The Three Elements of Resilience

From our habits to the movies we play in our minds, how we approach the Elements of Resilience will determine whether we create Spirals of Resilience or Spirals of Stress and Overwhelm. 

As a leader, are you creating Spirals of Stress and Overwhelm for yourself and your team, or Spirals of Resilience? And how can you tell the difference? 

If you’re already working with us, you’ll be aware – or if you’re going to be working with us this year you will become aware – that six areas of our lives contribute to our resilience: Health, Purpose, Perseverance, Problem Solving, Composure, and Relationships. In future blogs, I will discuss these in more detail to share how you can ensure your resilience in each area.

But before I do, there is some groundwork to put in place…

Because while it’s really important to be resilient in each of the six areas I have mentioned, it is equally – if not more important – to understand how you can literally and metaphorically put yourself in the Resilience driving seat. 

It’s really is so easy, and once you have grasped the ideas, resilient thinking and action will become second nature. 

And this is where The Three Elements of Resilience come in. 

What are the Three Elements of Resilience? 

Let’s first introduce you to the elements. They are: 

  • Habits 
  • Mental Movies 
  • Attention 

The three elements combine and can be the deciding factor as to whether you respond with resilience to a situation or whether you go into a spiral of stress and overwhelm. 

Let’s have a deeper look at each of the elements…


Habits are those things you repeatedly do. Habits can also refer to your habitual thinking. Habits can be helpful – like getting enough sleep, setting boundaries for work and family time and encouraging your team to switch off and do the same. Healthy Habits also include setting aside regular time to exercise or move in a way that feels good for you. However, your habits can also lead you to overwhelm, for example regularly working late, drinking alcohol to relax or trying to take on huge projects on your own without seeking help. 

The key here is to consider what you regularly do: it’s OK to work late every now and then to finish off an important piece of work, and it’s totally fine to have a drink once in a while to let your hair down. Here I am challenging you to bring into your conscious awareness your reflex actions and to take an honest look. 

Questions to reflect on in relation to Habits

What are my habits? 

Do my habits support or detract from my resilience? 

What do I regularly consume or reach for when I am starting to feel stressed or overwhelmed? 

What habits do I need to change?


Attention here means ‘Where we place our attention’, and a great way to look at this is to consider how the news media can give us a very bleak picture of the world. If all we ever did was read the news, we would believe that not a lot of good is happening out there. 

However, if we choose to spend some of our day focusing on the great community projects that are happening around us or the great work our team is doing to make a positive difference in the world, another picture starts to emerge. It doesn’t negate the suffering, but it starts to bring things into balance. This same thinking can be applied in your role as a leader and for yourself as an individual. 

Questions to reflect on in relation to Attention 

Where do I place my attention? 

Do I recognise and praise my team for their work or do I focus on what isn’t being done? 

Do I look for solutions to challenges or do I hone in on the ‘problem’ and get stuck? 

When something doesn’t go to plan, do I spend time and energy looking for who to blame or do I learn a lesson and explore how to do better next time? 

Mental Movies 

Many of us go through our lives playing out movies in our minds of past regrets – things we wished we had or hadn’t done – or future worries – things we are fearful may happen.  It’s human nature and perfectly normal to do this, and the great news is that we can harness this natural process to our resilient advantage! 

Mental movies have scripts as well as pictures, and you will likely notice them more by the words than the pictures. For example, when it comes to a new solution to a problem, you may think: “It will never work”, or when faced with a tight deadline “I’ll never get this done”. We might struggle to find meaning in our work and find ourselves saying “It’s all meaningless”. 

On the contrary, mental movies can support our resilience, such as “I can see a way through” or “This is doable: we can work this out”. Remember, as a leader, you have a responsibility to support your team with positive mental movies, as the movies you play will also impact their confidence and motivation. 

Questions to reflect on in relation to Mental Movies 

What mental movies am I playing? 

What are the movies I seem to play ‘on repeat’? 

How might I change the script of the movies that do me no good? 

What mental movies am I conveying to my team? Are they supportive? Do they paint a positive picture of the future? 

How all of this sits together – creating Spirals of Resilience 

You’re most likely starting to figure out that your Habits lead to where you place your Attention, and where you place your attention feeds your Mental Movies. The graphic here clearly shows the difference that can be made when you begin to implement healthy habits rather than getting caught in the Spiral of Stress and Overwhelm. And although it might sound easier said than done, you can place yourself firmly in the driving seat when it comes to choosing healthy habits that support your resilience. 

By choosing healthy habits, you get set in motion a Spiral of Resilience that can – and will – positively feed all areas of your home and work life. 

The choice is yours. 

Photo credit 

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

#resilience #wellbeing #resiliencecoach #wellbeingcoach #resilienceatwork

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