Lockdown Lounge #4 – Rallying Resilience!

In no more than a blink of an eye, the 17th June 2020 was upon us.

Was it really 86 days since lockdown started?

Was it really only less than half a week before the longest day of the year?

Was it really the fourth assembling of the Lockdown Loungers?

It certainly was. The Lockdown Lounge, curated by the Guildhall Coaching and Mentoring Faculty, was ready to throw open its doors again.

As ever, this was an opportunity for those who helped to bring about creativity in our world to take a moment to stop and think. To reflect on their experiences of lockdown through the prism of a coaching model. To connect, once again, with other creatives and to warm in the glow of deep diving into our drives and motivators.

Keep the conversation warm and the cocktails chilled

As the Loungers made their way from the mild irritation of the Zoom Waiting Room, they were welcomed by the five baristas, ready to make them comfortable.

JaneJoChris and Carlos and Trevor were leaning on the cyberbar and Jane opened the conversation with the usual greetings.

No recording, everyone takes responsibility for their own personal GDPR and mutual respect was the request, so that the vibe might be as reflective as possible.

The Chef du Jour was Jo, and she had mixed a fascinating cocktail for us all to enjoy. The name of this new concoction?


She brought us into focus. We were all here to bring our whole selves into the space, to ensure we had no distractions and to fully engage our curiosity – about ourselves, about our fellow loungers, about the world as it flows around us.

So what is resilience?

First things first. What exactly are we talking about?

Jo served up this definition from Carole Pemberton, author of Resilience: A Practical Guide for Coaches.

Jo went on to explain why this particular recipe was different to the ones available from other chefs…

  • bounceback suggests returning to the starting point – resilience is about growing and developing in the face of adversity
  • wellbeing represents a snapshot of a moment in time – we will not always be ‘well’ but resourceful individuals have the capacity to adapt positively even if ‘unwell’
  • good mental health isn’t the whole story – resilience goes further and brings positive adaptation and learning through the experience of hardships

Dr Pemberton had this model of resilience, where our fundamental capacity can be built on through protective factors and learning.

A gift or a skill?

The first wave of research into resilience thought of it as a ‘gift’ – a fixed personality trait that we either had or didn’t have.

Certainly, many neuroscientific studies have found that our genetic make up contributes to our ability to deal with the ups and downs of life, but nonetheless, studies on twins revealed that only 32-38% of our behaviour can be accounted for by our genes…

… So we can develop over 60% of our behaviours!

This brought Jo to the next ingredient in resilience – protective factors. Here she brought out the model of resilience developed by Ivan Robertson and Cary Cooper.

Robertson Cooper’s model of resilience has four key components, all of which are influenced by our personality and the skills that we develop over time: ConfidenceSocial SupportAdaptability and Purpose or Purposefulness.

Confidence – feeling competent and having strong self-esteem are key to feeling resilient. In Lockdown Lounge #1 we looked at character strengths and how the positive psychology movement headed up by Martin Seligman was showing how much there is to be gained by not looking at what is wrong with people, but at what is right with them – and building on that.

Social support – good relationships with others help us to overcome adversity. In Lockdown Lounge #2 Chris had used Meredith Belbin’s model of team roles to develop our personal team of trusted advisors. People who reach out for support and help are shown to be more resilient than those who do not.

Adaptabiity – flexibility in the way that we think enables us to view a problem from many perspectives. Jo teased us with this particular tasting menu by placing it back in the drinks cabinet for later consumption.

Purposefulness – having a sense of purpose, whatever that might be. It might be ‘being the best horn player I can’, it might be spiritual purpose or it might be trying to be the best role model you can to your children, colleagues or students.

This was to be the beverage that Jo was preparing to serve up.

By now, the Loungers were chomping at the metaphorical bit to get their teeth into the menu.

Jo leapt to the bar and brandished the discussion menu. We were more than ready.

Reconnecting with purpose

We split into breakout rooms of about five people each, then let the conversation flow.

As ever, what goes on in Lockdown Lounge stays in Lockdown Lounge, but the feedback afterwards reflected a strong sense that most Loungers wanted to be remembered for wanting to help others, to collaborate, that we are all stronger together. Lockdown was restricting the natural inclination of most artists to generate ideas by bouncing ideas of each other.

