I went to London Business School on Friday to hear a series of TEDx talks on resilience.

The speakers came at the topic from all angles: handling climate change, resilience in our younger generations, and many personal stories of overcoming adversity. There was a famous film producer turned hemp farmer, an Olympic medallist, academics and authors. Aviva Wittenberg-Cox has a message about real career success being built with our intimate relationships first. It’s hard to argue really.  I would really recommend attending a day of TEDx if they are going on near you.


Lucy Choi spoke.

Lucy runs a non-profit making opera accessible to younger generations. She was in Hong Kong, finishing her music degree majoring in piano, when her wrist became plagued with RSI and she could no longer play. It was her final year and she needed to graduate. Her professor told her she had to learn to sing. She didn’t know how to use her muscles and to realise that now, the only instrument she had was her body.

Fast forward to today and she has reinvented the genre for a new generation; slashed the duration of performances, put everyone in the cast in jeans and trainers and holding smartphones. The audience can mill around and buy a glass of wine whilst enjoying the music. Do you think she would have come up with that if she’d ticked along with the piano?


We are building up reserves of resilience every day. 


Resilience is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as planned. How we view adversity and stress strongly affects how we succeed, and this is one of the most important reasons that having a resilient mind-set is so important. 
The good news is that even if you’re not a naturally resilient person, you can learn to develop a resilient mind-set and attitude.


Mindset that builds resilience


When we face a threat our minds put together a bigger picture from incidents and events around us. Our minds look to give something greater meaning than it has. It’s natural and in cave dweller days it meant survival.  Now in order to become resilient, we need to practice separating out what really happened (fact) from what we think it means.
This process is called Cognitive Restructuring. In their book, Mind Over Mood, Drs Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky explore in great detail how you can use cognitive restructuring. In the following example, I’ve used their framework to give you a flavour of how you might reframe your own negative thoughts as a returner coming back to work.



Actions that build resilience


Cath Bishop also spoke at Tedx. She is a rower who earned Great Britain silver in Athens. She was also a senior diplomat based in Basra for years, she’s a mum, a sportswoman, a coach, a speaker. The common thread across all of her worlds? She says it is resilience. She believes that the elements of building resilience are as follows:

Clarity of vision 

It’s easy to have the goal of gold at a fixed date in the future, knowing when when the sprint will end. For us, it is harder. Clarity can also come from a range of reasons, we just need to be clear on what they are.


Your network can help you build as it encourages, challenges and hold you accountable. Also, if you share a goal with a team you develop a deep, collective determination to reach it. International diplomacy, according to Bishop is “All about building alliances with the most unlikely of allies”.

Constant learning

Trying and failing. When she got down to the final week in Athens, Bishop and her team member did dismally in the heats. They said to themselves.  “We’ve got 5 days, let’s go all-in and do all we can to make the oar fall in the water a split second faster”. They had to fail fast and learn the lessons to get to silver.
When you look for jobs, you are going to experience knock back. You are going to have to summon up the wherewithal to sell yourself more than is comfortable. You are going to have to put yourself out there. I believe you already have what it takes to get out the other sides of these challenges with your existing resilience banks.

You will also amass even more riches in the process of looking for work that will hold you in good stead for ever. What I mean is, you will get a job and ideally feel like you are getting closer to fulfilling purpose. But you will get an even more intangible gift: of resilience that will carry you through life. It’s so important to recognise this as a really positive thing that helps you through the process of job search and gets you out the other side.  Imagine where your response to advertisity and resilience could lead you!