ER&L 2014 — Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.

“Nocturna” by Pedro Javier

Speaker: Sarah Durrant, Red Sage Consulting

Change and destruction can bring an opportunity, but it can also be stressful. How are we in the process of change? What tools can help us thrive in this process?

She’s been in this industry for a long time, but has never heard people stand up at conferences and talk about how we are as humans.

Resilience is a message of hope. It’s about what we all have inside us.

Resilience is recovering from or adjusting to misfortune or change; is generating supportive behaviors that help us cope when facing adversity; is bouncing back from stress and adversity and promptly take on new challenges.

Resilience is not keeping going at all costs; is not about ignoring the difficult or sugar coating it; it’s not about irritating platitudes.

Why now? We have an incredibly dynamic sector. There is always change, challenge, uncertainty, and opportunity.

Challenge and opportunity can be good and inspiring but also frustrating and draining, and it can get depleting and stressful. We have evolved to handle short, sharp time of stress, and not the low, background hum that typify our day-to-day lives now. In the UK, stress is now the biggest single cause of sickness in the working population. In the US, job pressure is the main cause of stress, and negatively impacts every aspect of your work.

When we’re under stress in the workplace, we can become disengaged, burnt out, and can result in absenteeism (or presenteeism – being unwell but showing up for work anyway).

Resilience can help. Resilience training can improve performance and productivity, staff motivation, and reduce instances of workplace stress.

We are living in a time when risk is probably good to take, but we need to be able to handle the pressures associated with it.

Resilience is not an innate trait. It’s a capacity we can build within ourselves. However, the practical stuff is hard to convey in a plenary. Workshop tomorrow.

Case Study: Illinois Bell Telephone Company
12 year study in the 1980s during the time when the US telephone monopoly was deregulated. In 1980 to 1981, they downsized by nearly half, and they didn’t get clear direction from the government on what they could or could not do.

2/3 of the staff had significant breakdowns in wellness, but the rest maintained and thrived. The more resilient cohort had powerful attitudes/beliefs about themselves and the world around them. It motivated and encouraged them.

The researchers concluded that challenge, control, commitment (connection) were the key. Being able to view setbacks and difficulties as challenges rather than threats that paralyze. Focusing time and energy on situations where they had some control and could have the most impact. Reaching out to people around them and stayed connected, committed, and motivated.

Resilience training helps us tune into our habitual thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. We practice generating genuine optimistic opportunities, reaching out, etc.

Change and disruption is a normal, expected part of our lives. These things can enhance our lives, but also negatively impact our well-being. Resilience is not innate, but can be learned and cultivated. There is a large and growing research base that can offer tools and ideas for us to use.

Let’s focus on how we’re being so we can get better at the doing.