Category: Books

Managing Resilience and Overcoming Adversity – A Lived Experience

Adversity. What do I know about adversity? If I contemplate the Cambridge Dictionary definition; a difficult or unpleasant situation then yes of course, I experience those from time to time. But if I’m open to a different definition of adversity, one that points more towards hardship, misfortune or wretchedness, then it’s not something I’ve have much first-hand experience of.

In 1999 at the age of 34 (and before I knew him), my friend Richard died. He had already had a challenging childhood with an alcoholic and abusive father. But he grew up and fought back, developed a successful career and made a good life for himself and his young family.

Now, you might be puzzling over the fact that I commented Richard died before I knew him? Well, that’s due to the fact that he flatlined on the operating table during what should have been a routine operation. Thanks to the highly skilled clinicians and the incredible wonders of medicine, Richard’s life was saved after his heart was re-started.

However, this proved to be the beginning of a new and very different life. One that left him having to adapt to a permanent disability and PTSD. He was no longer physically able to maintain his previous career, he could not do the things he loved doing with his sons, and he struggled to meet the most basic of personal needs that most of us take for granted on a daily, hourly basis. Adversity of the hardship, misfortunate and wretched kind, you might say?

Fast-forward to 2020 and the year we will never forget. A year in which a pandemic strikes the world, has us living through periods of lockdown, shops and schools are closed, people working from home if not furloughed, limited contact with friends and family, a ban on overseas travel. At first, the novelty proves quite exciting for some. Advantages were to be had with a slower pace of life; more time to think, quality time spent with immediate family. As the months pass, zoom-fatigue kicks in. A lack of interpersonal contact, an oddly increasing workload for those working from home and rising boredom and financial worries for those on reduced income, inevitably begin to have an impact on people’s wellbeing and resilience. Adversity is stretching out its arms to all corners of society.

Richard sees 2020 as an opportunity to get the book he’s been working on for the last 10 years published. Dying for Success is an inspiring autobiography as he tells the story of the extreme highs and lows of his personal and professional journey, and how he continues to bounce back time and again despite ongoing physical and mental health challenges.

I cried at times reading the book. I discover things I didn’t know during 12 years of friendship. The depth of the challenges, the pain, the successes and the disappointments are laid bare for all to see. I recoil at the depression and darkness described by the optimistic, generous and outgoing guy I know. People need to hear this story. People can learn, help themselves and be uplifted by it. As a consequence, I have partnered with Richard to design and deliver a 2 hour online workshop with the following objectives:

  • To learn about Richard’s story and his personal strategies for managing resilience and overcoming adversity
  • To inspire and provoke discussion around how we support ourselves and our clients in relation to resilience and wellbeing

The session was road-tested with my Healthskills colleagues where the focus was on what we can learn and apply in our coaching and leadership development work, though it can be tailored towards other audiences such as team leadership and various scenarios where resilience and wellbeing is important. Feedback on the session from the Healthskills team included:

  • Brilliant and inspiring
  • Enthralling and thought-provoking
  • Quite simply the best 2 hours I’ve been part of in a very long time
  • A lot of people would benefit from this session

There’s lots of great material available on this subject and indeed some of you reading this might be mental health practitioners with a wealth of professional experience and qualifications. But if you’d like to explore resilience and wellbeing through the lens of one man’s amazing life and death, please get in touch.

Shirley Ficken is an Executive Coach and OD Consultant who works with NHS and Healthcare Leaders as a Healthskills Associate. She also works with leaders and teams in the private sector and Local Authorities to help them achieve organisational success and personal wellbeing

Richard Dixon is an Entrepreneur with interests that include property and surveying, vintage cars and motorbikes and now Author. Further details of his book can be found at and is available on Amazon

Managing Your Coaching Needs

The Healthskills team have collectively been working in coaching and leadership for more years than they care to remember!  100+ Top Tips for Managing your Coaching Needs was written to share that knowledge so that you can get the best out of coaching for yourself and your teams.

Book Overview

Coaching has become a ‘must have’ in organisations of all sizes across the world. Coaching is recognised as a major contributor in the development of new and existing leaders. It is also used as a means of supporting managers whose performance has slipped and is a recognised means of giving them support to get back on track.

100+Top Tips for Managing your Coaching Needs was written by the Healthskills team, bringing together their expertise across different sectors and coaching styles. The team created this book to share with you their tips on how to make coaching work for you and your organisation. The style is an easy to read and digest format that you can dip in and out of as your need changes.

Who’s it for?

The book addresses the needs of 3 groups of people: those who are about to go on a coaching programme to help them get the most out of coaching; those who have been on a coaching programme and would like to incorporate coaching techniques into their team; and for those who are procuring coaching services on behalf of their organisation giving helpful hints on how to source the best coaches.

Part 1

This section is aimed at individuals who would like to go on a coaching programme or who are about to start their coaching. It gives tips on how to get the most out of your coaching relationship; how to involve your coaching sponsor; how to manage an effective chemistry meeting and top tips to check that your coaching is on track.

Part 2

This section is aimed at individuals who have been on a coaching programme and would like to include what they have learnt into their daily work and management style. It helps you identify what elements you want to bring into your management style to ensure authenticity and how you can use this in coaching teams and groups as well as with individuals.

Part 3

This section is aimed at individuals who are purchasing coaching services on behalf of their organisation, helping them to choose the best coaches and get the most out of the process. It covers coaching supervision and managing a longer term coaching relationship.

The learning zone

This section shares the tools and models the authors use with links to blank master forms that can be found at

To purchase your own copy of the book please click on the image

The authors

Bob Baker

Dawn Scott

Ian Munro

Mark Greenfield

Melanie Warner

Mike Nelson

Vicky Glanville

To discuss how a tailor-made coaching programme can benefit you or your organisation please get in touch: