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Focus On What You Can Change

Dr Lucy Hone’s 2019 TED Talk: The three secrets of resilient people covered the idea of resilience through adversity, which everyone experiences to different degrees as part of life. She explained that “sufferingis part of the human existence”, and although the intensity and frequency of these experiences may differ for every individual we are all united in our mission against strife in one way or another.

One of the ideas she focused on was the idea that when you are experiencing hardship it is imperative to focus on what you can change, as opposed to what is set in stone. You cannot move mountains, but you can manoeuvre them, whether that is reaching the summit, or trekking around the perimeter. There is always some form of an obstacle to tackle, but, you have a degree of control about how you go about it. This is especially important when looking at the workplace.

Consider this: Jenny has been studying for the last eight years, striving to achieve throughout her A-Levels, her degree and her masters in order to achieve her dream position at a firm, working in IT. However, now that she’s there she has found that starting at the bottom is nowhere near as glamorous as it was portrayed by guest speakers, YouTube videos, and blog posts. She was struggling to motivate herself to plaster a smile on her face, and be positive whilst at work, because she genuinely was not enjoying being in her current position.

What could she do, she had worked so hard to get to this point? She could quit, and look for work elsewhere, accept defeat and potentially struggle to make her way back into the industry she worked so hard to be part of. Or, she could find a way to use her grittiness to her advantage and be hardy. You have to learn to work with the hand you have been dealt, and so, Jenny decides, for the benefit of her in a year’s time, or five years’ time, to stick out the job.

How could she improve her experience, when practice inside the company is rigid? It starts with herself.

Hone explained in her talk that sometimes in order to make progress through adversity, you have to seek out positives. This is what she called benefit finding, and within her example of her own grief, she explained it in the simple terms of “don’t lose what you have to what you have lost”. You have to have the idea of seeking positivity out in order to make the progress you wish to see.

If Jenny looked for the good in the firm, she would see that Barbara on the reception desk always says good morning to her. She knows everyone by name, and makes the effort to greet everyone to know that they aren’t a faceless figure in the building. They are known and they are seen. She may not want to go to work, but she knows that Barbara is on the front desk ready to say hello and wish her a good day. She should do that back.

A small glimpse of positivity to open her eyes to other positives that will help her see the day through. Will it make the graft through hard times easier? No. But, will it allow her the opportunity to seek more positivity and make light of the harder parts of her job? Yes.

I recall hearing a story that a friend told me, about working a high-season in the entertainment industry, filled with tired young people, who parodied the company’s theme song to express their frustrations with the opening shift. Did it make going to work early any easier physically, or emotionally? No. But the demonstration of rapport was a great positive to working that shift. They all wanted to sleep, and that sense of struggle being universal, made it easier to bear. There was empathy there, communication, humour.

Seeing the good in the bad is not always easy, especially in dark times of struggle and strife. It is often seen as condescending to have a “it could be worse” attitude, especially when conveying that message to others who are struggling. But, setting the intentions to look for the good, seems to make the dark easier to handle.

After all, if there was no darkness, we would never see the stars.

Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (, is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.

He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.

The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.

To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address:

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