BLOG 8th March 2018

Resilience and Wellbeing in the Cultural Sector

The CO3 Conference this year took place on Thursday 1st March in La Mon House Hotel. The Beast from the East made its presence felt as I made my way carefully to a winter wonderland on the morning of the conference. I was lucky as many delegates and a few speakers didn’t make it.  But credit to the CO3 team who re-jigged the schedule and presented a thought-provoking and at times inspiring day. The theme was Untapping Potential and the leaders of the charity sector gathered there had much to say about this in the light of the huge pressures faced by organisations and the lack of the Legislative Assembly and the impasse that is causing right across many sectors.

There were many highlights for me but the one that is still staying with me now is the last keynote from Dr Sam Collins, titled ‘How can you draw strength from adversity’. I’d heard of Sam before, and knew a bit about her organisation Aspire - which exists to get women blazing their trail faster, more efficiently, and more enjoyably. Sam founded Aspire when she was 30 and at the conference told us how she went from a fairly unsuccessful school pupil who experienced a lot of trauma in early life including the death of her mum by suicide to being named one of the 'Top 200 Women to Impact Business and Industry' by Her Majesty the Queen, and one of the Top Ten Coaches by The Independent. She illustrated her story with lots of personal testimony and I won’t give the whole game away as you may get to hear her at some point in the future.

Her main message was to deliver her Five Top Tips for staying strong through adversity and of course it feels very adverse to us in the cultural sector right now and even wider than that because of the political situation here. So, I thought I’d share her Top Tips, motivated both by Sam’s keynote but also by Theatre NI’s great initiative, their Membership Assistance Programme with Inspire Workplaces, also launched in the same week as the CO3 Conference. A brilliant and practical way to help Theatre NI members to get support wherever the adversity is coming from.

Back to the Top 5 Tips from Dr Sam Collins...

1. Create a vision for yourself

As a marketing person I’m always saying that organisations and teams should have a vision. The destination of where you ultimately want to get to – the difference you want to make. Having a vision, and she also suggests a vision board, for yourself sounds a bit California dreamin’. But Sam showed us her vision board and how it had helped her keep on track towards achieving what she wanted both professionally and personally. You can google vision boards and maybe it’s not a bad way to see through all the day-to-day stuff and keep focused on what you are striving to achieve.

2. Self-care isn’t selfish

This is spot-on I think. We are really good at caring for others – teams, family, friends etc. but often we don’t give time to look after ourselves. It’s crazy and we must look after our own mental and physical well-being to continue to help others and cope when things do come at us.

3. Mind-set

Sam believes that your intentions can alter the physical world around us. She says read the books, watch the Ted Talks, get inspired and take that positive mind set with you as much as you possibly can because it starts to really affect your reality.

4. Resilience

A word of the moment. For Sam it’s about the speed at which you bounce back – do you take 10 minutes to get over the email that’s  a knock back or does it take two weeks? It all depends but her point is that we should give ourselves some time to be in slump but then we need to get on with it.

5. Get some energy angels in your life

These are the people you can call when it’s all a bit much – personal or professional – they can be trusted to be honest and help straighten you up if you are wobbling.  She suggests we have 3 energy angels for every energy vampire (those people who are relentlessly negative no matter what).

So those are Dr Sam Collins’ tops to stay strong in tough times. You can of course be cynical about this stuff but she is speaking from years of her own personal ups and downs and coaching and developing people all over the world so I think she’s got a few pointers here we’d do well to think about. Right I’m off for some visioning!

Fiona Bell

Chief Executive

Understand your audience, develop your strategy today. TALK TO US