Do you recognise it when you see it?

Over recent months I’ve seen some significant changes happen on a personal, family and work level. It’s interesting to see how people cope with change and what it means for them. In particular though, I marvel at those who seem to be able to take change, deal with it, and move on with their lives in ways that are inspiring and humbling.

There’s a lot of factors I think enable someone to be able to act like this, and one of those in particular is the capacity for resilience. I don’t think it’s limited to resilience in and of itself. I think you have to have the capacity for it. I consider myself to be a fairly resilient kind of person, but do I always have the capacity for it? Now there’s an interesting question.

There’s a bucket analogy I’m reminded of. We all have things going on in our lives that fill our ‘bucket’. And sometimes you might go through something that means your bucket has run out of capacity and you are simply overflowing and struggling. It seems to me that those who have the capacity for resilience are those who have learned how to keep the bucket from overflowing and allowing themselves to manage it as they see fit.

How do they do this? Do you recognise it in others when you see it? Do you envy them for having it? I have no easy answer for this, but I’ll bet there’s a fair few things going on they have in common.

Support Network

I’ve talked about this before relating to other topics, but the power of a support network is not to be overlooked. This is why groups such as AA (Alcholics Anonymous) and Weight Watchers and the like are so powerful – they have a strong message and an equally strong support network ready to help you.

Positive Mindset

Y’all know I have a bias towards positive psychology. But here’s the thing. It bloody works. Negative thinking takes you down roads of cynicism, despair and negative thoughts. A positive mindset allows you to stay in a place of hope, possibilities and constructive thought.

A Release Valve

It’s important to understand in the bucket analogy above, that those with the capacity for resilience also understand that the bucket needs a release valve (see how I kept that from you? Very sneaky.) The water level doesn’t decrease on its own, it has to be released. That release activity should equally in kind be something which is supportive to your lifestyle.

Living a full life

I’ll take a leaf from Sikh teachings for this one. In Sikhi, we’re taught to live a constructive life (kirat karna). This means working for the good of your family, and in a role that helps society. It also means doing work which does not harm yourself or others.

Being self-aware

Those who have capacity for resilience are self-aware enough to know when they need to do something different. Be it on a day to day basis or a life changing event, they ‘get’ that something isn’t working as it should be for them, and they set about to make it happen.

Consideration for others

This might be a contentious one. Particularly because some people don’t understand the benefit in helping others. Far too many people have a ‘look out for number one’ attitude. And this isn’t about karmic retribution either. Research into positive psychology shows us that when people carry out an act of gratitude or consideration, the lasting effect of that act can be up to weeks later. This helps to build capacity by allowing you to have a positive experience.

This is far from exhaustive, I’ll bet there’s things I’ve certainly missed. And before I end this post, I’m going to extend the bucket analogy by adding this. We can also expand the capacity of the bucket by growing the bucket. As life goes on, so does the bucket continually have more poured into it. Our capacity for resilience in turn needs to grow with this so it doesn’t overflow.


>Serenity Prayer

>Back when I used to work at QVC, we ran a programme called the QVC Difference. Essentially a 2 day residential course aimed at increasing your self-awareness, and focusing on how understand others better. Part of the course focused on the Serenity Prayer which came to mind yesterday, and thought I’d share it with you.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world As it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that You will make all things right If I surrender to Your Will; So that I may be reasonably happy in this life And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.”

Read into the prayer what you will, but for me, there are a few strong messages.

The serenity to accept the things I cannot change. If only this was easier to do. I can accept there are things I cannot change. But with serenity? Few can do that, and do it well. I used to have serenity in abundance in my college days, but something happened along the way which slowly beat it out of me.

Courage to change the things I can. I’m all about change. It’s my job for crying out loud! And to do so with courage, that’s a continuing journey I find myself facing. I have some very supportive and amazing people around me – both online and offline. I can change – if I want to – because I know I need support in order to do so.

Enjoying one moment at a time. There are daily stories about sudden life changes we never expect to happen. For this, and this alone, I am constantly grateful for this life I have, and never take it for granted. I kiss my wife, and my kids every morning without fail before I leave the house as I never know what will happen when I walk out that door.

Trusting that You will make all things right. Faith is a difficult one to sound-bite, so I shan’t. I have faith, and sometimes I have to hold on to it for dear life.

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life. I am. Around me I see all manner of wonderful, difficult, harsh, joyous, sad events. And I wonder – am I happy with where I am right now? Yes. Yes, I am.

I don’t think the Serenity Prayer resonates only if you are Christian, or only if you practise a religion, the message is a good one, and for this reason, I hope it resonates with you.

>If you don’t like your situation, change the situation

>I’m going through stuff at the moment, both professionally and personally. It’s all a bit frustrating as essentially I don’t feel useful.

This isn’t about self-doubt, I’m doing a good job of stuff, and I know I am, I’m just not feeling useful. And that’s annoying. Keeping this to the confines of the work situation, there’s things which need to happen which I think I need other resources to enable a good job of stuff. And in fairness I’ve been a bit reluctant to be pro-active about making them happen.
Those of you following me on Twitter will know I’m running a course on ‘Making a Personal Impact’. Part of this means letting others know about being pro-active. And immediately I’m left with the thought, I’m not practising what I preach.
So here it is. I’ve known I need to do better, and I could just bitch about what I’m not happy about, but that’s not going to get me anywhere. I can change the situation though so it meets my needs. How? By taking a look at each of the things I’m currently doing which I think are effective, and evaluating how truly effective those things are.
I hate self-evaluating. It’s a pain in the arse. But that’s the thing about change, you have to start with an evaluation. Only then can you move forward. You can’t change the situation unless you have a good assessment of what you’re doing now.
And when I say change, I don’t mean make sweeping changes. Look for the things that have meaning for you. Do the things that will enable the change you’re looking for. You’re responsible for what happens in your life. Listen to those around you. Hear what’s going on. Understand it. Question it. If you can act, then act. If you can’t. it’s because you haven’t understood the real issue.
And I don’t mean change the situation in a sweeping or tangential move. You made a conscious decision to enter your situation. You thought/believed/hoped it would mean something new/interesting/challenging for you. If it’s not, you can make it into what you want it. But you have to be the one that does it. No one else will make it happen for you. And I don’t mean bulldoze through disrupting or damaging people in your path. Make it meaningful for everyone concerned.
I’ve written before about Intelligent Behaviour, and this is a another important facet of what that behaviour looks like. Act intelligently so that the behaviour you are expecting is what you are displaying.