There is no normal


There is no normal

Normalising change and Building Resilience.

” This is your time and it feels normal to you, but really, there is no normal. There’s only change and resistance to it and then more change”.

Meryl Streep

Search the word ‘Resilience’ on google and, as well as getting a useful definition of the word, you see that popular searches are ‘how to build resilience’, ‘building resilience’ and ‘why resilience is important’. It’s a popular and consistently searched term.

Personal resilience, Team resilience and Business resilience are recognised as key – that definition by the way is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”.

Change is a constant and so as Meryl says above, there is no ‘normal’. So how do we make sure we recover quickly and cope well with the ever-present change?

The brilliant Johanna Guerin of Fit for the Future uses the analogy of a boat and the water levels around it when she talks about resilience. She frames her insights around encouraging us to think about how we stay buoyant.

How do we stay bouyant?

My own experience of change – sometimes tough and soul-searching changes I have made as a leader and most recently a business owner, as well as my work with teams through ConnectUp – has made me reflect on some lessons about change.

  • Accept that change is messy and uncomfortable.
  • Speak to trusted people who ‘get it’ but who don’t have their own agenda (probably not family and friends, and trusted colleagues who will give you their honest and supportive view).
  • Don’t rush to action.
  • Try things, experiment and hold them lightly.
  • For leaders – ‘overthink’ how you communicate.

To develop a tolerance to – and even engagement with – change, maybe start with you and ways to build your buoyancy.

To further this boat analogy (because, why not?), a new friend and colleague, Mark Jarvis of HunMoCo, said to me “you can’t steer a stationary boat”. It’s a phrase he used when he used to teach children to sail. It’s a great phrase that speaks of moving forward – however slowly – to make progress.

I’ve referred to some work by another brilliant colleague in some of my recent virtual facilitation for a group within the charity sector.

Jo Bamford of Bacon6, points to 4 key areas when we are considering how to nurture our individual resilience:

1. Explore how our brain reacts and responds to stresses and anxiety

2. Learn how our mindset and attitude can help us change our perception and perspective

3. Realise the value of the people around us to help us move forward

4. Recognise and acknowledge our own strengths to help us be more resilient.

How might you nurture your personal resilience?

For teams, Harvard Business Review noted 4 critical characteristics of resilient teams, and it can be really valuable to hold some conversations about these areas:

  • Candour: Is your team able to have open, honest dialogue and feedback with each other?
  • Resourcefulness: When faced with challenges or problems, can your team pull together to build creative and effective solutions?
  • Compassion and Empathy: Do your team members truly care for each other and share both success and failure?
  • Humility: Can your team ask for and accept help from other team members?
Team Resilience

An exercise I sometimes run with teams is to ask them these questions:

  1. What words and phrases would they use to describe a person who was ‘good at’ change?
  2. How would they describe a resilient team / business?

Using their feedback as a frame, I then ask them:

  • So how ‘good at’ change are you as a team?
  • How resilient are you as a team?
  • How could you increase your:
    • Candour
    • Resourcefulness
    • Compassion & Empathy
    • Humility?

How comfortable are you with change?

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