Resilience and mental wellbeing

I’m fascinated by the topic of resilience and the interplay with mental wellbeing. Both have been at the centre of a much discussion in the world of work over the last few years and whilst I’m by no means an expert on the specific topics, I wonder whether both are two sides of the very same coin.

The archives are full of books and articles telling us how to build resilience at work, we talk about grit and determination and we have developed models and assessments to determine the level of resilience of employees and candidates. Meanwhile at the same time, we’ve raised the importance of understanding mental wellbeing in the workplace, identified means of supporting and analysed the impact that mental health related absences are having on productivity.

I can’t help thinking that we are missing something much deeper that lies at the root cause between the two issues. Something that is changing our relationship between human being and work, or indeed human being and life itself.

As I write this at the moment I have two children waiting exam results, one for GCSEs, one for A-levels. Already the amount of institutional pressure that is placed on them is enormous. “Unless you get x, you won’t get y”. At the same time, they’re bombarded with images and messages of societal perfection, of friends and lovers and situations which have no resemblance to the reality of most ordinary people.

All before they enter into the world of work, where will tell them that they will need to work until they’re 70 or older. Where we will resist providing them with stability of employment, savings for the future, career paths or development and we will constantly tell them that the jobs they are doing now will no longer exist in the future.

And then we will inform them that they need to build resilience, and we will show them how through a model and share a TED lecture from an expert on it. Have a lunch and learn too. Before reminding them of our mental health awareness week and the fact that they need to look after themselves, because they’re our most important asset. And it’s ok to talk.

I don’t know, but it all seems a bit confused to me. We have the power to change the root cause as well as treat the symptoms, but somehow we divert less energy time and focus there. Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world where our natural resilience was good enough and we created the environment that nurtured mental well-being?

Just a thought.

Permission to speak, Sir?

Some conversation just “feel” harder to have than others. We all have one or two conversations that we need to have hanging around in our brains. We know we need to have them, but we don’t. We know we would be better for having them, but we have so many more important things to do.


I know, I have them too. Those issues that need to be tackled, those situations that need to be challenged, those problems that are….well problems, that you can’t quite face, but can’t quite live with. We’re walking around with a host of these things banging around in the dark recesses of our brains day in, day out.

Our lives our full, our days are jam-packed with situations that we deal with. But our quiet moments, our dreams, our nightmares are full of situations that we don’t deal with. Such is the complexity and intricacy of this existence that we call life. It isn’t perfect, it isn’t the whole package, but it is everything that we have and all that we will ever have.

The thing that makes these conversations tougher than the others, the thing that makes us hesitate, the thing that makes us put this back to another day, is permission.


The conversations that we have are easy.

The conversations that we don’t have are hard.

That sounds simple, but in many cases it isn’t anything to do with the actual content there is something darker going on in the back of our little minds. There is something that stops us and it is the concept of permission. We don’t feel that we are able, we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, we don’t want to take the risk.

Yet we all know, that when we find the courage to speak out, when we find the focus to tackle these issues, when we manage to put our fears aside and open our mouths, well then things become a whole lot simpler.

Permission is a nonsense, permission is the crutch of inaction, permission is the excuse that stops you from starting your life. Permission is the kindling of the fire that will make you the person that you can and should be.

Set fire to permission, go ask the questions, go challenge the status quo. Go take a weight off your mind.

You know you’re worth it….and you know things will be better if you do.