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  1. What Resilient People Don’t Do

    January 27, 2015 by Jenna

    We all respond to change differently. For some of us it comes naturally and we can go with the flow, as for others, having that sense of security removed can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. Regardless of which type of person you are, it is important to develop resilience so that we can continue to move towards our goals regardless of the situation.

    So what does it take to be an emotionally resilient person? Perhaps it is best to start by clarifying what they don’t do in order for us to understand what it takes to be resilient. An article by Brad Waters in Psychology Today will be my inspiration for this week and I have outlined ten of his points below:

    1. They don’t cross their own boundaries – Resilient people understand that there is a separation between who they are at their core and the cause of their temporary The stress/trauma might play a part in their current story but it does not overtake their permanent identity.

    2.They don’t surround themselves with bad company– In any environment, your behaviour can be greatly affected by the people you surround yourself with. Resilient people surround themselves with other resilient people who give them space to grieve and work through their emotions. These supporters know when to listen and when to offer enough encouragement without trying to solve the problem, allowing the individual to remain in control of their decisions. Good company will help calm a situation as opposed to adding frustration to it.

    3. They don’t avoid self-awareness – Being ‘blissfully unaware’ can get us through a bad day but it’s not a very wise long term strategy. Self-awareness helps resilient people to know what they need, what they don’t need and when it’s time to reach out for extra help.

    Prideful stubbornness without emotional flexibility or self-awareness can make us emotional glaciers. While strong on the outside to stay afloat, you can get prone to massive stress fractures when experiencing unexpected changes in your environment.

    4. They don’t pretend there isn’t a problem – Pain is painful, stress is stressful and healing takes time. Resilient people understand that stress/pain is a part of living that ebbs and flows. As hard as it is in the moment, it’s better to come to terms with the truth or pain than to ignore it, repress it, or deny it.

    5. They don’t ignore quiet time – Some of us find the best ways to cope with stress and anxiety is to dull out with distractions such as television, eating, drinking too much etc. While not all distractions are bad, you still need to be mindful of the current situation you may be in and not use distractions as a means of avoiding problems. Somewhere in between shutting down or ramping up is mindfulness – being in the presence of the moment without judgement or avoidance. It takes practice, but finding a quiet space to reflect is well renowned for healing and resilience-building.

    6. They don’t presume to have all the answers – Sometimes we try too hard to find answers in the face of stressful or traumatic events, that activity can block the answers from naturally arising in their own due time. Resilient people can find strength in knowing they do not have it all figured out right now. They trust they will gradually find peace when their mind/body is ready.

    7. They don’t put self-care aside – Resilient people have a list of good habits that support them when they need them most. Anyone can build their own list by noticing those things that recharge their batteries and give them a boost.

    8. They don’t underestimate the importance of team input – Being resilient means knowing when to reach out for help from others. It also means knowing who will serve as a listening ear, and who won’t. A supporting team will help you reflect back on issues where you may have been too emotional or overwhelmed to do so at the time they occured.

    9. They don’t overlook other possibilities – Resilient people can train themselves to ask which parts of their current story are permanent and which parts can possibly change. This helps to maintain a realistic understanding that the present situation may be coloured by their current interpretation. Our interpretations of our stories will always change as we grow and mature.

    10. They don’t dwell on issues – When we’re in the midst of stress and overwhelmed, our thoughts can go at a hundred miles an hour. Resilient people can find reprieve accepting the situation and moving on. One technique that works for some people is the write down the issues causing the current stress.

    While writing is one resilience strategy you can keep in your back pocket, there are other ways that resilient people can get out of their head. Examples include healthy distractions like going to the gym or going for a walk, cooking or baking, volunteering or any self-care items as per point #7.

    How have you built resilience in times of change or difficult situations?


  2. Changes to increase happiness at work

    January 16, 2015 by Jenna

    We’re now settling back into our work routines for the New Year and as 2015 is a time to set out new goals and resolutions, why not aim to make changes that benefit your happiness and well-being at work?

    There are some simple steps that you can apply regardless of your role or background, and an article by Catherine Conlan will be my inspiration for this week’s blog. Here are six steps that you can apply below:

    Develop a Structured Routine

    Setting a structured routine gives a better indication of what to expect from your day and prepares you for what lies ahead. Sometimes this will require you to plan the night before, compile a list of priorities etc.

    Setting up a list of tasks and duties for the day can also save on procrastination as you have made yourself aware of what important deadlines need to be achieved. Be specific with what details you set out in your routine and what you want to achieve so that you can maintain it for a long term basis.

    Other routines may also include healthy eating plans and exercise routines which in turn can help improve daily performance.

    Become a Mentor

    If you have experience in your field and are looking for opportunities to share your knowledge and direction with other junior employees or candidates, there is a lot of fulfillment in helping others. You are not only leading someone in the direction of their future career, but you will be challenged by them to provide insight, reflect on what you have learned so far and review your career development up until this point. This can be a rewarding experience.

