Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

HOW HIGH IS YOUR * RQ? *RESILIENCE QUOTIENT; We All Fail Some of the Hurdles Work Throws at Us, So Being Able to Bounce Back Is an Essential Skill -- and Liz Hoggard Discovers It Can Be Learned

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

HOW HIGH IS YOUR * RQ? *RESILIENCE QUOTIENT; We All Fail Some of the Hurdles Work Throws at Us, So Being Able to Bounce Back Is an Essential Skill -- and Liz Hoggard Discovers It Can Be Learned

Article excerpt

Byline: Liz Hoggard

AHOT flush of shame washes over me. I fight back the tears, as I try to explain I have too much work to do. The boss looks doubtful. According to business psychologist Jane Clarke, I have made three classic mistakes. I've taken things personally ("Why is it only me this happens to?"). I've turned a minor setback into a catastrophe. And I've walked away with low self-esteem.

Instead, I need to think: "What am I going to do to fix this?" I should "reframe" my language more positively, and deliver feedback in an authentic but constructive way.

Resilience -- the capacity of people to cope with stress and catastrophe -- is the hottest new topic in psychology, medicine and social sciences. Why is it that some people can recover from life's problems -- from rejection in love to being hit by natural disasters -- while others decline into depression or more serious mental illness? In her new book, co-authored with Dr John Nicholson, Resilience, Bounce Back From Whatever Life Throws at You, Clarke analyses the secrets of resilient people, revealing which personality characteristics help people triumph in difficult times, but also which life events might help prepare you for future hardships.

"This has been a turbulent year for all of us," says Clarke, who specialises in coaching in the City. "We were seeing lots of traumatised individuals but it was clear that some people were weathering the recession more easily. We thought it would be useful to quantify what sets these people apart."

She and Nicholson have coined a new term, "Resilience Quotient", which measures your current resilience level (using psychometric testing) just as IQ measures your intelligence level. And the good news is that everyone -- even us flaky, eager-to-please types -- can boost their RQ.

Resilience, says Clarke, is a skill we can learn. At first it takes massive concentration, but eventually it becomes automatic.

The book, endorsed by fashion guru Mary Portas, draws on 26 in-depth interviews with resilient individuals, plus questionnaires sent to 300 people, to isolate five key factors that set the RQ squad apart: optimism; freedom from anxiety; taking personal responsibility; openness and adaptability; and a positive and active approach to problem solving.

I would have assumed they all had happy, stable childhoods. But the first shock is that high achievers often come from broken homes or were forced to act as carers. Overcoming challenges -- positive adaptation -- at such an early age gives them a determination to succeed and a desire to make sure their own family doesn't suffer in the same way. Think Barack Obama, Charlize Theron or Kelly Holmes.

"Anyone in the political arena has to convey the impression of being immensely resilient. Love them or loathe them, they have to stand up there and take it on the chin," says Clarke.

Resilience shouldn't be confused with arrogance or narcissm. But you need a reasonably high degree of self-esteem. "For example, if you give the impression that you never take yourself seriously, why should anyone else do so?" Clarke warns. We need to take the credit for our own successes and reflect on how we attained them.

People with high RQ rarely experience envy. Energised rather than overrun by a crisis, they practise "ritualised ingenuity" (always finding solutions when faced with a challenge). …

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