Principle 7: No waggy finger!

By Jenny Campbell|October 30, 2018|Enabling the Resilient Organisation|

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Principle 7: No waggy finger!


How often can you feel patronised when you attend a conference or workshop, and the presenter doesn’t take into account that you are already knowledgeable about the subject? You might be told you “should” do x-y-z. In fact, our media and social systems do offer the “should” word so often!

It seems to happen all the time on the topic of resilience and wellbeing.  We should exercise, we should watch what we drink, we should eat properly, we should sleep well, we should connect with our support networks. Etc. Etc.

Yes to all of that – of course! But what if it’s not what you need to hear right now?

If you are passing out top resilience tips, you are most likely patronising many of your staff.  What you say won’t actually be what they need, and indeed sometimes it will drain resilience more. How can this be? You have done your homework, you invested in wellbeing research and you had all these materials printed up with expert advice that comes from a clear evidence base!!! Aargh!

But it’s true. You will ostracise potentially half of your people if you trot out standard stuff. Because you haven’t taken into account they are all starting from a different place. And they already know a lot about themselves, even if they haven’t necessarily shifted the issue yet.

Take a look at the next three resilience stories. Each person is at a coping level of resilience, but all with different start points and different levels of resourcefulness. And that means what they really need for their resilience is different.


Person 1:

This is a strong Chief Executive who runs what seems to be a good ship. He has skills, plenty of experience, support and a real overarching perspective of his business. He is impassioned by the end customer, and aims to drive this passion throughout every part of the organisation. This drive however has shifted the organisation’s capability around customer thinking only a little. It’s still so way off the level that the Chief Executive recognises as “good”. He feels he is failing, and after 3 years, is running out of confidence that the organisation is in fact capable of this change. He’s losing his mojo, is fatigued and ends up in coping.

What does he need?

First and foremost, clarity. No rescue, just straight up clarity. Then, a reality check on his own needs versus the organisation’s capability and capacity for change. And then a realistic marrying of the two. If he stays, can he genuinely accept the limitation?

Within the Resilience Engine we would talk about this as Perspective – part of his Adaptive Capacity, alongside Purpose and Alignment work. All parts of the Resilience Engine®.

Person 2:

A mum of an 11-year-old girl. Not poor, but not rich, living in a decent house that is finally their own. She has a good job cleaning, but life is very stretched: she has one of her parents hospitalised, the other with dementia, and her daughter who suffered ill health when a baby is prone to fracturing her bones on any fall and that is continuously happening. She ends up tired, moaning a lot, sometimes aggressive, and often shouty. It’s not quite the life she envisaged…

What does she need?

First and foremost, energy – through sleep, laughter, doing less, connecting with pride in herself and her daughter. Letting go of some of the stuff that is energy draining; easier said than done, but vital. Plus the space just to “be”. Then at a deep, deep level, acceptance of her situation. And within this a deeper ease with day to day life.

The Resilience Engine’s ten years of research show that Being Present and Energy are two key enablers of resilience. What kind of energy you need depends on your start point. Here it’s about long term recovery.

Person 3:

A high performer but caught in what seems to be an eternal loop of challenge, punching through and being knackered pretty often. The ever-ending ups and downs causes a shift in resilience from bounce back to coping, and the result is an increasing level of tension and indeed rigidity – the opposite of resilience which is adaptability.

What does this person need?

Again Energy, including specifically very clear boundaries around use of their time. And a real deep dive around why this person both is caught in saying “yes” to so much (and is unable to say “no”) plus how to stabilise their energies and the benefits that can come of this. Deep work, but very practical, doable, actionable.

This time the Resilience Engine’s research shows up both barriers and enablers, and both have to be work on simultaneously.


So Ask Yourself:

All of these people are in coping, and all could be told to help cope with stress in a standard way. The standard stuff is evidenced, it does work. But at what point of resilience?

Instead of trotting out standard stuff, why not deploy the Resilience Engine’s approach:

  1. Put this into your people’s hands. Help each person connect and own their own resilience, and the conditions for it going up and down.
  2. Offer ways for self-coaching and self-management around both barriers and enablers to resilience.
  3. Offer them a context that is real around this. One that will support time and space to “be”, to claim energy, and to connect with Purpose and Learning.

It’s obvious once you take the time to think about it, isn’t it? If you want to know more, talk to us today.


Author: Jenny Campbell

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