How Do We Know if We Are Truly Resilient?

I have got a couple resilience projects on the go at work (in collaboration with some wonderful people) and this has peaked my interest in the subject and encouraged me to do a little bit of further reading around the subject. It has made me realise that my approach to coaching whether that be inside or outside of my work place is to build and maintain resilience, and a lot of what I was reading for the first time was in step with what I had read previously (when I was looking for inspiration for my connected living work). It is always a great feeling when you notice that all the research around, success, resilience, and well-being essentially say the same thing, it does suggest there might be some truth to it, so you may well be barking up the right tree.

Anyway, so what have I found out about resilience? As we everything the key to resilience is pretty obvious really, but not that straightforward to put into practice. Saying that it is clear that some of us naturally resilient, whereas the rest of us have got some work to do. I was reading an article from the Harvard Business Review (I know get me!), by Diane Coutu entitled ‘How Resilience Works’ ( . So Coutu suggests that resilient people and organisations possess three characteristics. When I read this it really resonated with me and I could connect it with how I approach my connected living idea and my coaching offer. So what I would do is address each characteristic and how I see it show up in my self and people around me. Hopefully it will resonate with you and help you become more resilient, at home and at work.

The 3 characteristics that Coutu suggests are present in resilient in people and organisations are: Realism, Purpose, and Resourcefulness.


How realistic are you about you current circumstances, including the risks and opportunities these circumstances hold. It is easy to deliberately not notice what is going on around us, or take our circumstances for granted. It is worth taking a few moments to critically analyse what is really going in. Ask yourself those simple questions: What assumptions am I making about my circumstances? What are the implications if I carry on this way? Is there another way to view my circumstances? What risks are there to my current circumstances? What do I need to do to reduce these risks? What can I achieve based on my circumstances? Do I need to change what I am doing to create more opportunity?

There are many more questions you can ask. The point is to raise your own awareness to help you anticipate potential threats and challenges. It is not about being risk averse, is about being risk aware.

The idea is that if you go through life just hoping for the best, you will be disappointed. It is after all the hope that kills you. If life or work is hard you need to acknowledge that and prepare for it. For instance working as a Healthcare Professional anywhere in the world is hard work, and is relentless, with very little reward. If you hope that it will get easier and that one day you will go into work and have more resources than you need, everyone will get better and your boss will send you home early with a well earned bonus, you will soon become disheartened. Whereas if you expect to work really had with limited resources and plan for that, and can see all the positives that you get from caring for people (the personal satisfaction that comes from making a difference), you are much more likely to thrive in that environment and be successful.


Does what you do, have a purpose? Are you clear why you do things? Is what you do in concert with your values? If we don’t fully appreciate or believe in what we are doing then we can feel disenfranchised from our work and lives quite quickly. As we have discussed before having meaning is vital for our well-being. This is as important for teams and organisations as it is for individuals. We have to buy into the values of the organisation we work for and see that those around us also buy into those values including the senior management. It is worth finding out what your core values are using the values exercise I offered in my previous post

It is worth understanding when you work with your values and and when you don’t and how that makes you feel.


The third characteristic is being resourceful. It is not always possible to have the resources you need to get the job done. So sometimes you have to be creative with what you have got, whether that is physical or psychological resource. Do you find yourself moaning about not having the right equipment, or that you don’t have enough, or it is out of date? Do you say to yourself or others that you don’t know how to do something a certain way, so you give up? In other words do you work from a point of view of scarcity? Being resourceful is turning that on it’s head and looking at what you do have and how you can solve the problem, rather than looking at what you don’t have and what you cannot solve. This takes practice and challenge to change your mindset. Having the negative mindset however does not change what you need to do. Exploring possibilities opens up options that you may not have see were there.

Just having one or two of these characteristics is not enough to be resilient. To be truly resilient you will need all 3 characteristics. On the face of it, it seems quite obvious. It is however not that easy and takes practice and persistence to achieve.

By all means get in touch if you want to discuss your personal resilience or the resilience of you team in more detail.

Is Spring in The Air?

What a fantastic morning it is this morning in East Yorkshire. After such a stormy few days, wondered to myself when I was taking the the dog out, is Spring in the air?

