Without a doubt, the most common request I have received in recent months has been for programs to help with Resilience and Stress Management. I am thrilled that so many organisations and individuals are taking such an interest in the health and wellbeing of their people. As I mentioned in my last blog, the world of work has changed, and we need to ensure that we are adapting to it and looking after ourselves and the people we work with.
In September, I travelled with the Tasmanian Employer of Choice Roadshow to discuss one of my programs; Building a Resilient Workforce. I met so many people from a diverse range of businesses and industries, and all with the same desire to learn strategies to support themselves and others. I asked many of them who they consider to be a resilient leader. As a general rule, I found that Gandhi and Mandela were popular responses and occasionally I heard about individuals of whom I was not aware of, but who have demonstrated resilience in a way that resonated with the person I was conversing with.
The road to enhanced resilience is certainly paved with adversity. Resilient individuals and leaders are not happy and positive all of the time. The reality is that they have experienced difficulties or trauma and worked through it. Those that come to mind for me are usually; Nelson Mandela, Rosie Batty and Malala Yousafzai. However, my personal favourite is Ernest Shackleton.
If you don’t know Shackleton’s story, I genuinely think it is one of the most incredible stories ever told. In a nutshell, he wanted to be the first to cross Antarctica on foot. Within weeks of arriving, his ship was crushed. There was no contact with the outside world. This was 1914, so no satellite phones! In a nutshell, it took nearly two years, however he ensured that everyone in his crew got home safe and well. It is truly the most remarkable story. In the most challenging of circumstances, he was able to keep everyone engaged, safe and focused. I often hear from people who express frustration with having to work with limited resources. Well, for Shackleton and his crew this was a serious lack of resources including food and shelter in below freezing conditions!
As a leader, Shackleton had a strong and clear vision, which then had to be changed in an instant from his personal goal of crossing Antarctica to focusing on getting every one of his crew home safely. Sometimes, we have a clear vision for an aspect of our work, career or life and then something happens which requires us to shift or completely change that focus. One of my favourite quotes is by Charles Darwin, who said ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change’. Being resilient allows us to adapt and to look after ourselves and, just as importantly, to look after others when life throws us a curve ball.