What is resilience?

We all need resilience. Some of us have more of it than others, but without it we would not function effectively in all areas of our lives. Psychological resilience is the ability to deal with a crisis in an emotionally sound way, or to be able to return to a pre-crisis state quickly. We know we are resilient when we can use techniques to help us cope with difficult situations and protect ourselves from the potentially negative impact of stress.


Having, or being, a resilient leader does not mean you are emotionally shut off, nor does it mean you bulldoze everything around you to get your way. It just means that you are able to think clearly in difficult situations, react appropriately when there are high levels of stress, and be able to switch off when you go home at night. If that sounds like something you’re lacking, then you’re not alone. At some point in our lives, all of us will find ourselves lacking resilience. When we don’t have enough of it, we may respond inappropriately at work because we are close to burn out. Or, we may make bad decisions because we aren’t quite able to get a grip on different perspectives. Usually other people notice before we do, that we are lacking in resilience. When outside factors start affecting how we feel on the inside, we need to be able to step back and take stock. 


What happens when we don’t have resilience?

Not having resilience can be likened to the cushions of spinal fluid that sit between our vertebrae leaking away. The springy flexibility that we once had lessens over time. We become brittle and snappy. We don’t have as much flexibility or resistance. We feel things much more acutely than we would usually. We respond from a place of impatience and our leadership style becomes more singular rather than collaborative. If we don’t take care of the cushions – the softer side, the self-nourishment – then over a period of time we lose out. And so do those around us. 


How do we increase it?

So how do we increase our resilience? There are lots of ways. We may feel that things are the fault of other people, or that our quickness to react angrily to a situation is because of other people’s actions. But like with many things the first thing we need to do is to take a good look at ourselves. We can’t change other people, we can only change ourselves. That we all know. What you might not know, is that when you decide to change the way you interact with others, they have to respond differently to you in return. A good coach will work with their clients, to get them to a place where they can do this and the results can be astounding.  When you choose your response and your behaviour, you are being consistent and coming at it from a place that is true to you. Those things fuel your resilience because it is energising not having to react negatively. 


Self-care is another way to build resilience. Exercise, sleep, eating well – it’s not rocket science, but it does work. Equally important is having fun, letting off steam, being with friends and taking time out for you. Without paying attention to the non-work bits you become one dimensional and less appealing as a manager, person or indeed potential employee. 


Resilience needs work and time it also needs boundaries. If you don’t know your own boundaries and your own values, (both of which should be identified in the early stages of coaching,) then it will be a lot harder to be able to say ‘no’ to people. If you are saying yes all the time you will be like a leaking bucket. Eventually all the good stuff will disappear and you’ll be left with an empty shell. This might sound harsh, but it’s true. 

Surrounding yourself with good people, colleagues, coaches, mentors, friends who will support you and tell you the truth, is an invaluable thing to do. Hearing the truth in a safe way is vital for growth. Growing is not always easy, but it’s crucial.


Marcie Shaoul

The Co-Parent Way is a registered trademark. All methodologies and intellectual property are not to be reproduced in any way. The Co-Parent Way is a trading name of Rolling Stone Coaching.

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