Acknowledge what is happening and how it’s making you feel. — Spend time thinking about the situation and try and view it from every angle. Understand the parts you either can’t change or can’t control. — Which bits are out of your control. Getting angry, anxious or frustrated will only serve to upset you. It won’t make a material change to anything apart from your anxiety.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kim-Adele Platts.
Kim-Adele Platts is a renowned master coach, international bestselling author, inspirational keynote speaker, and face whisperer; she couples 25 years in the corporate world with lessons learnt to help others achieve sustainable professional and personal success.
Kim-adele is co-founder of MasterMindSet — A New Leadership Foundation: Different by Design Delivering C-Suite: Skills, Strategies & Networks to Lead in the 2020s.
She co-founded the first International Imposter Syndrome Awareness Day and is a Non-Exec Director with the IoD, Academy Trust and Mary’s Meals.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
Thanks for talking with me. It is an absolute pleasure. My story is perhaps a little unusual; I left school to become a hairdresser, my childhood dream. I started my own business at 18 and thought all my dreams had come true. Then I became severely ill, losing the feeling in my hands and legs, and it took the doctors months to uncover what was wrong. It transpired I had become allergic to perm lotion, and it was so severe I had to sell my business and restart. I got a temporary job in the local bank whilst working out what to do. That started my 25+year career in Financial Services and IT, where I worked up to board level before starting my own business as a leadership consultant and coach three years ago.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Perhaps one of the most challenging times was working as Transformation lead for an organisation facing severe difficulties. They had just been given the largest fine in UK history from the regulator and were all over the press for mis-selling. I joined a couple of weeks later, intending to fix the 244 remedial actions from the regulator. It was a challenge as we had to navigate the transformation whilst having little to no income. I led the first of five major redundancy programmes, which is a heart-breaking thing to do. I remember on the first day standing in front of the people and telling them what was happening, there was devastation, anger, denial and upset, the whole range of emotions, and all I could do was be there for people and listen to them.
Over the coming weeks, as we went through the consultation, I continued to have drop-in sessions, talk to people, and listen to how they were feeling. On the last day, I had people hugging me because I had treated them with respect.
It taught me that we all want to be listened to, understood, and respected at our base. It doesn’t mean we never disagree, but we never disrespect. That advice has served me well now. In all situations, I seek to listen, understand and respect the other person, and it’s incredible how quickly conflict is resolved.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Like all companies, the thing that makes us stand out is the people; I am blessed to work with some fantastic people driven to help others become the best leaders, truly connect with their people, and create and embed a culture where everyone thrives. Working for a particular client recently, this shone; we were working with a client struggling to engage and enthuse their team in the new world of hybrid working by helping the client focus on what they wanted (an engaged workforce) and empowering them to share the problem.
Letting their people know what they were trying to achieve and why it was important helped the whole business come together and find a solution.
None of us is able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
So many great people have helped and inspired me along the way, I am incredibly grateful. My brother, one of the people who got me my big break, has been by my side since birth.
He has always been a staunch supporter, believing in me when I didn’t trust in myself. I had the privilege of working with him at EGG and learned so much about leading people and setting a good example. I aspired to be like him. One day he came to find me to say he had been approached for a director role with another organisation and had declined as he thought someone would be better suited. He had given them my name; I was blown away; here was the man I aspired to be like, and he thought I was better suited. I didn’t want to let him down, so I borrowed his belief and went for the interview. I was successful, and it was a huge step forward in my career. His unwavering support, guidance and care for his people is an absolute inspiration, and I am blessed to have him.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is a topic close to my heart; it is a personality trait that is unique to us all, and one that I believe can transform our lives once we learn to build it. I love a good quote, and the one that springs to mind on resilience is from Thomas A Edison “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” When I think of resilient people in my life, they have in common that they focus on what they can do rather than what they can’t.
