Do you know how resourceful you are?
It’s early March 2020, I’m having a conversation with our accountant when he asks ‘how are you?’ a question that in recent weeks has become ever more meaningful. ‘Yeah I’m OK, we could do without this Covid stuff going on right now (those were the days when we were all still asking each other ‘what do you make of all this ‘Covid stuff’?) but otherwise we’re ok thanks'.
To which he replied, ‘in business, there’s always something going on, right now it’s a coronavirus, but when that settles down, it will be something else.’
Right there underneath the thought storm of worry, confusion, and judgement, I was currently living under, I felt the truth in what he was saying.
There is always something.
Now, as I write this, some eight weeks on from that conversation, further and deeper into the situation we all find ourselves in, it seems the right time to ask the question:
When you think back over the past few weeks, have you lurched or learned your way through it? My guess is that you have probably learned quite a bit actually, about yourself and this article offers a moment of reflection, to fully realise that.
I often talk about the idea that it's not the thing that happens to you, but how you relate to it that makes all the difference to your experience. Cognitively, we hear that and think 'yeah that makes sense' - but what does that actually mean in practice?
I’ve been reading a book recently, recommended by a client, “Back from the Brink: Coping with Stress”, written by Nick Leeson, also known as the Rogue Trader, who in 1995 was sentenced to 6.5 years in Singapore’s more notorious prison, for his complicit role in the collapse of Barings Bank. During this time in prison, his wife left him, and he was also diagnosed with colon cancer, so he knows a thing or two about living through a crisis.
The book tells his personal story, during those times, but more than anything, it’s a story about the human spirit and how we adapt when faced with extreme situations.
“We all have these innate inner resources to deal with the most extreme and adverse of conditions, even if most of us are unaware of them until they are needed....we are not taught them; we have to find or experience them, and usually through adversity.”
That’s the point, isn't it? We are unaware of just how resourceful and resilient we are until the moment calls for it, as Leeson says, which usually takes the form of adversity.
In the spirit of realising your own resilience, I invite you to reflect on the following, as you cast your mind back over the past few weeks:
- What skills have you realised you have, in life or work, that you didn’t know you had, in a way that has pleasantly surprised you?
- Where in your life have you noticed yourself ‘stepping up’ out of your comfort zone, where perhaps previously it felt impossible?
- What have you recently achieved or made a start on, that you’ve been meaning to do for weeks, months or even years?
Interesting to reflect on, isn’t it?
The opportunities for growth and realisation are most felt in times of challenge. As Leeson goes on to say:
“The answer is generally thought to be: avoid stressors as much as possible and take it easy. But this is the wrong approach and one that is not practical if we need to survive the rigours of daily life...we actually need stressors in order to stretch ourselves and grow.”
Indeed this is true; as humans, we have a primal need to be stretched both physically and mentally in ways that give us a sense of meaning and purpose.
When things go wrong, it's easy to jump ahead with our thinking and assign all kinds of meaning and narrative to it with 'Oh, that's it now!' and off we go on the dark road to doom and gloom. The imagination is a powerful problem-solving resource, but when grossly misused, it can work against us. Our imagination is designed to be used as a force for good, but if it does go haywire, a great question to recalibrate back to the factory settings is 'what opportunities does this open up for me, right now?'
Back to the question: do you realise how resourceful you really are?
Hopefully, this article has helped you to realise that great reservoir of resilience, resourcefulness, and creativity already within you, and knowing that, can be a great sense of comfort and freedom, that whatever happens ‘out there’, you have the innate ability and capacity to deal with it.
Hi, I'm Sarah Swanton, co-founder of 808 Talent, and I provide wellbeing & resilience coaching to leaders who want to learn how to operate from a place of calm, clarity and common-sense more of the time, so they can make smarter decisions, create more impact, and achieve better results in both their work and personal life.
For more information about how to connect please go to www.808talent.com/wellbeing where you can arrange an initial (free) consultation and we can talk about what you'd like to achieve over the coming months and we can see if it's a good fit for us working together.