October 3, 2022

Resilience and Coaching


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We live in a changing world, and every year that goes by, events seem to continuously be faster, uncertainty can seem to be growing, and change seems to be the only constant. For instance, how many changes have taken place in your organisation or  industry in the last 10 years? What is driving these changes, and how does it all impact the skills that you need in your workplace?

One of the skills that we have heard about increasingly in the last years is resilience,  an important trait for everybody. Resilience is the hallmark of successful people and successful companies, as it allows people to bounce back from disappointment and failure stronger and more determined than ever. Resilience is not the absence of stress or trauma—it is anchored in overcoming but also in reflecting upon the stress or trauma that we have gone through.

By definition, resilience is the remarkable ability of humans to adapt and recover quickly from failure and adversity, and not only returning to the status quo but using the opportunity to grow and further your personal development.

What you may not have known is that resilience is not an inborn but a learned or acquired trait. We have all shown incredible resilience, simply by surviving as long as we have! Since it is related to how we decide to respond to what is impacting us, resilience can be built and developed in people of all ages.

We are more aware about resilience these days, and increasingly it has also started to show up a lot more in coaching as it has become integral to a lot of the work of leaders and managers, even progressively individual contributors, who are nowadays faced with a lot more changing environment and a lot more uncertainty as well.

Resilience coaching focuses on building someone’s personal assets. To build skills in resilience, praise in the process of growth (Kamins & Dweck, 1999) must be abundant. By helping a client focus on what has worked well for them in the past, a baseline for their resilience skills can be established. Usually, the coach will hold the space where the client can explore their existing resilience skills.

As a coach, I’ve been confronted with resilience as an aspect to focus on multiple times. This is how it looks like, based on what some of the clients want to work on:

  • I am having a tough time at work with my boss or my team
  • I am going through a career transition, e.g. I have been made redundant
  • My organisation is going through a complete reorganisation, and I don’t know how it’s going to look like for me
  • I want to change jobs
  • I am confused about different opportunities
  • I am stuck, about my job, my skills, my strengths, feedback I have been given

If you relate to any of these statements, then the process of coaching can help you build resilience

Coaching is both a reflective and an open exploration activity. By asking open-ended questions, the coach allows their client to explore areas they may not have viewed in the past as beneficial skills. By helping a client focus on the process that they previously used to overcome adversity, they can better understand the skills that already exist within them. This type of focus builds confidence and readiness for the inevitable adversities that they will face in their lifetime.

There are several strategies any effective coach may encourage to build resilience:

  • Developing optimism and hope: engaging in life and looking forward to the challenges it brings.
  • Developing a good sense of self-esteem: believing that you have value and are worthy.
  • Developing self-awareness and emotion regulation: understanding and managing your own emotions.
  • Developing positivity and positive emotions: cultivating a sense of positivity, well-being, belonging, connection and meaning in life.
  • Developing an internal focus of control: believing that you are in control of your life.
  • Developing gratitude and appreciation: being appreciative of what you have and practicing gratitude on a regular basis.
  • Developing a good sense of self-efficacy: believing that you can do what you set your mind to.
  • Looking at things from a different perspective, including with a sense of humour!

In summary, knowing the “how” of resilience is a much-needed and in-demand skill set. Whether in corporate, individual, or group settings, knowledge of resilience skill-building is abundantly needed. Bob Riley aptly said – “Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.” As we say in coaching, it is all within you, and coaching can help you bring it up to your awareness.

Article by Angie Garcia-Forner, Adjunct Coach

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