Blog 17.02Work life can be tough. Office politics, competition, working long hours for what at times can feel like little reward…

When you consider we work over 90,000 hours in our lifetime, you quickly realise that a career is more of a marathon than a race, and boy do you need stamina to stay in the running!

At the end of last year I met The Hon Julia Gillard at an intimate morning tea. During her time in office, as we know, Julia dealt with more than her fair share of public criticism.

I had the opportunity to speak with her one on one, and I mentioned to her one of the key issues I see for women in the workplace is that many of us take everything that happens personally. This can often lead to work and personal problems including health issues such as anxiety and stress.

So I asked Julia for advice on how to deal with criticism or challenging situations without taking it personally.

Here are the 3 key pieces of advice on building resilience she has for any career woman.

1. Develop a “rock solid sense of self”

Julia talked about the fact that during her life she has developed a “rock solid sense of self”. She knows herself really well, and understands her strengths and limitations. She is also very clear on what she stands for, and this served her well in challenging times.

2. Be selective on who and what you choose to listen to

Everyone has an opinion, and most of the time it’s biased towards what that person thinks is best for them, not you.  Surround yourself with people who value you, and who also ADD value to you.

Also, while it’s important for individuals to improve through constructive conversations, do your best to avoid sensationalism or unwarranted negativity.

3. Understand what you want to achieve and always come back to that

When Julia took office, it was in tumultuous circumstances. One of her advisors took her aside and told her to get away from the media circus, and to take a few hours out, alone, in a room. He suggested she take a blank notebook, and a pen, and write down everything she wanted to stand for, and everything she wanted to achieve in office.

In the more trying times of office, Julia told me she returned to that notebook time and time again, as it served as a reminder of WHY she needed to pick herself up and keep going.

Action Points To Build Resilience

Here’s some action points I’d like to add to Julia’s advice:

  • Get clear on WHO you are, as well as what you do. Do this through strengths testing, 360 reviews, and coaching.
  • Imagine you have an iron rod that runs right through your core – from the top of your pelvis right up through your chest. Picture that iron rod keeping you straight and strong in your mind whenever you feel you need some extra mental strength to deal with a situation.
  • Analyse your network. Who are your biggest supporters? Who challenges you to do more, and be better? Who do you need to distance yourself from? Who is missing from your network?
  • Work on understanding your WHY. Ponder it, write it down, speak it out loud.
  • Develop a mantra you can use to gain perspective when things go wrong. My first boss used to say “Every mistake can be fixed”; I used to say to my former partner “Did anybody die, or is anyone likely to die as a result of this? No. Good.” Slightly harsh perhaps, but I can tell you it helped him every time!

Resilience is a key currency in your career – and in your life.  The ability to pick yourself up again, again, and again is a trait that will serve you well. Focus on what you can do to build more resilience into your daily interactions. 

PS Are you looking to surround yourself with the right type of people to help you in your career? Email me at and I’ll tell you about my new group, SmartWomen Connect, launching in March.