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Build A Stronger You.

Updated: May 1

How Resilience could be the most important tool in your kit for 2020.

October is Mental Health Month in NSW and last Saturday, the 10th October was World Mental Health Day.

Reflecting on the challenges we have all faced in 2020 has inspired me to consider how we can work towards building our emotional strength, in order to be able to face the complexities of modern life and deal with difficult situations that are thrown our way.

This strength is resilience.

In our parents day, resilience was defined by statements such as “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “Just get on with it”. These were hardly empowering or uplifting ways to inspire us to self-reflect, dig deep and practice self-love; rather, they furthered the notion that facing any sort of struggle is a sign of weakness, of being "broken".

Today resilience is seen as a necessary emotional tool to survive the pressures of our busy lives. A tool that encourages us to think rationally, calmly and kindly about ourselves and others.

man in leather jackets
The Design Coach founder Andrew Mitchell is passionate about the wellbeing of the TDC Community


Only fully researched in the last 50 years, resilience is now recognised as one of the most important EQ (Emotional Intelligence) traits for high level executives to possess, in order to ensure maximum performance and endurance. In a study by top US leadership management company Zenger Folkman, it was found that resilient leaders are also the most effective.

“When we looked at ratings of overall leadership effectiveness, it is obvious that the most resilient leaders are viewed as the most effective leaders as well.”

Joseph Folkman, Zenger Folkman.

Once believed to be an inherited or genetic trait, modern research has proven that resilience can also be learnt. This is good news for those of us who may have been struggling to maintain a positive mindset throughout this difficult year.

Here at The Design Coach, we believe that designers running a small business require the same degree of emotional strength and resilience as top-level CEO’s! As most of you know, small business owners wear many hats that involve developing and implementing complex skills and taking on high levels of responsibility. It’s not a matter of “if” things go wrong on a job, it’s about how we handle these situations as they arise, and resilience can help.

In this article we share some tips on how to take positive steps towards developing your own personal and professional resilience.

eggs with faces drawn on them
Image Tengyart, Unsplash


These are our 10 tips for developing resilience and managing the stressful situations that we may currently be facing:

1. Seek balance.

Feed all areas of your life, including those that directly affect your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Even though life may feel restricted for many at the moment, we can still put time aside to take care of ourselves. Read our 7 TIPS FOR IMPROVING YOUR WELLNESS article for ideas on how to best look after all aspects for your health during lockdown.

To check how well balanced you are currently feeling, rate yourself across The 12 Areas Of Life Balance here.

gold scales
Image Elena Mozhvilo, Unsplash

2. Develop and nurture your relationships.

Our community can play a large part in how well we deal with adversity.

Lockdowns have made it more of a challenge to connect with the people we love, but it's also created new platforms for making sure we stay in touch, allowing us to focus on the core group of people in our life.

Sometimes we need a little extra support from those who know us best, and it's important to make sure we are equally there for them in return. This is the beauty of true friendship.

four women linking arms with heart hands
Image Melissa Askew, Unsplash

3. Practice gratitude often.

Start a Gratitude Journal. Share what you are grateful for with loved ones, regularly.

No matter how grim things may be, there is always something to be grateful for. It's not possible to feel negative at the same time as genuinely feeling gratitude.

Hugh Van Cuylenburg, founder of The Resilience Project, has identified that practicing gratitude on a regular basis has immediate and lasting effects on our levels of resilience.

be thankful icon
Image Kuy Turk, Unsplash

4. Seek to be more empathetic with the people in your life.

Seek to understand people around you. Not only your family and friends, but work colleagues, strangers in the street and (most importantly) people who you disagree with.

Empathy allows us to get why people behave the way they do, and provides a platform for greater connection. It's also the best method for resolving situations of conflict, which can help us put negative situations behind us and move on with our lives.

swirls of light at sunset
Image Federico Beccari, Unsplash

5. Practice positivity.

Yes, this is something that takes practice! Catch negative self-talk and replace it with the sort of kind and encouraging words you would offer to someone you love.

People who naturally exhibit resilience are known to be more optimistic. This mindset allows them to see a path out of difficult situations, knowing that every challenge presents an opportunity.

think positive in red script
Image Viktor Forgacs, Unsplash

6. Practice mindfulness.

Be present and aware of who you are being and how you are behaving, in the moment.

Resist the temptation to hold on to grudges and regrets (living in the past) or stressing about things you can’t control (living in the future).

Resilient individuals are better able to focus on what they can do to better their immediate situation, whilst learning from past challenges and applying those lessons to future decisions.

you are here blue and green neon light
Image Aleks Marinkoviz, Unsplash

7. Make resilience happen.

Commit to choosing activities that align with Tips 1 - 3 (above) and schedule time in your diary to make them happen.

Positive change comes with equal measure of intention (knowing what you want more of) and attention (applying yourself to make it happen).

Check your balance. If it's out of whack, make a list of things that will help get you back on track. Put them in the diary.

Make a list of your core friends and family. Make time to check in and put it in your diary.

Commit to practicing gratitude: in the mornings, during the day, or at night around the dinner table (or all 3). Put it in the diary!

open diary
Image Eric Rothermel, Unsplash

8. Safety in numbers

Enlist your loved ones to help you commit.

Building resilience requires a degree of change to our patterns of behaviour. New positive habits take time to properly take hold, and existing negative habits can be difficult to dislodge.

Get your family and friends on side by explaining to them why these changes are so important to your health and get them to commit their support by holding you to account.

family cheers at table
Image Pablo Merchan Montes, Unsplash

9. Ask for help

Be courageous enough to ask for help when you need it.

Being vulnerable and admitting that we don't have our sh#t together will open doors and lead to opportunities to learn, grow and connect. Understanding that we all need help at various times in our life let's us feel OK about not being OK.

If you're currently struggling and need to talk to someone, consider reaching out to Beyond Blue or Lifeline.

For professional issues relating to your business, consider one of our Coaching Packages.

girl helpingboy up on log
Image Annie Spratt, Unsplash

10. Keep learning.

Listen to Podcasts that promote a positive mindset. Check out my top picks here:


On Being with Krista Tippett

On Purpose with Jay Shetty

The Mind Valley Podcast with Vishen Lakhiani


The Design Files Talks with Lucy Feagins

Business of Design Podcast with Kimberley Seldon

My Daily Business Coach with Fiona Killackey

The Kelly Hoppen Show


More Than One Thing with Athena Calderone

The Tim Ferriss Show

Read “The Resilience Project” by Hugh Hugh Van Cuylenburg.

Download The Resilience Project TRP App on your phone.

Listen to Andrew's interview with Kimberley Seldon on Resilience on the Business of Design Podcast HERE.

Enjoyed this article? Got some ideas you would love to share? Get in touch with us.

If you're not a member yet, sign up for free.

Stay well and be kind.


Andrew and the TDC Team

Find out more about the services we offer to support designers here.

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