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Kathryn Jackson: Building Resilience in Three Simple Steps

I think it’s fair to say that understanding wellbeing and resilience has suddenly become critical for all of us, but as a professional in this field even I’m getting bored (and overwhelmed) by all the rhetoric and free resources that are being thrown around social media right now.

So, I’ll cut to the chase.

Chances are you’ve been pretty crap at building resilience until now.

We had a global stress and wellbeing epidemic long before Covid-19 came along, so unless you were feeling good and functioning well before March 2020 then I would suggest that you read this article for the next three minutes, because it could change your life.

First up, how do I know what I’m talking about?

I’ve lived in Christchurch, New Zealand since 2006 and during this time I’ve been a leadership coach supporting my clients through the Christchurch earthquakes, the North Canterbury earthquakes and the Mosque shootings.

We have been forced to learn fast about how to stay as fully functioning as possible when living and working in a place of extreme uncertainty and change.

Our little corner of the world has been both a case study for, and a student of understanding what it takes to thrive in an environment of extreme uncertainty.

We learned from the Red Cross, the team at All Right? the Resilient Organisations consultancy and the University of Canterbury to name but a few.

We’ve been personally affected; we’ve led people who were affected, and we’ve supported family and community members who were affected.

So here are three simple things that we learned which could help you right now:

1. Examine – take a good look at yourself. Notice how it feels to be you on a good day; how you think, what you do, what you say, what you eat…take a snapshot of what it’s like to feel good and function well, because this can become your benchmark. Notice the signs that indicate you’re not having one of those good days – perhaps your breathing becomes shallower, your focus wanders or you find yourself a little (or a lot) grumpy with the people you care about.

2. Educate – grow your understanding of the things you can do to help yourself, when you realise that you’re not having a good day. Instead of just reaching for the chocolate, ploughing on or binge-watching TV in the hope that things will get better, explore some of the activities that science has proven will recharge us. The Mental Health Foundation and Five Ways to Wellbeing all have great ideas, and of course if you want an idea delivered into your phone every day (without having to search for resources) you could consider signing up to Kite Support.

3. Embed – resilience is not something that you can fix and then expect to remain in place forever. It’s like any sort of fitness – you must continually notice whether it’s strong or needs a bit of extra focus, and then make daily choices that build it back up. Ideas you might try to include every day; speak to somebody who makes you smile, walk in nature, unplug from technology, focus on something positive from your day or focus on what you can change. Make a regular meeting with yourself (e.g. weekly) to notice how you’re feeling, so that if you find that you’re having fewer good days you can take action sooner.

The journey towards resilience is personal for everybody. Notice yourself, learn what you need to support you and then prioritise doing a little something every day to keep yourself feeling good and functioning well.

Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity is not going to go from our lives and workplaces any time soon so focus on these three small actions and be surprised at how it results in building resilience.


Kathryn Jackson is the author of Resilience at Work: Practical Tools for Career Success (a Finalist in the Business Book Awards, UK and the Australian Career Book Awards). She also recently launched Kite Support, an app and learning resource designed to help users more confidently navigate uncertainty and build strength. Kathryn specialises in coaching professionals and leaders who want to build confidence and success, and better understand resilience at work.

Kathryn is a professional coach with over 20 years’ experience of HR consulting and coaching.  She is a Fellow of the CIPD (UK) and the Royal Society for the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.  Kathryn is a Senior Practitioner with the European Coaching and Mentoring Council and an Associate of the NZ Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience.  Her website is

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