Ride the Black Swan

Ride the Black Swan

Take care of yourself, your family and your teams

Nassim Taleb wrote about Black Swan events in 2010. A Black Swan is an improbable event with massive consequences. We are in one right now. Every one of us is facing unknown unknowns. Our savings are impacted. We are concerned about family, friends and business as borders start to close. Many can no longer go to work. Am I well enough to survive an infection?

Leaders walk a blurry, dangerous edge between under and over reacting. The consequences of closing a border, a store or a business are huge. We are facing decisions under an overload of information and unclear guidance. There is little certainty.

Activate Centripetal Forces

There are disruptive centrifugal forces at play. Centrifugal forces pull things away from the centre. It feels uncertain, scary and threatening. Centripetal forces hold things together. They keep calm, control and connection. Now is a time to focus on the key centripetal forces that you can apply to guide yourself, your family and your team.

10 Centripetal Forces

These recommendations are aimed to maintain your physical health and immunity first, and second to support your mental and emotional wellbeing. 

  1. Discipline your attention: sip cautiously and sparingly on information
  2. Maintain or reinforce your daily disciplines of self-care and growth
  3. Exercise every day and make sure you get out in fresh air and sunshine
  4. Lock down your sleep discipline: consider stretching it to 8 hours
  5. Eat fresh foods & eat sparingly: lose unwanted weight if you can
  6. Stay calm and relaxed: a daily relaxation practice has multiple benefits
  7. Be present and savour the moment: catch worry, focus on breath and body
  8. Stay connected to your family: consider co-locating while you can
  9. Be positive and seek out optimistic positions: don’t catastrophise
  10. Keep cash on hand and set yourself up for remote work

No one can predict how this will turn out. Focus on what you can control and change. Fretting over provocative media hype is futile. Stay informed but focus on respected authorities like the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

Focus on Physical Health

Reduce inflammation, fatigue and poor health. Experts warn that that age, obesity, diabetes, smoking and chronic conditions increase risk of infection and consequences. Now is the ideal time to put in place a good daily discipline that nurtures fitness, sleep, relaxation and wellbeing. A fresh-food diet and relaxation will keep your gut bacteria healthy.

Master Anxiety (and worry)

Anxiety is a key risk. Uncertainty and risk trigger the emotion of fear. Fear will stir and stimulate futile loops of worry. It is essential to discipline your thinking. When you notice the discomfort of anxiety or loops of worry, breath out long and slow. Bring your attention forcefully to your breath, your body, and the feeling of being alive right now. As your attention learns to stay present on the unfolding moment, anxiety will dissipate.

Build Hope, Optimism and Joy

Hopelessness and depression must be countered. We may lose money, jobs and opportunities. Isolation can fragment the connections we need for emotional wellbeing. Humanity is brilliant at rapid bounce. We will find a way. Be active and practical. Do useful things like keeping your home tidy and lovely, cleaning your car, or reading a good novel. Be alert to rumination on losses and what could have been. Create a positive story with your situation. Spend time with loved ones and help each other build optimism and hope.

Know that things will eventually get better. Humanity will learn. We will come out wiser and stronger. When things are shaken up like this, it is a great time to reflect on what really matters to you. Perhaps let go of some things that no longer matter quite as much. It may be an opportunity to make a much needed change.

Bounce, grow, connect and seek flow.

Preparing employees for working remotely in times of crisis

Preparing employees for working remotely in times of crisis

  • COVID-19 has resulted in many organisations implementing emergency travel restrictions and requesting that staff telecommute
  • Major conferences, events and training sessions have been cancelled
  • The Resilience Institute offers specialised digital support for employees working remotely
  • The Resilience Institute publishes 10 tips for remote working success (below)

Over the past decade, flexible working arrangements have become standard practice around the world. Indeed, some distributed teams and freelancers of the gig economy may never actually meet their colleagues in person. For many organisations, it makes sense to allow office staff to telecommute. The arrangement saves money, reduces transit time and carbon footprint, increases millennial engagement and supports diversity. Gallup revealed that 54% of office workers say they’d leave their job for one that offers flexible work time.

Working from home – but not by choice

Flexible working may once have been considered a perk but the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in what some have labelled the world’s biggest work from home experiment, forcing thousands of employees to work remotely if their job allows for it. Immediately after the outbreak, an estimated 60 million Chinese workers were placed under full or partial lockdown. As COVID-19 spread, organisations across South East Asia, then Italy and the USA implemented emergency remote working arrangements. Some employees are allowed into the office on roster, while others are being asked to work from home until further notice. Companies including Twitter, Google, Amazon and Apple have restricted employee travel and requested people stay at home where possible.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, is a proponent of remote working and optimistic about the shift.

