Coaching for Resilience – A practical guide to using Positive Psychology, is a one stop shop to give you a strong understanding of resilience and the tools that you can use to build this important quality. 

“Resilience is an important quality, while stress management is a skill”

This book contains 7 KEYS which are core to building resilience. 

What is the approach?

Their approach look into the psychology of resilience, especially the deep psychological processes which undermine resilience building, or even maintaining resilience. For them this is very much linked to stress and they introduce the concept of resilience being impacted by stress, then making you more stressed, leading you to a vicious circle.  Lack of resilience can increase your stress, but stress also undermines your ability to build resilience. I never looked at it both ways. It also contains very good explanations and data point on stress reactions. 

“Without resilience, people respond to difficult situations in life by becoming more stressed”

How it contributes to the Coaching Profession

Resilience building and stress are very important in coaching. The coach needs to understand what generate stress for their client, and what resilience do they have to cope with the challenges ahead of them in order to achieve their goals. The book provides a good knowledge base for the coach, and also good coaching exercises that can be used in sessions with the client should we identify an area which is blocking them and where a more resilient approach would help. 

What I learnt by reading this book

They go quite in detail in explaining how a stress reaction work and how building resilience is very much about avoiding to react unconsciously with fear, which then trigger stress. Although I do have a good understanding of stress, I always looked at resilience as a way to deal with stress, which it does, but never consider how chronic stress could prevent you from building resilience because of the way the brain uses a “short-route” when reacting to danger: “The short route cuts out the areas of the brain that think, analyse and reason”.

The book also offers very concrete exercises that can be done with your coachee and promote self-reflection on their side, and a change in how to approach a problem. The support of a coach can be a great asset when trying to change your attitude, same as belief, and support you in building more resilience. 

What was the key message/conclusion drawn in the book

Stress will undermine your ability to be resilient. Let go of the stress by identifying better the causes of stress, in order to build resilience. 

There are 7 heys to build resilience.  As I went through them, I reflected on what they mean in the context of coaching: 

  • Life is difficult – and that’s ok. We all tend to avoid pain and difficulty because we think we can’t cope. Reality is probably different and we all experienced difficulty at some stage in our life, and have some strength that which helped us through it. The coach can really help the coachee identify its own strength to deal with difficulty. Reaching a new goal might present some difficulties and it is important for the coach to make sure the coachee will not avoid those in order to reach their goal. 
  • Let go of your need to be in control and to be liked – Coaching is uncomfortable, you will not feel as much in control when you go into the unknown, neither will everyone agree with your goal and what you want to change. Understanding how much this can affect the coaching process can help the coach adapt. 
  • Live your values – This is such an important part of the coaching approach, and one probably to start with in order to make sure that the goal is aligned to the coach’s values. 
  • You have the right to determine your own life – There might be a lot of circumstances and belief which could presents blocks for the coachee to reach their goals, some could be linked to past experiences. Without going digging too much into the past or the domain of therapy, the coach can assist the coachee to develop assertiveness which will help them feel confident that they have the right to have a specific goal and to achieve it , for themselves only … being the decision maker and no-one else. 
  • Change is the only constant – Coaching is about change, so assessing the coach’s resilience to change can be a good starting point. 
  • Live in the present – Coaching focus on the present moment, to plan for the future. Understanding how much in the present our coachee is , is also an important step. 
  • Attitude makes all the difference. is an important one, probably the most important one. This is where understanding the beliefs and belief system of the coachee becomes really relevant, as well as the understanding of the ones blocking progress, or unrational beliefs which probably could be changed.