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Six Factors Correlate with Resilience & Wellness: Insights from our Webinar with Harold Hillman

Unpacking Resilience Featured 1

Published Date: 20th June 2023.

Having navigated our way through three years of a global pandemic, and now facing new challenges of economic hardship, inflation and world events such as the war in Ukraine, building resilience is critical. And it appears that organisations and leaders are prioritising employee care and holistic wellness now more than ever.

In our latest webinar, we talked to leadership coach, business commentator and author Dr Harold Hillman about the importance of resilience and mental fortitude.

Below is a summary of the key insights from the webinar, and some practical tips for how you can measure and improve your Resilient Quotient (RQ).

Adversity Builds Character

When Harold asks people to define “resilience”, they often say “the ability to bounce back from adversity”. But did you know that until the 1970s, resilience was only used as an engineering term that referred to the structural fortitude of buildings?

“Character” is another, perhaps more accessible, term that has been used for centuries. Aristotle, when advising leaders such as Alexander the Great, said you cannot build character unless you face adversity. He even went as far as to recommend leaders go out and seek adversity, so they could grow from the experience.

The point, as summarised by Harold, is that we might experience pain in the moment but upon reflection, we can turn that pain into perspective and wisdom. In the modern world, we are faced with many obstacles and scenarios that are painful when we’re working through them, but that can bring us benefits in the long run.

The Resilience Quotient

To explain the concept of RQ, Harold first talks about IQ which is well-established. It’s a tool that measures intelligence, and is considered relatively stable ­ we are all born to be somewhere on the intelligence continuum and the great majority of people sit around average intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence, measured by EQ, was a term first coined in 1995 in a book by Daniel Goleman. It is considered to be malleable with increased self-awareness, and Goleman predicted EQ would go on to be more important than IQ within two decades.

Research into Resilience Quotient (RQ) has been building over the past five to 10 years, and according to Harold, is also considered malleable. If you are purposeful and proactive about it, you can greatly improve your RQ. But how?

Personal Resilience Characteristics

Harold referenced an article, published in the Harvard Business Review, that identified three characteristics of personal resilience:

Able to Accept Reality

When something comes upon us quickly, like COVID or the death of a loved one, we tend to invoke the SARAH response ­shock, anger, rejection, acceptance and hope. Going through these phases quickly shows stronger personal resilience.

Deeper Meaning to Life

People who believe in a God, or think that growth can only be achieved if they are tested, are generally more resilient.

Uncanny Improvisers

There is a correlation between personal resilience and being able to improvise and adapt to situations and the world around us.

Executive and Leadership Wellness: Six Factors to Improve Resilience

Harold talked through six factors for people wanting to be more proactive and purposeful in their wellness and resilience, based on research from the Mayo Clinic. He believes you should be able to check off each of these points to know that you’re actively trying to improve your ability to face adversity.


This is the ability to elicit a relaxation response during times of hardship. It might include active meditation, yoga or going for a walk. The most important thing, according to Harold, is to unplug and spend 10-15 minutes every day being present and observing your environment.


When something hits us suddenly, we go into shock and this can take us inward and downward. From his vast experience as a psychotherapist, Harold has studied anxiety and knows it can lead to obsession and rumination. Reframing means pulling your focus and energy upwards and outwards. For people who are self-aware, they can catch themselves starting to ruminate before it becomes all-consuming.

Physical Exercise

The links between physical activity and improved mental and physical wellness are strong. Harold believes as humans, we are suspectable to depression and anxiety because we can all experience situational depression at points during our lives. However, it can be circuitous when people who are anxious or depressed become less motivated to be active, so it’s important to build in some form of physical exercise at least three times a week.


Having a sense of humour and finding moments of joy, even during difficult times, is an indicator that you’re keeping things in perspective. In a workplace, if the team leader is not laughing or smiling or finding any joy, there’s a good chance the rest of the team will follow. Harold suggests keeping an eye on this, especially if you’re in a management position because you need to lead by example and lift your perspective upwards and outwards.

Strong Support Network

Harold says there’s a direct correlation between the size of support you have around you and your personal wellbeing. Having a strong support network, whether it’s your family at home or good friends at work, is critical. Your support network can often see what you can’t see and offer advice and support. They also create positive energy, which in turn, provides relief.

Knowing and Nurturing Your Passions

Harold believes in aptitude and that some people are born to do certain things. As an example, for athletes and artists, their passions are often their inherent strengths. If you know and nurture your passions ­whatever they may be you can go into a flow and becomes absorbed in a task in a way that is energising.

When it comes to these factors, you need to BUILD them in not FIT them in.

View the Full Webinar

These points are just a summary of the insights covered in the webinar with Dr Harold Hillman. Below you can access the presentation slides and watch the recording, which includes a live Q&A session facilitated by Chief Executive Liza Viz. Additional questions from the audience were answered by Dr Hillman post-webinar and can be accessed, here.

If you would like to discuss any of these points or find out how we can support you and your business, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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