What is Resilience?
Updated: Feb 17, 2021
My colleague and I, Alex Webb (TLRdynamics), have decided as part of our Resilient Women Leaders Network to interview Resilient Women and ask them these 5 questions.
We both answered them ourselves first and these are my answers:
What is resilience?
Resilience is the ability to withstand adversity, bounce back and recover from difficult situations but also to bounce forward and create or take opportunities. Resilience empowers people to make a change, use their strengths, know its ok to ask for help and develop coping strategies to build resilience and be comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Why do you think resilience is important to individuals, or organisations?
Resilience is important because it is what gives people the emotional and physical strength to cope in times of pressure, uncertainty, crisis and chaos. By knowing your own resilience threshold, knowing what takes you from pressure to stress and of those around you, you can work together to support each other, overcome the challenges in those times of need, tap into the strengths and know who is in the best position to step forward so that you can look after the well-being of yourself, others and the organisation. Put simply, a lack of resilience can lead to burnout and that takes a lot longer for everyone to recover from.
Everyone has experience of resilience, what does it mean to you?
Resilience to me is being comfortable with the uncomfortable, focussing on the things you can control, ask for help if needed, remind yourself of your strengths but most importantly, being present and aware so that you can take actions where necessary.
Can you tell your story and share an example of when you had to show resilience?
There have been many times in my life where I have had to show resilience, as a physiotherapist, an officer, on operations, a red head at school, as a mum, a military wife! Everyday people are showing resilience.
One period of my life where my resilience was tested over a protracted period was when I was deployed In Iraq. Based in the British Military Hospital in the COB, patients would come in for treatment from surrounding areas and mention that we were 'like sitting ducks!' Multiple times a day we were subject to in-direct fire. The uncertainty of where these would land, when they would land? Alarms going off when in the shower, having to crawl out in a towel with shampoo in your hair and feeling the ground shake under you as one landed 25m away, or dive into a ditch whilst out on a run and lying there waiting for the alarms to notify if there have been any casualties or whether it was all clear? The heightened threat and uncertainty was something I had to get used to and quickly otherwise my pressure to stress reaction would be significant. I saw many traumas, repatriated a number of casualties and fatalities. But the one thing that got me and all my colleagues through was camraderie, humour and making the most of everyday. Knowing we were in it together, being there to support each other through the bad times, not judging if someone was affected more than someone else. We focussed on the things we could control and try not to think about the things we couldn't. Being in service to others, being aware through communicating and motivating each other, that was my strength.
What strategies have you used to build your own mental and physical resilience?
I have developed a number of strategies to help build my resilience.
Mental resilience: 1. Optimism - I will always be the one to highlight the positives, make the most of the situation, be present and enjoy the here and now, even though it may not have gone according to plan 2. Plan - not to plan too far ahead but always plan for the unexpected 3. Communicate - make a phonecall, keep in touch, send a message, be grateful and appreciative, by doing this, it makes me happy to see others happy. 4. Focus on the things you can control not the things you can't - in my early years I always wanted to be the person to fix something or someone, I would be thinking about how I could do this all the time, but i realised that this need was taking over to the detriment of my own health, wearing away my resilience, so over the years I have learnt that I can't always fix something or someone, and that I can only do the best I can and that that's ok.
Physical resilience: 1. Nutrition - ensuring that when I am tired, or too busy to cook, I always make sure I have a colourful plate of balanced food groups, I do this for my kids, so why not for myself 2. Making sure 30mins before bed, I am shutting off, turning off my phone and emails and resting my brain 3. Going for a walk and singing along to music or listening to a podcast or going swimming - being outside brings me joy and physical activity really does boost my energy levels.
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