Briefing Notes: The Call For Resiliance

Published: April 5, 2020

“When this moment passes, we will look back at how we adapted.” — Bernadette Jiwa


Resilience. This is the word of the day year, isn’t it? Whether we’re talking about financial resilience, physical resilience, mental resilience, or emotional resilience, it is the muscle that we’re all being asked to flex these days.

Truth is, resilience has been a hot topic in businesses for a long time. It’s one of those qualities job applicants often add to their resumés, volunteering the information that they are resilient.

More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.

Why this matters
Resilience is our “ability to withstand adversity and bounce back and grow despite life’s downturns,” says Amit Sood, MD, the executive director of the Global Center for Resiliency and Well-Being and creator of Mayo Clinic Resilient Mind in Rochester, Minnesota.

We experience all kinds of adversity in life. It is an unavoidable part of being alive!

And yet, what the world is going through right now is on a totally different level. It’s requiring us to practice resilient habits on a scale that we may never have had to do before… and in so many different areas of our lives all at the same time.

Today, theories abound about what makes resilience. But as Diane Coutu explained in this often-cited HBR article on resilience, almost all the theories overlap in three ways. Resilient people (and resilient organizations) possess three characteristics:

  • a staunch acceptance of reality;
  • a deep belief — supported by strongly held values — that life is meaningful; and
  • an uncanny ability to improvise.

Bouncing back from hardship with just one or two of these qualities is possible. But we will only be truly resilient with all three, according to Coutu.

Although there may be some people who are born with it, resilience is a skill that we can cultivate and strengthen through habits, mindset, and the day-to-day things we do. For example, the voices and the messages we hear regularly play a vital role in our quest to improve our resilience.

Surround yourself with others who also want to practice resiliency. This is an important step with
very specific parameters that many people miss.

We can easily surround ourselves with people who love us and want the best for us. But if they are coming from a non-resilient place of thinking, it’s not going to help us build our resilient muscles.

Bottom line:
Clearly, resilience is the super-power we can all use right now. But even if you don’t consider yourself as resilient, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed. In a kind of meta way of thinking, believing you CAN build this skill now IS being resilient.


It’s always a good idea to upskill or reskill. Now is as good a time as any — opportune even, one might say — to explore new skills, deepen existing passions, and get lost in creativity, with classes from Skillshare.

With thousands of short classes, you can move your career forward and prepare for what’s coming next without requiring huge blocks of time and energy. Expand your skillset on Skillshare with your first two months free.*

*P.S. This is an affiliate link.

  • Part of our capacity to deal with the unknown is innate, a larger portion is learned. Those who develop this “uncertainty capability” are more creative, more successful, and better able to turn uncertainty into possibility.  You’re Not Powerless in the Face of Uncertainty
  • A few weeks ago, everything may have felt stable in your career. If you’re among the millions of people whose job disappeared overnight (or if you feel there’s a chance your company may start laying off people) here are nine steps you can take now to get you to your next role — even if job prospects may seem bleak at the moment.
  • March 31st was World Backup Day, meant to remind us to back up our computers. But even if you’re already backing up your digital files, do you have a backup plan for your one-of-a-kind documents and photos that you have only on paper — like birth certificates and marriage licenses? How to Digitize Your Most Important Documents
  • Video: How to Get Through This Crisis | The School of Life. In exceptional circumstances, we need a philosophy that can help us hold on to our sanity and sense of perspective.
  • Audio: Where Do We Get Two Trillion Dollars? | Planet Money. Almost everybody gets a cheque or a tax-break in America’s latest bailout. In case you’re curious, where does this unimaginable sum of money originate?


“When this moment passes, we will look back at how we adapted. We’ll remember how we became more creative, resourceful and resilient. We’ll remind ourselves, and each other about what we did, how we pushed through and how we helped. This time next year, how will you answer the question: What did you do?” — Bernadette Jiwa


More and more articles are beginning to come out about what the other side of this crisis might look like. Some focus on the business impacts, while others zoom in on the human element of the changes that will inevitably come. This work of fiction is an interesting retrospective on how we may look back on the current pandemic in a couple of years’ time, and what we may have learned. I found it both sobering and uplifting. And perhaps more crucially, that we — individually and collectively — have a role to play in how this script will be written.

Speaking of scripts…


… when Rocky won Best Picture and Best Director? Rocky is one of the most uplifting movies ever made. But the story behind how Sylvester Stallone struggled against all odds to get this picture made is even more so. Stallone was a struggling actor, who at his lowest point couldn’t make ends meet and slept rough at the New York bus station for 3 days, unable to pay rent or afford food. The heavyweight championship match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner inspired him to write the screenplay for Rocky, completing it in just three and a half days. When he started pitching it to studios, Stallone would only accept offers that allowed him to play the lead role of Rocky Balboa. Studios initially refused as they wanted to make the movie with a star attached to it. Stallone declined all offers sticking with his condition. In the end, the script sold for only $35K with the caveat that he would play the title role. The rest is history. Here’s a look back on the famous training montage.


On the podcast, the season on career continuity and resilience has started. In Episode 123, I was joined by Dr. Nayla Bahri where we discussed practical habits that we can be doing today to help us manage through uncertainty. In Episode 124, business leader Tara McMullin joined me and we talked about what leading, planning, and showing up looks like during times of uncertainty.

Through-out the season, we’ll be talking about navigating these unchartered waters, analyzing our options, seeing opportunities, and managing our mindset — which is one of the most important things we need to get a handle on right now.  Check out the two episodes already released via your mobile app. Better yet, subscribe today so as not to miss the new season.


Sought-after career coach Allison Locket put together this 3-part audio guide Rise Through Change at Work packed with strategies and tools to weather chaos and create a more fulfilling future state. Thank you for your support!


I heard from many readers and listeners appreciating the focus of Second Breaks as we manage these crazy unprecedented times. A few also asked how they could support the podcast and the newsletter.

First, thank you so much for your feedback. Now more than ever, I want to make sure that what SB delivers in written and audio format is relevant and helpful. If you have topics that you want to see covered either here or on the podcast, just hit reply and let me know. I’ll do my best to find the right guest to speak on topic or the best resource. At the very least, I’ll share my experience or what I’ve learned that may be relevant.

Second, on the question of support – THANK YOU for asking.

  • You can share this newsletter and/or the podcast with your friends and colleagues who may benefit from what we cover here.
  • You can buy me a coffee here. 😊

Be safe. #StayHomeFor the people you love AND all the medical professionals who can’t stay home for us.  Hit ‘reply’ and send comments, favorite Rocky scene(s), or the show you’re binging on Netflix.

Cool beans,
Lou Blaser


A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Briefing Notes and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on helping experienced professionals navigate an evolving work landscape so they can continue their impact and relevance in a changing world.

The world of work is changing.

Stay smart about it.

__CONFIG_colors_palette__{"active_palette":0,"config":{"colors":{"a9e5b":{"name":"Main Accent","parent":-1}},"gradients":[]},"palettes":[{"name":"Default Palette","value":{"colors":{"a9e5b":{"val":"var(--tcb-color-0)","hsl":{"h":0,"s":0.01,"l":0.01}}},"gradients":[]},"original":{"colors":{"a9e5b":{"val":"rgb(19, 114, 211)","hsl":{"h":210,"s":0.83,"l":0.45}}},"gradients":[]}}]}__CONFIG_colors_palette__
get briefing notes