Resilience: My top five tips for having it, keeping it and growing it in 2020

Thierry Lalchere
By Thierry Lalchere | 15 September 2020

Thierry Lalchere is talent and HR director Havas Australia.

In these "unprecedented” and volatile times, there’s a lot of talk about resilience: how important it is; how you need to have it; how you should develop it further; or how the current crisis is a test of our resilience. In my job I often hear from leaders who want to hire people who “are resilient”. It’s a funny request, it sounds sort of like saying “I want to hire people who are ‘living in Bondi’, as if it’s some sort of fixed attribute. In our industry, living in Bondi would be a lot easier to find!

So what is resilience? Currently, it is one of those buzz words being bandied around and over-used so the meaning and perception of it has changed even in the past couple of months. Let’s start with what it isn’t. Resilience is NOT mental toughness, where we expect people not to have deep feelings. We can’t change how mentally tough we are, or not easily. In my opinion, if I can quote my current literary crush, Glennon Doyle, “feelings are for feeling” and there’s something to be said for experiencing those emotions. Just as dangerously, resilience is often mistaken for endurance, tolerance or selflessness. But all of those things have a finite ending, you can only give up your own needs, or endure suffering for so long. If resilience was about endurance, we would eventually come to the end of the resilience tether.

So what is resilience?

an ability to recover from, or adjust easily, to misfortune or change

Resilience is about how we recover and recharge.

So using what we’ve learned from our Host/Havas experiences, and all the fun 2020 has thrown our way, these are my five top tips for keeping and growing resilience in a world that will, quite frankly, never be the same again.

  1. Redefine how you think of resilience. Think of resilience as a bank account. You put money in the bank with things that recharge you, and money comes out of the bank with things that deplete you. It might be walking outside in the sunshine, meditating, reading a good book or connecting with a friend. Money might come out of the bank with a challenging client interaction, a slew of meetings with no break, or watching too much news (particularly at the moment). It’s not always what we think either. For example, spending time with my kids can definitely swing both ways at the moment! The funny thing is, with the busy-ness of our lives some of our people don’t even know what puts that credit into their bank, and what kind of thing takes the credit out. So now is probably a good time to define what makes you resilient and what you can do to boost your levels and keep some reserves in your bank for the future.
  2. Be aware of your Resilience Factor – your R.F. It's important for us to constantly monitor our account (which does take some focus and awareness) and check-in on whether we’re in the positive or the negative. If we’re in the negative, that’s when we need to do something that recharges us. The bank will only overdraft you so much, believe me.
  3. Find new ways to boost your Resilience Factor. Complicating things further, most of the world is operating with a negative R.F. or right on the brink of it. The level of stress that we’re all operating under, and the limitations on our daily life, often mean we can’t seek recharge where we normally would: we can’t fly home to visit family, we haven’t taken a real holiday in ages because we’re waiting to the borders to reopen, or someone we know and often rely on has lost their job and is struggling… all requiring us to look harder for the space, and spend more time on recharging.
  4. Everyone’s boundaries are different and no one will hold your boundaries for you. People often say to me: “I can’t believe so-and-so emailed me after 5pm” or “So-and-so booked a meeting when I was planning to have lunch”. That can be frustrating, but I look at it as people meeting their own needs. As a single parent who works full time, I fiercely guard 5-7pm of an evening. And then when the kids are in bed I’m happy to work on emails, or have a late call. I try to be mindful of others, but I also let my team tell me what works for them, and I tell them that I don’t expect them to work after 5pm, that just works for me. So if you need a lunch break at a certain time, block it in your diary. Or if you need for the work day to end and to feel like you can step away from your desk, turn off your work emails and messages and tell your team that’s how you work best.
  5. Find a buddy who makes you 100%. This tip is borrowed from another one of my favourites, Brene Brown. “We have collectively hit weary.” No one is operating at 100% right now. But on those days you are operating at 20%, find someone who is operating at 80% and let them help to pull you up. And likewise, when you’re at 75%, reach out to someone who is at 25% and offer a hand.

Employers and leaders who recognise the importance of resilience in the true definition of the word and make time and space for it, talk about it openly and engage their staff on how to be more resilient…they will come out stronger. They will find a more committed and balanced workforce, one that is resilient through the rollercoaster that will undoubtedly be the year ahead, and one that will be more effective at regaining the balance that has been lost.

Host/Havas were the winners of the Resilience Award at the AdNews Agency of the Year Awards. Check out all the winners here.

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