What is resilience?

Resilience: what does it mean to you? Over the last few weeks I’ve been attending a ‘winter wellbeing’ course run by Santo Tripodi at Uncloud, and in the last one we looked at the concept of Resilience. To me “resilience” is about your ability to deal with adversity; not how many times you fall, but how many times you get up. How well you ‘bounce back’. It was quite an international gathering, and we got to talking about the immigrant experience, as many of us had parents who had, for whatever reason, upped sticks and moved to a new life in a new country. There was general consensus on the inspiring resilience shown by these people, and how that had been passed down by example… and I felt a bit stupid for ONLY JUST REALISING that this included me. 

But, I’m English? My mum grew up in London, I grew up in Gloucestershire, I only speak English: I’m “white British” as can be? Except…. her mum grew up in Kolkata, and MY OWN DAD moved here from Denmark after the war. I’ve been so focused on raising my own family, and looking forwards, that I haven’t taken the time to look back, and appreciate those who brought me here.

My dad, who in his early 20s was sent, on his own, to a new country to expand his father’s stationery business (it didn’t work). After growing up under Nazi occupation, scurrying around for the Danish resistance, and all the trauma I cannot imagine that brought with it, he moved here, learned English, married and settled down and raised a family. That’s resilience.

My great-grandmother, who moved halfway round the world with two daughters and no husband (he died during the Spanish Flu epidemic), at a time when women could not vote or own property. Unfortunately I don’t know much more about her (but I do have her ceramic serving dish), but in my eyes she certainly demonstrates resilience. 

I’d love you to have a think about who you know who demonstrates, and inspires you with, their resilience, especially someone in your past. We are all here because of the care of others, and I feel sorry I took that for granted for a while.

See, it’s easy to miss things (even as we help others to find them!). I’m launching a course this week – Courage Quest – and part of it will be looking at the stories we forget, the strengths we overlook, and how to bring those to the fore just as this one was for me. I hope you will consider joining me for Courage Quest, and tapping into the power of a group perspective to uncover what you might be forgetting.

(PS: I get asked this all the time, so if you’re looking at timelines and thinking hang on, this doesn’t add up: it does. My parents had me much later in life, plus I’m older than I look, so yes, my parents – not my grandparents – were teenagers during WWII. My mum was a Red Cross volunteer! At 14, in London, during the blitz. Bloody fair play to her)

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