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Collection: The Stronger Life Story

The Story of the Stronger Life NOTCH Collection

Just imagine for a moment, that your job is to rebuild almost the entire infrastructure of a major city in your country.

Not only this, but the thousands of people working with you are normally your competitors, the eyes of the entire country are watching your every move, you go home at night to a home that has no running water, and the ground is continually swaying like a boat.

This lasts for six years.

This very special NOTCH Collection began its life in 2010 when Christchurch, New Zealand experienced a series of devastating earthquakes which resulted in the loss of 185 precious souls and damage to over 80% of the citys infrastructure.

Within this unbelievably challenging environment, the author of the collection; Kathryn Jackson, was invited to work alongside researchers who wanted to understand how to thrive and remain strong despite living and working in this extra stressful world.

We knew that unless there was an intentional focus on understanding wellbeing (and the resilience that it creates), the incredible teams rebuilding the city would be at enormous risk of burnout...or worse, given the intensity of their work, and the environment within which they were operating.

Our lessons learned were put to the test once more in 2016 when another hugely destructive earthquake in North Canterbury damaged the road and rail networks in a way that had never been experienced with close to a million cubic metres of rock and materials devastating the community.

Repeatedly, we have continued to be tested by extra stressful events; the Christchurch Mosque shootings in 2019, the global pandemic from 2020, ongoing droughts and then flooding in the region.

The sad reality is that these sorts of events aren’t just limited to New Zealand and are experienced all around the world, every day.

Sharing the many things we learned in New Zealand became the focus of Kathryn Jackson’s work from 2019, because one of the critical things we discovered during this time was that strength can be intentionally grown whether the stress you’re facing is every day or extraordinary.

It might seem incredibly hard, and you may need additional help, but it can be done.

To achieve this strength and resilience, we must better understand the science of wellbeing, which is what this collection has been built upon.

This NOTCH Collection has been designed because Kathryn has personally seen that it is possible to find strength and thrive even if the world around you is challenging and stressful.

What We Learned About Strength

Let’s start by acknowledging that the science of wellbeing is both complicated, and very personal which is why NOTCH is a perfect way to design your very own story of strength. It’s hugely linked to factors like nature, nurture, and the environment in which you live and work, but there is a growing body of evidence that’s showing us how we can make everyday decisions to cultivate our wellbeing, which in turn creates strength and resilience.

In New Zealand, we discovered that understanding how to build strength can be as simple as this:

Imagine your wellbeing is like a battery.

If you plug in and recharge your battery regularly during the day by making science-based wellbeing choices (not just collapsing at the end of the day with wine, chocolate, and TV!) then you will cultivate your natural levels of strength and resilience.

This is what helps you to adapt well during times of significant, or unexpected stress – both the big and little plot twists in your life.

If you don’t recharge your battery, it’s unlikely that you will feel good or function well and you might find it hard to stay strong and resilient in an ever-challenging world.

The power sockets for recharging your battery are very specific and should include emotional, spiritual, physical, social, and intellectual wellbeing.

The good news is that the suggestions in our NOTCH© collection are fully aligned with these power sources to help you intentionally build your resilience and strength.

How does this work?

If your battery is fully charged (100%) then you're likely to be mostly feeling good, functioning well, and connecting with your friends...this is what it’s like to be you with a green battery. You'll still have all the positive and negative emotions of a normal human being (please don’t expect to be happy ALL the time!) but you'll mostly be the best version of you.

Choosing to do something to keep your battery green every single day will likely help you to stay fully charged.

The NOTCH Charms in this collection have all been designed to remind you of simple ideas that could help you with this. Remember that they align with the power sources of emotional, spiritual, physical, social, and intellectual wellbeing, so choosing them automatically means that you’re using the science of wellbeing to power back up.

Select the ones that resonate most deeply with you or personalise your own words around the ideas we have shared, then choose to do them throughout your day, as often as you can.

During the day, week or month, things will happen to drain your battery (both big things and little things). These plot twists might include stressors from your workplace or home life.

If your battery goes yellow, then you’re losing power.

The "yellow canaries" (the clues that your battery is fading) tell you to plug in and recharge as soon as possible. For example, your breathing might become shallow, you might find it harder to focus, or notice that you’re off your usual game.

Instead of just ploughing on if you notice your battery has gone yellow, try a quick 10-minute deliberate recharge (longer if you are able to). Use your NOTCH Bracelet, Tale, or Loop to remind you of the most important things to help you personally with this.

If you don't recharge (maybe you forgot, you haven’t had time, or you’ve had an extra hectic week compared with normal) then you might find yourself in the "poop brown" part of your battery.

Some signs this might have happened include your sleep patterns changing, you might start to feel overwhelmed, withdraw from friends, or have big emotional reactions to what should be minor plot twists in your day.

This is a clear signal from your body that you need an emergency battery recharge.

You can still use the NOTCH Charms in this collection to inspire what you choose to do, and they will very likely help you to power back up, but you will very likely need to do them for more than a quick 10-minute recharge.

You could also consider reaching out for support from somebody who can help you – perhaps a trusted friend.

In New Zealand we can call 1737 any time of the day or night when we want to talk to somebody about a wellbeing emergency like this. Check out your country's mental support health lines at the bottom of this page, contact a health professional, or call your company Employee Assistance Programme if you have one.

