I recently returned from Kenya where I participated in a Hostage Negotiators Course and then over the past couple of weeks have spent quite a bit of time consolidating information from the course into a Hostage Negotiators’ Handbook for an organisation I am working with.

In synthesising the information I was listing the points taught relating to resilience and the need for the hostage negotiator to have certain qualities. While these were perhaps not exhaustive, they included things like an ability to accept and learn from failure, a capacity to adapt to change and ambiguity, and a readiness for and acceptance of ‘Black Swans’ (the unbelievable, the unexpected, the implausible and the impossible).

What was missing though was how resilience is actually maintained or supported through days, weeks, months and perhaps years of focused negotiating. This realisation of the need to understand how to maintain and support resilience was also reflected in the recent loss of a friend and I was drawn to thinking about the need for self-care when we find ourselves in emotionally difficult circumstances.

Reflecting on the structure and rhythm of negotiating, a set of key self-care strategies emerged. While I structured these specifically for the handbook they also have broader applicability to any difficult or stressful situation and are of particular relevance to those of us in management and leadership roles.

  • Continually pray: seek God’s guidance, reassurance, courage, strength and perseverance.
  • Be self reflective and aware: ensure mental and physical rest, know when to pause, step aside and take time out, ensuring energy is preserved and physical needs met.
  • Connect yourself with a significant other: share regularly with each other those things in your lives that matter, pray for each other, and make time to be with and support each other.
  • Do something physical or get away: go for a walk, a bike ride, a swim, go to the gym, go to the movies, go for a drive, or get away for a few days.
  • Seek professional support: where things are particularly tough, take yourself off to see a professional counselor or psychologist.

In Luke 5:26 we are told that Jesus often withdrew to be alone and pray.  So take care of yourself, and like Jesus, take time out when you need to.