Next week I give a talk on resilience in business. It’s a topic close to my heart, and one I’ve researched across several disciplines and fields. But the field that appeals to me most is resilience in human endeavour.
I believe if we can understand resilience at a human level, we can apply it to many areas of life and business.
And so, for over a year now, one story of human endeavour has mesmerised me: that of Vicky Phelan’s.
For those who don’t know Vicky Phelan, she achieved an historical legal victory related to her cervical cancer misdiagnosis, in April 2018 in the Irish courts,
So what’s the link with Vickie’s story and building resilience?
Well there’s a perception that resilience is about toughness and single handily coping with adversity and challenges, and while much of this is true, it doesn’t paint a full picture of how resilience can be built: resilience can be built by looking to role models.
Role models provide inspiration and motivation. And I can’t think of a better one in modern day Ireland than Vicky Phelan.
What Vicky achieved goes beyond astonishing. She took on the state, the legal system, the HSE, and one the richest corporations in the world: the pharmaceuticals.
She also had to execute her plan under immense pressure and complete it in a condensed timeframe. And here’s the most astonishing part: do it all while terminally ill.
Her book ‘Overcoming’ documents it all, and more. It’s brilliantly written by best selling author Naomi Linehan who writes with passion, vigour and clarity. The short snappy paragraphs make it a compelling read which may not leave your hands till finished.
Take note though, this book is not just a story of cancer; it’s a story of Irishness, family, community, education, careers – and it’s probably one of the greatest documented examples of resilience in modern day Ireland.
Vicky Phelan’s story is one of real resilience, and I couldn’t recommend her book highly enough.