In the room that I was in, chat roved around the pressure that are put on us by messages such as ’30 Things To Do Before You’re 30’ (or ’40 Before You’re 40’ etc).

Act Now! Do This! The World Tells You To Want To Experience This!

The concept of ‘forced fun’ also cropped up; that online social meetings were being organised in a way that sometimes felt fabricated rather than organic.

On the flip side, though, it was easier to schedule yourself to speak to people and to not feel like you’re interrupting them. For some Loungers, this gave a refreshed motivation.

But we were eager for the next round – the signature dish that Jo had previously teased us with.

Flexibility of thought

Jo whet our appetites with a quote from the British philosopher James Allen, pioneer of the self-help movement.

Every day we have millions of options available to us – but for most of the time, we are blind to our opportunities because  we follow the same habitual choosing process.

Decisions, decisions…

Jo invited us to consider the various thoughts that we have in the bit of our brain that makes decisions.

These are the five responses to decision making:

I need to…

These are the essential things that have to get done. We can do them ourselves or get someone else to do them, but whatever… they have to get done!

“I need to pay the gas bill… clean my teeth… feed the dog…”

Ignore these at your peril!

I want to…

These embody enjoyment and increase our potential. We often sideline these and become disheartened when we haven’t done anything about them.

These rarely get enough of our time!

I should…

A ‘should’ is a ‘need’ but with less power. They take up space and drain our energy.

Make a decision – upgrade them to ‘need’ or ditch them!

I could…

These are interesting, creative, forward facing and positive. The ‘could’ thoughts are often the catalysts for our future behaviours.

Schedule some quality time for your ‘could do’ thoughts…

I ought to…

The ‘ought to’ thoughts are the troublemakers of the decision-making world. They lie angry, dormant, and niggle away at us, causing discomfort and inhibiting our progress. They really sap energy and enjoyment.

‘Ought to’ thoughts are usualy poorly categorised ‘wants’, ‘needs’, ‘shoulds’ or ‘coulds’.

Aim to sort your ‘oughts’ on a regular basis in order to enable clarity and to move forward!

Want to, could do, need to, should do…

And that little rascal ‘ought to’.

With a final flourish of the cocktail shaker, Jo decanted the mingled flavours into our glasses and we were once again off to chat in our booths.

There was considerable excitement in the room that I was in, over the possibilities that this new thinking gave. In particular, giving voice to the want to and could do calls that we tend to silence in our lives was invigorating.

“This opens doors that I didn’t even know were there”

“I want to walk the Pennine Way and start a monthly blog”

“Deleting the ‘should do’s could be seismic – I feel it’s reckless but exciting”

Life seems to be governed by ought to and need to, and we often feel that we’re just ticking boxes to do what you think others want.

One Lounger mentioned the idea of a ‘Personal Constitution’ – what’s your duty to yourself? This concept certainly resonated when it was fed back to the full Lounge afterwards.

Others spoke of ‘refreshed motivation’ and one said that:

“we should endeavour to recognise the imaginary burdens for what they are and ditch them without delay or regrets

That’s certainly a call to arms that we can all identify with!

Another Lounger commented on the power of ‘so that’:

“take one of your ‘ought to’ statements and put ‘so that’ on the end (e.g. “I ought to […] so that […]”). If nothing comes to mind, that’s telling you something.”

What assumptions are we making when we tell ourselves “I ought to…”?

While the conversation was still flowing…

Jo reluctantly had to call last orders.

But, generous as ever, there was still time for one last digestif

She reminded us that we are all experts of ourselves. The Loungers said their goodbyes with warm and friendly words dropped into the Zoom chat box:

“it’s been such a wonderful, warm, enriching space… the 90 minutes whizzed by…!”

“so much listening, really listening and reframing to stay positive and be you”

“so many inspiring people; thank you”

“it has really helped reframe my thinking about the current situation… I’m going to make sure I review my want tos/need tos etc. Thank you!”

And we were off. Even if we didn’t want to…

(Please note that the exercises offered here are sometimes slightly modified in the light of feedback from our Loungers)

… and if you enjoy my writing, why not buy me a coffee at Ko-fi.com/chrisbrannick? It’s not expected or demanded, but I’d be really touched. I live on appreciation and coffee… in that order

Photo by Immortal Snapshots from Pexels

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