By Liz Hall and Rachel Ellison

All leaders have resilience, but in times of high, relentless pressure, they may lose access to it, and it’s not about bouncing back, said Carole Pemberton in her keynote at the conference.

Pemberton, who researched resilience for her PhD, said resilience is not “coping and clinging on”, nor is it “bounce back”. Rather, resilience is like a Slinky toy; it extends and stretches over a challenging step, then springs forward, gathering itself together again. “Resilience is not bounce back, but bounce forward,” she said.

“For coaches working with clients experiencing loss of resilience, it’s about helping them think: ‘What did I do last time I felt like this and faced a tough challenge? And what would help me regain my resilience this time?’

“It’s about ending up in a more enlightened, enabled place than in the past or even in the present.”

She referred to research by social psychologist James Pennebaker on the therapeutic impact of writing, sharing how she asks clients to write about their experiences. She has developed a tool called the Narrative Wave. “I ask them what they think they’ve lost access to. Something specific, such as purpose, or ability to manage emotions, or hold perspective, not just resilience.”

She said it was important as coaches to be energised and curious about what hasn’t changed. “We tend to get curious about what has shifted.”

She invited delegates to think about their own resilience story, thinking about what identity was challenged by a particular event, what shadow identity emerged and what was accessed to move forward.


Carole’s masterclass Resilience Coaching: Working with the Wobble and the Fall, takes place on 24 November, 2015

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