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Resilience revisited

Much has already been written about the need to develop resilient and confident leaders. But this is starting to feel very tired and hackneyed. Instead I am wondering if there is another way of looking at resilience, which is more enabling, empowering, and helpful.

Defining “Resilience”

The definition of resilience is to withstand. According to the Oxford English Dictionary resilience means to “recoil, spring back…  resuming original form after stretching, bending”. This can put the person being “resilient” into a helpless rather defenseless place whilst waiting for the next blow from left field. In my work with clients, it is often the news of a re-organization, a snipe from a colleague or the next dictate from the corporate centre, which can easily throw us off balance. It is this felt sense of “victim”, feeling out of control with the pressure and subtext to “be strong”, which is so disabling.

This definition and our traditional approach to “resilience” no longer feels adequate for today’s VUCA world.

A radical reframe

My reflections have prompted me to feel that it was time to rebrand and reframe the act of “resilience” with the practice of “re-Sourcing”.

By “re-Sourcing” I mean creating a bigger energy within ourselves, which enables us to not only respond as our best selves withstands blows, but enables us to embrace and transcend these inevitable blows to see a bigger perspective, a bigger reality, a bigger connection, and a bigger possibility which could emerge.

How can we “re-Source”?

By “re-Sourcing” I am describing practices, which connect us back to our best selves and to the abundance and generosity of the universe which is always available to us if we open ourselves up to its magic and mysteries.

Loehr and Shwartz (2007)  write very helpfully about our 4 energies and that to commit to a wholehearted life we need to invest and nurture all four energies which shape how we are being in the world. To quote

“Everyone of our thoughts, emotions and behaviours has an energy consequence, for better or worse. Leaders are the stewards of organisational energy. They inspire or demoralise others first by how effectively they manage there own energy and next by how well they mobilise, focus, invest and renew the collective energy of those they lead. “

These four energies are: Mental, Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Energies.

Steps to help open and keep open this wider presencing and connection to self, others and the universe are different but suggestions include:

1. Take time out to pause and reflect. Journaling is a powerful took to help us to notice and reflect on all of our experiences. See Jackee Holder’s book called ” Write Yourself Well”

2. Set up regular artists days for yourself to inspire yourself with beauty and creativity. See Julie Cameron’s book called ” The Artists Way”

3. Develop a mindfulness or presencing practice to pause our thinking brains. See Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “The Miracle of Mindfulness”

4. Develop a spiritual practice or contemplative practice, which works for you. There are many great resources available in the web and in your communities

5. Take up some form of physical exercise, which works for you to build suppleness, fitness and shape.

6. Go on a retreat! If you can’t find one design your own!!

7. Find a great super-Visor!! Visit the CSA Website.

The good news is that none of this is rocket science. With commitment, this is both do-able and possible. The key seems to adopt a regular practice and discipline to both sustain and nourish us.

Events happen; but what we do with what happens to us is our choice.

What will you now do for yourself…?

Good luck.

And if you are interested in taking these ideas forward with me please do get in touch!

Elaine Patterson

Elaine is an international executive coach, coach supervisor, thinking partner and writer. She is an accredited Master Executive Coach with the EMCC and AC and an Coach Supervisor with the CSA.

Elaine’s purpose is to bring the energizing and creative powers of courageous conversations and reflective learning to the world of work for personal fulfilment and business success.


Caneron, J. (1995) The Artists Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self. London, Pan Books

Hanh, Thich Nhat (1991) The Miracle of Mindfulness. London, Random House Publishing.

Holder, J. (2013) 49 Ways to Write Yourself Well: The Science and Wisdom of Writing and Journaling. Brighton, Step Beach Press Ltd

Loehr, J. and Shwartz, T. (2007) The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy and Not Time is the Key to High Performance and Renewal. NY, The Free Press

OED (1978) The Concise Oxford Dictionary: New Edition. Oxford, Oxford University Press