Resilience is much talked about in the world of leadership and organisation development. I love the way the funny and brilliant researcher and speaker, Brene Brown, has brought the idea of vulnerability and overcoming difficulty into the consciousness of TED watchers and commentators on leadership.
My first thought about the idea of resilience is a guilty one. I find it impossible to digest the daily news of refugees, poverty stricken families and children in crisis without being struck viscerally by a sense of my privilege. The idea that those of us living in a peaceful country with well-paid work, warm homes and free access to doctors should be concerned with resilience and might even seek out something called a resilience coach sits uneasily with my ‘worse things happen at sea‘ upbringing. However I also know that many of my clients are struggling with stress, sleeplessness, family drama, anxiety, depression, tough organisational cultures and the fast pace of life. And I’m no stranger to it myself.
Healthy perspective on the extent to which I, unlike many in the world, can control my circumstances is useful to me when thinking about my own difficulties but it’s not a shield against adversity or my responses to it.
What I know in myself and have found most effective in my coaching work is to do the inner work that is required to meet whatever external challenge has temporarily floored me. It seems very clear to me that resilience is not about not faltering but about staying aware of and perhaps as a result a little more in control of, the process of faltering.
Resilience is not about not crying. It is about feeling your feelings and naming them.
Resilience is not about not asking for help. It is about allowing others to see a bit of vulnerability in order to get support.
Resilience is not about not falling over. It is about being able to watch yourself falling over and do the work necessary to get back up.