This may be simple for a tech company with a young workforce, equipped with modern laptops and robust cloud infrastructure. But many organisations have been caught off guard. They have no business continuity plan for a suddenly distributed workforce. Most production lines can’t function without human labour and, as a result, China’s manufacturing production has fallen to record lows. Global supply chains have been seriously impacted and, with demand waning, the global economy is slowing, possibly towards a recession.

For security reasons, many jobs can’t be easily shifted to a remote arrangement. Miltary and banking are two obvious areas. Nevertheless, COVID-19 is going to trigger experiments that will test human, technological and organisational resilience and ingenuity.

Remote working to maintain productivity

Countries like Singapore are less vulnerable than many others. Flexible working arrangements are commonplace and have made it possible for top talent to deliberately balance their careers with lifestyle. Companies like Dell are also prepared, having initiated workplace transformation programs back in 2009.

Organisations of the future will be looking at these examples of flexible working success and reimagining business continuity. What happens in a future where COVID-19 is but one of many threats, ranging from virus to terror, climate to political unrest? Could your organisation continue operations if the office was shut down? Is your technology infrastructure capable of handling the shift? Can your managers lead remotely? Perhaps, most importantly, are employees equipped to deal with the challenges of being physically isolated, potentially for long periods of time?

Remote working is not a new idea

Opportunities for remote working have increased dramatically since the advent of the internet. Those with specific skills can live productive – even nomadic – lives equipped with just a laptop and wi-fi.

Working from the bedroom (or beach) is a dream for many but the reality may present a shock. Some people thrive in their own space, operating without the distractions inherent in the modern, open-plan office. A Chinese remote working study showed that employees were 13% more productive at home, mainly due to the quieter environment. As you may expect, they also requested less sick days. Think about our ancestors: we evolved hunting and gathering in small, close-knit groups. In the evenings the tribe would gather and tell stories around the fire, then rest and repeat at sunrise. Public transport, open-plan offices and densely populated cities are not our natural environment. A home in the suburbs might not be such a bad place to work after all.

In reality, however, most home environments are not optimised for serious productivity. There may be family members present during the day or no suitable area available for work. The dining room table is fine for the occasional email but video conferencing won’t work if there are toddlers crying in the background. The boundaries between work and home can easily blur and many employees will find themselves working late, suffering disrupted sleep routines, experiencing resentment from partners and kids, and feeling lonely.

Companies need to lead the way

Governments are understandably focused on the medical implications of a pandemic like COVID-19. Organisations will need to lead the way in terms of securing productivity and supporting the livelihood of those in their care during turbulent times.

McKinsey’s report, COVID-19: Implications for business, states, “Protect your employees. The COVID-19 crisis has been emotionally challenging for many people, changing day-to-day life in unprecedented ways. For companies, business as usual is not an option. They can start by drawing up and executing a plan to support employees that is consistent with the most conservative guidelines that might apply and has trigger points for policy changes. Some companies are actively benchmarking their efforts against others to determine the right policies and levels of support for their people. Leaders must communicate with employees with the right level of specificity and frequency.”

At the Resilience Institute, we work with organisations around the globe to provide assessment and training – often delivered digitally – that equips individuals with action plans to improve their resilience and leaders with insights on how best to look after their people in times of crisis. Reporting on 60 factors of resilience we believe the future lies in providing targeted, relevant support, at the right time, wherever employees might be.

As such, we have prepared the following guide to help organisations equip their teams and leaders for success.

10 Tips for Remote Working Success

1. Set up a dedicated workspace

Employers are probably aware that most employees work from home even if they have not signed a flexible working arrangement. A report by Fortune reveals that 68% of people check work email before 8 am, 50% check it while in bed, 57% check on family outings, and 38% regularly check at the dinner table.

If we expect employees to be productive in the home environment it is necessary for them to create boundaries, both physical and time. Most organisations will be unable to ship standing desks to every staff member’s home but some simple tips will improve safety and wellbeing.

A clear desk and dedicated workspace improves focus and productivity.

Considering that staff will primarily be using laptops it is important that they learn optimal posture and take regular breaks. If budgets allow, companies may choose to ship a laptop stand plus external keyboard and mouse to each employee who is working from home.

