Career lessons from the world of politics
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Career lessons from the world of politics


Some time ago I  attended an ‘in conversation’ event where Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia, talked about her experiences of politics. Her story was an inspiring one.

Gillard had  moved from south Wales to Australia with her parents and sister at the  age of 4 where  she  eventually became not only its 27th Prime Minister  but its first female one.  Her 3 year  period  of office was both  extraordinary and turbulent. Yet in the face of an often hostile media and challenges from  political opponents  she remained steadfast to her ideals and sense of purpose in leading her country.

Don’t sacrifice your self esteem for a couple of  bad headlines

When asked how she had managed to keep going  despite the pressure, her advice was simple:  Don’t  sacrifice your  self  esteem ‘for a  couple of bad headlines.’

Julia Gillard had come  to this conclusion by observing the behaviour of  others around her.  She noticed how more senior colleagues  would be confident and self assured one day but would transform into shadows of themselves when confronted by a negative press the next. Her take away from that was that  you’re fundamentally  the same person whatever happens. As she describes in her autobiography My Story she became practised in not viewing herself ‘through the eyes of others’  and ensuring her self esteem was  nothostage to the outcomes of battles or perceptions of popularity.’

Why resilience matters

What a great piece of advice!  In our working and social lives we are always going to be at the mercy of bad days and difficult people and situations. That is a given.  If we allow our confidence and sense of worth to be dictated by  the whims of others then we won’t flourish.

In Gillard’s case it was her resilience which made  all the difference. That is  a sentiment with which  I can certainly identify as a former politician in  the Welsh Assembly. Political life comes with the privilege of  prestige and influence but it is often like living in a gold fish bowl and you have to keep pretty grounded to get through it all.

As a Career Coach I sometimes work with people who may be struggling to deal with  difficult  work colleagues who constantly put them down  or even with challenging situations which undermine them.  Such scenarios can make them question their own sense of self worth. But a clear sense of purpose  and an understanding  of your values can go a long way in helping to  deal with this effectively. Both of these can help develop your resilience, a protective mechanism which can sustain  you when things get tough.  Julia Gillard characterised   her resilience as a muscle:  the more you use it the better you become.  Perfect sense surely ?  So when those bad headlines come your way you can shrug your shoulders knowing you have all the tools  to cope.

If you would like support in developing your resilience, please call me on 07595 225291 or send me an email: