect with others – daily
– Take action, be proactive
– Focus on what you can do
– Look after yourself