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Resilience: answering the big question

Assoc Prof Marcus O'Donnell summarises the key principles and ideas covered in 'Professional resilience: building skills to thrive'.
SPEAKER: So we’ve come to the end of our two weeks together. I hope you’ve really enjoyed yourself. And I hope you’ve learned a lot. In this step, we try to answer our big question, how can we learn to be more resilient? And in the article, I summarise my key takeaways. They include working with others, being kind to ourselves, and discovering a sense of purpose in our work and our lives.
As I said at the beginning of the week, the real challenge begins now that the course is coming to an end. What will you do? Which of the strategies we’ve explored will you look at more closely? And what will you do within the next month to help consolidate your learning? What life experiment will you begin?
A couple of steps ago, we asked you to begin filling out your resilience plan. It’s now time to do some more work on that plan. The resilience plan worksheet asks you to analyse your skills and experience in five key areas and then decide on short- and long-term development goals. It may take you some time to complete this. And you might need to work on it over the next couple of weeks. But I’d really encourage you to set up at least two short-term goals that you’ll start to work on immediately, some things you can accomplish in the next month.
There are lots of additional resources at the end of each of our steps, including some short courses that you can do in particular areas. One of your goals might be to explore these further. But try to also decide on something practical, a new behaviour that you can try out in your life. And then match that with a way to monitor yourself, some way of checking in on how this is working for you.
You might commit to write a reflection each day in a notebook. Or maybe you choose to use the trip home after work as a time for reflection. Or you might decide that on Sunday afternoon, you’ll take a walk by yourself, and you’ll use this time to check in and see how you’re going. In the end, that’s how we learn to be more resilient. We try out new things, we reflect on them, and then we decide what to do next. Thanks for being with us. Thanks for all your comments. The course remains open for the next few weeks. And we have new learners starting all the time.
So please feel free to come back and explore things further and to continue the conversation. It’s been really great having you with us.
The big question we set out to answer at the beginning of this course was: how can we learn to be more resilient in both our personal and professional lives?
By now, each of you will have come up with a very personal answer to this question. Hopefully the frameworks we’ve explored together in this course have contributed to your thinking.

What we covered

In the first week we explored some of the different ways that resilience has been defined – from individuals overcoming adversity to ecologies of community support.
Many academic psychologists will insist on the difference between resilience and other concepts such as flourishing, thriving or wellbeing.
From a theoretical point of view they are right, but – from a practical point of view – when we look at what skills, capacities, experiences and values drive these optimum states, there’s a lot of overlap, which is why, this week, we looked at how these help us to ‘bounce back’ in times of stress and difficulty, and to live well and fully in times of stability.

Final takeaways

To become more resilient, my four key takeaways from the research presented in this course are:
  • Resilience is something we build in concert with others: that is, we learn to become more resilient with the support of friends, family and colleagues both when we receive their help and when we help or engage with them.
  • We need to develop a suite of skills and capacities, such as problem solving, creativity and communication, that act together to enable us to live more resilient lives.
  • We need to be kind to ourselves and quieten our inner critic while remaining open and honest with ourselves; developing mindfulness practices can help with this.
  • Purpose drives us: we are meaning-seeking creatures, and a strong sense of purpose in our life helps make us resilient.
If you haven’t already, you may also want to download this contemplative exercises planner to try out four weeks of daily mindfulness activities and see what difference this makes to your everyday resilience.

Your task


609 Reviews
Watch the video from Marcus to find out more about the key ideas and principles that you’ve covered in this course.
In the comments, share and discuss your own key takeaways.
You may also want to use this opportunity to clarify your understanding about any of the concepts we’ve covered before taking the test in the next step.
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Professional Resilience: Building Skills to Thrive at Work

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