To assist with focus in a potentially noisy environment, employees might choose to wear noise-cancelling headphones. For those in sales roles where client interaction will be required it is worthwhile investing in quality USB headsets that transmit and receive clear sound.

Encourage employees to blur their background if necessary during video calls (Skype has a setting for this) and to use an appropriate lighting source if client communication is necessary. A small, clip-on LED ring light can provide excellent illumination for a few dollars.

2. Encourage communication

Many employees enjoy the social aspect of work. Being suddenly isolated can result in feelings of loneliness. Motivation may decrease.

Use group conversations to stimulate formal and informal communication. Consider a “virtual watercooler” where employees can discuss a range of topics. Create a thread called “Working from Home” so people can share anecdotes, tips and success stories.

Encourage video calls whenever possible. Being able to view faces will reduce ambiguity and build a sense of connection. Equip employees with some guidelines around video call best practice, especially those who may be new to the technology.

For calls with large groups, nominate a conversation facilitator who ensures each person has an opportunity to contribute. Some people may interrupt or speak out of turn so create some protocols for group call etiquette.

Keep virtual meetings short. People will often multitask (that’s why having cameras on is useful) and they’ll almost certainly zone out of anything beyond an hour. Allow rest breaks for meetings longer than an hour.

Don’t see COVID-19 as an excuse to roll out more systems and software. Starting a Slack board may seem cool but how distracted are your employees already? Can you make use of existing tools, like Yammer, Skype, Hangouts or Sharepoint?

Encourage employees to have virtual coffee breaks where they can openly discuss non-work topics. Using technology effectively can help maintain and even build company culture. It will be integral to human success in a physically disconnected future.

3. Be empathetic

Employees will be working from the sanctuary of their home space and this brings with it all kinds of challenges, from the White Tennis Shoe Syndrome (finding any distraction more appealing than the current task) to the lure of the fridge, to kids who also happen to be locked down at home.

While running remote working experiments you’ll connect with employees who’ve just woken up after a rough night. You’ll hear screaming in the background. Some people will be hyperproductive (take note) and some will be wallowing in procrastination and doubt. Managers are not immune to this – they may feel the pressure more than most.

Everyone responds differently to challenge so ask people how they’re doing and show them that you care. Emphasise the importance of the organisational mission and how much their contribution counts towards the greater goals.

Be really clear about performance objectives but allow space for adaptation to the new arrangement.

4. Create a culture of recognition

High-recognition companies have 31% lower voluntary turnover than companies with poor recognition cultures. Use remote working as a way to encourage recognition, both peer-to-peer and from leaders.

A simple first step is saying thank you. The next step is public recognition. When teams are distributed geographically they miss the small wins – things that went well but don’t deserve a group email. Take the opportunity to recognise small wins by broadcasting daily or weekly group updates that are dedicated to good news, gratitude and success stories.

5. Hold virtual training sessions

When group workshops and conferences are impossible due to the risk of infection, employee training does not need to stop. Most training companies can offer webinar versions of their content, enabling employees to dial in remotely.

Tools like Zoom enable video meetings and webinars, with advanced functionality like chat and breakout rooms for one-on-one discussions. Zoom’s share price increased by 67% in 2020 with several large conferences switching to digital-only format.

Virtual summits and training sessions make sense, both environmentally and in terms of limiting the spread of viruses. They may not be quite as fun as a face-to-face event but they can certainly still be effective.

The Resilience Institute offers introductory webinars and deep-dives into specific areas including bounce, sleep, focus, emotional intelligence and high performance.

6. Encourage transparency

In times of crisis, transparency builds trust. From a team productivity perspective, shared task lists can help groups collaborate more efficiently. Tools like Trello (free), JIRA (paid) and Microsoft Planner (included with Office 365) enable the quick creation of boards (projects), tasks and delegation.

Highly visual, shared boards become the central repository of work in progress and are much easier to manage than email. Leaders can quickly identify which employees need additional support, based on the number of tasks assigned and forthcoming deadlines.

Consider letting teams explore agile ways of working. You may discover an emergent workflow that forms the basis for future business continuity planning.

From the perspective of company communications, it is important that leaders maintain contact and share important updates as swiftly as possible. Crisis situations are an opportunity to strengthen relationships and practice real-time resilience. Transparent and authentic communication creates a foundation of workplace trust.

