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what is resilience?



At an event recently, someone asked, “I hear a lot about the word resilience; if I’m honest, I’m never sure what it means in practice; how would you describe it?”. It’s a great question. Resilience is a word that, over the last few years, has been used more and more. As a result, it risks slipping into the common language without understanding. Or worse, misunderstanding. So, for this month's article, I thought I’d jot a few thoughts on this topic. I’ve also included some links that build on this topic at the end.


What’s all the fuss about?

Resilience is like a superpower that helps us bounce back from setbacks, adapt to change, and grow. It’s an inner strength that enables us to navigate challenges with grace and determination. Resilient individuals can remain hopeful, find meaning in difficult circumstances, and keep moving forward despite obstacles. By cultivating resilience, they can transform setbacks into stepping stones towards what they want – even if they cannot get there; in short, something worth pursuing.


Acknowledging that these individuals are not immune to setbacks or adversity is important. By developing and accessing their innate resilience, they put themselves into a position where they can better choose their response to what happens to them from a place of balance and objectivity. Of course, they also have moments when things don’t go their way; it is how long these last appears to separate them out.


The biggest characteristic I’ve observed in resilient people is taking responsibility for their circumstances and committing to influence or accept them. And they do this without overly personalising those situations. This, I think, is a skill which can be developed. One I strive to develop.


What else do resilient Individuals do?

Resilient individuals share key traits contributing to their ability to weather storms and become stronger. Firstly, they cultivate their self-belief and confidence in their abilities, which empowers them to face challenges. This comes from working on their inner world and less about the ‘boos and the cheers’ of the environment they interact with. They also maintain an optimistic outlook, focusing on solutions rather than dwelling on problems. Resilient individuals are adaptable and flexible, embracing change as an opportunity for growth. They work on developing effective coping strategies and healthy support systems, allowing them to seek help and guidance when needed. Furthermore, they prioritise self-care associated with their physical, mental and emotional well-being, ensuring they have the necessary resources to navigate the tough times.


Investing in personal foundations

Now, let's explore practical strategies to nurture and strengthen our resilience. Firstly, cultivating self-awareness is crucial. Taking time to objectively understand our values, beliefs, strengths, and weaknesses are all important. And, in my experience often overlooked. I’d always encourage investing in our personal foundations to support this work and navigating the things that come our way each day.


I developed an acronym PRIME to help work through and raise awareness of our foundations. Giving appropriate attention to these five areas puts us in a stronger position to raise our performance and results. And I guess, ultimately, our happiness.

· Physical – Some form of regular exercise (Public Health England guidance is 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week), stretching, breathing techniques, not ignoring chronic pains – like backache or toothache.

· Rest – making sure you get enough sleep (adults 7 -9 hours) and prioritising short and longer breaks.

· Intake – the foods we eat and the drinks we drink. Not just what but also when and how. Not living like a monk but consciously thinking about fuelling and hydrating our bodies to be at our best.

· Mind - Learning to manage our thoughts and their impact on our feelings. Deliberately and constructively reflecting on events to see what we could do differently or thinking about how we’d like to respond to things that we might face. When not doing this, deliberate actively, living in the now and being present. Many people use some form of meditation to help support this. They also practice self-compassion, recognising that metaphorically beating ourselves up is not going to help.

· Energy – Managing our environment with a bias to the things that will help rather than hinder. A good example is limiting contact with negative people and prioritising time with those who will inspire and support/constructively challenge us.


A caveat to the above. This is about working out what is right for us and nurturing sustainable behaviours and habits. Not some idealised version of life which we might be about to achieve for a week or two but soon find it’s too difficult.


Additional resources

This is a big and complex topic. If you’d like to know more, please follow me on Instagram (I’m being more active here to spread positivity, so I’d love to see this grow) or let’s connect on LinkedIn, where I share ideas to support our everyday resilience. There’s also the weekly Effective Challenge Podcast and downloads here at effectivechallenge.com.



Some final thoughts

In a world filled with uncertainty and challenges, resilience emerges as a powerful force that helps us navigate life's ups and downs. By nurturing resilience, we are better able to embrace adversity from a different perspective and grow through challenges, emerging stronger than ever. It's a journey that requires self-reflection, self-care, and a commitment to personal growth. I wish you luck on your journey and please do ask if you have any questions.



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