In times of upheaval, why do some people, communities, companies and systems thrive, while others fall apart?

Kate Davis, the Creative Mindset Coach explains why creating and embracing creativity and ambitious resilience in your business, and in your own mind, will allow agility and growth.

What is ambitious resilience?

Resilience is the capacity of a system, enterprise or person to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances. – Andrew Zolli

Think of a rubber band. You can pull it, wrap it around packages, pull it back and ping it at your loved ones (safety first, people), and otherwise distort it – but when you leave it be, its core shape and integrity remains the same.

When you have ambitious resilience built in, you are able to do the same. You can flex and be agile as a person, and in your business, whilst all the same remaining true to your core.

Encouraging and embracing ambitious resilience and creative thinking will enable you to not only survive in times of crisis or upheaval, but actually to thrive.

But what if I don’t have a creative business?

Creativity sometimes creates a tangible outcome, a piece of art, but this is only one outcome of creative thinking.

Are you, and your business, innovative, imaginative, future-focused, willing to experiment, problem solving, wanting to think of things in a different way?

This is creative thinking, and it is this mindset that will allow and encourage resilience.

Connecting to Purpose

Knowing your purpose means that you can flex what you do, even how you do it, but the ‘why’ remains the same.

As Simon Sinek, the author of Start with Why, describes this, your ‘why’ as “the purpose, cause or belief that drives every one of us.” It provides clarity, inspires action encourages agility and provides impact is our contribution to impact and serve others.

As a WhyFinder, I know that helping others to identify and live their own why is fundamental in providing clarity, allowing clear communication and will draw people to you in a way no advertising slogan can. As Sinek says ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’

This is not only a key tenet of the WhyFinder principles, but also in a business’s ability to be agile and resilient.

Agile Business Practice

Agile is a project management methodology developed for software, but it is as relevant for human nature as it is for coding.

In agile philosophy, mindset, values and principles (your purpose or why) change infrequently, practices, tools and processes (what you do) flex and adapt dynamically depending on market pressures and customer demand.

An agile philosophy encourages us to work together, trust and support, reflect and adjust encourages collaboration and face to face conversation in order to welcome change and ultimately satisfy the customer.

Throughout history there are numerous examples of business resilience – those that adapted, survived and thrived.

Take Wall’s, for example. Thomas Wall II saw that his sales of sausages, meat and pies disappeared during the summer months (before we all became obsessed with BBQs, presumably), and he had to lay off large numbers of staff, only to reemploy them again 6 months later. He decided to flex and adapt, and introduced a summer-friendly line – icecream.

Or cobblers – who also struggled with the seasonality of their profession. Demand for shoe repairs was high in the winter, but dropped off in the summer. But people tended to move house in the summer months. So they flexed, used their equipment and skills, and incorporated key cutting into their businesses.

Others have needed to flex due to outside circumstances. Victorinox, most famous for the iconic Swiss Army knife, saw their sales plummet overnight after 9/11. When people were no longer allowed to carry knives on planes, they could have panicked. But instead, they looked at their business model, and their customers needs and flexed. Knives now only accounts for a fraction of their revenue – the rest now made up of luggage, watches and even perfume. Their business is now able to survive, and thrive, in times of upheaval and change.

During the Coronavirus epidemic and ensuing lockdown, we have all seen examples of companies who have shown their agility and capacity for change in lockdown.

A local café, for example, who saw an opportunity to serve, and maintain their core business – being one of the first locally to offer a takeaway and delivery option, but also added grocery boxes, were the only place locally you could buy bread flour and eggs, and then saw the shift in the market again and offer their famous burgers as a DIY kit to BBQ at home, with curated wine boxes from another local company.

Or the pilates and yoga teachers going online. Therapists working remotely (Zoom Reiki, anyone?), and those companies who showed their true values immediately – the large gym chain who immediately notified all customers that their payments would be frozen, but still offered weekly online classes, and tips and recipes to stay healthy, the big food delivery companies that prioritised their delivery slots (remember “you are number 3479 of 5271 in the queue”?) for the vulnerable and then their existing customers.

What does all this mean for you, and your business?

How do you create and embed ambitious resilience in yourself, your teams and your business?

1. Stay true to your core purpose – your why
Think of our friend the rubber band. No matter how we stretch or shape it, its core integrity remains the same. It is still a rubber band, it still holds things together, but can adapt and change as we need it to.
2. Reframe your mindset
When we think of winning or losing, and the ‘what’ – we are thinking too small, too finite. We need to look at any challenge in the long term – in business and in life – ambitious resilience leads to an infinite mindset – generational and purposeful change.
Think about what you can, and want to do, for your community, your clients and yourself, rather than quick gains that exhaust your energy and set you up for failure.
3. Embrace change
Those who welcome change, welcome growth, innovation and creativity. Change can be painful, but no more painful than staying somewhere that no longer serves. As my mentor and good friend Jaz Ampaw-Farr puts it “Change won’t happen until your desire to make a difference is bigger, stronger and more powerful than your fear of trying.”
4. Accept failure
If we are forever living in fear of failure, we won’t ever try to push ourselves to adapt. One of the most liberating things about trying to adapt a business in lockdown is that no one has ever done this before – so there is no right or wrong. If it doesn’t work – we have the ultimate get-out clause – it wasn’t a bad decision, it was the best decision based on the information we had at the time.
When nothing is sure, everything is possible – Margaret Drabble
5. Keep asking questions
Of yourself, of your clients or customers, of the market. Really connecting to your purpose will drive you forward, and allow you the confidence to ask what your customers really need and want at the moment, and what the market will allow. Look around at your competitors – what are they doing well, what aren’t they doing? Where might there be a You-shaped gap in that market.
6. Embrace creativity
That innovative, problem-solving willingness to experiment and the resilience to flex and be agile will ultimately allow you choice, perspective, movement and freedom.

About the author

Kate Davis is the Creative Mindset Coach, and a positive disruptor. She inspires and empowers creative thinkers to find, follow and fulfil their ‘why’, their passion.
 Kate inspires you to build an unshakeable belief in yourself and your purpose, and be brave enough to carve out your own path in business and in life. She is passionate about helping you find your own ‘why’, and empowering you to smash through your own comfort zone.

Kate knows, first hand, what it feels like to follow a life and career that doesn’t quite ‘fit’. When you feel that there must be something more for you, something bigger, but you constantly beat yourself up for not having made ‘it’ yet – whatever ‘it’ is.

Kate started working life as a solicitor (hated it), moved into creative life event management for many years (loved it) and worked on award-winning projects for some of the world’s leading agencies and brands.

Wanting more work-life balance, Kate chose to specialise in change management and business architecture, becoming a PRINCE2Agile Practitioner.

But it didn’t make her happy. In fact, it made her bloody miserable, anxious and depressed. Cue the inevitable breakdown.

She searched for a life with more meaning. Training as an ICF certified coach was the first step to finding her purpose in life, combining all her skills and experience to lead a life that truly matters.

Kate is obsessed with tea and marmite (but not together), loves a 1970s cultural reference and is mildly obsessed with stationery. She lives with her husband, two brilliant children and two insane springer spaniels.



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