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Developing Resilience

We are living in an increasingly faster paced and complex world.  This takes a toll in terms of stress, psychological and physical wellbeing.  Some manage these demands better than others.  What can we learn from them?  And each other, for most of us have mixed success, we do well in some situations and are woeful in others.

“Resilience” was the topic of a recent Polson Nexus Discussion Group and here is some of the thinking that emerged over an evening of good wine, fine fare and stimulating company.

The Landscape of Pressure is changing
Our thought leader for the evening was Michael Licenblat who summarised the emerging pressure patterns:

  1. We are more accessible
    With mobile phones and laptops we are much more accessible.  If we are not vigilant, we are always responding to other people’s needs.  Thus our own agenda is constantly on hold.  Our off time is constantly interrupted.  I think it is Norway that is proposing legislation that gives individuals the right to turn off their work mobile phones and not respond to work emails out of work hours.
  2. Increased expected output
    People not only reach us whenever they want to, but they expect an immediate response.  In a world of instant gratification, we believe we have the right to instant responses.  We are part of the problem in that we expect others to respond to our needs quickly.  We are also part of the problem in that we collude with those demanding our attention by responding instantly to calls, texts and emails.  Many of us are now addicted to incoming information.  We feel slightly unwanted if no-one sends us anything for a while, or out of the loop if we have not checked our Facebook or Twitter.
  3. The rate of change is accelerating
    We cannot continue to do things the way we have done them in the past.  We have to develop strategies and resilience to thrive in a faster changing world.

Some Resilience Building Tips

  1. Reflection
    If we do not work out what is going on we are constantly off guard and surprised which reduces our capacity to be robust and agile.  We need to structure time for reflection and relaxation.  Being clear on one’s values helps one to prioritise.
  2. Planning
    There is great synergy between reflection and planning.  Once we identify a problem or opportunity, we can plan to alleviate the former, or capitalise on the latter.  People who do not plan are not only a danger to themselves, they have a negative impact on others.
  3. Assertiveness
    A friend, John Evans, used an elegant confronting phrase with me when I tried to rush him on an occasion:  “I am not going to allow your lack of planning to become my crises.”  Learning to say “No” or “No thanks”, or “Later” is very useful in building resilience.   Melissa Farrow has an effective planning and assertive practice for staying on top of things.  She schedules in specific times for answering emails and responding to texts and phone calls.
  4. Self-discipline, which leads to healthy habits
    If we want to be a thermostat in contrast to a thermometer, then we need to develop robust building habits such as the 3 mentioned above.

Other resilience building habits include:

  • Focus on what is important to you
  • Work hard at becoming good at your job
  • Invest time in what you find relaxing
  • Eat healthily
  • Find and do exercise you enjoy
  • Emulate people you admire
  • Ensure you are nurturing loving relationships

We all know what we have to do to be more resilient, but we need to work out why we don’t do what we should do and then develop the discipline to do what works for us.


Reg Polson
(Drawing heavily on the ideas generated at the Polson Nexus Discussion Group.)

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