Building My Resilience

Over the last 3 years I have faced some personal challenges that I was finding particularly hard. This sparked my interest in Resilience. I have always admired people around me who seemed to be born with great resilience. The people who can handle anything and everything that comes their way in what appears to be an effortless and calm manner. In this article I want to share with you where my challenges began, where I am today and how over the last 3 years resilience has been so important to me.

The trigger for these problems was a car accident that I had at 19 years old, I was the driver and a van hit me side on at 40mph, impacting me so violently that it pushed my lower body to the left and my head to the right smashing through the driver’s side window. At the time, I walked away from it relatively unscathed, but a few years later, I had both my eyes operated on for detached retinas. Thankfully, it was a success, with just a little bit of lost vision in my right eye. All good.

Fast forward to over the next 30 years and I have had a great career as a Learning and Development professional writing and delivering management and leadership programmes all over the world. Confidently using all the space in the room to engage my delegates, as any good facilitator would, and is an important skill to have. Using small notes written in pencil on flipcharts and my notes to remember key points and enabling smooth transition from one subject to the next.

But over the last few years I have had a gradually build-up of back and hip pain, and it’s now so bad that I can barely stand for more than a few minutes and can’t walk very far at all without being in excruciating pain. The accident at 19 years old has brought on early onset arthritis in my spine and my hips. I also found out last summer that my right eye has developed a hole in the back, which is impacting my vision, and I had a diagnosis of cataract in both eyes. So, I am now facing more eye operations but this time Ive been told it may not give me back the vision I have now.

Tasks that I never used to think about have become increasingly difficult. I can no longer stand and work the room as I used too, I can’t move furniture around to make the room as I’d like it and I can’t see very well to see the notes that I have made to help me. This impacted not only my physical health but my mental health damaging my confidence, feeling anxious and extremely low. I tell myself that I am lucky that I can walk, and I can still see as there are many people suffering much more than I am and some that have life threatening illnesses. But this is my reality, and this is how I am feeling, so I needed to do something about it.

I decided to study and learn about how I can build my resilience, and how I can change the way I view things to a more positive outlook. The tools and techniques that I have learned have helped me tremendously. For a start I wouldn’t have written this a few months ago! Ive learned to understand how I react to change and what the thoughts and feelings are when I’m anxious and nervous. Ive learned practical steps to take myself through to give myself options and think differently and more creatively.

One of the powerful things I have discovered is that my resilience is something that I have the power to do something about each day, and not just something that I have admired in others. A combination of recognising what the feelings are that I’m having, capturing that moment when its feeling overwhelming then using the techniques to bring myself back to a calm state, have enabled me to think clearly, work through problems and come through the other side.

All resilience challenges come in different guises. Here are just a few:

• So much work that you don’t know which way to turn

• Coping with situations or people that make you nervous

• A task that you don’t really want to do that is giving you anxiety

• Family or work commitments that you are finding highly challenging

• A new role that you are struggling with

• A health issue that is impacting your daily life (yours or someone else’s)

Fundamentally, with all of these, there is something that has happened, how you react and then, what happens next. It is through a combination of mindfulness, having a growth mindset and using practical tools and techniques, that help us to a positive outcome, for the what happens next.

It has been so impactful for me, that I now want to share this with others, through coaching and by stepping back into the classroom (physical or virtual) to deliver short practical sessions.

About the author – Linda LaBrooy,

Linda’s career spans nearly 30 years in learning and development and this has been recently recognised by becoming a Fellow and Accreditation Mentor for the Learning Performance Institute.  Linda is one of the creators of the LPIs new certification programme.  She has also recently been a member of the CIPD Learning Matters Committee for the Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire branch.

Linda has enjoyed working in FTSE 100 companies both nationally and internationally, designing and implementing global learning initiatives for leadership and operational resources and courses.  She marries her knowledge of learning and development with her skill with working with subject matter experts creating bespoke operational learning initiatives. 

Linda is an experienced ILM Level 7 coach and has helped several companies implement coaching methodologies. As a qualified coach, she is passionate about developing people to be the best that they can be and has a special interest in resilience coaching. Linda has coached many managers and leaders, helping them navigate new roles or making new career choices. She has also mentored many learning and development professionals. 

Her accomplishments include developing the strategy for the UKs leading retailer bringing coaching to the forefront across the company. Instrumental in the design of an industry leading, interactive, Trainer Excellence Programme for learning professionals. Linda is also a mentor to new L&D Managers and HR Professionals working on large-scale HR Projects

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