Flexibility is my key to becoming more resilient

I got a lovely DM from a supplier I used to work with in my corporate days.

They were shocked and inspired by last weeks letter, their experience of me being strong, focused and determined. They had no idea of the difficulties I was facing at the time and complimented me on my deep caring and emotional side as well as the wisdom I’ve gained.

But I want to focus on something else they said.

They said that my strength, focus and determination could sometimes be intimidating.

And although they are far to polite and kind to say, I will say because I know, I was a nightmare and more people than deserved to, got the sharp end of my tongue far too many times.

My inflexibility caused me to be shockingly blunt and I would use my strength, focus and determination to bull doze people into doing what I wanted. I was often unkind.

Something rugby player Jonny Wilkinson said really resonates with me:

“If I need things to be a certain way, I’m held hostage by them”

So when resilience expert, Dr Carole Pemberton describes resilience as:

“The ability to remain flexible in our thoughts, feelings and behaviours when faced by a life disruption or extended periods of pressure, so that we emerge from difficulty stronger, wiser and more able”

It’s that word flexible that jumps out at me.

I’ve been reflecting on what makes me resilient these last couple of weeks, a technique Carole calls Resilience Recycling, where you reflect on past difficulties and bring their learnings into dealing with your current one.

It’s starts with thinking about a time when your resilience was challenged and reflecting on it with these questions:

1. What personal strengths did you draw on during that time?
2. What strategies did you use to help you cope?
3. What forms of support were helpful to you?
4. What wisdom – your own or others was of value to you?
5. What in the resources you called upon at that time could be of help to you right now in dealing with a current challenge?

You could do this on your own or with a friend where you ask them all the questions and then switch.

What I’ve realised is that by being inflexible I’m often causing or at least making my difficulties worse and worse than that I mask my difficulties by being intimidating and unkind thereby causing difficulties for others.

I’d love to know what came up for you as you were thinking through the questions, email me, I love hearing from you.

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