The Resilience Whisperer
What does resilience mean to you? It is a question I often ask my audiences and clients. Responses include “being tough”, “hanging in there”, “persisting”, “being strong” and of course “strength”.
These reactions worry me as they are exactly opposite to what resilience really is.
I fear that resilience is now being used to be a motivator and as a word to evoke guilt. I hear people say “we need a resilient sales team to achieve our targets” or, “you have to be resilient to win the race” and “come on, just be resilient and you will get through.”
When people experience struggles in life and do not cope as well as they would like, people feel as if they are “not resilient” and opposite to all those words listed above – not strong, not persistence, weak, not as good as others – even almost a “loser”.
Resilience is however, about being whole – in your emotions, reactions and responses.
At Lessons Learnt Consulting, we define resilience as “the ability to bounce forward and thrive through change”.
It is more than just thinking happy thoughts. It’s about adopting strategies, habits, ritual and behaviours for you to bounce forward.
But it is also about appreciating and understanding that in this life, we will be challenged and at times those challenges will get on top of us.
REM’s lyrics to the song Everybody Hurts says it all;
“Everybody hurts. Take comfort in your friends.
Everybody hurts. Don’t throw your hand. Oh, no. Don’t throw your hand.
If you feel like you’re alone, no, no, no, you are not alone
If you’re on your own in this life, the days and nights are long,
when you think you’ve had too much of this life to hang on.”
We are all resilient to some degree. Resilience is like a muscle that needs to be continually exercised by doing the basics so when the challenge comes, we have strategies, habits and rituals to allow us to respond positively and thrive.
There is a critical moment between when an event (the stimulus) occurs and a response is sparked that I call the “Resilience Moment” where you ask the question: “What is the most efficient and effective response to the situation for me right now?”
There may be times when the most efficient and effective response is not to deal with it at that moment – typically called the flight response. This is fine, as long as you do deal with it. Given that one of the habits of resilient people is that they face their fears when ready, then dealing with it later may very well be the most appropriate response – you need to look after yourself first!
If, however, you feel that the “most efficient and effective response” is to deal with it then and there, you respond with problem-solving behaviour involving pausing, reflecting, strategizing, planning and doing.
I think one of the secrets of resilient people is about being ready – looking after yourself first and developing behavioural patterns of resilient people. Develop “go to” positions or default responses.
This is where my HOPE model comes in. HOPE is a framework for and I believe the secret ingredient for resilience.
HOPE stands for:
Healthy Habits covers all those things that we know resilient people do leading to resilient responses.
In many ways, these habits and rituals are about looking after yourselves first in terms of being clear about your own values and priorities, maintaining an appropriate “fuels” strategy around sleep, water intake, exercise, diet, nutrition and general “lifestyle” choices.
It’s about how you structure that environment to make sure that it is supportive and motivating and also includes your connectivity strategy – questioning who you are dealing with and whether these interactions are positive for you.
Optimistic Thinking refers to your thinking style. Resilient people have a thinking style that is realistically optimistic in thinking strategies as opposed to being positive or negative. Realistic optimism accepts the fact that at the end the day we have no control on our results and what we achieve. Rather, the only thing we can control is how we prepare ourselves and what we do to achieve these outcomes. This is an important message as I see people being disappointed with the outcome where really the disappointment should be about how well they have prepared and what process they used to achieve desired outcomes.
A simple analogy is a run I recently completed. I was asked the question: “Do you think you will complete it and in what time?” My answer was, “I am uncertain, but all I can do is turn up on the morning having done the best possible preparation and in as good as condition as possible”.
A realistic optimism thinking question is – “what do I need to do to maximise my chances of getting my best possible/desired result?”
Planning is something that many people are good at – except when it comes to their own lives. Yet it is the same practices of starting with the end in mind; identifying support and assistance you might need in achieving your plans; breaking the plans down into individual steps and setting milestones; setting review dates, maintaining a focus on the plan and ensuring measures.
Planning is really important. But if the next step is not achieved, then the plans can actually be a negative effect on your self-esteem and motivation. You must DO!
Enacting. As Carl Yung would say “You are what you do, not what you say you will do”. We must do – we must act. Sometimes in life we need to embrace the art of imperfect implementation. In other words, not waiting until “all the ducks are in a row” but rather just giving “it a crack”.
Energy creates action, action creates movement, movement creates results.
When doing, focus on those steps that you can control, take one step at a time and just keep going.
Resilience is about being whole. It is about making decisions to what action you will take in the short, medium and long-term. In order for us to make those decisions, we must be prepared in the best possible way and be ready. HOPE will give you the best possible chance.
Dennis J. Hoiberg is the founder of the niche consulting group Lessons Learnt Consulting. He is an author, blogger, and popular contributor to radio segments through regional, rural and remote Australia. Dennis’s recent book “The White Knuckled ride – Techniques to Bounce Forward and Thrive through Change” is a popular resource for many people wishing to enhance and sustain their wellbeing.
He also authors the highly popular Lessons Learnt News, a compilation of wellbeing and resilience articles from around the globe. This is available through following Dennis on Facebook.
Lessons Learnt Consulting assists individuals, families, organisations and communities thrive through change. The company provides coaching services, training programs, community presentations and personal development retreats throughout Australia and overseas. Follow him on twitter @lessonslearntau and facebook.com/dennishoiberg.