Why resilience matters. Taking the next step

During a recent ‘Building Resilience Workshop’ for a public sector client we were discussing the benefits of being resilient. When you have a high level of resilience and feel rested and recharged you have greater capacity to stay in charge of yourself. More resilience means you are more likely to remain calm, think clearly and be in control of your emotions so you don’t over-react to stressful or challenging situations and can even perform better.

At this time of year, the days are still short, the weather often cold and dull, and the boost we all received from that Christmas break is waning, the summer sun seems a long way away. How do we keep a positive attitude when our lives both at work and at home are often demanding, bigger, faster and doing more? What happens to our energy and how can we sustain it and be able to bounce back when demands to perform are high or change is prevalent?

Organisations are asking more and more from their leaders to sustain themselves as well as managing others’ resilience too. How can leaders maintain their energy and more importantly perform better whilst still maintaining their personal resilience?

Are you thriving or surviving?

In business we need to be resilient. A person’s resilience will be shaped by their make-up and environment. We face challenges and get knocked all the time; it is how you let it affect you and how you deal with it that matters.

One of the ways we can help our resilience is by reflecting on how we are feeling (in Emotional Intelligence terms using our self- awareness) particularly when things are not going so well or we are feeling challenged and especially after the event.

I, like many of us have a very busy job which I love but often work long hours, travel and have family pulls on my time. I made a very conscious choice a few years ago to focus on my resilience following a very stressful year; a divorce, change in my working conditions, my children leaving home (and coming back) and my mother being very ill. I noticed my reactions were often not objective and I needed to be able to perform well at work, feel positive and happy and fulfilled at home.

Last year I learnt a very personal lesson around what benefits being resilient gives me, something I always prided myself on – my bounce back ability.

So I am in my fifties and have always used exercise as way of managing my stress or coping when feeling overstretched. In a moment of madness or now I would call it bravery, I entered Ninja Warrior UK. For those of you that haven’t seen the programme, it is an extreme obstacle course performed under a time pressure and in front of an audience and cameras.

I had been training very hard and felt confident in my abilities, but, was still very surprised but delighted to be given the chance to appear on the show. I could fulfil my desire to inspire others to be the best they can be whatever their age.

My moment came to appear, my family and my trainer were in the audience, I was interviewed, given encouragement and expectations were expressed of my performance by the crew (damn those Instagram videos) and there I was facing ‘the steps’.

I could relate the feeling to waiting to give a presentation to a very large, loud audience!

Mouth dry, heart racing, all those hours of training and effort, visualising, employing all the techniques I knew for keeping focused in my mind, I was there getting up that wall.

The buzzer went; I moved forward and jumped….


I was in the water, a mistake; nerves whatever had happened I was now a proud member of the one step club and record holder on the course for quickest exit on national TV!

Face down in the water literally how could I ever get up from this?

I had failed, I felt incompetent. I had let people down, I was embarrassed in a very public way, disappointed, sad and absolutely gutted in my mind I had failed to perform! Why did I put myself through this?

I wanted to hide, run, not bother any more why did I think I could do it? I didn’t want to hear my feelings to acknowledge my loss.

I didn’t want to do all the things that I suggest to others! “See the positives; be kind to yourself; you at least tried.” This was different I told myself. My bounce back ability had gone! I didn’t know how to get back up!

Where was my resilience now?

This may seem like an extreme story but how many of us can feel like this in the workplace especially when our reserves are low and our judgement poor. We make a mistake and suddenly we feel we are incompetent, we don’t believe in ourselves, we avoid conversations, we hide!

When we are busy and running out of battery our energy is low, when we don’t make time to renew, our choices are often reactive or even avoided.

Or when disappointment occurs we can feel stuck, dis-empowered and hopeless!

Emotional Intelligence and resilience

Emotional Intelligence is the process of thinking about our feeling and feeling about our thinking in order to manage our behaviour or to make choices.

At JCA Global we have developed our own understanding and appreciation of building high performance and increasing personal resilience for individual’s, teams and organisations. Our Building Resilience Workshops help participants build positive habits that enable them to increase their physical and emotional capacity.

5 things resilient people do….

  1. Know and stay true to your values! Be authentic, ground yourself in what you want, how you want to show up and allow and encourage others to trust you.
  2. Keep things in perspective, be realistically optimistic, identify the facts and do not tell yourself stories that undermine your confidence.
  3. Deal with conflict early. Be assertive. Seek to understand, be brave and express your views in a respectful way.
  4. Take control. Exercising choice is key to feeling empowered, focus on what can be done.
  5. Adopt a learning mind-set. Mistakes happen, search for a lesson. Build a habit of reviewing what happens each day, what worked well, what didn’t and why?

My learning

So, was I less resilient than I thought?

I have learnt I am determined, passionate and courageous and like taking challenges which come with consequences, but that’s okay.

My story about how I fell at the first step, is not all about the fall but how we explore our feelings when we are down in order to get back up!

What are my options? Be proud of my achievement of being on the show, train even harder and approach that step next time calmly and with focus.

What have I learnt? Success is having tried and got back up and taking the next step. Believe in the moment. I now spend time every day reflecting on what I have achieved as well as what I could have done better to improve my confidence when under pressure.

How do I feel? Proud, life is a series of steps, to be taken one at a time.

Ninja Warrior UK series three here I come!

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