Living Resilience

Living Resilience

Originally published on and reproduced with permission.

“If one thing protects and builds Resilience, it is Integral Daily Practice (IDP). Here we transform ideas into actions that create the freedom of Resilience. IDP is the fuel of growth. Discovering the right IDP and shaping it into one’s life is the making of Resilience. This Resilience Insight is a personal reflection on IDP as a father, Resilience practitioner and older athlete” – Dr Sven Hansen.

Our calling is to live and work with BODY, HEART, MIND, and SPIRIT. Both in our own lives and in our work with others. Realisation requires the daily work of practice. In a busy, information cluttered world, holding this attention on practice is very challenging.

Life tests our resolve relentlessly. Again and again our good intentions slip under the deluge, practice wavers and sometimes collapses, resilience fails and the death spiral sucks us down. Then we come back to the recognition that our Integral Daily Practice (IDP) has slipped.

Accept, embrace and work at your IDP. It defines who and what you become. It is never too late.

Intention and a better life

Research shows very clearly that daily exercise of body, heart and mind reaps many benefits. If you care about yourself and your impact on the world you will find a way to do it. The fact is that many of us don’t care.

At 14, I recognised that one game of life is the realisation of potential, and I was free to choose a high road or low road. What a responsibility.

Ultimately, we have to care. We have to value our short journey and accept responsibility for nurturing the inputs of life’s experience. To see our life as an input to other’s experience widens the circle of care and empowers choice. Once we see that every feeling, thought and action can damage or enlighten, intention becomes clear.

A better life is a natural human impulse. Your daily practice is a commitment to live that better life step by step, skill by skill and day by day. With a good measure of humility and humour for our frailty the goal is fierce determination.

I learned about IDP from my father, who woke at 4am to his research love, a run, a swim and breakfast with us before a long, demanding day. By the age of 15, I had some success with waking early, enjoying the dawn, early exercise and some preparation for the day. At 30, yoga helped me understand how to prepare body, breath and consciousness for the day.

Since then my IDP steadily evolved with trial, error, children and wisdom. As I encourage, stretch and discipline my body, heart and mind it has become an increasingly spiritual practice. IDP gives me enormous joy so I look forward to it. IDP is now my default choice each morning.

Base Practice – the morning

I wake just before 5am, practicing some gentle warm up exercises and stretching before more vigorous basic yoga poses and some strength work. By 5.30am I shift into mindfulness/prayer focusing on an ethical stance, breath extension and control, cultivating positive emotion, and a period of meditation. Just after 6, I head down to the beach to exercise the dog and on a good day have a walk and coffee with my wife Susan. Three days a week I go out for a hard Ski paddle – ideally with a group.

As a consequence, by 7.30am, I am ready to rock. For some, that sounds like madness. There are times I slip and sleep in a bit or have to head out for an early flight. I am about 90% compliant. Every time I miss this practice I can feel the edge of confusion and irritability. It is so marked that within a day or two I am vigorously rebuilding my routine. When I am consistent life is in flow.

Getting this right has taken years of determined experimentation. Tackle IDP with a passion.

Aligning work

My entire career has nudged in this direction. In retrospect, pathfinders, sport medicine, executive health, and leadership training are all expressions of my urge to encourage the expression of body, heart, mind and spirit in life and work. While at times travel and work intensity can interfere, the fact is that I have designed my career to suit and support my Integral Daily Practice.

It is with some horror that I listen to stories of how people pour resources into machine-like work and leave nothing to invest in themselves. Start nudging. Look for communities and businesses that respect a full and rich life.

Learn to manage your boundaries and how to say no. Move away from people and organisations that sacrifice humanity for a dollar. And be sensible!

Enlightened organisations recognise and encourage Resilience at work. Motivations include productivity, employment brand, engagement, risk management and wellness initiatives. As we watch some of the world’s most successful organisations experiment we are confident that we will see measurable benefit.

For example, in recent times, Boston Consulting Group has shown improved productivity when consultants have to take a day off a project per week. Over several months of testing this improved productivity has been a consistent finding. We can now link sustainability and organisational performance (Harvard Business Review). Sustainability initiatives will work with people as the critical element of business input. Building productive, satisfying workplaces that support IDP will attract and nourish talented people.

