My friend & I had climbed several of flights of stairs & sandwiched ourselves into high-backed, comfy chairs to listen to the bright minds that had come to speak at TEDx Kilimani, a suburb of Nairobi. Like speaker Sitawa Wafula, award-winning activist & founder of My Mind My Funk, demonstrated recently.
Sitawa had me from the get go when she began her story…
One day her father showed her 3 pots that had all been cooking for some time. One pot was full of carrots. Another pot was full of eggs. And the 3rd pot held coffee beans in boiling water.
Her father asked her what she saw.
Somewhat impatiently, she said ‘a bowl of carrots, hard boiled eggs & boiled coffee beans.’
Then he asked her to look closer & drew her near.
- He explained that some people are like carrots. They start off strong, but when put under pressure, they can’t stand the heat & they turn to mush.
- Others are like eggs – they start off soft, but when heated they actually become firm & strong.
- And finally, some special types are like coffee beans. They not only start out strong & resilient & stay that way under pressure, but they influence those around them to be come strong & resilient (hence the coffee coloured water).
I LOVE this story of resilience, partly because it’s super creative & partly because it demonstrates that we can build our resiliency muscles.
Resilience means deciding if it’s time to fight, flee or flow
Here’s another way to look at resilience, from an old classic, the book As above so below:
If you can’t fight & you can’t flee, flow.
It’s an easy way to think about challenges that get put in our path. Once we know what type of challenge it is, we can pick our response.
- What challenges do you need to ‘fight’ – I don’t mean physically fight but what are you willing to work to change & influence? These are things that are really important & meaningful to you & it’s worth your effort to try & change them.
- What challenges do you need to ‘flee’ – these are things that could be risky (physically, mentally, emotionally) & you simply need to get away from them.
- What challenge do you need to ‘flow’ – for me these are the toughest. They’re the ones that I’m not fired up enough about to fight, & I don’t need to flee, so I have to find ease with flowing & accepting. Tough stuff, but I find it easier to accept when I’ve framed it like this.
Resilience for your funny bone
Is your funny bone ready for a workout? Here are some very tongue in cheek examples:
- Fight: this horse is not having any of the so called new baby
- Flee: from the perspective of a bomb technician, let’s get outta dodge & fast!
And not so funny, but more tender, sweet & true:
- Flow: from wonderful Bella, one of the best example of resilience & flow I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing I filmed this 6 years ago & it recently came up on my Facebook feed to which Bella’s daughter replied “I’ll never be able to thank you enough for getting this video, our only one of Mom singing this song. It means so much. I treasure our time together in Sioux Lookout.”
Now that’s resilience.
Resilience is all about managing change & conflict & knowing when to stand up & be a coffee bean. It’s picking your battles wisely because not everything deserves a fight. It’s making yourself scarce sometimes, to self-protect, ponder & reflect. And it’s finding ease with the rest.
Your turn – take action:
- Think about what your natural tendency is: are you a carrot, egg or coffee bean? Do you prefer to fight, flee or flow?
- Confidence can play a big role in resilience. Use this confidence booster tool.
- Not sure where you lie with regards to resilience? Take this resiliency quiz.
- Feel free leave a comment below & let me know how this does (or doesn’t) resonate with your experience of resilience.