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Can you be taught resilience?

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Recently the need for resilience has showed up in the life of my coaching clients in the following ways:

•    Stepping up into a senior role with little support and others wishing you to fail, only to get your feet under the table when a well established member of the team passes away, and then a complete management buy out in which you have no idea what you role will look like or if it will be even there in a few months time.

•    Leaving an unbearable job and then to seek a new one, only to receive one rejection after another, with your savings starting to deplete.

•    Having a fantastic career trajectory, only to receive some harsh and very public feedback from your team that you need deal with and progress through.

Maybe some of their situations resonate with you. The truth is that you don't know how resilient you are until you experience situations that you need to bounce back from. It’s only hen that you start to develop your resilience muscle. I find that my coaching clients are often very hard on themselves for not being resilient enough; they think that they should immediately bounce back from difficulties.

It’s very natural to be down in the dumps if you have a disappointment or rejection, however as you develop your resilience you can shorten the duration of that down time, it’s unrealistic for it to disappear completely, after all you are only human.

I definitely believe that resilience can be taught and is essential in the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous times in which we live. The wonderful author Brene Brown said ‘Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness in our lives; it’s the process that teaches us the most about who we are.’ So the need to develop resilience is actually life enhancing.

A helpful tool to develop your resilience that I have used when delivering resilience training is : I have, I am, I can, here is it in more detail:

I have  - think about what you have in your life, what is a secure base for you, what external resources do you have access to? Such as:

• Trusting relationships 
• Structure and rules 
• Role models 
• Encouragement to be autonomous 
• Access to health, education and benefits


I am – Consider what inner strength and self-belief you have. What are you beliefs about yourself, how confident are you? Such as:

• Lovable
• Loving, emphatic and altruistic 
• Proud of myself 
• Autonomous and responsible 
• Filled with hope, faith and trust


I can  - Reflect on your Interpersonal skills and what you have that you can make use of? How can your network help, how are your relationships? Such as:

 •Communicate 
• Problem solve 
• Manage my feeling and impulses 
• Gauge the temperament of myself and others 
• Seek trusting relationships


A speaker at an event I attended recently described herself as a bouncy ball, ‘the harder you throw me down, the higher I bounce back up’, using I Have, I Am, I Can, will definitely enhance your bounce back ability.

Jenny Garrett

By Jenny Garrett

Jenny is an award winning executive career coach, author, TEDx speaker, leadership trainer.

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