Eat with intention

While I love to indulge and enjoy treats, I am very careful to craft my nutrition to meet my needs. Basic meals are a priority and always planned well in advance. I firmly push in the direction of veggies, fruit, fish and fibre and will mostly have a quality morning and afternoon snack. Breakfast is a base. Dinner is early and light or simply missed.

Smart eating has a short term productivity and energy payoff and huge long term health and longevity benefits. Get this sorted! Work with your family, friends and workplace to nudge toward smarter eating. Keep fruit readily available, remove sugar snacks and drinks, and build intelligence into the supply of food to yourself and those who matter to you.

Disciplined rejuvenation

Given our connectivity and 24/7 lifestyles, rejuvenation is absolutely critical. It is easier when you run your own business but the more I take conscious down-time, the more effective I become. I book little breaks in all over the place. Every few minutes I reset and slow my breathing. I take power naps when I can. Good sleep is a non-negotiable. Find a way to secure your sleep.

I have found meditation immensely helpful to lift energy and stay calm. After regular exercise, daily mindfulness practice which can include prayer, relaxation, meditation and biofeedback such as Em-wave, is the single biggest contributor to your Resilience.

Yes, you will need to invest in learning and practice and it will take time to recognise the payoff. Practitioners in the various expressions of self development, meditation or performance arts and sciences pretty much all find a way to embed a mindfulness practice into their day. Build your practice on sound diaphragmatic breathing.

Mastering the evening

Evenings are often the fail point. One is tired, hungry and can be distressed. It is easy to come home too late, drink too much, eat too much, watch TV and end up going to sleep too late to sustain your morning practice.

For many years I would come home at 5.30pm to be with the family and then go back to work to “keep up”. Some years a g o I just stopped working at night . Productivity continued to improve.

As a family we always eat together around 5.30 to 6pm, practically never watch TV and instead read, talk and prepare for an early night. This has a huge impact on the quality of sleep.

Necessary sacrifice

Without doubt this is not for the faint-hearted. You will have to make space for an IDP that works for you. You will also need to reduce energy-sapping activities such as alcohol, TV, online addictions and late nights. Over time the negative effects of these indulgences will be so obvious, you will enjoy their absence.


Consistency is challenging. The body aches, your emotions will scream against you and your mind manufactures good excuses. Practice is hard because the body is stiff and the mind weak. Skill takes time. At times you will feel like you are making no progress. The trick is to get enough help to be able to practice skilfully. Then one needs to establish bench strength and you will start to feel the benefits. Then try to arrange your home/travel practice around your life so that it is convenient, flexible and can adapt.

However, IPD is a non-negotiable!

Build support networks

There is nothing like having fellow travellers. You will need to seek them out and treasure them. It is far easier to find people who will undermine your practice. You will be working against the centre of gravity of our time. I have struggled to form more than a couple of close colleagues on the full journey. Much of my research and support has been through books and the Integral Institute. The practice and dedication to IDP can be a lonely journey. Seek out small committed groups of friends or colleagues. See if you can build a practice group at work. I suspect Practice Groups will become increasingly common and sophisticated.

Family as Practice Group

We all struggle with this as there are so many choices today. Young people tend to resist structure and self discipline plus we have different circadian rhythms. On the other hand, what could be more important than building your family into a Resilience Practice Group?

With enormous sensitivity, try to involve your family in components that work for them. Quality meals, family walks and shared adventures will prepare the way. Encourage your kids to sleep early and stretch in the mornings. Build it into your partnership. Experiment with aligning to the rhythms of others.

What about a conversation around the role of Integral Daily Practice in your family? Consider asking children to research various practices. I asked our daughter Lauren to research coffee and she promptly became a coffee drinker!

Encourage your family to experiment and learn for themselves what works best.

Developing smart IDP practices in exercise, relaxation, sleep and nutrition will have a profound impact on the long term wellbeing and success of your children. This is one of the most important roles of parents and family. It is not one to outsource!

Good luck and let us know what really works for you.


Murphy, M & Leonard,G (2001) The Life we are Given
Integral Transformation Practice

Creativity and Resilience

Creativity and Resilience

Originally published on and reproduced with permission.
Written by Benoit Griendl – January 25th 2014

Ghandi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Change starts with oneself taking responsibility for what is under one’s zone of influence. Companies have more influence and impact than ever. The future is bright if leaders create an environment where creativity is stimulated and innovation rewarded. Humanity faces huge challenges. What if we reframe this apparent crisis as a huge opportunity to build a better world? The critical condition to succeed in this reframe is to enable creativity.