I believe we all have resilience to some degree, some more than others and much like hands that are toughened by years of hard work, resilient minds give us the strength to handle life’s challenges and bounce back to being happy.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Interesting question: I think they can be similar in that both require us to focus on the unknown. We have to move out of our comfort zone to achieve either and trust that we will find a way. That takes courage and builds resilience. They say the only thing greater than fear is hope, which empowers us to have courage, believe in ourselves, and act, which builds resilience.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
There are so many inspiring people past and present that have shown the power of the human spirit. I am privileged to personally know some truly unique people who have survived some of the most traumatic event’s life could throw at them. They found their path to learn from the experiences and use them to help others navigate their challenges. They all have in common their determination to define their story and not let the circumstances define them.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
As the fabulous Audrey Hepburn said, “Nothing is Impossible, the word itself says I’m Possible”. It took me a long time to realise that I was my own greatest naysayer, I suffered from imposter syndrome for years, but rather than holding me back, I think it spurred me on to learn more, do more, achieve more. Having told myself I wasn’t enough; I couldn’t do it; I am proud to say I finally turned my inner critic into my inner cheerleader. Like all of us, I realised I had survived 100% of the challenges life has thrown at me; that’s one heck of a batting average.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
Life loves a good plot twist, doesn’t it and mine, like most, has had its fair share. Perhaps my greatest setback came a few years ago, my little girl wasn’t quite one, and I was going through a series of mammograms and MRI tests to determine the cause of a health scare. I had just resigned from my big corporate role to focus on my husband’s career and look after the kids when ten days before surgery, my marriage ended.
I was crushed; I couldn’t think how I would survive the shock. At my most melodramatic, I couldn’t think how to breathe overnight I had become an unemployed single mum in her forties facing surgery. Not a label I had expected or one I was willing to live by. I did what I always do when life gets bumpy. I focused on what I could do — clinging to it like a life raft in the stormy seas of my mind. I realised my little girl needed me; I couldn’t give up; I had to rebuild our lives. A week later, I had secured an interim role as MD for a recruitment firm the week after I had my surgery and returned to work the following day. Before long, I had rebuilt our lives, started my own business, and become an author. I learnt that everything in life is a lesson, a blessing or both, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. So, when things go wrong, I look for the lesson and use it to help me grow.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
Without realising it, I have been cultivating resilience for as long as I can remember; I have a natural desire to help others and put their needs before my own, which I think was built from an early age.
My parents ran their own business and equally had a drive to help others. That often meant me being left at bus stops for hours at a time, waiting for them to collect me as we lived in the middle of nowhere. Most days, one of their friends would pass by and offer me a lift, but I knew they would worry if I wasn’t waiting there when they arrived, and so I would politely decline and sit it out. It was such a regular thing it even made it into my dad’s speech at my wedding. I hadn’t realised it at the time, but I now see it was the start of my resilience training.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
I remember at my lowest point going to write a letter to my daughter in case I didn’t survive the surgery. I couldn’t believe I had waited over 40 years to become a mum, and I might not get to see her grow up. I didn’t know where to start the letter; I mean, where do you begin that letter. I snuck into her room for inspiration and watched her sleep, dreaming about her day. At that moment, it hit me that the voice we talk to ourselves becomes the voice we teach our children to speak to themselves. It was like the world stopped, or perhaps it was just my heart. I vowed that if I survived, I would do the work to understand why I talked so badly about myself and learn to believe in myself.
It took me on a four-year journey to understand how our psychology works, and it helped me create my five steps to overcoming overwhelm, which still serve me today.
- Acknowledge what is happening and how it’s making you feel. — Spend time thinking about the situation and try and view it from every angle. Understand the parts you either can’t change or can’t control. — Which bits are out of your control. Getting angry, anxious or frustrated will only serve to upset you. It won’t make a material change to anything apart from your anxiety.
- Identify the things you can change and can control — What are the things you can do or can handle, which allows you to focus on where you are going, not where you are.
- Determine the actions you are going to take — Identify the things you want to do and commit to them. Take the next step — To quote Frozen 2, “Just do the next right thing.” that’s the problem with overwhelm. We can lose ourselves in having to solve the whole issue when we need to take the next step. With every step, we change our position, and we change our view. The result is what was hidden to us comes into sight.
- Choose your Mindset — Perhaps the most important of them is to pick your mindset, what we focus on we get, so focus on what you want to happen and take steps towards it. — I always start and end the day with appreciation, what it is I am grateful for, be that a new day or waking to my little girl’s smile, it never fails to set me up for the day. I also love a quote and use one daily to help me pick my mindset for the day. My current favourite is “In today I trust”, which means that every day will bring me a positive, even if it also brings me a challenge.
- Don’t do it alone — as with all things in life, be that love, life or business, we are stronger together, so don’t face things alone. Find a support group be that family member, partner, friend, or online group, ensure you have other people around you to share your thoughts, hopes, dreams, and fears. To be there to lift you when you fall and to celebrate when you fly.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-).
To have people spread kindness in the world. As Morgan Freeman said, “How do we change the world, one small random act of kindness at a time”. It is in all our gift to be kind, and the impact can be unbelievable.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-).
Oh, so many that I would love to talk with, but if I had to pick just one, it would be J K Rowling; her story is a picture of resilience and self-belief, genuinely inspiring.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!