The HR Juggler

Archive for the ‘Resilience’ Category

What makes you change the way you think about something?

Some of the most difficult experiences can be the most instrumental in altering our perspective and bringing change to the way we work and think. This can be true at work or at home: where there is discomfort and difficulty and mistakes are made, there is also often the greatest amount of learning, if we are prepared to open our minds to it.

I’ve had this type of learning experience recently, which at times felt very unpleasant and was certainly far out of my comfort zone. Whilst I wouldn’t voluntarily choose to spend too much of my working (or home!) life operating this way, I have been amazed at the level of learning that has resulted from it, through personal reflection, shared discussion and feedback with trusted friends and colleagues…as well as the passage of a little time. For me, the temporary negative has turned into a much stronger positive: a reminder of the importance of commercial pragmatism within my role, of the need to occasionally step back from following a process in order to make a better business decision and that at times the best approach is to analyse the worst possible outcome and work back from there in order to effectively manage the risk. I doubt I am the only person, HR or otherwise, who benefits from a powerful and timely reminder of all of these things ;).

I’ve also been thinking differently about running lately…my half marathon is now less than 2 weeks away and up until last weekend, training was going well, I’d run a couple of 10 mile distances and I was feeling good, prepared, positive and confident. And then, last weekend, the unexpected happened – my ankle started to hurt whilst I was running and I had to stop after a mile or so and walk home. Since then I have rested and barely run at all…which for a fledgling runner with a big race on the horizon, is a little scary and uncomfortable, to say the least. I am fairly certain that the injury is minor and that I’ll be in good shape by the time October 7th comes around, but of course there are no guarantees and I will have to be sensible and take advice from an expert. I’m not good at uncertainty!

What it has reminded me of though, is that my overall aims in undertaking this challenge were for maintaining and building fitness, to learn to run and to raise money for Tommy’s charity…all of which I have done. So, barring any unforeseen crises, I will be doing the race, even if I have to walk more of it than I had hoped to. I am still hoping and aiming to run the whole thing and if I can’t do that, then I will be signing up to another half marathon next year to have another go and finish what I have started!  Another example of assessing the worst case scenario and working backwards…I’m slowly but surely, starting to learn to think differently about it. And, if you would like to sponsor me for what I am still hoping will be a run, my link is here.

So, that’s me. How about you – what have you been thinking differently about? I’d love to know.


Resilience…can you learn it? That was a question posed to me this week and it got me thinking. Whilst I have no doubt that individuals can develop the quality of  resilience, I am not at all sure that they can be taught, beyond potentially providing some tools and techniques to facilitate an individual’s self-awareness.

The word resilience originates from the mid 17th century and derives from the Latin ‘leaping back.’ Referring to a substance or object’s ability to spring back into shape after bending, stretching or being compressed, and also the quality of an individual to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions, it is now frequently used in a business context, in particular as a trait that we admire and expect in our leaders. It is interesting though to note that resilience in this context does not suggest that someone has a super-human ability to rise above the stresses that others feel, more that they can take the pressure on board, accommodate it as part of themselves and remain true to their values and personality and not be ground down by the difficult external factors.

In my experience, most of the resilient individuals I have worked with have a high level of self-awareness and are conscious of their ability to work within the pressure and stress of the environment, without fully absorbing it or becoming crushed by it. They are able to deal with change, be flexible and pragmatic and maintain an optimistic and self-confident, driven outlook. But at times even the most resilient of people suffer setbacks and can lose confidence temporarily. In my view it is at this point, the recognition of things having gone wrong, the humanity and humility that goes alongside this, to learn from their mistakes and, in time, the ability to reinvent themselves and eventually ‘leap back’ to their true self that makes this quality of resilience so valuable and sets those that have it apart from their peers.

So, can you teach it, does one learn it from experience or is resilience an innate ability? I’d love to know what you think.

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