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Q&A with Julie Hurst on creating resilient leaders

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Julie Hurst is a positive psychologist who specialises in education and workplace resilience. She’s one of the workshop leaders from a superb line-up at our school business leaders’ conference on Tuesday 19 June 2018 in Birmingham. To give you a taste of what her session will cover, we put our questions to her ahead of the big event.   

What made you interested in positive psychology?

At nine years old, I watched a TV programme called ‘the human jungle’. It was about a psychiatrist called Richard Corder, and I fell in love with the mysteries of the human mind. (I’m not sure I should have been watching it at that age, but I was). I thought he had the best job in the world. The impression the programme made has stayed with me. I still think it’s the best job in the world. 

How would you describe your job in five words?

A surprise every single day.

What are the favourite aspects of your job?

It would have to be working with the children and schools. It’s such a joy to bring positive psychology into schools and see the difference it makes. 

Tell us about your workshop.

The workshop is an entertaining look at developing resilience that’s supported by psychological science. Participants will learn some practical tips and exercises to use for themselves at work and home. They can also use much of what they learn with the children and young people they teach. The workshop tackles important topics, but in a fun and insightful way, and participants will leave with a kit of resilience tools. 

What will be the key takeaways from your presentation?

You’ll never think about putting on your coat in the same way again! (It’s a fun and informative session.) 

What is the one thing you want the audience to understand on a deeper level?

That resilience is something you can develop. It is a learnable quality, not fixed, and learning how to increase your resilience is a relatively simple thing to do when armed with some knowledge and tools. 

What is the key piece of advice you would give every school leader on managing stress at work?

Develop a strong sense of self-compassion. You need to take care of yourself first and then others. 

What do you do to de-stress after a long day?

I have a mixture of things I do. I have a son, and I very much enjoy spending time with him. He makes me laugh a lot. I meditate quite a bit, and I love listening to music. 

Where do you take your inspiration from?

My main inspiration comes from the people who are at the cutting edge of psychological research and have dedicated their lives to finding out more and sharing their expertise. People like Martin Seligman, Shawn Achor and Tania Singer - each of them has made a huge contribution to psychological knowledge. The biggest influence on my life is a meditation teacher called Sharon Salzberg. She is a complete inspiration in both the way she teaches and the way she brings her teachings to life. It’s one of my goals to visit her centre in Massachusetts and join one of her retreats there. (I’ve seen her in person twice – in London – and she is amazing). 

I’ll be there! Book your ticket for the school business leaders’ conference now. 

Find out more about Julie’s workshop session.


About Julie Hurst
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Julie Hurst is a positive psychologist who specialises in education and workplace resilience. For 10 years, she ran a national research project into stress at work - the findings of which were mentioned in parliament and disseminated worldwide. She works with private, public and voluntary organisations on all aspects of resilience and well-being.

First published 11 May 2018