In this Resilience Insight, we explore environments and organisational cultures that favour creativity. We show how resilience stimulates innovation within your organisation. Finally, we outline practical steps to build a creative culture through resilience.

Creativity & innovation

Creativity and Innovation are at the heart of Human evolution. Throughout our history some people, communities, and more recently companies, have been more innovative and creative than others. Consider the Renaissance in Europe and the impact of the ideas of Galileo, Gutenberg, and Leonardo Da Vinci … to name only a few. During the industrial revolution Thomas Edison, James Watt, Alexander Graham Bell and Henry Ford shaped the world we live in. More recently, Richard Branson (Virgin), Steve Jobs (Apple and Pixar) and Jeff Bezos (Amazon) have defined the world currently evolving. Every great historical change began with waves of innovations. These waves not only lead to massive wealth creation but have transformed the quality of our lives and work. Today many executives firmly believe that innovation is central to a company’s strategy and performance, but getting it right is a complex challenge.

The heart of Innovation: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose

Academics and leaders agree that the most important drivers of innovation are culture and people. Following Maxwell Wessel (member of the ‘Forum for Growth and Innovation’, a Harvard Business School think tank developing and refining theory around disruptive innovation), the reason most mature businesses can’t innovate is because they’re not designed to innovate. Instead, they’ve been carefully organised to execute. Too often, processes and organisational cultures create pressure that runs against the flow of innovation.

As stated by Richard E. Boyatzis, the atmosphere at work – which we define as “culture” – is 70% driven by leadership. This culture impacts significantly on the performance of the organisation (20 – 30%)

In his TED talk Dan Pink, explains that there is a mismatch between what sciences knows about motivation and creativity and what business does.

Here is what science knows:

1. Those 20th century rewards do work, but only in a surprisingly narrow band of circumstances.
2. Those if-then rewards often destroy creativity.
3. The secret to high performance isn’t rewards and punishments, but that unseen intrinsic drive – the drive to do things for their own sake – the drive to do things because they matter.

In fact, science confirms what we know in our hearts. Pink believes that creativity and innovation can be boosted by autonomy, mastery and purpose.
1. Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives.
2. Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters.
3. Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

These are the building blocks of an entirely new operating system for our businesses. When a leader integrates these three elements, people feel trusted and empowered to deliver results beyond expectations.

Stimulate collaboration

The complexity of current problems requires the collaboration of people with differentbackgrounds, able to bridge the gap between different disciplines. Great ideas emerge from the connection between theories, disciplines or technical solutions that existed before. But, once assembled, they create solutions, products or new experiences for clients. The entry of Apple in the musical industry is maybe the best illustration of this. More connections lead to more ideas. It requires good collaboration between people.

Good collaboration requires first that organisation develop the employee’s self-confidence. Secondly they need to create a culture of mutual trust between people and be sure that strategy is well understood.

Traditional rewards destroy creativity

Economists at the London School of Economics looked at 51 studies of pay-for-performance plans inside companies. Here is one of their findings: “Financial incentives can result in a negative impact on overall performance.” As long as the task involved using only mechanical skill, bonuses worked as expected: the higher the pay, the better the performance. But once the task called for even rudimentary cognitive skill, a larger reward led to poorer performance.

Purpose is becoming the key element that drives, motivates and enables the creativity of people and especially the younger generation. To boost creativity and so the performance of the organisation, leaders need the courage to put the contribution to society as a top priority.

As Daniel Goleman explained in his approach on Emotional Intelligence, knowing yourself and mastering your emotions helps to understand the emotions of others. This is empathy. When activated positively, empathy leads to compassion and compassion to purpose – paying attention well beyond your own interests.

Patagonia clothing company is a good example of a company living it’s purpose with great success. Patagonia earned $500 million in sales in 2011, growing almost 30% in each of the previous two years – all while setting the bar for sustainability. Patagonia’s values are clearly aligned with what its customers expect of it: love of nature and adventure. The company has not used these values as a means of making its product brand better known, but instead it has sought to invent new ways of showing that these values are at the heart of its strategy and are not just a result of it.