7. Offer virtual wellbeing training

Employees will take time to adapt to a completely new way of working. Some will take advantage of the extra time and go for walks or attend group fitness classes. Others may lack the motivation to get out of their pyjamas.

Working from home is an opportunity to save money and improve diet by preparing meals at home. Encourage employees to move throughout the day and provide them with resources to encourage mindfulness and calm. Promote healthy sleep habits and discourage working late.

Keep training sessions short and focused. Encourage the use of self-assessment tools to build personal insight.

The Resilience App contains a comprehensive diagnostic assessment plus over 55 micro-learning videos designed to improve individual wellbeing and resilience.

8. Establish daily rhythm

The remote working experiment is an opportunity to develop high-performance habits, both individually and as a team. How about reserving the first 90 minutes in everyone’s diary for Flow State – the most important task/s for the day. After this, we share a collective break (meet at the virtual watercooler / Slack), then batch process emails and make video calls.

Some might schedule a second “flow zone” for the afternoon, followed by a break and time for recovery.

Bear in mind that some people will have kids arriving home in the afternoon, so they will compensate by working late. Be empathetic and discourage extremely late nights and weekends online. Leaders will need to model these behaviours because remote-working culture starts from the top.

The dangers of long hours are well documented and a study showed that upper-level managers who used their phones after 9 p.m. experienced decreases in quantity and quality of sleep.

View the Master your Day guide for suggestions and resources.

9. Mental health check-ins

Whether conducted by leaders, peers or internal wellbeing ambassadors it is worthwhile scheduling mental health check-ins to make sure everyone is coping with the change to remote working.

A guide to leading mental health is available here.

Many organisations choose to focus on cultivating mental wellbeing – or mental fitness. In this context, the check-in becomes an opportunity for coaching and support.

The Resilience Institute’s downward spiral provides a clear framework to help leaders and employees describe and sustain their mental fitness.

10. Train leaders to identify risks

The remote working experiment is fraught with risk. Some areas to consider include:

  • Conducting flexible work risk assessments and defining remote work policies. Duncan Cotterill have produced an excellent guide.
  • Employee wellbeing – sleep, fitness, relaxation, balancing home pressures.
  • Expenses – is an allowance available for working in cafes or for use of the home internet connection, especially if video calling is required?
  • Security – does the employee live with flatmates or others who can gain unauthorised access to company information. What security protocols can be established?
  • Mental health – be aware of behaviours that signal resilience failure.
  • Employee engagement – how can leaders maintain employee morale.

Sleep better: Do better

Sleep better: Do better

Focus, mood, energy, metabolism, gut health, recovery, immune function, hormone regulation, memory retention, waste removal, problem solving…

Sleep is absolutely necessary for all of these critical functions. Without good sleep, you are compromised. See below for simple steps to improve your sleep.

A Resilient 2020

A Resilient 2020

Well done! We made it to 2020.

The beginning of the year is a natural time to set goals, but it doesn’t appear likely that a new year will miraculously bring a new you. Be aware: New Year “Resolutions” can apparently do more harm than good (Amy Cuddy, 2017).

So how about first, a recap of the last 12 months? Celebrate what you achieved in 2019, what you learned, what you wouldn’t do again. What did you do well?

Slow down, recollect, then turn to what you want next.

Be honest. You don’t have to tell anyone your goals. They can range from light-hearted to critical, and be as long or short term as you need.

The key is to make the decision about what you do and don’t want.

Six quick goal setting tips:

  1. Be realistic
  • It is better to make small, achievable changes than pledge to act like a whole different person because it’s January. Try not to let your goals start with “I will never…” or “always”. Cuddy suggests “self-nudging” – setting incremental goals that will bring you closer to large milestones. Consistency is key.

2. Get physical

  • Write out your intentions, get a wall planner or make a vision board – whatever suits. In the digital age, words on paper provide more connection and intimacy with your goals. A word document is just too easy to lose.

3. Give it your best

  • Do you feel a little fear? Good. Entering the flow state is only possible when the challenge engages your skill. Without proper challenge, you’re just relaxing. Sometimes the fear of trying is all that stands in the way. Imagine the worst case scenario. You fail? You try again. No one is judging you as much as you think.

4. Everything has a price

  • Every experience, behaviour, interaction, relationship… can cost. You may or may not be on a financial budget, but no one has limitless time and energy. Five minutes of a destructive behaviour can be energetically expensive. Carefully consider what you can afford to spend time and emotional energy on.

