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Getting to grips with resilience

Getting to grips with resilience

With the global implications of Covid-19 front of mind, we’ve heard a lot recently about individual, corporate and national resilience. It’s almost like it’s an elusive superpower that promises to make us invincible, natural leaders, with unwavering confidence and the ability to ride any storm. Well, don’t believe the hype, it’s not really like that.

I’ve been told I’m resilient, but it’s not a superpower. Like everything in life, it takes time, effort and courage, and is something I’m still working on. But it’s a hugely important and incredibly valuable skill I have drawn upon in both my professional and personal life.

 

So how can you build resilience?

First of all, you need to know that unlike great bone structure, resilience isn’t something you’re just naturally born with. It’s 100% learned.

If you did competitive sports as a kid and never won gold (or any medal for that matter), lost something precious, crashed a car or have a crazy story from that time things went wrong on your gap year. If you failed an assignment, had a run of personal ‘bad luck’, moved to a new city or had a flat share that went disastrously wrong… these have all been part of the learning process and have helped build your resilience. Because resilience is how you deal with and transform a situation. It’s how you proactively propel yourself forward, it’s how you take control and make decisions, it’s how you learn and grow. And it’s a continuous process: something Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant talk about extensively online and in the book, Option B.

The second vitally important thing to realise is that sh*t happens, and it happens to everyone. Sometimes it’s seriously big stuff like bereavement, redundancy, miscarriage, relationship break-ups, life changing accidents or health conditions, and sometimes is smaller things like missing out on a job, losing a pitch, or have your best work friend resign. But it happens, and it happens all the time. You need to be realistic that life is not a glorious feel-good Instagram feed, and that sh*t will also happen to you at some point, so get ready.

My last observation is this: being resilient takes effort and importantly, attitude. As humans we naturally focus on the negative, but that doesn’t foster resilience, it’s just self-indulgent. Yes, listen to feedback, but also be kind to yourself. In her TedTalk, Lucy Hone PhD, talks about deciding if something will ‘help or harm’ her, and it’s great advice, especially across social media: will seeing those updates help or harm, will muting that person help or harm, will having a break from social help or harm?

Finally, here’s five practical things that I have found have helped make me more resilient and I hope they might help you too:

  1. Focus on what matters and what you can control – one of the biggest epiphanies I had was that I can’t control everything, but I can control me. It was so obvious but so liberating! By focusing on what really matters to you and understanding what you can and can’t control, you can start to make a plan.
  2. Make a plan – stop fearing failure, instead proactively get out your comfort zone, take action, get creative, make connections and innovate. What’s the worst that can happen?
  3. Make decisions – it sounds silly, but start making decisions. It’s easy to become paralysed in a crisis or a moment of doubt. But trust your instincts and make a decision. It might not always be right, but it will allow you to at least move forward and be proactive (see point above!)
  4. Be confident – don’t think for one minute that resilient people don’t doubt themselves, they absolutely do! But what they then do (after the initial ‘holy sh*t’ moment) is have confidence in their ability and themselves. Part of part of being resilient is giving other people confidence in you.
  5. You do you – understand who you are and what you’re passionate about. If you only ever think of yourself in a work context, it’s very easy for that to become all consuming. Yes I am a ‘boss’ but I am also a daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend and neighbour. Take time to explore who you are, what matters to you and what – sport, reading, cooking, creative arts, whatever – gives you headspace and valuable ‘you time’.
Stripe: more than red noses

Stripe: more than red noses

Today is Red Nose Day (RND), and a great opportunity to get out there and, in Comic Relief’s own words, “do something funny for money”.   We’re supporting RND at Stripe (not by buying plastic noses but paying to wear red and tell the worst jokes), but what about the rest of the year?  What are we doing as a business and as individuals to play our part and ‘give back’ beyond baking cakes and taking the calorific content of morning tea to epic proportions?

It’s a good question.  Let’s face it, we don’t really need £10 worth of homemade cookies and cakes at 11am, but it’s easy, quick and visible.  It lets us all feel OK that we’ve done our bit for charity.

While fundraising is hugely important, what’s harder is really being committed. What’s harder is standing up for something we believe in, tackling difficult issues, putting ourselves in others’ shoes, taking the path less travelled, thinking and acting differently. And asking your staff to do all that when you’re already a busy agency.

At Stripe, giving back is high on our agenda.  We believe it’s our duty to support the communities we live and work in, to provide opportunity, to inspire, assist, encourage and champion.  It benefits those around us and invigorates our staff, challenges perspectives and encourages fresh thinking year-round.

So, are we walking the walk – you decide?  For the past 12 years, we’ve offered every Stripe a Passion Day to support a cause close to their heart, had a companywide charitable focus for the year and given guest lectures to inform and inspire the next generation of communicators.  We’ve worked free of charge to address the taboo of self-harm, to challenge sexism and outdated mindsets in the communications industry and to raise awareness (and funds) for a specialist Breast Cancer unit.  We’ve slept out in freezing temperatures to support the end of homelessness in Scotland, we’ve improved school playgrounds, cycled across the country, paid every single internship and mentored rising stars.

We’re doing all this not because we have to, but because we want to. So, while we’re absolutely doing something funny for money today, it’s important to us to give back and pay it forward year-round.

Is whisky suffering an identity crisis?

Is whisky suffering an identity crisis?

I attended an event this week at the £3million freshly refurbished Scotch Whisky Experience that got me thinking; with other tipples like gin, craft beers and even wine (apparently ‘wine punks’ is an actual thing) experiencing shake-ups, challengers and consumption renaissance, why is Scotch finding it so hard to join the party?

Undoubtedly whisky is one of the UK’s greatest exports (38 bottles were shipped overseas every second in 2015, generating £3.95billion for the UK balance of trade), building this success on quality, craftsmanship and provenance. But as it continues to wrestle with itself on how to attract younger UK consumers, so essential for sustained growth, whisky may be being shackled by the very image it’s strived to create.

On the one hand an appreciation of the finest spirit, lovingly and slowly created, to be taken seriously, savoured and appreciated, and on the other, the declaration that there are no rules, no drinking rituals (to add water or not), cocktails are fair game and hey, just have it your way. It will be argued each has their place, but are they complementary or contradictory?

Now I totally understand the importance of history, of brand essence rooted in truth and of premium product quality, and I’m certainly not advocating throwing the baby out with the bathwater (there are some whisky brands doing really beautiful, unique things), but there are lessons to be learned from other heritage brands – Mulberry, Burberry or Pringle – that have successfully managed to marry time-honoured craftsmanship with contemporary appeal and aspiration. The way these brands are choosing to make and market themselves in a way relevant to consumers today is critical – both to current growth and to future longevity.

Having worked in-house at The Glenmorangie Company after its sale to LVMH, a whole ‘new world’ of whisky marketing was embraced. It was different. It was exciting. It was refreshing. Today there are some whiskies; Haig, Ardbeg, Bruichladdich that I believe are doing it differently; creatively attracting, engaging and targeting (younger) audiences, but they are in the minority.

So while there are buffs who may consider this post in itself blasphemy, without adapting to the digital expectations and marketing savvy sophistication of modern, younger consumers, whisky could be in danger of alienating the very drinkers it will come to rely on.