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I always experience an internal moment of awkwardness when I hear the word “Resilient” in a professional context.

It is ubiquitous in the corporate world at the moment; resilience, mental toughness, grit.

I have some amazing colleagues and friends in senior, high pressure roles, and “resilient” really is a word that describes them well. They recover quickly, they withstand difficult conditions, they bounce back into shape.

Years of managing a predisposition to depression has made me suspect that I am not, in fact, resilient.

I would be, except for this one problem: my capability exceeds my capacity.

My Capability exceeds My Capacity. Let me explain.

I know that I am CAPABLE of great things.

I’m clever; I can learn anything I put my mind too.

I’m conceptual; I can take a plethora of seemingly disjointed information and formulate it into something comprehensible that resonates with people, be it in a workshop or as part of a strategy document.

I’m articulate; I can express myself in both writing and speaking in a way that touches people and gently provokes them to think.

I’m influential; I can build rapport just as easily with the factory worker on the shop floor as the CEO.

I know I’m CAPABLE of all this and more.

It’s my bloody CAPACITY that lets me down.

Capacity: the total amount that can be produced.

So, imagine a person’s capacity is equivalent to 100% of battery on your smart phone.

In my early 20’s, I figured that over a typical week, half my battery life would go toward my career (50%) and the other half would go toward my personal life (50%).
I thought that my battery would last at least 3 or 4 days, so that as long as I got a good rest and some ‘me time’ on the charger twice a week, I’d be fine.

But I soon learnt that when you manage a mental health challenge, that is not how it pans out.

Whatever the reason, I’ve learnt that I seem to have a pre-disposition to depression. Every few years, it’s like my brain/body starts to malfunction and my depression symptoms begin.

I’ve also learnt, though, that I am the master of my own destiny. Depression is not a visitor that controls me, something I have to ‘accept’ and sit through until she decides to move on.

No, as discussed in my earlier articles, depression is a bus ride. If I recognise my early symptoms soon enough, I can get off the bus and get myself back on the bus to wellness.

But here’s the thing; being master of my own mental health takes quite a bit of my battery life.

Over a typical week, 10% of my battery life has to go just on making sure I get good sleep; 8-10 hours a night ideally.

20% has to go on making sure I get exposure to sunlight; get my hands in the soil; get on the treadmill…participate in the range of strategies that both research, and my personal experience, show help maintain wellness (strategies which I teach in my BrainSweet workshops).

40% of my battery life goes on being a mum, and wife, and home-maker. Making sure I am raising children who feel loved, and supported, and listened to. Creating a home environment that is safe, and welcoming, and nurturing.

Which leaves 30% of my battery life for my career. And as anyone who has worked with me knows, that 30% is given at 100%….everything I do, I do with energy, and commitment, and excellence.

But if I am to stay well, my career really can only consume 30% of my total battery life.

And as for only needing to charge every 3 or 4 days….what rubbish!! Every day I need to factor in time on that charger.

So…back to my original dilemma.

Does only having 30% of my total battery life available for work mean I am not resilient?

Do all you “Resilients” out there find you can devote 50%? 60% 80% of your energy to your career, and still not run out of charge?

I don’t know the answer.

I recover too, but not quickly. I withstand difficult conditions too, but when I’m unwell they’re in my head, my heart, and my body. I bounce back into shape too, but it may take a while and I may be a slightly different shape than I was previously.

You could say that my quota of resilience all gets used up in managing my mental health.

Maybe I’ll invent a new word. I may not be resilient in the corporate sense of the word. But I’m resilient in the “maintains mental health” sense of the word.

I’m resili(m)ent.

Resilimental. Adjective. The ability to recover (eventually); to withstand difficult conditions (largely in your own head), and to bounce back into (a new and interesting) shape.

I can live with that.

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