There's been a lot of talk about resiliency this year. As a society, we had to toughen up in many ways and make hard choices for the good of our fellow men. This was the main message through the news, but if you managed to take some time away from the daily conferences and news articles and destress in front of the TV, you might have seen this topic popping up in your favourite series too. Let's discuss what we can learn from them!
As important as it is to be productive, it’s never been more important to find ways to disconnect from the uncertainty and chaos surrounding our daily lives. TV series can often offer an escape into a world of entertainment, creativity and stories that we can learn from.
Two of the most successful series on Netflix in the UK these past months have been The Queen’s Gambit and The Crown. You might have seen them and you definitely heard about them. Both are dramatized fictional pieces of entertainment that grip you instantly and if you start to reflect on it, you’ll find that both offer great lessons in resiliency.
Let’s start with The Queen’s Gambit. Based on a novel by Walter Tevis, this limited series tells the coming-of-age story of an orphaned girl. It’s also a great story about psychological resiliency. Beth Harmon overcomes abandonment by a parent, a traumatic accident resulting in the death of the other, years living within an orphanage and substance abuse “through well-studied psychological and biological factors that promote grit, hardiness, and growth.” (Psychology Today)
Psychology tells us that there were 3 factors at play here:
The story of the Queen’s Gambit takes us over a decade of Harmon’s life. The first episode sees her being taken to the orphanage where she’ll spend her next 5 years: the place where her Librium addiction starts but also the place where she develops her first strong relationships with Mr Shaibel, her first chess teacher and Jolene, her first close friend. Both of these relationships carry weight throughout her life.
After being adopted at the age of 15, Beth starts going to chess tournaments and thus meets many people who will turn out to be her support group within the chess world. Critics become friends, opponents become teachers and love interests become close companions. This support group becomes priceless by the end of the series, allowing Beth to embrace confidence in herself not only as a chess player but as a young woman ready for anything life throws at her.
1. Who is supporting you with this goal?
This question is fundamental in raising the awareness of our clients that goals are meant to be shared and celebrated. It opens up the conversation to ask about the strong relationships they can rely on for guidance, mentorship or a simple hug when they need it.
It also allows coaches to inquire about other friends and acquaintances who might be able to offer support on a given journey: colleagues pursuing the same passion or maybe that friend who brings the party wherever they are and makes you forget there are problems in the world.
2. Think about a similar time when you were successful in your goal. Who helped you along the way?
Asking your client to remember proof of their previous success is a staple of coaching. But take it a step further and help them consider the support they received then. Did they have a good mentor when they got their last promotion? Maybe there’s someone who can fulfil that role this time. Did they have a partner who held them accountable? Ask them who could be their accountability buddy this time.
3. How can you create connections with people who are already doing the same thing you wish to be doing?
Fear holds us back in many ways, sometimes even from creating the connections that would benefit us greatly. Help your clients make small steps towards better connections and watch their confidence flourish – resiliency will come with that.
The Crown teaches us resilience from a different perspective: the perspective of leadership, loyalty and duty. Now airing its fourth season, the story within the series showcases a fictional behind-the-scenes of the biggest events in UK history of the past 70+ years.
From being crowned sovereign at a fairly young age, to having to choose between loyalty to her sister and the crown, managing family and personal life in the spotlight as well heartbreaking tragedies in the kingdom, we see the character of Queen Elizabeth II grow into a confident and resilient leader.
1. Trust in your values
We all have difficult choices to make, sometimes quite tough ones. So in the face of solutions that seem equally valid, how can we choose? These are the moments that knowing your values and trusting in them is invaluable.
In the grand scheme of things, everyone has opinions and you will never be able to choose an option that makes everyone else happy. And that shouldn’t be your focus, nor your client’s focus. When push comes to shove, the one thing that matters is did you choose according to your values?
If you have a client who has tough times making decisions, build their resilience by helping them get clear on their top 3 values. It can be an invaluable awareness tool.
2. Step out of the comfort zone
Resilience is not built in comfort, it’s as simple as that. Resilience is built by getting through challenges and your most important role as a coach is to help your clients get to that sweet spot of #perfectwhelm – out of their comfort zone, straight into their growth zone.
Sometimes overwhelm can knock resilience out in a matter of seconds. As a coach, you can help your client centre themselves and help them simplify the goal.
Resilience is not simply knowing you can take on anything, it’s knowing that you can always take a small step forward every day to move you closer to the solution, to the objective.
A final takeaway from both series is that building resilience takes time and there’s really no way around it. Theory might prepare you for the challenges in life but only experience will build the resilience within.
And most importantly, the journey is not linear. It has ups and downs, weaker moments and strong ones and unlike many skills we learn in life, mastering resiliency doesn’t mean you’ll never feel bad again. It only means you have developed a resiliency toolbox that you can use whenever you need it.
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