Maree's Blog

The Resilient Peter Greste

 What can we learn from  him?

I’ve just watched – again – a video of the arrival back in Australia of Peter Greste, Australian journalist and foreign correspondent, imprisoned in Egypt for 400 days on trumped up charges finally released on February 5. 2015.

The strongest impression I had was of how well he looked physically and how good he sounded psychologically. How did he emerge from that experience so together? There was the possibility that he could have been holed up there for seven years on charges that held no substance.

I thought of Nelson Mandela who also emerged from a much longer imprisonment with a positive and constructive outlook and who went on to make a profound contribution to the future of South Africa.

There was also another of my heroes – Viktor Frankel, imprisoned in concentration camps in World War 2. I remembered what he had to say after his release, “that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision and not the result of camp influences alone.”

Peter Greste said that he made a decision to keep himself fit physically, mentally and spiritually. That was how he came through the experience.

That is called RESILIENCE.

It is one of the most important Soft Skills we need to develop in these unpredictable times.

In 2010, Accenture surveyed more than 500 senior executives of mid to large companies in 20 countries across Europe, Asia, Nth America and Latin America. 71% cited resilience as “very to extremely important” when determining who to retain in their organisations.

So What Does It Mean To Be Resilient?

Resilience is an inner psychological strength that you can grow and develop. Tomorrow I will write another blog on how you can develop it.

  • It makes you able to adapt to whatever presents in your life.
  • It creates stability in the face of instability.
  • It is a protective mechanism against depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress.
  • It skills you to turn challenges and difficult situations into opportunities.
  • It inspires and motivates hope.
  • It empowers you to live out of your highest self – I am bigger than this. I am not going to let this define me.

Resilience is usually born when you are challenged, threatened or pushed to your limits in some way that requires some enormous psychological strength to respond.

Peter Greste had that. He wouldn’t have “discovered” it in prison. He would have been a resilient person before he arrived there. He would have drawn on his resilience up to that time to deepen and strengthen it by keeping mentally and spiritually fit.

It is this same inner psychological strength that leaders and managers need to meet the challenges, uncertainties and unpredictabilities they face as they guide our organisations in these changing times.

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