Yesterday, one of our presenters at The Life Adventure, Dr Carole Pemberton, delivered an incredible session on Resilience For A VUCA World to a government department. They recognise not only the value in being resilient, but that it will become a fundamental requirement, not just for 21st century working, but also future living. This article highlights some of the topics, as well as learnings, from that session.
Resilience may be a buzzword in the corporate sector, but it’s undoubtedly here to stay. Even those working for the civil service, historically classed as a ‘safe’ and more predictable employment option, face an uncertain future. Just type any job role into Google to see instant results on how susceptible it is to being carried out by a robot in the not-too-distant-future. The world will undoubtedly edge ever more forward towards increasing unpredictability and uncertainty. If we stop for a moment to take stock of all that has happened in the last 30 years, let alone the last week, there can be no doubt of that.
Perhaps the greater fear in the workplace in the past few years is the arrival of AI, predicted to have a profound effect on future job prospects and security. Whatever our individual, collective and organisational concerns are right now, in order to cope with the changes coming our way, we undoubtedly need to be resilient. Without equipping ourselves with the tools we need, we’re like sails flapping in what will become, a rather ferocious wind.
What is resilience?
Recovery time is diminishing. Or perhaps it’s the time we allow ourselves to recover from stressful situations that is fast disappearing. Millennials and Gen Ys who have grown up with the internet may have normalised this more frenetic lifestyle, but as Carole pointed out, it’s a little like the boiling frog syndrome. This fable describes how a frog, put suddenly into boiling water, will jump out. But if the frog is put into tepid water which is very slowly brought to a boil, it doesn’t perceive the danger and gets cooked alive.
It’s not just the speed, but also the complexity of our lives too. We can’t fail but bring some of this into the workplace and the combination of these two can lead to a tipping point. There are 100’s of definitions of resilience.
Businesses have spent a lot of time and energy these past few years talking about purpose. It’s fundamentally important, but it can also be an unsettling thought process, bringing about unsettling conclusions which can often turn our world upside down. This is because we know that if we’re really clear on why something matters to us, then we’ll have a far better success rate and be far more resilient to difficulties that come our way. There are countless experiments and examples of this which this session will discuss.
Why don’t we do what we know is good for us?
We generally know what is good for us, we just don’t do it. For example, when we continually work late and our work/life swings out of balance. Our partner starts complaining they never see us, we can’t sleep and life seems all about one thing – work. We promise ourselves we’ll leave on time, yet in the back of our mind is a set of stories we tell ourselves.
What stories do you tell yourself which affect you detrimentally? What assumptions are behind those stories? What can you change in these in order to support your resilience? Again, the first thing you can do is notice that these are just assumptions you are making. Then ask yourself what beliefs you are holding onto, to support these.
And so, to finish where we began, the world will undoubtedly continue on in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) state and continue to make demands on us. And in order to be resilient in the face of these, we’ll need to learn to adapt and keep ourselves and our lives in balance. Check in with how you align each area of your life to your feelings of purpose and how you manage your energy i.e. make time to consider how you take care of yourself physically and how you stay connected to others.
To do this will take practice.
Thanks to Dr Carole Pemberton for much of the content for this article. If you’d like to book our session Resilience For A Vuca World then click here to see an overview and contact us to discuss and book for your team.
Which robot will take your job? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-34066941
32 year resilience experiment on Hawaii https://www.inc.com/scott-mautz/this-remarkable-32-year-study-of-kauai-islanders-reveals-7-keys-to-living-a-resilient-life.html
Resilience For A Vuca World session for organisations https://thelifeadventure.co/workshop/resilience-vuca-world-offline-talkworkshop/?r_to=6786