Springing Forward Together Thoughts on Resilience as an Act of Defiance (Module 2 of The School for Change Agents)

Posted by: NHS Horizons - Posted on:

Originally published by Leigh Kendall – 31st May 2019

Resilience was the topic of the second School for Change Agents webinar. Helen Bevan said resilience for change agents is the most-requested topic – and  Twitter was very busy with the School community sharing their reflections on the module content.

Resilience is an important topic because life in general can be fraught with challenges. Life as a change agent in particular can present problems: challenging the status quo can be lonely, and coming up against constant resistance is exhausting.

The concept of resilience can have a poor reputation: this stark imageshows the reflections of some health and care staff. But resilience should not be about ‘toughening up’. Nor should it be about bracing yourself, and enduring pain. Resilience is also not about pretending that everything is fine and dandy.

So what is resilience about? Resilience is about accepting that adversity will happen, and building skills to deal with it – personally, and collectively.

By reframing resilience in this way, it can be an act of defiance.

We can learn how to build our resilience by doing all we can to build connections with others – seeking investors rather than ‘buy in’, and by using relational language. We can learn to recognise that fine line between having enough pressure to perform well, and being too stressed to be productive (unfortunately many of us can identify with this!). 

We can learn about moral distress, which is when you know the right thing to do, but organisational constraints make it nearly impossible for you to follow that course of action. Kathryn Perera eloquently shared her own personal story of being faced with challenging circumstances at work – and what she did as a result.

We can take responsibility for ourselves, and build a growth mindset. We can understand that failure is not the end, but an opportunity to grow. We can teach ourselves to recognise the negative inner narrative, twist negative stories, identify what’s really going on, and what to do about it.

And possibly most importantly of all for resilience to be a true act of defiance – we can help build up one another’s resilience. 

Remember, you can’t be a change agent on your own! We need to work together. Not only can we then use our collective influence to make change happen, we can support one another, celebrate collective successes together, and we can also hold space for one another, offering support when it’s needed.

We can spring forward together.

What will you do to help someone grow their resilience? And what will your next of defiance be?

Catch up with Module 2: Resilience is an Act of Defiance. You can still sign up for The School for Change Agents, and we hope you’ll benefit from the learning on FutureLearn, too.

Module 3, Power and Purpose, will be held on Thursday 6 June, at 3pm (UK time). A recording will be available.

More reading about resilience from the Horizons team:

Growing Resilience Like a Muscle

Do Not Write on These Walls Under Any Circumstances: Resistance, Reactance, and Resilience

How Do You Really Feel?

What the Stoics Can Teach Us About Managing Our Expectations and Inner Narrative