    Change Your Mindset

    Approaching your job as a daily investment towards your personal development will motivate you to pursue further responsibilities within the role and seek training and development in your career.

    If your daily mindset is going to work because you have to or because of financial gain, you may be limiting your motivation level and ability to perform at your best.

    Seek Out Opportunities To Give Back

    If your employer has a community service program that you can get involved in, why not take the opportunity to do something good for someone else and get away from your workplace for a few hours a week.

    Volunteering your time can allow you to develop different skill sets, and may inspire you to take on different volunteering opportunities in the future.

    Switch Things Up

    As your goals and targets will change throughout the year, make sure in turn that you are creating and adapting your routine to suit these goals. If the routine is not working to meet your personal development goals, you need to take measures to assess what isn’t working and make changes sooner rather than later.

    We also as individuals need to change processes regularly to keep us engaged and motivated, otherwise the routines can become stagnant. It is important to keep reviewing your routine over time and managing it accordingly.

    Keep Learning 

    If management would like to you take a course to further develop a particular skill or to be trained on new database/software, it is important to take up the opportunity.

    If you also feel that taking on some new training will benefit the organisations’ success, present it to the manager and don’t feel that you need to wait for training to be offered to you first. Pitch why you think the training would be beneficial and review with management to see if now is the right time to pursue it, or if there is an opportunity to pursue options in the future.

    What are some of your New Year’s resolutions? What measures will you take to develop your career and reach daily satisfaction?


  3. The time for change – By Narelle Hess

    January 6, 2015 by Jenna

    It’s strange how a brand new year makes us re-assess our life and priorities. As the clock struck midnight to the end of 2014, I know many friends and acquaintances that were so happy to open a brand new blank page. A new year provides us a chance to make resolutions for those changes we want to make. But as we all know most NYE resolutions fail. Why? For most it can be summarised in two key roadblocks: fear of change and our own self-doubt. We all know there are areas of our career, relationships or personal development that need to change – so how do we overcome the fear and self-doubt?

    The first key roadblock is the fear of change. Forced and unforced change leads to an unpredictable response. From denial to frustration to anger to tears to joy and right back around again. I’ve worked with those on the precipice of wanting to change, coached those leading organisational change, and supported those experiencing forced changes. All take effort, commitment, and hard work. But as one of my clients said to me just this week: “without risks come no rewards”. Without change there is no progress. However, for change to be successful we not only need to commit to the needed changes, we also need to identify a support team. Because you will go through that unpredictable emotional response, you’re only human. What changes do you need make? And more importantly who will help you keep accountable and cheer your successes towards the changes you need to make this year? (To watch a TED talk on what fear can teach us click here).

    The second roadblock is our own self-confidence to make these needed changes. Most of us suffer from imposter syndrome. I am constantly waiting for someone to unmask me. Discover my inferiority. Most of us feel this way. Even award winning scientists needing to “sell” themselves for a new job to leading executives tasked with taking a new leadership challenge. I have met clients from all corners of this country and even different corners of this globe. Analysed many psychometric profiles, coached, trained, facilitated, debated and had many invigorating conversations. People are fascinating and all have more strengths than what they acknowledge and appreciate. We each have so much potential to do amazing things, if we allow ourselves to. Take some time to identify and acknowledge your strengths, and value them. What are your key strengths that will help you make the changes you need to make? (To read more about the Self Saboteur click here).

    And with that, it must now be time for me to write my own new chapter. After 10 years building my career at Challenge Consulting, I’m about to embark on a brand new career adventure. I’m proud of what I’ve built and I’m equally excited to see where Steve and the team will go next. You are all in very capable hands. I’m taking with me fond memories, much laughter and joy, great friendships, exceptional mentors – and most importantly – the lessons that each of you have given me – be it a client that has challenged me, your moment of personal discovery, or an example of great leadership. You all have made the last 10 years exceptional and helped me to develop the all-important skills I need to jump into this next chapter. (To read more about how I developed my career click here).

    I wish you all an abundance of success. Take the time you need to identify the changes you need to make, develop your own plan, and more importantly develop the self-confidence you need to write your next chapter. For those that want to follow my next career adventure, you can connect with me on LinkedIn at http://au.linkedin.com/in/narellehess

    I will now leave you in the very capable hands of my colleagues at Challenge Consulting to support your recruitment, psychometric testing, career transition, and organisational development needs. Find out more about the team here or call the Challenge Consulting office on 02 9221 6422 to discuss your requirements.


  4. Interview Responses: Why did you leave your previous role?

    September 30, 2014 by Jenna

    Once you have been considered for the interview process, it is important to know that the employer or recruiter will ask questions to assess your suitability for the role.

    One of those questions they tend to ask is: ‘Why did you leave your previous position?’ Depending on your current situation there can be a variety of answers associated with this, but what answer will best get your foot in the door?

