Resilience. What is it and why would we want it?

Resilience is one of those terms that is often used and something we’re urged to have. But what is it actually? We may associate it with mental toughness or grit, bouncing back or the ability to just keep going. Resilience Engine describes resilience as our capacity to change. It’s a positive state that is resourceful, adaptable and energised. Unlike bouncing back and coping, states that can be quite draining over the long term, or grit, that can be rigid and isolating, resilience is a place of high creativity and flexibility.

This metaphor of the river is an elegant way to imagine the power of resilience.

Think of a river. There are rocks in the river. When the river is high the water flows. It flows over the rocks. When the river is low, the rocks seem huge. The water struggles to flow. It is driven off course and goes around the rocks. The river level is the resilience level.

This rocky river has many parallels to coaching. When our resilience is high we are able to move over the rocks. We are energised and able to adapt to keep moving. We are aware of the rocks yet driven by our strong sense of purpose. When our resilience is low we focus on the rocks, whatever difficulty or obstacle they may be. The rocks become the problem. There is a tendency here to put our energy into removing or changing the rocks. However, shifting our focus to our resilience and raising the level of the river will have far more significant and positive results. When we have resilience, we have options.

And so, how can we raise our resilience? Resilience Engine‘s research has determined these top enablers:

  • Being present. This could be mindfulness or any kind of activity, such as walking or crafting or gardening, that allows you to be fully present.
  • Energy. An awareness and attendance to what gives you energy and what drains your energy.
  • Learning. Knowing how to learn by trying things out, being aware, reflecting and adapting.

Coaching walks are designed to raise resilience. The movement of the walk itself and being in open green spaces enable being fully present and energised. When we’re walking with the sky above us we shift from having a narrow focus to an openness and a sense of possibility. The listening, questioning and support of coaching combines with the walking to deepen our awareness and energy and ultimately to bring about learning. It’s an opportunity to move our attention from the rocks to the level of the river. To increase our capacity for change.

Here is a question to walk with. What gives you energy?

Anise uses coaching walks to help you evaluate your work and move forward. Wondering what’s next for you? Try a Winter Wayfinding Walk.

Visit Walk Coach Learn to find out more about how coaching walks could support and energise you or your team.

2 thoughts on “Resilience. What is it and why would we want it?”

  1. Delighted to see you using our metaphor of the river For resilience . Used it today with folk and it’s one of the big take always- easy, meanfinduk, personal and makes real.

    Happy walking( we do it too)

    Thanks from The Resilience Engine

    Ps do connect in via LinkedIn and twitter!

    1. Yes – thank you, I’ve found the metaphor so useful. In coaching there is often a strong pull to keep going and focus on solving the problems (moving the rocks) – it really helps to hold this river metaphor in mind. Enjoy the walking!

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