Updated: Aug 25, 2019
The Leader's Guide to Resilience (pub Pearson & FT), with a foreword by
John Goldwyn, Vice President and Head of Planning & Landscape, WATG, will be on the shelves by December 2020.
"Hello, I'm Michael, I'm the architecht"
Although Ted Danson turns out to be the creator of a *spoiler alert* very bad place rather than The Good Place, I pose you the question - if you could shape a world from the blueprints, what would you choose to do?
Many of us would say "I'd build a good place", but the success of what we do often depends greatly on what we have available to put in. Very often, while the heart may be willing the mind and body might be too exhausted, confused or currently unable to follow through. This is where my role as a psychologist and coach is the most helpful. My remit is to help you help those around you (family, teams, clients) through self awareness, personal development and building resilience for the world's ever changing demands.
If The Leader's Guide to Mindfulness helped you to better manage your life as it is, The Leader's Guide to Resilience will help you change it - should you desire.
Resilience is defined by the OED as “The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Psychologists and counsellors stress the importance of embedding these qualities within ourselves, indeed, resilience can be, and is often, the difference in success outcome when people face same challenges. However, in terms of preparation, life often moves faster than we realise, and when we need those skills, we may already be in the midst of a problem.
...and the world is currently in a state of crisis. We seem unable to get away from 24 hour news reports of economic uncertainty, the degradation of the planet and worsening mental health. If your sole focus has been ambitious growth you may easily succeed in calm times, but sustainability and the ability to progress that growth within adversity is what will help not only the survival of your position and strength, but also enable you to find innovative ways to thrive. It feels like it is difficult to survive let alone grow…and yet, it is possible to do both – if one is resilient enough
Why the link to architecture?
Building resilience from the ground up is the enviable position of the master planner. The person who, like The Good Place's Michael, can create, rebuild or develop cities. It is architectural master planning which offers one of the most robust models of resilience which will be explored in my forthcoming book "The Leader's Guide to Resilience":
A Resilient City:
- Attracts and maintains courageous people
- Harnesses drive and inspires collective passion within the community
- Nurtures a network responsive to change
- Engages in Mindful future planning
- Establishes a culture that welcomes creativity and innovation
- Empowers and structures so EVERYONE has authority and the knowledge to be responsive
- Utilises local resources and networks
- Proposes values which include sustainability and growth
Models of Resilience
There are other models of resilience of course:
Erica Seville’s (2016) model of change demonstrates what is to be gained through building resilience in leaders, organisations and communities. Seville proposed that in order to be agile organisations needed to establish a leadership culture of adaptability (being change ready) along with a bank of resources to draw from.
The DILTS model of change (2015) demonstrates that it is the resilient mindset which needs to be established first before change can permeate down to behaviour - otherwise change in behaviour alone is often temporary.
The comfort zone approach (by Karl Rohnke who developed Yerke’s-Dodson Law (1908), which states peak performance occurs when people experience a moderate level of pressure) is another means for introducing the idea of resilience to a team. This poses resilience as the ability to move beyond one's comfort zone in thinking and actions into a stretch zone, and tap into what might lie beyond – the “panic” zone.
And there is the R@w model by Kathryn McEwen (2011) which emphasises the importance of building resilience from within. This is a 7-step model which involves:
1. Recognising your personal values
2. Alignment with organisational core values
3. Maintaining a positive perspective and working through setbacks
4. Managing stressors as common practice
5. Establishing interaction and co-operation as the norm rather than competition
6. Maintaining mental and physical health – something still sometimes overlooked in organisations with a preference in some areas to allow people to be “signed off sick” rather than establishing clear support networks
7. Developing the wider network successfully – a simple example is, while it may be community minded to source locally, the local source must be capable of producing what is needed so they must sometimes be trained or mentored, supported and sometimes even financed. How can the resilient leader ensure a return on their wider investment? (Kathryn McEwen, 2011)
However it is through resilient cities where the facets of a model are regularly applied, tested and reviewed cf, OECD Resilient Cities project.
