Overcoming Challenges with Kate Philp

Overcoming Challenges with Kate Philp

Kate Philp, formerly Major in the British Army, now keynote speaker and leadership consultant, shared with us her take on CWN’s development theme: ‘Leading through uncertainty with confidence, resilience and impact’.

Intertwined with a very personal and deeply moving account of her army career, her three tours of duty in Iran and Afghanistan cut short by a life-threatening injury and her 2013 ‘Walking with the wounded’ trek to Antarctica as part of the UK team, Kate shared with the audience these gems on leadership, teamwork and resilience:

  • Leadership implies answering the question of how prepared you are to deal with the (inevitable) contingencies. As the saying goes in the military: “No plan survives the first contact with the enemy.”
  • Leadership means knowing your people, really knowing them. It means valuing differences and focusing on what each team member can do, not what he or she can’t do.
  • Trust matters most. To Kate, confidence is more superficial and can be faked. Trust, however, goes much deeper and is based on your values as guiding principles.
  • Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, or put otherwise: explore your discomfort zone to expand your comfort zone. This allow you to build a memory bank of tough times to learn from when challenged.
  • When you are confronted with a challenge, impose some sort of structure and focus on what you can control. Find opportunity in difficulty.
  • Celebrate your successes. We all too often forget to Press the Pause button. Yes, do reflect on what could have been done differently but don’t skip the celebration: ‘you did it’!
  • You improve your resilience by actively redefining what success means to you.  What constitutes failure if viewed in a certain way, can become success if seen differently.
  • Reaching out for help is not a weakness. Maintain perspective: what is really worth worrying about?

And for those of us tempted by the Arctic challenge:

  • Joining an Arctic expedition is a great, albeit drastic, way to become fit. You will burn some 7-8k calories to do the daily distance and keep warm at minus 35 to 45 degrees Celsius. That is much more than the 5-6k calories you can possibly eat under such extreme circumstances. (Any volunteers?)

Kate concluded her speech with this wonderful quote from Theodore Roosevelt, calling for action rather than inertia in the face of uncertainty: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”

For more on this exceptional evening, see also CWN member Beverly Landais’ blog on the evening: ‘The Power of Trust’. Her blog captures the spirit of this motivational evening beautifully - thank you, Beverly!  .

We also give special thanks to the Royal Bank of Canada, one of our corporate sponsors, for hosting this great event.