resilient flowerResilience is the new “it” quality in developing leadership. These are tough times. To be a successful leader, professional or business owner, it takes more than intellect, emotional intelligence and ambition. Resilience is like a core muscle that, if well developed, creates a strong foundation for navigating the ups and downs of a career. It is an important muscle in the face of a difficult event such as a job loss, being passed over for a promotion, or getting burnt out.  But building resilience takes practice.  You can start by identifying the external tools and inner resources that keep you propped up when you are dealing with the daily pressures at work.  How quickly do you respond when things get tough? What and who do you rely on for support?

Resilience (noun, from the Oxford dictionary):
1. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
2. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

  • Who do you know who demonstrates this balance between elasticity and toughness?
  • Who are your role models of resilience?
  • How do they do it?

Personally, I discovered a role model in an unlikely place last month when I took my niece to see the new Peanuts movie.  Charlie Brown. Yup, you read that right. The perennial failure. The guy who keeps getting knocked down, literally and figuratively. Like many of you, I grew up with a regular dose of Peanuts comics and annual TV specials.  Watching the Peanuts gang through older eyes, I was touched by Charlie Brown in a new way.  Sure, I still cringed every time Charlie went for Lucy’s football or tried to fly that damn kite, or prepared to knock on the red haired girl’s door.  And yet, this time, I saw the qualities of resilience come vividly into focus – courage, persistence, and optimism.

Charlie Brown reminds me of the very things I try to cultivate in my own life and to coach my clients to focus on as they tackle the challenges of career change and professional growth.  In the face of many failed attempts to kick that ball or fly that kite, Charlie wakes up each day ready to try again. Even though he is terrified of rejection, aka the “new girl”, he finds the courage to proclaim, “This time things will be different …. I’m going to change who I am and become a winner”.

At this time of year when it is still dark in the early mornings and the new years’ resolutions have long passed, it is easy to give up on making changes. Even to believe change is possible takes a great deal of energy for most of us.

I recently gave a talk to law students about career resilience in a profession that can be relentless and unforgiving in its demands. I asked them to identify their role models of resilience. To my surprise, one after another named mothers, sisters, grandparents. The people closest to them who had faced life challenges – single parenting, losing a job, coming to a new country – and met those challenges with courage, persistence, and optimism.

While there are plenty of popular figures of resilience – athletes, human rights activists, celebrities – sometimes the best role models are the ones who have touched our lives directly – our personal heroes who have shown us what it really means to be courageous, persistent and optimistic even during the darkest days.

Imagine you could write the next chapter of your story from a place of resilience, with an equal measure of elasticity and toughness.

  • What would it take to become a winner?
  • Who is a role model that could inspire you to take action?
  • What would he or she tell you is possible?

News & Upcoming Events

  • Career Paths Beyond Legal Practice, Young Women Lawyers, Toronto
  • Coaching with Intention, NALP (Association for Legal Professionals), Boston
  • Powerful Conversations at Work, NALP (Association for Legal Professionals), Boston

Something for lawyers: A book for lawyers exploring different career paths in Canada that looks at a wide range of options where lawyers have successfully (and happily!) applied their skills, with a series of candid interviews and stories from legal professionals across the country.   Out of Practice: Exploring Legal Career Paths in Canada

To find out more about resilience and how to build it, check out these books:

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Lianne Krakauer is a career and leadership coach with 20 years of experience in professional services, law, education and the public sector. She works with individuals at all levels to find ways to re-invent their careers and bring about positive sustainable change. Lianne has led workshops and presented on a wide range of topics related to career and leadership development, communication and coaching. Lianne has a Bachelor of Laws and a Master of Education, both from the University of Toronto; and a Bachelor of Arts from Western. She has a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from Royal Roads University and specialized training in Solutions Focused Coaching. She is certified to administer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, a psychological instrument that supports individual growth and team development.  Lianne is a Professional Certified Coach, a designation granted by the International Coach Federation which recognizes coaches who have completed over 750 hours of individual coaching. In her free time she can be found on her yoga mat in a favourite warrior pose.