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What Resilience means to me /Guest Feature/ by Yusuf Ukaye

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

“Learning, Becoming, Living and Thriving”

The term Resilience is a broad one, but also an important one to so many of us. Both personally and professionally, constantly as Resilience professionals looking to strive in becoming stronger, wiser, dynamic by the ways life throws situations, incidents, crisis at us in an ever changing and volatile world. It becomes too much, and we cry out for rest and recovery to heal and get back to where we were.

Having worked in a number of industries, Resilience is never about one set of thoughts, rules or one specific person. An important branch of Resilience which resonates with me personally is how we in life create, reach out and maintain a purposeful built network of friends and colleagues. With this in mind, it emboldens us to continue to learn and grow with each other to strive for a common goal, success and survival.

Society relies on the skills sets we hold, they are valuable and empowering, and I also believe they have proven to have made a difference, we only have to look at how well so many of us have had coped during the pandemic in various capacities. Our responses to various Geopolitical events across the world as well as how we constantly adapt to the ways technology is shaping the way we live and learn.

So, to that extent, Resilience to me is a lot to do with the networks we build and maintain.

Resilience as a professional in Resilience

Over the past ten years, I have had the fortune of working amongst some fantastic, creative and disciplined professionals. These professionals emerged from all corners of the globe who have had something positive and innovative to share in terms of why Resilience is important to them. They are storytellers and visionaries.

As someone who has designed and delivered BCM programmes, it’s been an exciting journey to be able to be supported by subject matter experts in a variety of fields that have galvanised my programme. At one point in early in my career, I held several misconceptions about what parts of a Business Continuity programme / plan allowed for it be seen as successful. If I had continued to hold these beliefs, (which were very one dimensional) I believe I would not have fostered and maintained the relationships I have to this day. It educated me well enough to understand that the sum of the parts of a plan / programme can only be successful if the organisation and those within the team supports your end goal….

To support the survival and the continual growth of an organisation.

So, how does a Resilience professional define "resilience" in what they do? It’s a big deal because everything we do is geared up to ensure that the organisations, we support in anticipating and responding to risks are able to do so without recourse of the “worst happening”. Our story about “keeping the lights on” and driving home the message Resilience cannot be done “alone”. We have a a duty of care “to care”.

I think with what I am about to discuss next has for me been a great enabler:

Creating Valued engagement with a Resilience Mindset

Creating valued engagement is the running theme in terms of What Resilience Means To Me. I think without the support of colleagues, friends, neighbours across business networks, my “personal resilience” would have been impeded and may well have had a knock-on effect on the thoughts, feelings, responses, desires and actions that I take on board.

When we talk about valued engagement, we may think of a time when we have totally bought into. We have listened to a story that totally resonated with our own past, a story that allowed us to break free of old ways of thinking and breaking patterns of disinterest for further developing ourselves in becoming “better”.

The message is intrinsically motivated, its understood, it’s clear, as well as embraced. The value in the message is a great enabler to get our goals.

Being able to paint a picture of what good looks like can start to build the bridge of collaborative thinking and that too may well foster a resilient mindset. What comes to mind when fostering a Resilient mindset may involve but is surely not limited to being:

  • Curious: Explore the unknown without having any fear of intimidation or reprisal. Moving away from exploiting situations to exploring and collaborating on levels unchartered.

  • Empathetic: To understand and share the feeling, thoughts and experiences of other subject matter experts to enrich gaps of limited knowledge. Leaning in and allowing others to lean on too.

  • Motivated: Sparking a social connection with colleagues with the desire to succeed, improve and progress. Sharing stories that will uplift.

  • Optimistic: Creating a picture of confidence about what the future holds and drawing a line of successful steps in order to succeed

  • Focused: Directing positive energy towards a shared objective in order for a mutually beneficial outcome. Build the momentum required to ensure project success.

  • Appreciative: Valuing the thought processes contributions, successes, lessons in life of contributors within your network. Salute their efforts along your resilience journey.

  • Embracing adversity: Do I have a positive mindset when I encounter an adverse situation?

How do I adopt an Agile mindset? Have I been able to walk through in my mind various “coping mechanisms” that will not only help me but my colleagues during an incident?

The importance of self-awareness

Having painted this picture of fostering a resilient mindset, it may well draw on parallels on the importance of self-awareness. In the simplest of terms, self-awareness is all about different aspects of our own, values, thoughts, traits, behaviours, previous, current & future actions.

Duval & Wuckland (1972) described self-awareness as:

”The ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts, or emotions do or don't align with your internal standards. If you're highly self-aware, you can objectively evaluate yourself, manage your emotions, align your behaviour with your values, and understand correctly how others perceive you."

By understanding our path much clearly, it allows us to become more confident and more creative, we are then more able to make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships and communicate more effectively (Eurich, 2018). This only reinforces the notion of an organisation or an even society becoming resilient building on its capability to respond.

Self-awareness is also pointed out importantly as one of the components of the four unique human gifts that stem from the “Habit of personal responsibility” (Be Proactive). Our positive freedom to choose on things that are within our control from Stephen R. Covey Severn Habits of Highly effective People (Covey, 1989).

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions” – Dr. Stephen R.Covey

On a final note, I am sure there will be those who I look up to in the industry as well across other industries who will be able to factor in many other skills, processes, methodologies and life experiences.

Can Resilience seen to be creative and exploratory in its nature in the same vein as it is seen as a term that associates itself with elasticity and strength? So, I end “creatively” with two verses from probably one of the world’s favourite poems which you could argue is a poem all about being Resilient.

“And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!” – Rudyard Kipling “IF”


Yusuf has been working in the field of resilience for 10 years in both a Business Development capacity as well as leader of Business Continuity programmes. His resilience experience has led him to work within a number of environments which include a niche security consultancy, a dedicated provider of Managed IT and Business Continuity provisions and solutions a global pharmaceutical maker, a national regulator as well as a national utility provider.

He is a member of the Business Continuity Institute as well as a committee member for the North Midlands BCI Chapter and is also PECB certified lead implementer of Business Continuity Management Systems to ISO 22301:2019. Yusuf, lives in the West Midlands, UK with his wife and two daughters. He is a keen traveller, reader, loves 80’s and 90’s music and an avid follower of Football and current affairs.



What Self-awareness really is (And How to cultivate it) Tasha Eurich (2018)

A theory of Objective Self Awareness. Shelly Duval and Robert A. Wicklund 1972

Rochat, Phillip (December 2003). “Five levels of self-awareness as they unfold in early life”. Consciousness and Cognition.

Covey, Stephen R: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989)


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