S3E9 – Dr Lies Notebaert: On Resilience & Adversity


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Dr Lies Notebaert is a psychologist who examines cognitive processes such as attention, interpretation, memory, and complex planning, in order to find out how these affect mental health and resilience in people who are dealing with adversity. She also happens to be our long-suffering research partner in the Resilience Shield project, who has single-handedly had to endure an almost endless barrage of dumb questions as we work to refine our understanding of what resilience is – and how we can improve it. In particular, Lies has been at the forefront of interpreting and analysing the first tranche of results from our Resilience Survey.

In this episode, we chat with Lies about her background, her areas of research interest and the findings from her analysis of our survey data.

Intelligence Summary (INTSUM)

04:15 Lies’s background – including her desire from a very early age to write a book. (Tragically, the initial concept – about killer Belgian traffic lights – never came to fruition…)

05:30 How Lies became fascinated with psychological research

06:15 Ben talks about his Kings College lecturer, Dr Kenneth Payne, who has just released his latest book, I, Warbot, on the applications of artificial intelligence in warfare.

07:00 Lies’s PhD in cognitive psychology

09:30 Cognitive biases – quite universal across cultures, however changing with age

12:05 OK, so what is resilience? Lies’s definition and how she impacted our ideas on resilience and vulnerability

14:45 The relativity of resilience

16:30 The genesis of the Resilience Shield model, how we developed the Resilience Survey, and the amazing work Lies has done in analysing the data collected from this to date.

19:00 The Body Layer: sleep, diet and exercise - and why this is often the first thing we abandon when things get tough

20:30 The importance of sleep and how much is enough (depending on your age!)

22:20 The Mind Layer – and how it is strong that it broke our statistical model!

26:00 Being a specialist vs being a generalist – and why the latter is probably better for our resilience

28:20 The impact of routine and disruption on our resilience

30:30 The importance of an internal locus of control

35:15 Meditation and mindfulness – good stuff to do, according to science

37:00 Growth Mindset and resilience

39:50 The Social Layer…

41:00 …and its particular impact on decreasing our vulnerability

45:45 The Professional Layer

49:30 Next steps for the Resilience Shield


Email us at debrief@unforgiving60.com

Social Media (Instagram, Twitter) @Unforgiving60

External Links

  • Click here for more information on resilience, the Resilience Shield model and to complete the Resilience Survey
  • Lies was recognised as the University of Western Australia Faculty of Science Rising Star winner in 2019 for her work on resilience – more here


The Externals – available on Spotify

Ben Frichot - available on Spotify

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