Part 6: The Four Legs of Your Personal Resilience Table
This is the last blog in the COVID-19 Survival Tent Routine series. This blog’s focus is on personal resilience. Resilience is the capacity to resist, recover from, and even thrive in the face of adversity.
Resilience is an iterative process, not a static state. The process includes finding strength, meaning, and connection between the body, mind, heart, and soul. Or the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
The Four Legs
This leads us to the metaphor of the 4-legged table. Each of the legs corresponds to your body, mind, heart, and soul.
Keeping physically fit through exercise and nutrition improves both handling of stress and health outcomes, from heart disease to depression.
Actively engaging your mind by reading from a variety of sources and engaging in interesting problem solving activities, like games and puzzles, provides another proven set of coping strategies.
Matters of the heart, such as social connectedness, also provide an opportunity to build resilience based on a support network of meaningful relationships with others. Make it a habit to voice or video call your friends and family on a regular basis. This provides a venue to share your experiences and talk about your feelings.
Lastly, spirituality, whether religiously or secularly based, helps with grounding and feeling connected to something greater than yourself. For some this means going to a religious gathering. During COVID-19 many places of worship live stream their services. For others this could mean meditation. For others still is a connection with nature.
For some, one component may provide more of a bedrock than another, however, they are all important and often interdependent.
A table to stand properly, needs its legs to be the same length. This equates to you looking after all elements of your humanity. If you do not, then one or more of your table’s legs will be short.
Now, even with a shortened or missing leg, a four-legged table will still stand. That table will stand, until the right amount of pressure is placed in the right spot. Then the table will tip over or even fall.
When you are stressed or in a crisis, pressure is applied to your table. And if you have not attended to each of the components, then your resilience to withstand the stress is at best reduced and at worst completely absent.
If you are not attending to all four legs of your resilience table then it will feel as though you are sprinting a marathon, constantly out of breath. We are still in the early days of this pandemic here in Canada. You will need to safeguard your resilience to sustain yourself until the finish line.
In the military there is an expression: “Mission, People, Equipment, Self.” This expression prioritizes where a leader focuses their energies. These priorities are drilled into soldiers from the very beginning of their time in uniform. The # 1 priority is always the mission, then your soldiers, then all your equipment, and last is yourself as the leader.
Below are some pictures from my time in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2006 when I commanded 23 Field Squadron. They are a very personal reminder of the cost of war, where by absolute necessity the mission always comes first. I only wish I knew then what I know now in terms of looking after the other three.
Linking this list to the other Tent Routine blogs.
- From Part 1, my family’s mission is “to do our part to help flatten the curve and to survive the pandemic intact as a family”. Part 2 and Part 3 give you some tools on how to best achieve this mission.
- Part 5 is about looking after your people by conducting a “buddy check” in terms of their physical health, mental health, and emotional well-being. My people are my wife and two daughters with whom I live as a family unit. Next are my parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family, work colleagues, and friends.
- Part 4 gives you tips on how to reinforce your equipment to have suitable alternate, contingency, and emergency backup options during a crisis.
- Part 6, which you are reading now, is about what you as a leader can do for yourself.
Mission, people, equipment, self—in that order. However, as I have come to understand, mostly through learning the hard way, if you do not take care of yourself, then eventually you will not be able to take care of the first three.
So what are you doing to look after yourself?
What are you doing to ensure that the 4 legs of your proverbial resilience table are fully there?
- Are you getting the proper nutrition and hydration?
- Are you getting enough exercise and sleep?
- Are you taking the time to pause, to stop doing, and to think?
- Are you reading? And not just the flood of COVID news.
- Are you taking time to connect with friends and family?
- Are you talking about how this is impacting your life?
- Are you taking steps to safeguard your emotional well-being and your mental health?
- And are you clear about your purpose during the pandemic? Have your priorities changed as a result?
The COVID-19 Tent Routine Blog series is intended to provide you with a foundation to build your household survival kit. An important place to start is ensuring that your own personal resilience table is sturdy and prepared to withstand the stresses that a crisis brings. If properly developed and sustained your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health will enable you to lead yourself and, therefore, effectively lead others.
Never waste a crisis to transform for the better. Strong leaders own their experiences. Strong leaders own their experiences and become better people for them.
Bon courage as you do your part to help flatten the curve and keep your family safe.
About the Author
In 2006, then Major Mark Gasparotto deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan as the Commander of 23 Field Squadron. The Squadron provided combat engineer support to the 1st Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group during Canada’s second rotation in theatre. Upon his return home, Mark and 12 of his former officers and soldiers wrote the book Clearing the Way: Combat Engineers in Kandahar, now an award winning documentary film.
Retiring from the Canadian Armed Forces in 2017 at the rank of Colonel, Mark is now the President of the Gasparotto Group.
The Gasparotto Group helps organizations create cultures that develop highly effective leaders and build strong, resilient teams.