Every April I’m awestruck by those tough little daffodils appearing amid snow and slush. Seemingly fragile they break through the harsh, cold winter earth and emerge with yellow smiles and spirited vibrancy. What comes to mind is resilience. Resilience – ability to quickly recover and maintain positive functioning despite stress and change.

Resilience is tenacity, fortitude and agility. Thoughtful parents strive to instill these characteristics in our children knowing they’ll be needed during inevitable harsh, cold life challenges.

These skills are equally essential for leaders and employees in our workplaces. The office setting is a fast-paced swirl of continuous change, complexity, ambiguity and even animosity. Now we accept mental illness as a reality but we aren’t well equipped to address and support each other or ourselves with clever management.

How do we maintain momentum while caring for individualism? How do we focus on results and cultivate empathy?  How do we thrive when life’s curve balls derail us?

This year I’ve had the luxury of contemplating and curating my resilience after a concussion in 2015 derailed my career and re-defined my view of personal success. As I step across a new threshold as senior consultant, Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette, I relish the opportunity to join a robust professional team and work meaningfully with resilience, agility and many other forms of true leadership.

Resilience isn’t strictly reserved for the big calamities. It’s equally helpful when swimming the day to day lanes of volume, nature, pace of work, balance between work and family and most especially our challenging relationships with co-workers.  

Resilience is a poignant, personal journey that starts with the honest look at your own frame of reference, experiences and outlook. Understanding yourself is followed by an assessment of your environment and then appreciating and drawing on the many resources at your disposal.

Finally, and importantly – resilience muscle needs exercise – it requires action and movement to grow and blossom.    

Adopting a spirit of hard optimism and curiosity - which includes recognizing you always have options - are additional vital nutrients.

In How Resilience Works, Diane Coutu reaffirms these elements. "Resilient people possess three characteristics - a staunch acceptance of reality; a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values, that life is meaningful; and an uncanny ability to improvise. You can bounce back from hardship with just one or two of these qualities, but you will only be truly resilient with all three. These three characteristics hold true for resilient organizations as well... Resilient people and companies face reality with staunchness, make meaning of hardship instead of crying out in despair, and improvise solutions from thin air. Others do not."

Much has been written about how finding real meaning and purpose in our work leads to a full, healthy and happy life. An inspired first step toward discerning that “meaning” is building personal resilience.     

In closing, a childhood favourite. The daffodil’s resilience and purpose are nicely evoked by A. A. Milne in Daffodowndilly – a timely, uplifting reminder these dark, cold days are soon ending. 

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
"Winter is dead."

Spring is around the corner and so is the time to tap into personal resilience.



Award winning Leadership Essentials workshops have been designed by global leader LHH and are being offered locally by the Leadership Solutions team at KBRS.

These include:

  • Developing Personal Resilience and Resilience for Managers
  • Change Solutions for Managers and Change Solutions for Employees
  • Coaching for Results

Contact our team to learn more about these programs.

Catherine J. Woodman
Catherine J. Woodman
Senior Associate
As a Senior Consultant within the Human Resource consulting practice, Catherine’s approach to leadership development is informed by her uniquely diverse leadership experience in public relations and human resource management across the private, public, and non-profit sectors. A well-respected leader, Catherine has a track record of achieving results by building teams, creating and communication vision, forging partnerships, and meeting critical challenges through transformational change.