Accepting failure – No fear!

“The most important thing we do to encourage innovation is give people the freedom to fail…We really spend a lot of time upfront with our audiences…to really try and draw out from that what it is they would like to play…And if we disappoint their expectation, I think we are a very good learning organisation, really digging deep into understanding why it didn’t work,” Robert Kotick, Activision Blizzard.

Creativity expert, Ken Robinson says that if you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with something original. It does not mean that to be wrong is creativity but it is an enabling condition.

Education often teaches students to avoid mistakes. This can educate students to neglect their creative capacities. Unfortunately, our companies can be organised to avoid mistakes, too often minimise risks and push people to stay outside their creative capacities. This is a wasted opportunity.

Welcome the frustrations!

The gap between reality and desire is an opportunity for creativity.

“Typically in an entrepreneur, ambition outstrips resources and that inequality forces the entrepreneur to think differently. We’ve learned to innovate by raising our ambitions and constraining our resources.” Nitin Paranjpe, Unilever

Every creative journey begins with a problem, says Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works (2012). It starts with a feeling of frustration; we worked hard and we are facing a wall. We have no idea what else to do. Archimedes bath to Newton’s apple is the type of mental process described by Einstein, Picasso and Mozart. When we think of creative breakthroughs, we imagine a flash glowing like a light bulb illuminating the mind.

Scientists define inspiration through two common characteristics. First, “experience the idea”, before the Eureka moment, the intention and the goals are clear, but the processes, the ideas are not there yet. Second is the “moment of revelation” which is combined with a feeling of certainty. After his Eureka moment, Archimedes came out of the bath to run immediately to the king and share his solution, still dripping.

We all have the potential for creativity. Organisations need to recognise and develop that potential.


Resilience leads to Creativity

At the Resilience Institute, we observe how Resilience lays the foundations of autonomy, mastery and purpose. This helps to develop a clear vision for the future and also boosts creativity. The impact of resilience is straightforward: distress goes down, confusion drops, emotions are controlled, the mind is clear. Creativity follows and performance soars.

Resilience is learnable, thus creativity and innovation are also skills that can be strengthened. The “Eureka moments” happen in very specific conditions.

In our Creativity Supply Chain (see model below), resilience requires a full engagement of body, heart, mind and spirit. An integral daily discipline (refer to Living Resilience insight) will put you in the right place to be creative.

When your Creativity Supply Chain is activated, you are calm and alert (Presence). You engage your emotions (Resonance), your mind guides you according to clear values (Meaning), and we honour a goal (Purpose). The alignment is immediately actionable.

When you reach the limits of your effort, you experience a gap between reality and desire. When your mind freezes and you cannot find “the” solution, let go and relax. Relaxation skills will help you be more creative.

Resilience leads to empathy and compassion. Compassion integrates the needs of your colleagues and clients. Compassion frees the mind to think beyond the obvious to integrate human needs, sustainability and profit. When we achieve all three we have a purpose that inspires all.

Five Resilience Practices to boost creativity:

1. Lead by example! Have an Integral Daily Practice that supports your own creativity.

2. Practice Relaxation – a skill at the heart of the innovative process. Organise a relaxation space, facilitate breathing exercises before meetings, consider walking meetings etc.

3. Encourage collaborative ways of working. Prefer face to face dialogue over virtual communication, reward groups initiatives that support formal & informal connections.

4. Build your team’s Emotional Intelligence, encouraging leaders to develop self mastery and empathy for all stakeholders.

5. Clarify the values and purpose of your activity. Communicate it clearly and make sure actions and decisions are fully aligned with what matters the most.

Consider a Resilience program for your team to strengthen the creative culture in your company. Beyond processes, creativity and innovation are first and foremost the result of inspiring leadership. Go for it – this is precisely what we all need now!



Mc Kinsey Quartely (October 2006)
Wessel, M (September 2012)
Harvard Business Review Boyatzis, R, E (2008)
Becoming a Resonant Leader Pink, D (2009)
The Puzzle of Motivation TED Talk Goleman, D (2005)
Emotional Intelligence, Why it Can Matter More Than IQ Robinson, K (2011)
The Element Lehrer, J (2012) Imagine how creativity works