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Which ninja turtle are you? Maybe strive to be a resilience ninja…

You can listen to the audio version of this blog via Spotify.

Altering our course

Resilience. That’s something we need by the bucket load right now. We hear the words ‘challenging’, ‘uncertain’ and ‘unprecedented’ a lot because well, that’s the situation we find ourselves in right now. The fact that COVID-19 is not going anywhere for the foreseeable future, means that the majority, if not all facets of our lives are affected by the virus. Our job and how we carry it out, our home life – how we all feel mentally and emotionally and how we might allow this to affect our relationships; if we have children – how they’re feeling about school, college, university and their varied experiences and how we can help them to navigate all this; any pastimes we might have – whether they can still continue, or maybe a different version of; seeing friends – we need to be creative with who we can see and where - #ruleof6; our finances – how safe is our job? If we don’t have savings, maybe we decide we should, for that proverbial rainy day; travel – maybe plans are on hold, maybe holidays are being delayed, perhaps you can be creative and change destinations – the fun is still there to be had. Everything is potentially affected and that’s why being resilient is crucial right now, because it means we have the ability to take a deep breath and be resourceful and creative to cope with what the new normal throws at us.

Maybe we feel our dreams and goals are no longer possible. Because who would have thought when we made those New Year resolutions in January of this year, that this is how it would all pan out… I chuckle to myself when I look back at the Winning Edge social media posts I put on Facebook in early 2020. Oh, the optimism! The giddy excitement of the possibilities available to us over the coming 12 months… But of course, the opportunities are still there for the taking, albeit maybe in a more diluted or muted form, or maybe on hold for the time being.

Being a guardian of our own galaxy

“It’s 3:20 am. I got picked up for work at 6:45am yesterday. I am not good with math, especially after being up for approximately 61 hours but I think I’ve been up for over 77 hours. I did a table read for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 this morning and then shot all day on Passengers and just now wrapped some 144 hours later. Weirdly both films, which I’ll be shooting back to back, are being shot in Atlanta at Pinewood studios. We have the best crew. Total rock stars busting their asses. And the stuff we’re shooting. My God. I can’t wait for you to see it. I go back in about 8 hours to do more. I’m doing what I love. It doesn’t feel like work. Even though it is. I’m having fun. I’m overcome with joy and gratitude. I felt like posting this to say to anyone out there chasing your dream…Fifteen years ago I felt the same passion I feel today, but I had very little opportunity. I had to hustle hard and go hungry. I had to eat sardines and figure out how to get gas money. And I never had a plan B. I never stopped believing. Ever. Don’t give up. Apply constant pressure for as long as it takes. It will break before you do. Go get it.”

The above social media post by actor Chris Pratt demonstrates precisely the definition of resilience. It’s about never giving up. Believing that it is possible, that you can power through and achieve.

There are countless stories of where resilience has been employed and amazing feats have been achieved. To name but a mere few:

  • Abraham Lincoln failed in business at age 22 and at 25, his sweetheart died when he was 26, he had a nervous breakdown age 27, lost congressional races at age 34, 37 and 39, lost senatorial race age 46 and age 49. At fifty-two years old he became President of the USA and is now remembered as one of the great leaders in world history.
  • Winston Churchill was not particularly academically gifted and also, he had a speech impediment. Not only did he win a Nobel Prize but became one of the most inspiring speakers of the time.
  • Thomas Edison, kicked out of school but went on to successfully achieve his goal of inventing the lightbulb after 10,000 failed attempts.

Resilience at it’s best. All great stuff for those individuals but how does knowing this help you right now you might be wondering. With this pandemic madness, how does knowing people have succeeded in the face of adversity and failure, help you get through all this? Maybe you don’t want a Nobel Prize, you don’t aspire to make inspiring speeches or to make a great discovery, you just want to wallow, eat your body weight in chocolate and box set your way through the latest on Netflix. Do it. Sometimes that’s what we need. However, long-term, to maintain good mental health, we need to climb out of our pit of despair and make the conscious decision to make things better for ourselves.

It starts with the way you’re choosing to think about the situation. Recently Joe Wicks posted a heartfelt admission that he’s struggling with his mental health right now. This is he of #PEwithJoe fame – The Body Coach. ‘How can he be suffering?’ you might ask yourself, the guy is raking it in with his 90-Day Plan, YouTube videos and cookbooks, not to mention the warm and fuzzy feelings he must have because he’s raised half a mill for the NHS. So, how can he be finding things tough at the moment?! Even the Body Coach finds it difficult to adapt to this situation but his advice on using exercise to shift your mindset is paramount. Just getting up and moving outside for some fresh air can help to reframe your attitude. Reframing and shifting our mindset helps us to re-build the resilience we need.

Grit, Passion and Perseverance

Angela Duckworth’s book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance and her powerful TED talk of the same name, describes that to be gritty means you have both the determination to continue to do something even when people tell you it’s hard and, that you’ll also have a sense of purpose and direction on one project to see it to its completion. With grit and resilience, no matter what life may throw at us, we’ll be determined and focused.

There are distinct echoes with these teachings and The Winning Edge and it’s both exciting and satisfying to think our Programme, conceived almost four decades ago, is still so relevant for all. Understanding we’re in charge of our own destiny, choices and decisions, is crucial to knowing we alone choose the path our life will take. COVID or no COVID. Anything we want enough, we can work with tenacity to achieve - whether that’s productivity at work, stronger relationships, planning a project for home, a health and fitness goal or whether it’s to build and maintain good mental health. 

The landscape we find ourselves in at the moment isn’t going anywhere fast and so a mindset of resilience is key. And it’s important that it’s a habit – a programme we have running in the background.

I will leave you with this interesting excerpt with journalist Sian Williams who looked into how we can nurture our own resilience – with a number of interesting interviews with those who know. 

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