Hellvellyn from a distanceIn this article, Kate Griffiths explores how physical challenges can give you the edge in life and business; and the key ingredients that go towards making the leaders of tomorrow.

Two and a half years ago I was running Genesis Park, PwC’s flagship leadership development programme.  At that time we took the top 150 Directors from across the globe, those seen as the Partners to be with greatest potential in their area, and gave them first class leadership development training over a 13 week full-time programme.

One of the key themes of the programme was resilience and we brought in Sven Hansen from the Resilience Institute to teach that element.  In essence it covers much of what sits within the foundations of Whole Self Leadership and it focuses on three areas the importance of eating well, regular exercise and eight hours sleep a night.  These are the individual strands that are woven into building the key to success – resilience.

I was reminded recently of the value of resilience when a series of things happened that could be described as adverse and yet I found the ability to bounce back.  Interestingly it took the observation of another to make me realise what I had achieved.  So often with a skill, you assume that what you are doing is what everyone does rather than seeing it as a talent.  The theme came out in a conversation with a former client.  I was sharing with him what had happened over an intense 10 day period and he was impressed by how I had managed to turn very challenging and difficult circumstances into something creative.

So what is resilience? It’s the ability to bounce back from disaster or what some would perceive as failure and keep going.  Why is it vital for leaders be you an entrepreneur or in a sizeable organisation?  Because no one succeeds all the time.  Every person reading this article has had moments including you, when you wished the floor would open up so you could crawl out of sight and lick your wounds.  Here is the thing, the secret is in how your respond to them or as my husband says – it is all in the recovery.  Not only that there are three things any leader needs to be able to do  – face their fears, embrace uncertainty and take risks, knowing that they could go wrong.  These are all vital elements that make up resilience.

My recent holiday in the Lake District reminded me of the importance of flexing and strengthening your resilience muscle in every day life.  You build the muscle by taking risks.  That’s where the physical challenges come in.  If life is too controlled and safe then your resilience muscle will get flabby.  Sven, founder of the Resilience Institute, ran eight miles to school every morning and back again, as a child growing up in South Africa.  Following his lead, we have always made sure our six and seven year olds have had plenty of physical challenges.  They both learnt to ride a bike by the age of four and we avoided stabilisers.  Now they are are older we regularly take them climbing at an indoor climbing centre.  And this Easter we went walking in the North of England culminating with an ascent of Hellvellyn via Striding Edge.  They loved all the scrambling over rocks and the ridge walk and I was amazed that we completed a 6-7 hour walk in seven and a half hours.  Striding EdgeYet my proudest moment was when my six year old said she had conquered her fear of heights, something she has inherited from my side of the family. I too struggle with vertigo and for that reason took the decision to act as a role model for the girls by leading an ascent up the most exposed bit of the climb and it worked.

Facing your fears is a great way to build resilience.  Fear is a feeling based on your thoughts and is no more real than monsters under the bed.  Yet if you feed your fears then they become stronger than their counterpart, love.  It is often fear that is holding you back from discovering what you are here to do and doing it.  It is why there is a whole school of leadership based on physical prowess to help shift that because life is filled with uncertainty and as soon as you can be at one with that, you become unstoppable.

So how else can you start to build resilience if physical challenge is not your preferred route?  One of the techniques I practise and share with clients is mindfulness.  One of the outcomes of a regular practice is the ability to detach from the outcome.  In other words, whilst setting the intention for what you want to happen is a vital element of being successful so is the practice of detachment.  So often what causes you pain is an unmet expectation.  If you can let go of the need of that, that way lies happiness and it can help increase your resiliency.  As you build your levels of resilience then when you don’t get what you expected you will find it far easier to bounce back quickly and move on.

Love to hear your thoughts about all this below in the comments.  How has resilience helped you in your life?  What do you do to build up your levels of resilience?  Where is your fear stopping you from being all that you can be?


Kate Griffiths works  with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives.  Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining  what the new ways of doing business look like.  She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation.  The next one will be here in Great Offley on 9 May.  She also teaches 8 week mindfulness courses at Harmony in Hitchin; the next two start in May an you can book here.  If you prefer, get in touch with Kate and book in for a one to one time to think, business booster day on special offer in May .





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