Author Archives: Martha

Resilience Alphabet – E is for Energy and Exercise

I’m curious about what energises you – and I appreciate you may not immediately think of exercise!

At this time we may be feeling the pressure of the work we do if it is on the front line, or the lack of work we currently have to do, or a sense of our freedom being curtailed, or our struggle with getting no ‘me’ time, or indeed our struggle with working in isolation and feeling the loss of colleagues that brings. So this post recognises the differences between us.

In the same way we will be energised by different things. This picture is one of my favourite views – just looking at it takes me right there even if it is off limits just now. Perhaps the best thing you can do to sustain your energy levels is pay attention to what energises any human body… and also what energises You!

This could be a great time to start your Couch to 5K whilst the guidance is for exercise once a day. Just think where you could be by the end of 12 weeks. There is strong evidence for the benefits of physical exercise in enhancing mental health and re-firing the brain with good chemistry.

Or if friends energise you join Zoom or GotoMeeting or some other online networking service and have Online Lunch Times, Tea and Cake breaks, or a Family Quiz night as one of my clients has just told me they did last night.

We are also energised by quality sleep – so go all out during this time to establish the best sleep routine possible to get maximum benefit from the hours you are off duty. There’s a lot written about the habit of sleep and the benefits of sleeping well.

So take a moment and write down 3 things that you know energise you and make it a priority to find space to act on these every day this week. You could have an Energy List up on your kitchen wall, and I’d love to hear your favourite energisers in the comments below. Meanwhile, Stay Safe.

Resilience Alphabet – D is for Downtime

I spoke with a client last Monday morning who was onto her 14th Day in a row at work. I imagine given the role she has that if I were to speak to her tomorrow that number may well have gone up to 21. This post is dedicated to those like her for whom a day off right now would feel like an opportunity to get ahead of the wave for all of us had been missed.

At the same time, for many people staying safe means spending much more time at home, and potentially with much more time to do things we would only have dreamed of two weeks ago.
For me downtime is being engaged in an activity where I am so absorbed in what I am doing that normal thought is suspended. There is a lot of evidence to confirm that doing something that gets us into that state of flow has exponential benefits for our health, well-being, brain, emotional health, the list goes on. For me that can be getting lost in a book, playing piano, counted cross-stitch, being in the garden and getting my hands into earth! The paints have not come out yet… but they might!

If you know me well, you will know I am a planner! I have a white board in my kitchen right now that I’m populating with little things that I could do in a short period where I want to change focus from the ‘big stuff of life’ and engage in a period of downtime. I also have a personal list of things I have decided I will do every day to create a sense of routine during this period when normal routines have been suspended.

So I am encouraging you to sit down and write a list of the things that you know take you to that place of downtime – when you are completely absorbed and focussed on what you are doing. This is the opportunity to take a break from all that surrounds us in terms of visual and mental stimulus right now; to shut out the noise; to suspend fear and simply be absorbed in your own form of downtime. No matter how busy you are – be intentional about engaging in one of your downtime activities every day. The picture was taken in a walk in Angus earlier this year.

I invite you to share in the comments what you have done today that has helped you to have a mental holiday or a dose of downtime… and stay safe!

Resilience Alphabet – C is for Choice and Connection

Personal resilience is intrinsically linked with the choices we make and the degree of care for others and self-care we engage in. Being mindful of our personal resilience is not a selfish act, and rather a preservation of our health and well-being in a way we can continue to support and care for others.

I’m curious about the Choices you have made today. At the end of yesterday my last contact with someone whose work centres around the current situation said quietly “It’s not a problem how late it comes through, I’ll be logging in tomorrow anyway”. This was one of the quiet unseen army who are working on our behalf right now, who made a choice that today would be partly about support to others although it is not normally a working day. I made a different choice this morning: to leave this Blog until later in the day, so I could take a break from the busyness of the last two days. So this is an invitation to you to be intentional about the choices you are making right now to balance effort with recovery time. We need both activity and recovery time in order to sustain our efforts.

Which takes me to the second work in my Resilience Alphabet: Connection. I cannot imagine how it feels for people who live alone during these times of staying home. However, I am certain there are many ways in which we can continue to connect with each other through the plethora of electronic means, but also by telephone. Some of you will know that I do a lot of work around Conversational Intelligence®. One of the foundational skills of C-IQ is Listening to Connect. That is not listening to speak, not listening to tell, not listening to ask…. Just listening to make human connection. So I’d like to challenge you to make a point during these weeks to give space to those you connect with to let them be heard and particularly for those who live alone, to give them the chance to express what they are feeling and thinking during the connections we have with them. And don’t forget to connect with yourself – for some of us this will be through reflection, journaling, writing poetry or just taking time to breathe.

So ensure you choose to create enough recovery time, and seek out meaningful connections with others… and yourself. Stay safe – and be kind to you

B is for Behaviour and Balance

The thing about behaviour is that by its nature it is largely visible – it is the part of us that others see. Behaviour can be observed at many levels. Last night we saw country-wide behaviour. Thousands of people standing at their windows or doors clapping their hands to applaud the people who are working tirelessly for us all on the front line. If someone had landed from another planet at 8pm last night I wonder what they would have made of this community and its behaviour!

