Are you a tomato or a tennis ball?

Janette Poole shares from her webinar on fruit, sport, rivers, and resilience.

Which way do you bounce?

The focus of my recent webinar was exploring whether you’re more of a tomato or a tennis ball when it comes to resilience.  The word resilience comes from the Latin ‘resilire’ which means ‘to leap back’; this is where we get the idea of ‘bouncing back’ or ‘bouncing forward’.  But is all this talk about bouncing around helpful during a global pandemic?  Personal resilience is our ability to deal with, find strength in and recover from difficult times. So not just to deal with difficult situations, but to learn from them and move forward as a stronger person.

Rocks and river levels

You can probably recall times in your life when you have been resilient, and other times when you’ve been less resilient. It can help us to take a step back and consider why we’re not coping as well as usual.  There’s a useful metaphor from Professor Patrick Pietroni that may help.   He describes life as similar to rowing a boat along a river.  Problems and difficulties, such as the Covid pandemic are rocks that we crash into.  We generally focus on the rocks, however Professor Pietroni says that the rocks are only half the problem.  The water level in the river represents our background level of resilience.  When we’re feeling good about ourselves and our emotional reserves are high, our river level is high and we may float over the rocks that on a bad day we’d hit.  When we’re feeling emotionally depleted, our water level is low and we’re more likely to hit the rocks.  Taking time each day to consider our water level and what may be influencing it to be low or high can help us to identify what impacts on our natural level of resilience.  

Build you resilience

What if we want to increase our natural level of resilience?  The good news is that we can develop our resilience by learning how to cope in challenging circumstances.  Of particular importance at the moment is having self-care strategies in place to help our natural water level to rise.  Asking yourself the following questions can be a helpful starting point:

  • Do I identify when my resilience is low and take action to unwind?
  • Do I have adequate quiet time for relaxation and personal reflection?
  • Do I support and care for myself every day?
  • How much do I appreciate and believe in myself? 

It’s also helpful to consider the speed of the river as well as the river level.  In a society that has culturally identified being busy as a badge of honour, how do we adapt to a slower pace?  Are we using busyness to fill an emptiness or to avoid difficult questions?  If we slow down and give ourselves time to think, we can listen to what our body and mind are telling us that we normally avoid (or don’t hear?) because we’re too busy.  Coaching helps us and our clients to explore how to increase our natural water level and creates an environment that helps us to slow down and listen to the answers inside us. 

Listen to the full webinar

During the webinar, we explored tools and techniques that might help you and your coachees to increase resilience, you can listen to it at