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Bouncebackability


In 2004 I came across a word I had never heard before. It made sense to me due to my love of football and the fact that the manager, Iain Dowie was using it to describe how his team bounced back from relegation to promotion.

It still took me another four years to discover what Bouncebackability actually is. In 2008, after being made redundant from a twenty year corporate career I discovered that I was either at the edge of an abyss or that I was at the start of an incredible opportunity.

This was my first self-aware encounter with resilience but certainly not my last. Over the course of the next twelve years I built my knowledge and experience of resilience which helped me to develop training courses and interventions which to this day have enabled people to become stronger, more self-aware and more resilient than they have ever been before.

Through a mixture of mindfulness, emotional intelligence, mental health and wellbeing techniques, I have been able to build the level of people’s resilience, especially when they have really needed it.

2020 is proving to be a year when Bouncebackability comes into its own. After COVID-19 hit, physical ‘classroom-based’ training disappeared overnight. Trainers like me had to dig deep and look at how we could achieve the same results virtually instead of face to face. We did not have any time, but we did have the choice to sit down and put our head in our hands and we made very quick focused decisions about what to do and how to do it.

This was not necessarily about business development; this was all about helping our clients’ key workers to maintain their wellbeing and keep themselves psychologically safe through the most dangerous time that any of us have ever faced.

We began by making available several days a week to our clients to hold remote wellbeing sessions. This involved talking during the sessions with the key worker and helping them understand how they could be more resilient, how they were being more resilient, and what effect this would have for both them and the people that they cared about.

This has been going on since the start of lockdown and is going to continue very probably through to the new year, the feedback on the wellbeing sessions has been tremendous, when faced with how they have been managing themselves up to now and reflecting on their incredibly courageous and professional performance in both their personal lives and their professional lives, the vast majority have accepted the new found levels of resilience and are using them as a reservoir to power through what they have to do to help each of their clients or service users, but also to take care of themselves and to refill that reservoir with self-care.

The training itself has transformed from experiential in the same room to virtual. Often hundreds of miles apart but still experiential, reflection and learning using resilience techniques is not only possible, it has turned out to be even more empowering, getting delegates to experience changes within self in their home environments. This makes the experience all the more real and helps ‘stickability’ in regard to making these techniques become daily habits.

One technique that has proved incredibly popular and powerful is the emotional tripwire. This has helped increase the resilience of those working at home and helps to reintroduce the work/life balance by creating a new home/work separation. It is a visualisation exercise and I advise: “at the end of the day, allow yourself 15 minutes to do a to-do list for tomorrow so no thoughts are required for tomorrow’s tasks; then turn off your laptop and put it away (very important!). You are going to take a walk as soon as you finish work: visualise the walk and get a picture in your mind of the half way point; picture yourself at the half way point holding a tripwire in your right hand. Plant it firmly into the ground and then take the tripwire in your left hand and plant it firmly into the ground on the left.”

“The virtual tripwire is now set.”

“As soon as you can, go out on the walk and proceed to process everything that has happened today; start to decompress, accept and let go of any incidents and emotions from today.”

“As you approach the tripwire, you are starting to become truly ‘present’ and then, taking a big step over, you start on your way back home.”

“What you will do now is focus on one good thing you are looking forward to tonight; this could be preparing, cooking and eating a wonderful meal, spending time with your loved ones, pets, a bath, shower or indeed a Netflix binge.”

“This is what you focus on until you return home, walk up your path, open your door, as you are now back from work and your home is now your home again.”

The success of this simple but effective technique has led to all kinds of positive feedback including: “The session was great in getting me to think about tools that I can use to prioritise my wellbeing as well as planning ahead for my future in a way that would not be too overwhelming. I was also recommended positive mindfulness techniques based upon the difficulties I expressed in regard to managing my thoughts. Overall this was a great service and provided me with a safe space where I felt comfortable to share my thoughts and reflect upon my achievements”

This is what has helped so many learners to reflect, evaluate and put into action new resilience techniques and it is helping so many people remotely work for an extended period of time.

2020, as well as being an incredibly difficult year is also an incredibly transformational year and for me, being able to help so many people realise what bouncebackability means and looks like to them has been a real positive.

True resilience comes from within, is derived from experience, and helps change our lives if, and when we consciously tap into our reservoir.

Resilience is something that we can all build, all it takes sometimes is someone to ask you the right questions and reflect your experience back to you to help you understand what level of resilience you have, and what level of resilience you can have.

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