    I decided that it would be best to ask the experts in my team for their point of view when it comes to screening a candidate with this particular question. This was their feedback on suitable responses:

    • Looking for a new challenges/ Wanting more responsibility – You may have been excelling in your current role but the opportunity was not available to take on new challenges or move up in the company. You are taking on the initiative to pursue new options and take on more responsibilities.
    • Something different/ change of scenery – This is fine to admit, but not in the event that you are applying for a role that exactly matches the outline of your previous one.
    • Redundancy/Restructure – Of course this can be a sensitive subject but the recruiter can often relate to these situations.
    • Cultural change within the company – This can also be an acceptable answer, just make sure you try to be diplomatic and where possible try to avoid sounding too negative about the situation.
    • Career Change – if you have any transferable skills that you could bring to the new role it can always be advantageous to mention them.
    • The role became too demanding/long hours/not enough work-life balance – Think carefully before describing what ‘demanding’ or ‘long hours’ mean to you. Make sure it is relevant to why this new role is more appealing and fits with your career prospects.

    Do keep in mind there are also responses that should be avoided and this is why:

    • Being negative about a company or person within your previous employment – There may be circumstances where you have had a bad experience, however, how you relay this information is important. You don’t want to appear bitter about management or your previous work environment. Try to make your answer is more diplomatic rather than accusing.
    • A higher salary – Most managers/recruiters won’t hold this against you however, if it appears that money is the only driving force for behind you pursuing this role then the chances of getting this new position may be slim.
    • Not being able to give a valid reason – This can be a concern to the employer if you have a history of moving employment frequently. It may cause the employer to question your longevity in this upcoming role.

    Try preparing answers to these types of questions before the interview takes place so that you are not caught off guard. It is the employer’s way of trying to get to know you, what your interests/passions are, and whether you are the right fit so make sure to put your best foot forward.

    What have you learned from these types of questions in an interview? And for employers, what are some of the responses you have received from star candidates?


  5. What I learnt about myself from climbing 5545 metre mountain in -20-degree conditions

    March 19, 2013 by Jenna

    We have all heard the phrase ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’, though that is often easier said than done. Our common instinct in times of trial or being outside of our comfort zone can be to lose confidence, take a step back, and ultimately accept a sense of defeat. However, we as humans are also capable of extraordinary feats, especially in times of change and adversity.

    My resilience was definitely tested during my 18 day trek through Nepal in January this year. I have a reputation in my office for being a bit of a ‘fitness freak’, which involves me being at the gym quite often and partaking in hiking and adventure races over my weekend. While most people use weekends as a quality rest period I tend to strive and push myself to see what I am capable of.

    Shortly after the New Year, our group had come to the hardest part of our trip in Nepal, reaching the top of Kala Plattar (5545m). After countless nights of poor sleep due to the altitude, and physical restraints of only being able to make baby steps when climbing hills, we had a 6.30am departure (before breakfast) to the top of Kala Plattar, which was supposed to have one of the greatest 360 degree views on our trip so far.

    The sun had not yet reached the hill that we were climbing, and overnight a wind had picked up that created a chill of -20 degrees. The walk took our group just over two hours to complete and even without packs on it was a struggle. We were spread out at our own pace but the sideways wind was blowing strong and I could feel it to my core.

    I was tired, cold and hungry and I honestly thought that I could not make it to the top. Tears built up in my eyes and while I wanted to have a tantrum, no one was surrounding me to hear it, nor would it have made getting to the top any more productive.

    I knew that I had two options; to go back the way I came, which would take at least an hour only to prove that I had wasted time, or I could make it to the top, experience this once in a lifetime experience and head back down with feelings of achievement, celebrating over a well-deserved breakfast.

    And that was the reality at the end of the day. When would I ever get to experience being here again? Would I want my memory of this day to be that I didn’t make my hardest challenge so far and spend the rest of my days wondering ‘what if’?

    So there I was at that crossroad where I knew my decision would affect the outcome of this overall experience. So what did I do? I climbed it. And the views were incredible. Not only that, but one of my teammates brought chocolate to the top and that was perhaps the best tasting chocolate I have ever had in my life! I have some amazing photographs that I was able to show my friends and family, and while it was a hard day for me, I overcame it, which is often the outcome for all of us if we take on the challenge.

    The most successful people are often those that are the most resilient. But just like any new skill resilience isn’t built overnight.

    So what is resilience?

    Resilience is the capacity to withstand stress and catastrophe. Psychologists have long recognised the capabilities of humans to adapt and overcome risk and adversity. Individuals and communities are able to rebuild their lives even after devastating tragedies.  Being resilient doesn’t mean going through life without experiencing stress and pain. People feel grief, sadness, and a range of other emotions after adversity and loss. The road to resilience lies in working through the emotions and effects of stress and painful events.

    So what personal or professional challenges are you scared of taking on? Are situations changing around you and you have to make a decision? Or perhaps you have been in a similar situation in the past. If so what did you do to overcome it?




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