5. Get over last decade

  • A study found participants who wrote down their regrettable decisions and sealed them in an envelope reported “feeling significantly better about their past decisions”. Physically symbolic closure can lead to real emotional closure. Learn from your mistakes, then leave them in 2019. Look forward.

6. Keep it simple.

  • Simply saying no to destructive behaviours and yes to constructive action is often all that is needed to reach your goals. Deep down, you know what is good for you and what isn’t. Strive for delayed gratification. Actioning that is a matter of impulse control:

Our History of Resilience

Our History of Resilience

With a professor-of-paediatrics-dad, a psychiatric-social-worker-mum, two competitive brothers, special forces, triathlon, ocean swims, surfski racing, medicine and an MBA, resilience promised to be an easy gig.

While engaging and fulfilling, it’s been a long, complex and difficult road. We have helped tens of thousands of people and many businesses.  Evolution has been slow. It has been maddeningly difficult to scale what should be a very good business.

In the early days, my family and medical colleagues thought I had lost it. Executives considered me very strange. Why on earth would you try to build resilience when it was genetic? Surely, it is not our role to fiddle in the personal affairs of our employee’s health, suffering, emotions and thoughts? Why prevent disease when you can get very rich treating it?

Today, “resilience” along with a bewildering list of synonyms is a core topic in parenting, education, business, NGOs, governments, infrastructure, ecosystems and sport. Billions are being invested in new ventures. It is a celebrity feeding frenzy dosed with gurus, placebos, and scams amidst true experts.

This reflection on history from my perspective explores the big challenges, important foundations for success, the science and evidence, mistakes, and how the future might look.

Discovering Resilience

“Resilience” first popped into my consciousness in 1994 thanks to Daryl Conner (Managing at the Speed of Change).

He introduced the role of resilience in leading change. The idea was not new. My parents were pioneers using medicine to shape better lives. Sport taught me the disciplines of expertise. Special forces demonstrated the incredible depth of human will. Sports medicine framed it in modern science. My spin on the idea was simple:

“Can we use business and organisations to develop the capacities of excellence in more communities?”

At the time health insurers had studied the impact of simple physical wellbeing programs. Foundations were being established. A good program included leadership engagement, health risk assessment and relevant lifestyle education. The early studies showed:

  • Health risk factors could be reduced
  • Sickness events and costs reduced
  • Absenteeism reduced
  • Staff turnover reduced
  • Morale and productivity improved

In a nutshell, health status improved, sickness care costs reduced, and the organisation was getting a positive ROI. Studies showed that an organisation could expect a net present value of $2 to $3 for every $1 invested. This was the US market with double the health costs of most developed economies. In a public funded health system, the incentives for organisations to manage health risk are limited.

In 1989, we were developing simple health risk assessments and basic workshops in health risk management, exercise and nutrition. In 1992, I built my first healthcheck to be completed electronically. Early adopters were definitely interested but mostly these were senior executives and professionals.

When a client asked me to include “stress management” with an executive health program. I discovered Merv Dickinson (with a PhD in leadership psychology). We designed interventions to grow self-awareness and self-mastery skills and kicked off a partnership in executive leadership development.

This was a transformative time for me. Merv mentored me into the world of emotions, mind and spirit and how to facilitate leadership teams. Our first resilience programs were up and running. Enlightened business was interested.

After an MBA and five years of an executive health clinic, I was finally ready to launch the Resilience Institute. The intention was clear. Engage leaders, run quality health assessments and provide evidence-based and motivational workshops to encourage behaviour change. And we got it. We could show that various physical, emotional and mental measures and experiences changed positively. There was a positive buzz in our engagements.

At the time and through most of 2000 to 2010 there was little competition. We had a free run. The market was tiny. The concept was peripheral at best. It proved tough to create a viable business. However, it was a productive period. We completed healthchecks on thousands of people, ran hundreds of workshops, pioneered the concept into Australia. Data became important and we learned to collect and present health and resilience data while respecting privacy and security.

Emotional Intelligence, Neurobiology and the Resilience concept matured. I trained with Daniel Goleman and then Andrew Shatte, learning how to assess and coach the emotional and cognitive aspects. We formed small teams with our colleagues in Australia, Europe, Singapore and the UK.

We slowly increased our reputation and impact in a number of global organisations. Clients like PwC, GE, AXA, and various Banks teamed with us and pushed our development.

