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Resilience and Learning to Rise

When Dr Brené Brown asked the 150 leaders in her global leadership study what skills they would need to ‘still be standing in 5 years’, she was surprised by the unanimous answer.

We’re going to need braver leaders and more courageous cultures. We need workplaces where people are willing to have hard conversations. With significant and often chaotic disruption, we need leaders who are never silent about the hard things.

These global leaders then told Brené that they believed courage was a trait – you either had it or you didn’t. That rang huge alarm bells for her, because she knew this wasn’t the case.

Courage is a teachable, measurable and learnable skillset.

So her next research question became… how do we go about developing courage in our people?

The answer to this very important question was that leaders need to learn 4 essential skills – the building blocks of courage:

  1. Rumbling with Vulnerability
  2. Living into Values
  3. BRAVING Trust


  • Learning to Rise

It’s in this fourth skillset that we find the deep connection between Brené’s work, and the world of Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

Emotional Literacy lies at the heart of our capacity to get back up after falls and setbacks, to navigate life’s harder times and be more resilient. In her latest book, Atlas of the Heart, Brené writes…”Language is our portal to meaning making, connection, healing, learning, and self-awareness. Having access to the right words can open up entire universes”.

Leaders who are learning to be more courageous and grow their resilience understand the 3-step process of Learning to Rise, as taught in the Dare to Lead™ course: The Reckoning, Rumble and Revolution. 

In this blog, I’m going to try and bring these steps to life through a real-world example.

Imagine you’re an emerging leader working in a fast-paced, dynamic, rapidly growing business, and you’ve just been told about an imminent re-structure where your new reporting line feels very disappointing for you. You’re going to now be reporting through to a boss who is known as a poor communicator and micro-manager. A controlling person with a view that people must do what they’re told or leave.

What does the Learning to Rise (resilience) process look and feel like for this emerging leader?


This is where we recognise we’ve been hooked by an emotion. We’re feeling a range of emotions from frustration, to regret, anger, sadness. Maybe we’re not sleeping well, we’re feeling anxious and agitated. Our physiology is telling us that something’s going on, a reminder that emotions are data, and this data contains important messaging for us. All emotions are an opportunity to learn more about ourselves – signposting what’s missing or what’s important to us.

What some core skills can you focus on to become better at the Reckoning:

  • Grow your self-awareness (notice what’s going on)
  • Recognise where in your body you feel emotions (e.g. increased heart rate; sweaty palms, tight chest, upset stomach…)
  • Develop your Emotional Literacy – so you have many feeling words for your experience (the brain can’t navigate what it can’t name)


This is where we start reality-checking the story we’re telling ourselves (our thought processes). All day long we tell ourselves ‘stories’, and our brain rewards us with a dose of dopamine (the feel-good neurochemical), regardless of the accuracy of the story.

So it’s important to write a SFD (Sh**ty First Draft), to journal our experience, and to check with ourselves about the accuracy of what we’re thinking and feeling in the stories we’re making up.

It’s about pausing, reflecting and regaining perspective.

Our emerging leader may be telling herself that she wasn’t good enough to sit under the preferred ‘inspiring’ boss; that her work hasn’t been recognised and she’s being overlooked for future opportunities. She finds herself rumbling with 3 emotions/emotional experiences in her SFD – anxiety, grief and forgiveness.

Her anxiety has been getting worse lately, and since this decision really ramped up. Grief is showing up as she’s starting to feel lost and questioning whether she’s even in the right career. And how can she forgive herself for not asking for help earlier so she could seek mentorship and some career direction.

The Rumble is a messy place, and we have to be vulnerable as we look at our story from all angles, question our views and beliefs, our mindset –  to come to a place of insight where we can them RESPOND rather than REACT.

We can Rumble in a few minutes, or it may take many days or even weeks… and it takes a willingness to be more curious and less judgmental (kinder to ourselves and more generous in our assumptions about others).

What some core skills can you focus on to become better at the Rumble:


This is where we take action from a place of grounded confidence.

Our emerging leader may have decided to focus on her self-care to bring calm. She’s joined a weekly yoga class, and started running again; she’s also reached out to a Mentoring group and started networking and connecting with inspiring leaders who’re re-igniting her passion for her chosen field. She’s also decided to stick with this new role, to not pre-judge her new boss and to courageously speak up when needed, and influence positively where she can.

And as we repeatedly practice The Reckoning, Rumble and Revolution, we become a more resilient, courageous leader.  

What some core skills can you focus on to become better at the Revolution:

  • Reflect on the ways that your grounded confidence is developing you as leader
  • Focus on growing your Empathy (to self and others)
  • Keep your purpose in mind, your north star. Think about writing your Leadership Manifesto

Want to learn more? Book a free 15 minute Discovery Call with our team today.


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