If you want to build resilience it helps to understand that you almost certainly already have everything you need.

I was asked recently, “How can I get to a point where I’m more resilient?”. The person who asked me was a highly committed professional in a demanding role. She also has a spouse, two young children. She also had family responsibilities beyond tha; her mother had died a few years ago and her father was steadily becoming more dependent on her.

It’s common question but a perplexing one; perhaps it is indicative of a pervasive quick-fix mentality where we increasingly expect ‘solutions’ and ‘cures’ for things which simply don’t have one, any more than the question has a single ‘answer’.

Perhaps too part of the problem is that it is the wrong question.

We are all resilient to some degree, and it fluctuates; we are more or less resilient depending on circumstance, state of health, demand and a range of other variables. The skills (if that’s the right word) of resilience are learnable, but it’s not like learning to swim or to ride a bike (once learned never forgotten); it’s more like learning to keep yourself on an even keel (with constant turns at the helm and trimming of sails).

To continue the metaphor, if you have to cross a stretch of treacherous water, and you had a sailing boat but only limited experience on water, which would be the more useful question: “How to I get to the other side?” or, “How do I sail this boat?”