Then in 2014, I realised we had to digitise further. Training was going to digitise, and the world of Apps was expanding. We had to expand from simple online digital assessments. The next period was really interesting. We ran a series of psychometrics and analytics on our assessments, experimented with new platforms, recorded all our workshops into short micro-training videos, considered how to build tracking and artificial intelligence into the platform. Our Resilience App was born.

At the same time, the rest of the world sprang to life. Resilience became mainstream. Organisations sought it out. Entrepreneurs, scientists and celebrities rushed to start businesses to make money while doing good. The variability is enormous from overnight charlatans to super-credible, deep specialists providing expert solutions.

As I write, hundreds of start-ups are investing billions in establishing solutions. There are already 10,000 apps in the market offering various self-improvement options. Many established businesses such as consulting firms have become ‘experts’. Your accountant may have become your psychiatrist. Consultants have resilience on their calling card for good measure. It is a chaotic time. As a provider, organisational buyer or individual consumer it is messy.

Defining resilience

Resilience today is where Logistics was in World War 2. The challenge is to integrate a vast number of interacting and moving parts. Each part has specialists protecting their domains and striving to dominate the solution. Will it be the sports scientists, psychologists, neurobiologists, doctors, coaches, tech giants, or the big four?

Our first challenge is to define, clarify and simplify language. Wellness means many different things and depression can be addressed with multiple approaches. What are we buying? Wellness, mental health, wellbeing, well-being, emotional intelligence, mental skills, stress mastery, peak performance or medical services.

Two axes are required to make sense of both the need and the required solution. The vertical axis attends to level of function from a diagnosis of disease to an example of excellence. The horizontal axis helps define the territory. Quickly examining your understanding and testing where you might move the solutions will uncover confusion.

Providers, purchasers and research would benefit from clarity.

Our second challenge is to integrate the concepts in a realistic, evidence-based and practical framework. This requires respect for each of the fields involved. While defending the boundaries we have to be flexible and generous. A psychologist might wish that CBT is the only solution to depression. With wisdom and flexibility, they might acknowledge that sleep, fitness, connections, breath training or medication may work better for some clients.

Our Diagnostic and Development model seeks to define the level of function and the options available to focus attention. Even experts suffer from mental illness and those who are sick can benefit from non-medical interventions. Some of us view the world through a more physical lens while others prefer emotions, mind or spirit.

There are many paths to resilience. To be a good coach, trainer or consultant is to recognise the perspective of the client and adjust the options you present in a language they can connect with. A good framework and basic training in the different disciplines will help us move more people in a positive direction.

Measuring Resilience

While any assessment might be helpful to increase self-awareness, we can do better. For the reasons above, a good assessment must be evidence-based, integral and practical. Most are based on one framework (say, CBT), one level of function (depression), and only one level of resilience (mental or emotional). Many psychological assessments are built on theories and tests with paid students. They don’t always translate to other communities.

The right assessment has to be clear, simple, the right length, reliable and valid. This takes years of psychometrics with different populations, experiments with reporting, and evaluating the impact of interventions. The web and apps have transformed our ability to run such assessments, but people will only complete them if they are compelling.

Wearable technology allows us to add objective measures such as steps, heart rate, sleep, heart rate variability, and even blood pressure. Combined with subjective answers, we are moving toward much more powerful assessment tools. We may well get to the point of having a panel of measures that could align:

  • Physical: heart rate, blood pressure, heart rate variability.
  • Emotional: heart rate variability, positive: negative emotions ratio.
  • Mental: focus time, switching, idea generation, situational agility.

Evidence for Resilience

Decisions on investment are driven from three perspectives. One is the organisation (and leaders) who believe it is the right thing to do. They value their people, want to reduce suffering, ideally increase wellbeing and performance, and be a good employer. They trust that it works and want a credible provider. Their people engage whole-heartedly.

The second is based on economics. This organisation (and leaders) ask what return the organisation will get from the investment. They want to know what costs will reduce and what benefits will accrue in dollars. If they cannot see a financial return, the state of their people is not their concern. They are not in the market. Their employees need help.

The third is based on fear. This is why safety and mental health are such lucrative services. The organisation (and leaders) are terrified of risk and being punished. They want to know what risks they face and must be seen to be mitigating these risks with an expensive report. They tend to gravitate to the bottom of the spiral and may end up spending significant resources mitigating risk that exists in a very small number of people. The rest run for the exit.