Of course, there will likely be times in everybody’s life when you will hit "rock bottom red" and your battery simply goes flat.

This might be because of the big, yukky stuff that happens to us all in life and work, or because you forgot to recharge and simply ran out of power.

It's one reality of being human and can be harder to come back from with a simple recharge.

You won’t feel like the normal "you" and will likely have more unpleasant emotions compared with pleasant ones. You might also feel stuck in negative thoughts. You should consider extra support from a health professional to help you get back on track and ensure you have everything that you need to help you.

It can take a lot longer, and be hard work, but most of us can still find our way back to a green battery again over time, even if we’ve started with a red battery.


How NOTCH Builds a Stronger Life

By understanding how to (for the most part) navigate life between your green, yellow and brown battery, you can more confidently ride the ebbs and flows of everyday wellbeing and better navigate significant or unexpected stress. Use your NOTCH Charms to easily remind yourself of the very individual things which help you to recharge your own battery and power back to Green as often as you can. Choose from our science- based ideas, or design something that speaks to you personally.

A simple glance down to your wrist, or secret touch of your car keys might be all that it takes to remind you how to choose strength and stay fully charged with a green battery.

Here’s how you might like to create your Stronger Life through NOTCH.

Step One – Notice Strength

Recall a time when you felt like your battery was green. What were the things that you enjoyed regularly at this time? Who did you spend your time with? What were your lifestyle choices? What did you prioritise? What difference were you making? Write down as many as you can, and then choose the most important to you right now.

If nothing comes to mind, ask a trusted friend to help you remember the choices which help you to feel good and function well.

If you notice that your battery is red during this first step, please reach out to a health professional in your country and start your journey towards a green battery. Perhaps your health professional could help you to design your own personal NOTCH Charms or your journey to power back up.

Step Two – Design Strength

Choose NOTCH Charms which will help you to remember to make Stronger Life choices throughout your day. Celebrate the ways youve stayed strong in the past or choose to make stronger choices in the future. The more you choose to do these things, the more likely it is that you will stay fully charged. This is particularly important if you’re going through a stressful time but can also help to protect you if something unexpected happens too.

Step Three – Live a Stronger Life

Anchor your wellbeing by using your personal NOTCH Charm messages every day, as often as you can. Maybe whenever you look down at your wrist if you’re wearing a Bracelet, or on the drive home if your preference is the Tale or Loop. Noticing your battery, and consciously choosing to do something to recharge (even if just for 10 mins) can help you to live a stronger, more resilient life.

Use this simple poster to more easily notice how you are feeling, and then try changing something to find out whether it helps you to live a Stronger Life.

About the NOTCH© author

Kathryn Jackson is a leadership coach, facilitator and author who enjoys exploring and influencing change in a positive way. With significant qualifications in behavioural science, fellowship of the CIPD (UK) and over 15years of leadership coaching experience, she is hugely committed to creating a global legacy about how to thrive in a stressful world.

Kathryn also has the personal experience of having to walk her talk, after losing not only her home but also her office and job security as a direct result of the Christchurch earthquakes. She understands only too well how knowledge and choice can create confidence and strength, even when the world seems unimaginable.

Kathryn’s NOTCH Bracelet reminds her that anything is possible and highlights what’s important for her to personally stay strong every day. Her physical wellbeing can sometimes be neglected when shes under pressure so her Notches include:

  • Breathe deeply
  • Eat wisely
  • Move & stretch

Over the years, Kathryn has designed a toolbox of globally available resources to build stronger lives and workplaces including:

Resilience at Work: Practical Tools for Career Success, an essential book for anybody wanting to better navigate stressors at work. This was a finalist for Best International Business Book at the Business Book Awards (London) and Australian Career Book Awards in 2019.

Let’s Talk Resilience at Work inspired by the book, this six-part workshop series (and leaders programme) combines the key messages of Resilience at Work with a coaching approach to enable a culture of rich wellbeing themed discussion within organisations. It can be facilitated via Zoom or at your workplace, and there is even an option to train in-house company facilitators. A contribution is made to the New Zealand Red Cross every time this programme is run.

Essential Questions to GROW Your Team is a workbook of Conversation Guides which is used by businesses around the world to support leaders who are learning to coach. It simply and effectively guides users to enable them to build better and more meaningful relationships with their team. It is supported by a Leadership Development Programme in New Zealand.

The Crafted Career Programme - this self-directed online learning programme combines the science of wellbeing with practical, easy to use resources that help users find hope, strength, and a more positive career. Carefully written to help you take more notice of the skills, connections and moments that make your work meaningful and your life brighter.

Stronger Life story

For more information please visit 

For mental health support in your region please contact:

Mental Health Services New Zealand

Mind UK

Mental Health Australia


Return to the Stronger Life NOTCH Collection

With enormous thanks to the awesome teams whose work influenced my own Stronger Life, and who continue to inspire this NOTCH© collection: S.C.I.R.T. (Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team), N.C.T.I.R. (North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery), New Zealand Red Cross, Resilient Organisations, the University of Canterbury, Mental Health Foundation, the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience, Dr Lucy Hone, Dr Lehan Stemmet and the 2021 Let’s Talk Resilience at Work Facilitators (Linzi Ebbage-Thomas, NZ and Sharon Kilmartin, Australia).

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