25 Jan Reflection, resilience and resourcefulness – where do they come from?
And so it’s January, a great time for reflection.
The previous year’s slate is wiped clean, you have some time to look back on the things that went wrong and the things that went right and you’ve got the exciting opportunity to plan for the next 12 months.
As I reflect, I keep coming back to three words that continue to intrigue me. Reflection is one – the others are resilience and resourcefulness.
Nature or nurture?
These terms are sometimes thrown around, especially in coaching circles where buzzwords are often used to cover what are in fact a whole host of different experiences and journeys.
Take resilience for example. Are you born with it? Can you learn it? Or is it something that just happens to you as a result of the life you lead? Do the knocks we all take build us up? Or do they make us more vulnerable, chipping away at our resolve?
As I reflect on my life and where I am now, I know how important these three words are in getting me here, a business coach who empowers individuals and gets businesses over obstacles they previously thought were insurmountable.
And the crucible in which my professional self was forged is a story in which every chapter leads me toward where I am today, a journey where reflection, resilience and resourcefulness are burned into my ability to do what I do – and who I am.
Living on my own
My parents came to England from Nigeria in the mid-1960s. I was born and raised in South London and my earliest memories are all about betterment. I remember my mum spending hours in Brixton library learning how to speak English. That’s resourcefulness and resilience right there, using what’s available to get better and improve your circumstances.
Perhaps the key event in my personal timeline came when my mum and dad decided to move back to Nigeria. I initially went back with them but then decided I preferred it in Brixton, so I came back to England. On my own. Aged 10.
Why did I feel able to make that decision? How can a 10-year-old possibly hope to survive on his own? Where did I get the resilience to arrive at that decision and actually make it happen and the resourcefulness to make it work?
Now let’s clear up some of the details as I the brief description above makes me sound like the Artful Dodger. I spent six weeks in Nigeria before returning to London to live in the family home.
I was not physically on my own, the family house was occupied by ‘extended family’ members. When I was a bit older, I realised these were not family members but visiting friends, associates and students who all had some distant connection with my parents. It really wasn’t a problem as they were Nigerian and were given additional duties – keeping an eye on me.
My parents would fly back and forth from Nigeria during the holiday periods for business or to collect me to join them and my sisters for holidays in Nigeria. Every summer for the next few years was spent in Nigeria – six weeks at a time and two weeks at Christmas.
A young life of discipline
I was well-disciplined, in fact I would go as far as to say that I was a model young man. I was taught how to cook, bathe, clean and generally fend from myself from a very young age. I had my own bedroom and sitting room and shared bathroom and kitchen facilities.
I had a weekly routine of visiting Brixton market every Friday to buy the provisions, which would last me a week (my mother and father had taught me well). They sent money from home, monthly. I would receive it in weekly portions from an ‘auntie’ in a street exchange outside what is now a KFC.
I would use this money to buy what was needed. No more, no less. I knew where to go and where and how to haggle. I watched prices rise and fall.
I wasn’t alone – I had friends and ‘aunties’ who kept their eyes on me on behalf of my parents. Together, we managed to successfully give the outward impression of a normal life.
I don’t remember being afraid, I just got on with things.
Your journey may be different but you’re heading to the same place.
Your journey may look very different to mine but if you reflect you’ll find comparable experiences, key moments where your ability to adapt to change, perform under pressure and get results was formed.
These skills drive you now, professionally and personally, but unless you dig deep (and that can take a lot of effort and courage) it’s often difficult to see where they came from.
When I was doing my O-Levels, a friend of mine told the authorities about my situation and I was presented with a choice – go back to live with my parents in Nigeria or get them over here. Neither option was realistic so we fudged it, headed them off and carried on as before.
I was proud to succeed academically and accrued O-Levels, A-Levels, degrees, a masters degree, fellowships and professional accreditations. I came close to treading the path my mum and dad had wanted me to go down and becoming a doctor or a lawyer.
But my qualifications and awards came in the field of housing management, a career I built over the best part of 30 years.
Today, I do something different. Many thought the move to coach and mentor was a leftfield switch for me but after everything I have been through, a change is far better than a rest. I am at a point now where I have learned to appreciate my journey, my why, my purpose and my mission.
Why didn’t I choose to be a victim?
The challenges thrown my way – I was nudged out of my housing job, my dad died in 2003 – fuelled my desire to empower others to be able to deal with situations like those.
Becoming a coach is the ultimate manifestation of that because a coach sets him or herself up as someone who can provide solutions to problems.
Others in my position may have felt a sense of victimhood or abandonment. People can take experiences like mine and use them as a reason not to be resilient or resourceful.
But part of my job is to make people accountable for their decisions and getting them to where they need to be to succeed. My ability to do that comes from my upbringing, personal experiences and the points in my life where I made the decision to work the problem rather than allow myself to be consumed by it.
I’m going to explore the individual topics of reflection, resilience and resourcefulness in my next three blogs. Why are they important? How do they work? And where do they come from?
In the meantime, like me, I hope you are looking forward to 2024, the changes afoot, the space, to build and grow. For me, it is a matter of continuing to be resilient, reflective and resourceful. It might just be the same for you too.
Whether you’re looking to take your business to the next level, start again with a fresh approach or if you just need someone to keep you accountable, I can help. Book a free discovery call with me by clicking here and let’s explore how coaching could accelerate your growth.