Ideally, a good resilience solution addresses all three needs. Organisations must understand and mitigate risk, improve the function and productivity of people, and seek to be a good employer. It is our duty as professionals to demonstrate the effectiveness of an investment in resilience and the potential ROI. It is difficult, expensive and time-consuming. Solutions have to bring an evidence-based, integral framework, measure with an effective assessment, provide a comprehensive dashboard, offer both face-to-face and digital engagement options, set meaningful goals and follow up with reassessments.

There is good evidence that resilience initiatives deliver results. Many still focus on single factor gains such as health improvement, positivity or optimism. We have been able to show that resilience as a whole improves, each of the 11 categories improve and every one of the 60 factors improves in the post training assessment.

Even better, a good assessment can indicate where your risks and strengths are so that the company can target the right training to the right people. In my view, this is the challenge facing the enlightened organisation.

The Future of Resilience

We have eliminated many of the risks and fitness tests of survival. Natural forces are temporarily at bay. Much of the suffering – physical, emotional and mental – is linked to self-neglect. The pressures of modern life trigger slow burn distress for which we are completely unprepared.

The costs measured in lifestyle diseases, loneliness, distress, anxiety, and depression are enormous and increasing fast. With nature at bay, communities, families and individuals are going to have to step up to owning resilience. When we neglect our body, emotions and mind, there is a personal and community cost. When we build these resources there are massive benefits. Especially, when nature provides a shock – fires, floods, earthquakes.

We understand this. The evidence is clear. The unsustainability of inaction is obvious. Enlightened communities and organisations are on the job. Over the next decade we will see an enormous increase in human resilience investments. The upside of helping people build resilience and risk of not doing so, will be clear. The reality will confront governments, health systems, education, business, communities, families and individuals.

Assessments will combine with data analytics and artificial intelligence, providing powerful insights into where risks and opportunities lie and how to engage them with precision. The implementation, training and coaching will move from consultants to in-house resources. Just like a sports team has an extensive support, logistics and specialised coaching resources, so a business will bring these resources in-house.

Some people are already on board. They take full responsibility for tracking and growing their resilience. They search for experts, put in place the daily disciplines, and experiment with devices. They are thriving from the benefits. Just watch Frankie and Grace.

Many are on the threshold. With the right communications and engagement, they too can rapidly take advantage of resilience.

Some are resistant or simply so overwhelmed by other concerns that self-neglect is a way of life. Here we will need kindness with wisdom and courage. They may need a firmer hand and more intensive support to help them bounce, grow, connect and find flow. This is a gritty challenge.

10 Tips for Rest, Recovery and Rejuvenation

10 Tips for Rest, Recovery and Rejuvenation

Written by 

The Season for Stillness

We tumble to the end of another warp-speed year. We spin through our tasks and grasp at floods of information.

We press too hard, too fast and for too long. Reservoirs are sucked dry. Self-awareness fades. Self-regulation is impaired. Your health and your relationships are at risk.

It is time to slow down, repair, rejuvenate and reconnect with what matters.

In a world of optimisation, ambition, pride and duty, we push hard on multiple fronts. The rest, recovery and rejuvenation cycle is squeezed out between ever shorter bursts of dopamine. We are child-like in our impulsive tapping, swiping, checking, buying, rushing, feeding… compelled to chase the next hit.

As I come to the end of 2019, I feel battered. My mind is a little flat. Attention is fragile. Relationships are edgy. I know I need a good break. I am struggling to disconnect, calm my hypervigilance, and allow the natural cycle of recovery. I sense it in our family, friends and colleagues.

Rest, recovery and rejuvenation (R3) is the next competitive edge. Ironic!

My end of year message it to give rest, recovery and rejuvenation your full attention.

At a cellular level, the R3 cycle is vital to repair and rejuvenation. It is the key to longevity and sits at the biochemical core of fasting, sleep quality, intense activity, meditation, and cold water baths. It is a promising solution that supports this process of slowing, cleaning and repairing hard working cells.

The R3 cycle is key to musculoskeletal strength and physical wellbeing. Intimacy, touch and dreaming (REM) sleep stimulate the R3 cycle for emotional wellbeing. The default network is the R3 cycle for cognition allowing us to focus, engage and refresh our minds.

Our end-of-year pause is an opportunity to capture the R3 cycle for life and family. Please make an effort to allow for adequate rest, recovery and rejuvenation as your year comes to an end. Engage your family in this process so that you may reconnect in more intimate ways.

Share what works well for you.