April 12, 2019

Personal Resilience: Well-Being and Risk Management

I think we’ve all struggled at times with knowing that we’re less than our ideal selves and that making changes can be challenging. It can all seem too hard in the context of busy work, family and community lives with so many pressures to meet expectations that often end up being prioritised over our personal needs.
I’m certainly far from perfect but I have a strategy that puts me back into action. This involves small changes like a light working out in the home gym before breakfast (but definitely after coffee), stretching and getting away from the desk, keeping my weight in check and working on professional goals.
I apply the Entropy Loss Causation Model  to health and well-being. The original model explains how to manage organisational risk to pursue productivity, quality, and HSE incident prevention concurrently. I’ve adapted it to explain my self-management strategy. See the figure below. The adapted model shows on the left-hand side (blue column), that there are 4 key drivers of personal self-management. These are:
  • Self-Awareness: the ability to assess what condition I’m in physically, emotionally and spiritually in chosen times of self-reflection
  • Self-Motivation: the drive coming from internal standards to take action
  • Personal Vision: a sense of self-worth that is realistic given my personal potential
  • Resilience: the capacity to retain self-awareness, self-motivation and personal vision in the face of life’s challenges
In a perfect world, these traits would be unshakeable and I would be the ‘Perfect Me’. Realistically though, that’s never going to happen!
Figure 1: Entropy Model and Personal Self Management
In the next part of the model, there is personal residual risk shown in green. This residual risk is the constraints that define and limit an individual, for instance, physical barriers, genetics and environmental conditioning and socio-economic factors. This risk can’t be reduced in the short-term so there’s little point in expecting big changes immediately. This residual risk highlights that nobody is perfect and that lasting self-improvement is a long-term development process.
To add to this, we all tend to degrade, have setbacks and/or self-defeating habits. This is shown by the dotted downward blue line. Physically we degrade with age and sedentary modern living. The demands of information overload and work pressures can lead to emotional ill-health and a feeling of spiritual disconnection.
Concurrently there is a rising risk of physical, emotional and/or spiritual disease (upward orange line). This can be an escalating risk because of the interdependence of these three dimensions of human well-being (physical, emotional and spiritual). Eventually, through degradation, the individual will end up with a dis-ease event/incident/condition.
As with the original organisational model, there are solutions to manage risks. The second part of the model illustrates this as shown below. Once we become aware of this degradation and rising ‘Entropic Risk’, we can take corrective action (before the dis-ease event or condition occurs). Corrective action halts the process of decline, but we can’t rely on one-off responses.
Maintenance practices are required. For instance, my office looks onto the home gym so really, I have no excuses and I know the hardest decision is to dress to exercise after the morning coffee. Once I’m dressed (for success!), the exercise gets done and I feel good afterward. These practices, regardless of how seemingly small they are, help to improve the 4 key drivers and this is shown by prevention of degradation (the rising blue line). When maintenance practices become a habit, then I feel ideal (‘The Ideal Me’ in the model). We can, therefore, take corrective action anytime and work consciously towards maintenance that keeps us well.
Figure 2: Entropy Model and Personal Self-Management
In the last section of the figure, if I become lax then degradation will start again and the ‘Entropic Risk’ leading to physical, emotional and spiritual disease rises. This is effectively managing personal risk as a life skill, but it also helps to put this in context. If I go on holidays, it doesn’t mean I can’t relax and that I must stick to exercise before morning coffee and dietary, self-imposed rules. I do accept, however, that once the holiday is over, I need to start the cycle again – corrective action and maintenance practices.
This adapted, personalised version of the Entropy Model gives me a mindset to work to with some key messaging:
  • Personal self-management involves self-awareness, self-motivation, personal vision and resilience
  • I don’t have to strive for perfection (residual risk means perfect doesn’t exist just like zero incidents in safety)
  • I, like every other natural system, tend to degrade which results in rising risk of physical, emotional and/or spiritual dis-ease
  • At any time, I can decide to take corrective action, but to reach ‘The Ideal Me’ requires ongoing maintenance practices (small and achievable)
  • Over a lifetime, I can improve on but not eliminate my residual risks and realistically, I’ll never be a great athlete or a sage or perfect, and that’s OK.
This article is a person story of how I seek to be my best. Anyone who needs professional support to achieve this is encouraged to do so.
Risk management is a life skill not just an organisational skill. The person and the work they do are seamless so let’s engage people from a humanistic perspective.
Tania is an international author specialising in managing risk to improve productivity, quality work and HSE performance. She has extensive experience in Australia and overseas across diverse industries.
For more information about ALIGN Risk Management’s ½ Day Effective Risk Management Program and 1-2 Day Leadership Programs, contact Tania at tania@alignstrategic.com.au

Don’t forget to follow Tania on LinkedIn, and subscribe to her YouTube channel to keep up with her latest articles and updates!

Tania Van der Stap is the Founder and Principal Director of ALIGN Strategic Management Services Pty Ltd established in 2002, after having Productive Safety Management published internationally by Butterworth-Heinemann. The publication presents a strategic, multi-disciplinary management system for hazardous industries that ties safety and production together.
From 2002 to 2012, Tania provided HSE consulting services to Chevron’s Gorgon Project, Monadelphous, Baker Hughes, Fortescue Metals Group and Worley Parsons. Thereafter for 5 years, Tania took a HSE Manager’s role with AngloGold Ashanti Australia where she made significant improvements taking the department from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘proactive’ on the HSE journey.
In late 2016, her company was rebadged to ALIGN Risk Management specialising in HSE Consulting and Risk Leadership Programs for managers, supervisors, HSE professionals and workers. Her chapter on ‘Risk Leadership – A Multi-Disciplinary Approach’ has been accepted by the American Society of Safety Professionals and will be published in Safety Leadership and Professional Development ahead of the ASSP’s 2018 Safety Conference.

In addition to Productive Safety Management being a substantial, refereed publication, Tania’s credentials include academic qualifications in Commerce and also Public Health and Safety.

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