While my book will explore the models and research in depth as part of its theoretical offering (I always feel it doesn't hurt to understand the "why" even if the "what" is working well), for the purposes of this post I wanted to set out the 5 key ways my book will offer practical, easy-to-apply tips for building resilience within oneself and, should you wish, those around you.
Act: Be pro-active rather than letting life live you. Know that you always have the power of choice. Not only can you own your narrative (no matter what it is), but you can write it...however, you have to pick up the pen! Habit, whether conscious or unconscious, and no-matter how it came to be, can prevent this. Therefore, sometimes one of the most impactful things you can do in an emotional, mental or physical impasse is something! Anything - and always something different to habit. Even in the most dire situation one outcome is likely, so what stops you from trying something different to swing the pendulum in your favour? On a smaller scale, what holds us back are the boundaries (often assumptions) we place on ourselves...how do we know someone won't like something or that something will go wrong? Why not be pro-active and find out?
This week: If you find yourself going round in circles on something, mix it up, try something a little different to the norm, even if it is simply just stopping if you would nornally race into battle.
Deal: Procrastination is not always helpful. A considered delay might be, but often it is more effective to deal with minor issues while they remain such.
This week: If there is one thing you have been putting off, do it.
Optimise: Look after your physical and mental wellness so that you are fit enough to face whatever life throws at you. And make the most of everything you do choose to do. Unfortunately caring for others does not excuse you from caring for yourself. If you have additional duties - try and make sure you energise yourself in the most productive manner for you. As I recharge like an extravert, I am energised when I spend time with friends and family whom I love. If you recharge like an introvert - get that "alone time", even if it is a quick walk or a moment to simply breathe. AND, If you are going to spend quality time with a loved one, don't dilute it by using your phone at the same time. If you are going to rebuild something from scratch, reflect on what went wrong and input ways of making it better. Optimising your work and play can bring you greater fulfilment - and even greater positive results...when I'm energised I work better too!
This week: Whatever you choose to do, get the most out of it that you can. If this means curating your choices of who you spend time with and what you do - so be it! I am also keeping a "wellness pledge photo album". My pledge is to do things which energise me and capturing the photos enables me to look back at them and smile if I need an extra boost. It's a very happy album! Try it!
Prepare: Always aim for excellence (rather than "perfection" - which is subjective). While I often advocate a positive approach, there are times when it is important to have a "plan B" (or C, D, E....Z). Don't plan for things to go wrong, but rather be mindful of the options in case they do, and make sure you've covered your bases as best you can beforehand.
This week: Take an extra moment to double check that email or document that you are going to send off.
Thrive: It's not just about getting by - it's about flourishing! Resilience is not just about building healthy practices before, and to hold back, the point of crisis, it is about planting the seeds so you can bloom. This means that it is important to surround yourself with things and people that nurture your strength and allow - and encourage - you to grow.
This week: Practice gratitude as a form of editing your life. Make a note of 3 things/people you are grateful for each day, and at the end of the week be mindful of what comes up regularly. Spend more time nurturing those elements of your life. This act of nurture may also energise you to better manage the duties and responsibilities which are more routine, with just that little bit more flair (and optimisation!!)...after all "duty", was probably at some point a wished-for priority!
ADOPT these 5 simple practices, maybe try one a day, or perhaps adapt them to your own - and let me know how you get on!
Audrey is a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), and the author of "The Leader's Guide to Mindfulness" (2018) and "Be A Great Manager - Now" (2016) She is a CPD Accredited speaker, trainer, and qualified FIRO-B and NLP Practitioner. She is the founding Development Coach and Training Consultant with her training consultancy CLICK Training, and the resident psychologist on The Chrissy B Show (Sky191), the UK's only TV programme dedicated to mental health and wellbeing. She consults, coaches and often presents at National and International conferences in the fields of leadership and team cohesion, as well as being part of the Amity University conference panel. She currently lectures in Personal Development and Mindfulness and provides psychological consultancy in these areas to organisations.
Audrey's interview with John Goldwyn, on his work embedding mental wellness into his designs and building "Smart cities", for The Chrissy B Show can be seen here:
The Leader's Guide to Resilience (Pearson & FT Publishing) will be out by December 2020.