Are you ready to be resilient?

Resilience. It’s seen as essential quality in today’s workplace. And according to the many resilience gurus out there, it’s all about bouncing back from setbacks.

We’ve got a different understanding and reality of resilience. It’s one that’s come from our work with the world’s best and it’s a view and approach that’s shared by elite performers, irrespective of their performance arena.

Reading time: 5 minutes

What goes on

Resilience has become the buzzword in the corporate arena – it’s actually become a bit of a buzzword in modern life. We hear about businesses needing to grow their resilience in a competitive market, to develop resilience in their people and for their leaders to demonstrate great resilience in challenging times.

Resilience is often talked about and understood as the ability to bounce back. It’s the capacity to recover from setbacks, to pick yourself up from the gutter and deal with things well when the proverbial hits the fan. Resilience training and advice tends to be about getting better at coping or responding quickly to cope, in face of disaster. Which is all very well, but doesn’t seem particularly positive or pro-active to us. Most importantly, it’s a bit different to how the worlds best performers that we’ve worked with, view and work on their resilience. To them, resilience isn’t about a response. It’s about a state of readiness. Are you ready?

Five performance truths

The brutal reality of high performance life – this is what you need to know

  1. Resilience is about being ready for the challenges and conditions you’re likely to face. So understanding what you need to be resilient for – what’s coming up, what’s likely to happen, what could happen – is pretty important.
  2. Resilience isn’t something you have or haven’t got. It ain’t a trait or personality characteristic. It’s a skill, a learned ability or developed quality.
  3. There’s lots of ingredients that go into your resilience readiness. The most important of these are your physical energy and your mindset – and they impact each other. Don’t ignore how your physical state affects your mindset!
  4. The best in the world work on their resilience proactively. They pre-empt and are ready for challenge and know what mindset, physical energy, skills, tactics and support they’ll need when they have to step up. They don’t wait for ‘the shit to hit the fan’. They expect and are ready for the shit!
  5. Your resilience is your choice. Work on it consistently and with discipline. Just like the worlds best.

Three things to do

  1. Think differently about resilience (if you need to). Start seeing resilience as something you can build and work on – if you want to be more resiliently ready, you can be. Choose a proactive mindset.
  2. Understand what you need to be resilient for – the demands you face in the environment you’re in. Build a picture of the resilience qualities you’ll need and your optimal physical and mental state to be ready.
  3. Start to create a resilience recipe – the critical things you’d regularly be doing to ensure you’re high in resilience. Some are likely to be things you’re already doing; there may be some other things in there that you don’t do but know will be helpful. Then start practicing doing these, with discipline, regularity and consistency!


Charmaine’s story

Charmaine had a pretty demanding job running the A&E department in a busy hospital. Her role involved ensuring that there was appropriate and sufficient staff to meet the demand of patients – a challenging role given that it was hard to entirely and accurately predict demand for A&E services, and ongoing staffing shortages. The consequences of not getting things right were sometimes significant, and as the highest ‘profile’ in the hospital, it was guaranteed that the media and other stakeholders would always know about when things weren’t perfect. On top of this, her boss sometimes put unfair and undue pressure and criticism on her, usually when things were going wrong.

Charmaine used to have high stress levels, she worried constantly, felt overwhelmed and out of control, worked excessive hours and all had an impact on her physical and mental well being. She tried hard to work on being more resilient and bouncing back quickly from setbacks, by using some positive mantras and deep breathing. They didn’t have too much impact. After some coaching, she started to take a more proactive approach to building her resilience readiness. She started to understand the demands that she was facing and what she needed to be resilient for. She understood what thoughts, behaviours and actions had helped her be resilient in the past and started to build her resilience recipe from that. She realised that taking care of her physical energy and well being was key to being ready for when she was challenged most. She made some choices to work less and invest in herself and her performance most. Her ability and performance at work improved. As did her motivation and her happiness levels – at work and at home.