Resilience VS Defeat

More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. This is true in a hospital ward, it is true in the Olympics, it is true in the boardroom and it is true in life.

What is resilience?

It is an engineering term used to measure the flexibility of steel when compressed under massive weights. I use it to describe a human being’s ability to bounce back – the ability to recover when you are knocked down!

Many people encounter hardships. Some snap. Others snap back.
What makes the difference?
Why do some people collapse in a heap and others turn every challenge into an opportunity?

My experience is that resilient people are the ones who overcome every crisis or challenge that they face. And I am convinced that it is all about attitude and beliefs. The Oxford dictionary defines attitude as ‘a way of thinking or behaving’, and beliefs as ‘acceptance that something exists or is true, especially without proof’.

My powerful question to clients is, “What are your beliefs or thoughts about this?” And then I ask, “What about your beliefs affects your attitude?” I follow with, “How does this attitude influence your behaviour?”

I have witnessed in my own life, as well as in my client’s lives, that beliefs determine behaviour and behaviour determines outcomes.

What is defeat?

I quote again from the Oxford Dictionary and I use the word defeat in my Power Tool to mean all four of the definitions below because I have heard clients use all these words and meanings:

  • prevent (someone) from achieving an aim.

  • prevent (an aim) from being achieved.

  • reject or block (a motion or proposal).

  • be impossible for (someone) to understand.

Defeatism is often linked to underlying beliefs. Naturally, as a coach, it is my duty to uncover those beliefs and to get the client to question the validity of his/her beliefs. This does take courage on the part of the client but once there is a trusted relationship and they sense they are in a safe space, I can prod with the right questions to enable them to question their beliefs.

In terms of building resilience, I will offer my client my ‘recipe’ of 16 tools. I will always ask before offering any information or tools to my clients and I always add that the information has supported other clients. My resilience building tools all begin with the letter P, as does my name, Photinee.

1. Preparation
2. Partnership
3. Patience
4. Performance
5. Perseverance
6. Persistence
7. Passion
8. Positive
9. Perspectives
10. Practical
11. Planning
12. Pleasing
13. Purposefulness
14. Philanthropy
15. Pause
16. Prayer

I will explain each one briefly in the way I have personally used these tools to build my own resilience. Note: this is by no means a complete list. Additionally, I always tailor make each P word to the client’s unique challenge:

1. Preparation:

  • prepare yourself by looking your best

  • eat properly – fuel your body – when you are stressed your body needs extra nutrients

  • stay fit – exercise is a great stress reliever

  • look after yourself the way you would look after a young child;

2. Partnership:

You can’t do this alone. You need someone to support you, to share each experience with you, whether it is a spouse, an adult child, a sibling, a friend or a priest. Mentors and coaches are vital in the workplace. Find someone or more than one person who you trust and who will listen to you. Your ‘partner/s’ don’t necessarily need to give you advice but they should be good listeners;

3. Patience:

This is a difficult one, but you have to learn that things take time. The outcome you want is not going to happen overnight. Learn to be patient and keep progressing towards your desired outcome;

4. Performance:

Whether you are a director of a company or whether you are preparing a meal at home, do it with pride and do it to the best of your ability. A sense of achievement builds resilience. Ensure that your day is filled with constructive things to do;

5. Perseverance and

6. Persistence these two go together….

You HAVE to keep moving forward and striving for the goal. Perseverance and persistence always pay off – always;

7. Passion &

8. Positive approach:

Allow yourself to feel deeply. Don’t be scared to say how you feel or to show your emotions. Don’t hide your love for others. Tell them you love them. Or, tell them you are angry or you are hurting. Be passionate about everything. Only when you can express authentic emotion can you emerge positive. Hiding feelings and passions results in resentful and consequently negative behaviour. Stay true to what you are feeling. Then explore the WHY. Why are you are feeling this way? Could there be triggers from your past influencing the current situation? Could there be underlying beliefs that are not the reality?

9. Perspectives:

You have to examine your beliefs and behaviours and shift to the antithesis if you need to. This is where a good listener and a trained professional like a coach can be invaluable;

10. Practical

Aim to be realistic at all times. I encourage people to think BIG, but always balance your dreams with sensible, functional and achievable aspirations;

11. Planning:

Without a well thought out plan, you cannot deal with any situation or crisis. Assess your situation logically and find out if you do have limiting beliefs and then work towards overcoming them. Work towards changing your mindset or circumstances and progress to action! Ensure that you have a support mechanism in place so that as and when obstacles arise you can overcome them. A crucial part of the plan is to also have an accountability method or partner in place;

12. Pleasing:

Your disposition should be pleasing at all times. There is scientific proof that the muscles used in the act of smiling transmit messages to the brain to release serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. Smiling definitely encourages everyone around you and they feel good to see you smile too! Happiness is contagious. However, I caution against ‘pleasing’ people if it is not serving you! Often we aim to please others to our detriment. Check your reason for wanting please; is it an underlying belief?

13. Purposefulness:

Make a difference! No matter how significant the difference is, as long as you have no regrets and you can look back when you are 90 years old and say, “THAT was my purpose.” You must have a goal, a purpose, a target, an ambition.

14. Philanthropy:

This is directly linked to the previous point of purposefulness: do you know how happy you can make someone if you just phone them? Or if you just visit someone who is ill or bedridden? Or just by giving away a book or a toy? Think of others less fortunate than yourself and remember that your predicament could always be worse. Counting one’s Blessings shifts the mind to a positive mood and to an empowered perspective.

15. Pause:

Stopping to allow oneself time to breathe deeply and to reflect on a situation is empowering. Often there is clarity after being still and quiet.

16. Prayer:

Go to your knees then you can stand up to anything. For me, this is the Alpha and Omega that has built my resilience and the very reason I survive every cross I have to bear.

Life does pose stressors for all of us. Being able to cope with stressors or crises and to regain one’s hope is essential to living a healthy life. Defeat is easy. Fighting back can be learnt. Being aware of one’s behaviors, thoughts, attitudes and actions is the path to building resilience.

Application of my Tool:

When a client doesn’t carry through an action that they had committed to, their disappointment in themselves can be a very negative influence on their future endeavours to set goals. I have witnessed their dismay and defeatist emotions and vocabulary.

When I offer my resilience-building “P” points, most clients embrace them because they say they can apply many of the points with relative ease. I have experienced clients saying variations of, “I will practice the “P”s and see what happens”. The majority of the time, as they read through the “P” points of my tool, they are pleasantly surprised at how simple it is to change their attitudes.

I have found that using my tool is an effective way of changing the client’s perspective and allowing them to play an active role in equipping and strengthening themselves for future disappointments, failures and crises.