The daffodils are blooming, there are buds on the trees, there is birdsong in the air and the sun is shining.

There is something so restorative about springtime, it signifies new life, all the trees and flowers come back to life, hibernating animals wake up, the birds start building nests and laying eggs. We all get out in the garden and start tidying, and planting, we throw open our doors and windows and start our spring clean.

Maybe we need to harness this positivity, and start making a difference in other parts of our life? Is it time to spring clean our professional life’s, or is time to start a new project?

For me spring brings new possibilities with starting my strategic coaching diploma, being halfway through my coaching supervision course, delivering clinical supervision training to nurses across the trust, and delivering my new manager as a coach programme to managers in the trust. Incidentally I have developed a a non-NHS manager as coach three day programme, that can be delivered to small groups of managers and leaders in small to medium businesses and voluntary groups. I also rolling out my connected coaching product outside of the NHS. This includes one to one coaching, workshops, short presentations, and a book. Bloody hell I am going to be busy this spring. The work outside the NHS is a little more challenging as I have spent my whole working life in the NHS. Therefore marketing is something I have never had to think about before. I am however enjoying the journey and discovering skills I didn’t know I had. So watch this space this spring both inside and outside the NHS. if you are thinking of a project and think you might benefit from a coaching critical companion approach, get in touch. If you would like me to deliver manager as a coach training, then get in touch, or if you just want a chat to exchange a few ideas then again just get in touch.

Let’s make this spring special, with all that is going on around us, we certainly need it.

Shining a light on the negative

I have been reading a lot about resilience over the past few weeks. Mental health, well being and resilience are hot topics in everyone’s work place at the moment and as a nurse and coach they are close to my heart. I do write about some aspect of mental health on a regular basis. Being resilient is really quite simple, but so difficult to do.

Why is it so difficult for many of us not to slip into negative self talk and pick up on all the negativity behind us. As I have mentioned before being negative is evolutionary necessary. In more perilous times defaulting to the positive was an instant death sentence. Our brains are amazing at threat detection and keeping us alive, however they are rubbish at differentiating between life threatening and or looking silly. Which again in harsher more primitive times was useful, as being perceived as a bit of a tool in could mean you being banished from your group and being left to fend for yourself.

So our factory settings were and can still be lifesaving. However many of the threats we face daily will not result in our death, but are more likely to result in us being criticised or ridiculed. As mentioned before status and esteem were linked to life and death, but this is no longer the case in modern society. This means we have to be conscious of our default setting and make an effort to upgrade our operating system. The upgrade is as mentioned earlier really simple. The problem is we reset to factory settings on a regular basis so we have to manually apply the upgrade every time we encounter a threat. When you think about it, that is quite comforting, if there is a day when you are faced with a life or death situation, your threat sensors will kick in to keep you safe (hopefully, but that perhaps is a blog for someone else to write).

How do you manage your negativity? How do you create a balanced view of your life? As I say it is simple really. Once you have established that what you are facing is not a real emergency that could end with your death or harm, or the death or harm of others, then you need to challenge your perspective.

Apply some critical thinking

The most effective way to challenge the story you are telling yourself about the situation you have or are experiencing, by just asking yourself a few simple questions. You have to be honest with yourself though, if all you are going to do is confirm what you all ready think then there is no point. It is vital that you create an alternative explaination based on what is really happening.

  • What facts do I have about the situation?
  • Is there any more information about the situation in front of me?
  • What assumptions am I making about the situation?
  • In the grand scheme of my life, how important is this?
  • What are the implications of this situation?
  • Is there another way to look at this?
  • In the light of what I have learned, what would be an appropriate response?
  • What impact would your response have on others?
  • What can I learn?
  • Is there anything positive I can take from this?

Now this takes practice, as it will not come naturally. When things get tough and you have to make important decisions about how you respond to certain situations, whether that be at work, or home this stop check can provide a level of perspective and give your rational mind time to catch up with your threat centre.

If you want this to work then getting a coach will certainly help quieten that negative self talk, and if you are a business owner, or a senior leader it is vital that you learn to create a balance between the negative self talk and positivity, when making important decisions.

If you are interested in applying this approach then please get in touch to discuss the subscription offers I have.