On Monday 15th October I attended my first SLA Europe event since I won the Early Career Conference Award (ECCA). It seemed like forever since I had last seen everyone but in reality it had only been three months and it was lovely to meet some of the members again. The session was led by Cathy Lawson and Russell Thackeray from Continuum, and was held at the Lexis Nexis building in Chancery Lane
I had missed the previous SLA Europe meeting due to a clash with my teaching schedule and this one piqued my interest. Its main premise was that during the challenging pressures many of us are experiencing at the moment, we need to be able to cope with stress and ‘bounce back’ from adversity. I attended the event for a couple of reasons; I had only attended one training session before and I had really liked the set up of the small group and really learning from other’s experiences so I thought this might be similar. Another reason was that even though I am generally a resilient, persevering type of person who has had a decent amount of adversity to deal with, I had been feeling a little overwhelmed by life recently and thought a few extra tips might be quite useful.
Cathy and Russell were engaging speakers and explained to us that Continuum provide an eight day course where all the topics they were going to introduce us to are covered in a lot more detail and that this was a 1.5 hr version of this. Unfortunately, this meant it felt quite rushed, however, I think they got their main points across.
We were told that personal resilience was a step on from emotional intelligence, something I am particularly interested in due to various personal reasons and had read more about recently in Daniel Goleman’s book - Primal Leadership: Learning to lead with emotional intelligence as part of Jo Alcock'slibrary leadership reading group. Resilience is the ability to recover from adversity and to perform effectively under pressure. A balance of positive and energy is needed to do this, an example given by Russell was that an introverted person can still present well but the energy required is greater in that person than in an extroverted person.
The continuum model of personal resilience focuses on cognition, personality, emotion, physiology - if all these are at their most optimum then one can become a ‘business athlete’. We very quickly ran through some of these, spending quite a lot of time focusing on nutrition and exercise. Being someone who already appreciates green tea and an hour of yoga but knows when to balance it with a spot of chocolate and red wine, I do wish we had spent a little more time on the some of the others.
We had to write down a few items we were worried about and figure out which ones we could control and which we couldn’t. Once we had done this, we were then told that people generally worry about things they have no or very little control over and that letting go of these types of anxieties would help strengthen our resilience. There was a gentle murmur across the room at this point, whether this was in agreement over Russell’s point or recognition of the difficulty of doing this, I’m not sure. We all bemoan the state of the world at some point and who is to say we have no control over it? I guess the main point is not to become overburdened. At work, I am very good at knowing what I can and cannot control, however, I discovered that on a personal level I don't do this so well - so this is something I am trying to rectify.
One thing which struck me after the workshop while we were all enjoying some very lovely canapés courtesy of Lexis Nexis was something a fellow SLAChicago attendee said about finding the time to eat healthily, do exercise and still have fun. It reinforced something that has been niggling away for a little while. I generally make sensible life style options, however, sometimes I just really need to chill out more and have some fun and not feel guilty for relaxing.
Overall, I’m not sure I got anything new out from the session. I did get rather angry that people’s emotions were being played with by people who didn’t know those in the room but it also did encourage me to think about the things I enjoy doing of which I’m not doing enough of.