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A guide to resilience and resilience training
What is resilience?
Resilience is a much-used term but one which has suffered from a lack of clear definition and the occasional misuse, so let’s start there. What do we mean by resilience?
It is always helpful to look at the origins of the word so we can get a picture of the nuances and connotations and understand what it really is, and importantly, what it is not. The noun ‘resilience’ means the ‘act of rebounding’ and was first used in the 1620’s, deriving from the Latin ‘resilire’, used to mean recoil or rebound.
Immediately, this tells us that the true definition of resilience is about ‘bouncing back’ and is not about being completely resistant to any impact of the setbacks that we inevitably experience in our work and life in general. Resilience is about recovery, moving on and strengthening your position by experiences.
Highly resilient people will still be negatively impacted by adversities, challenges and change but they will use strategies to not get stuck in a highly disruptive emotional or physical state; they will bounce back and move on stronger.
Why is resilience important?
With a clear definition, it becomes obvious why resilience is such an important concept for our overall wellbeing – namely, that every single one of us will experience some adversity, challenge and failure in our lives and so being as equipped as is possible to deal with these demands will benefit our overall health and wellbeing in the long-run. We can’t wish away most of the curve balls life throws at us so the best overall strategy to maintain your own wellbeing is to equip yourself psychologically and physically to withstand the storms.
On a positive note, every adversity, challenge or failure can help us to learn and build our resilience, getting us stronger for the next challenge and generally improving our wellbeing (eventually!). Science has proved that the famous Nietzsche quote, “that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’ is correct. For example, failure in one’s early career leads to greater success in the long-term for those who try again.
“For those why try again” is fundamental to this research – it is describing those who have made a deliberate and conscious effort to ‘bounce back’ from their failure. These are the people who have along the way developed some resilience – they have literally ‘bounced back’ from their negative experience. Perseverance is one of the many positive outcomes of resilience – we will persevere, taking on our new learning, adapting to the new information and situations and give it another, and most likely better, go. This has many documented benefits in our workplaces and in our lives – we perform better, feel better and even live longer! We will all recognise the people we have worked with who give up at the first hurdle citing “we’ve tried that, and it didn’t work” which for innovation and productivity can be fatal.
Professor Ivan Robertson on resilience
What is resilience training?
Resilience training is a way in which to accelerate and enhance the natural process of building resilience as we go through our lives.
We all have natural resilience, indeed human beings are one of the most resilient and adaptable species on earth, however what resilience training is designed to do is make it a conscious and deliberate act by changing the way in which we interpret bad events and situations – in real time and when in recovery from an adversity.
When we are trained in the resilience strategies to overcome adversity, we traverse them faster and with less impact on our overall wellbeing. There is very good evidence that resilience can be learned and protect us when inevitable high pressure happens – whether in work or in life in general.
However, that is not to say that resilience is all learned on a training programme. Resilience is a rich mix of our natural personalities and how they interact with the world, the experiences we have had in our lives, both put alongside the conscious and deliberate effort we make to improve our levels of resilience through training or self-learning.
Resilience building is a process and, in that sense, resilience training is a way in which to speed up the process, making it more conscious and deliberate.
A good resilience training programme will take all of this into account – everyone arrives to a training programme in a different place and so personalisation is fundamental to gaining some traction and allowing every individual to build resilience in the areas which are right and most impactful for their personality and experience.
Why do resilience training?
Resilience training unlocks a path for people to take control of their own wellbeing, enabling then to navigate the twists and turns of life in a healthy way.
The world in which we all live is more complicated, complex, and challenging than ever before – a simple life is difficult to achieve. Although we are not necessarily faced with fighting off wild animals anymore, we are faced with multiple challenges every day, high pressure as the norm and uncertain futures.
Resilience training offers the opportunity for people to establish their armour, so they can be equipped to healthily deal with the complexities of work and life when they come along. There are no downsides in supporting employees to develop their resilience, only a long list of benefits.
What are the benefits of resilience training?
The benefits of resilience training are:
Resilient people face challenges head-on and they are able to navigate and bear difficult conversations… because they can bounce back!
Reduced burnout and presenteeism
Being able to deal with adversity faster and with less impact on wellbeing directly impacts these vital indicators of wellbeing and productivity.
More innovation and creativity
Problem solving becomes much easier when people are resilient; they don’t give up and they constantly adapt to new information helping to put their organisation into the forefront.
Willingness to give and receive support
Resilience brings with it some humility – when we are resilient we know our own capabilities but we also value the capabilities of others. This dynamic supports the development of good relationships, reducing the probability of difficult inter-personal relationships which may have a knock-on effect at work.
Resilience training with Robertson Cooper
Robertson Cooper have been at the forefront of research into workplace wellbeing for over 20 years, and our research on resilience is applied in all our training programmes.
Our resilience training takes into account what we know about delivering effective resilience training and what we know about the concept of resilience itself:
- We know that there are multiple ways in which people build resilience, it is not just one thing, and therefore our training is based around our validated resilience model which outlines the four strategies that all people use to build their resilience – Confidence, Adaptability, Purposefulness and Social Support.
- We know that resilience is a mixture of personality and experience / learning, so we support all our training with a personalised report, iResilience, that offers delegates the opportunity to understand their natural preferences when it comes to using the resilience strategies and empower them to create their own journey in improving their resilience.
- We know that resilience building is a process and so it is important that we support our delegates with a pathway to build habits that will be sustainable and impactful over time.
- We know that training needs to be in context, so we ensure that our resilience training applies the techniques onto issues and demands that are relevant for the delegates.
- We know that resilience training is only part of the solution in enabling individuals to bounce back from high demand and adversity, so we set expectations clearly and use the philosophy that small changes can create big impact.