In October 2019, several months before the pandemic hit, I published a post entitled What are the benefits of enhancing our personal resilience? Today, it seems more relevant that ever to me. In this new post, I discuss five of the personal qualities a coach can help us to develop to increase our resilience.   

These five qualities are just some examples of abilities we can build or reinforce to strengthen our personal resilience, especially after experiencing a major challenge or life event.

Initially, a coach is likely to provide space for us to present and consider the challenge we are facing. They are likely to acknowledge and empathise with the emotions we are experiencing. They can ensure that we have any required urgent assistance, such as counselling or financial advice, in place (or offer to refer us). Following that, and guided by us, a coach can help us to deal with the challenge by helping us to build our personal resilience so that we can better tackle it.

Taking care of our health and well-being

In the aftermath of a major life event, such as losing our job, we may neglect our health and well-being.  For example, we may lack the motivation to exercise or refuse invitations to meet friends. We may over-eat and struggle to sleep well. Our personal relationships may suffer. We may feel angry or moody and start to feel depressed. Many coaches can help with a number of these issues and all would be prepared to refer us to other professionals where appropriate and with our permission.

Ensuring a growth mindset

In a summary of the growth and fixed mindsets, Carol Dweck explains that possessing or developing a growth mindset allows us to believe that we can change. We are more likely, for example,  to embrace challenge, learn from criticism, be prepared to persevere in the face of setbacks, and find inspiration in the success of others. In contrast, if we have a fixed mindset, we are likely to avoid challenge, ignore criticism, give up easily and feel threatened by the success of others. A coach an assist us to build, or strengthen, a growth mindset to help us to address our challenge.

Developing a vision for a positive future

A coach can also help us to develop our ideas for the future. Initially, things may look very bleak to us but a coach can work at our pace to help us to progress our thoughts.  Now may be an opportunity for us to think very broadly about what we might do in the future and what our vision could be. Even if it seems possible to recreate the life we had, sometimes this is impossible. Alternatively, we may have had a hankering for a long time to do something different, such as a career change or a major lifestyle change. Is this the time to pursue those ideas? Ultimately, what might a good outcome look like to us?

Acknowledging our personal strengths

Coaching is about inspiring personal growth and change for the better. Recognising our personal strengths and considering how they may be used to help us to overcome a life event can help us to journey towards a positive future more quickly.  A coach may use one of a number of tools to help us to identify our key strengths. They may then help us to use these strengths to work towards our goals. The Values in Action Institute Inventory of Strengths is one tool used by coaches.


Developing the ability to think positively

Positive emotions can help us to think more broadly, stop us focusing on one (often negative) thing and improve our resilience. There are various simple things we can do to help us to think more positively. Some we can easily do ourselves while others may benefit from the support of a coach. For example, each evening we might remember three good things that have happened to us that day. Or, when on our own, we might focus our thoughts to appreciate or engage with the positives in life such as friends, family, pets and nature. Once we have developed our vision for a positive future we might write about our best possible ‘future self’ – what we will be doing, how we will feel, and the steps we need to take to achieve this ideal.


Related posts by Jenny Ames:

What are the benefits of enhancing our personal resilience? 

How might university researchers benefit from coaching?

Positively reframing failure to achieve personal growth

Contract Researchers and Research Students. How will defining your purpose help you decide your next career move?

During a 35 year career in higher education, Jenny Ames led a productive research group, worked with people from a wide range of subject areas and collaborated with organisations from various sectors. She held the title of Professor at 6 universities, graduated ~25 PhD students and mentored ~25 contract researchers. Jenny was also a senior manager for 8 years. As Associate Dean and Assistant Pro Vice Chancellor, Jenny led on Research Impact at University level. In 2017 was she was made Founding Research Impact Lead for University Alliance.
Since 2017, Jenny has been Director of Jenny Ames Consulting Ltd. Working with universities in the area of Research Impact is an important part of her business. Jenny’s coaching practice focuses on university researchers and people in career transition. People in career transition may be wondering what to do next or they may have recently moved sector, organisation or job role. Jenny holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring Practice from Oxford Brookes University. She is also a Member of the Association for Coaching (MAC). Jenny is a role model for the Aurora Leadership Development Programme for women run by Advance HE. She was also a facilitator on ‘Entrepreneurial Leaders’, a programme for senior university leaders run by the National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education (NCEE).



Author Jenny Ames

Working with Universities, Businesses and their Stakeholders to benefit Society.

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