Today I want to think more about a smaller dimension of behaviour – Yours. If I had been videoing you all week what would be the behaviours I would have observed with regard to your interactions with others, and what would I had made of them? Perhaps I would have noticed behaviours driven by compassion, helplessness, joy, fear, frustration, humour, anger, love. Are there others you would add? If you think about it most of our outward behaviours are driven by our feelings or our values.

In these times of high demand for your behaviours to be focussed and impactful, it is also important to think about the focus and impact of your behaviour with regard to your own well-being. It is hard right now to get the balance right between what we need to deliver for others; and what we need to preserve in, and for, ourselves in order to serve others well at this time. So I encourage you to do at least one thing today – even if it is for a very short time – which will ensure you remain resilient for all you plan to do throughout the rest of the day, or which will re-energise depleted reserves so you can continue to make impact tomorrow. Perhaps you can encourage others by sharing what that one things will be.

Stay safe – and be kind to you too

A is for Acceptance and Adaptability

Welcome to the first Resilience Alphabet Blog!

Most of my clients work in the public sector which means that many of them are at the heart of keeping us safe. For that reason I am focussing all Blog, FB and other Social Media channels on Tips and Thoughts on Team and Personal Resilience. You are giving so much at this time in striving to keep all of us safe and well. The Daily Blogs over the next 6 weeks will be dedicated to helping you keep safe too. We are whole people and that means we need to pay attention to our health at many levels, the most obvious being physical, mental and emotional. We also need to pay attention to our social and spiritual well-being which will mean different things to different people.

The hashtags I will be using are #resiliencealphabet #staysafe #fourminuteholiday and #bekindtoyoutoo .

So A is for Acceptance and Adaptability.

Let’s start with Acceptance. One of the quotes I had on my wall for a long time and I still think about is Control the Controllables. My spellcheck won’t let me have ‘controllables’ but part of being resilient in challenging times is working out what I can control and what I can’t. With a limited amount of energy at our disposable it is best we use it focussed on what we can control. Tantrums about what we can’t control can be left to another day. It is more important right now to simply be accepting of this and focus all of our energy on what will make a difference. Take a quick check on anything you are wasting energy on that you have no control over today. Pop it on the shelf and leave it there for now, and refocus.

That requires Adaptability. A flexible thinking style will be a huge help right now as we navigate uncharted and uncertain waters. We know that in terms of Emotional Intelligence, Adaptability of thinking and managing our emotional state helps us to manage stressful situations better. Some of us are naturally better at this than others. You will know yourself as someone who lets go of things really quickly…. Or someone who hangs onto stuff and ruminates over and over!! Adaptability is a learnable skill – so practise being adaptable and flexible in your thinking. There’s more than on way to do most things and more than one way to win.
Stay safe… and be kind to you too.

#resiliencealphabet #fourminuteholiday #staysafe #bekindtoyoutoo

Passion always beats excuses

JGGrandpaGordonBegonias (2)

This is a picture of my grandfather, Thomas Gordon, taken many years ago.  It’s easy to see what his passion was!!  Begonias.  His memorial cup can still be won at the Ayr Show each year.

His passion was fired and fuelled by spending hours tending his precious plants, trying various combinations of soil, feeding, light position, and learning from every attempt to get the most beautiful large flower heads just at the right time each year.   He learned too from other gardeners, and reading Gardening magazines and listening to Gardener’s World.  Every year he learned more and his passion grew.  There was no room for excuses when it came to his passion.

So what is your passion?  What do you spend hours tending, trying various approaches, learning from every attempt, reading and listening about to gain greater skill in something that will bear fantastic flowers at the right time?

If you don’t really have a passion you might like to spend some time with an appropriate coach exploring your sense of meaning and purpose, or your sense of identity and values.  I challenge you in this moment… Go find your passion, and when you do commit to it with enthusiasm and excitement… and then watch the flowers grow in your life.

Passion always beats excuses!

The clarity of purpose


I pay attention when I hear or see a similar phrase that emerges in different places or at different times.  You know the kind of experience I mean.  You hear  a new word (or an old word you haven’t heard for a while) and before you know it you are coming across a cluster of them.

Purpose has been following me around since yesterday!

For me purpose is at the top of the metaphorical food chain when it comes to life and living, whether that’s personal life or professional life.  If you can be clear about your sense of purpose, then everything else flows from that.

This Marshall Goldsmith quote sums it up nicely: “Giving yourself a purpose adds clarity to all the actions and decisions that follow.”  So if you have a sense of purpose and are clear about what it is, you can be clear about what actions you need to take to fulfil your purpose, and decision making becomes much easier.  Every decision becomes a straight forward question:  Does this take me nearer to fulfilling my purpose, or further away?  It’s a kind of spiral… clarity of purpose, will bring clarity of thinking, clarity of action, clarity of decision making and so it goes on.

Was musing yesterday about merging the two words “Creative” + “Purpose” = Creative Purpose.  What could this mean?  Here are some of my doodles which are all in the form of questions (my trade as a coach is asking good questions!).

What could ‘creative purpose’ mean?

What would happen if I brought my creativity and my sense of purpose together?

What does purposeful creativity look like?

Is there a benefit in creativity without purpose?

In what ways could I be creative about my life purpose/my career purpose?

Clarify your purpose… then add some creativity and see what happens.  Would love to hear from anyone who experiments with this idea.