I’m getting interested in building practical resilience as a way-in to work with the future. I’m starting to see this as a key path for coaching people and working with organisations in change. We live in uncertain times. The future is less clear or easy than I’ve ever seen it.

Given COVID-19, the climate emergency, and the near-certainty of difficult human times ahead; I’m now finding myself working with my clients to map their futures. They are trying to work out what to do. The climate emergency comes up, especially when people are considering the next generations of people — and their own children — might have to deal with.

I’m in a personal process with this as well, asking myself the question:

What do I need to do now to help with that uncertain future coming in whatever form it takes?

What does that look like? Here’s a process you can use:

  1. Map out some possible future scenarios – broadly across what seems to be possible — both wonderful and scary or good and bad. You can do this personally, or at a whole of society level. What seems likely, unlikely, great, scary in terms of futures. Give these scenarios names and then detail them a little. This is a bit like being a science fiction author. You are looking for some breadth across your scenarios, not a narrow view conforming your fears or beliefs about what will happen. Please remember, this is a creative exercise, not the actual future.
  2. What are your responses to these scenarios? Start to think about a response (an action) to each scenario. Consider the scenarios one-by-one for now. What could you do now to make that future scenario easier for you and those around you? Keep your responses practical and short term. Write them down against the scenario, say in some bullet points. Be creative, try not to get stuck on what is possible or not. Stay creative but grounded.
  3. Look for synergies across your responses: Now look at all your responses. Can you adjust your responses so they work across multiple scenarios? Did that naturally happen? Or can you imagine a new response that works across multiple scenarios?
  4. Pick a response and make it happen. Find what seems the best place to start and do it. This might not be the biggest thing. Start with something easily doable, something that you can get an easy feeling of progress with. You’re now doing something about all those possible futures. You’re becoming more resilient by doing it.

If it gets too hard or scary, take a break. This hasn’t happened yet, we’re playing with ideas. Let it cook a while and come back to it.

This sort of process fits really nicely into a couple of coaching sessions with some in-between reflection. If you’d like to try this out, get in touch or book a quick session try out some coaching with me.

My favourite metaphor for resilience is a shaft of wheat waving in the wind. It can bend to the wind and spring back as long as the wind isn’t too strong. What we’re doing here is working on our strength and flexibility. Our ability to respond and spring back whole and ready for another gust. And being more flexible and strong works across all of life, even right now.

Good luck out there 😀

Edited 31 May 2020 to include mention of COVID-19

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