Mary Poppins Returns - Lessons on Resilience

I have just spent the most magical 2 hours and 10 minutes watching the awesome “Mary Poppins Returns.”

I am not going to spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it but highly recommend that you do. 

I was 3 years old again and the magic of Mary Poppins from 1964 was most beautifully honoured and revered 54 years later in the 2018 sequel. 

In Mary’s words it was “practically perfect in every way”.

Apart from my inner child, there was another voice talking to me whilst I watched mesmerised by every scene.

I could sadly hear myself saying “note book, note book” as I heard quotes that I just wanted to blog about as they related to resilience! 

So here you are.

Quotes from “Mary Poppins Returns” that we should all have in our hearts as we return to the workplace in 2019.


“You’re too focused on where you’ve been to pay attention to where you’re going”– Mary Poppins

Although we should always learn from the past, when change is constant and unpredictable, we need to keep looking forward at where we are going. We need to be attentive and able to adapt and embrace the uncertainty of change. Dwelling on the past can be all consuming and keep us from moving forward. 

If organisations let the past anchor them down, the ship will eventually sink. There will be no opportunity to take advantage of changes in tides and weather in order to move forward.

“When you change the view from where you stood - The things you view will change for good”  - Mary Poppins

A skill we all need to nurture is the ability to reframe. 

Reframing is being able to see the current situation from a different perspective, which can be incredibly advantageous in problem solving, decision making and learning. 

When you reframe, you take a situation that is being observed from one angle and view it from a different perspective in order to give it more context, increase positivity, decrease negativity and discover more opportunity. 

When you change the view from where you stood, you can make something good out of a perceived bad situation and increase your resilience in the face of constant change.

“There’s a different point of view awaiting you if you just look up”– Jack

There is a different point of view if you just look up and observe yourself. Self-observation is key to mental well being and increasing resilience.

In order to grow and become more resilient, you need the ability to self-observe. It is important that you regularly look at what you do, and how you do it.

When you practice self-observation you are non-judgemental and turn your attention inwards to watch your behaviours, words, emotions, and attitudes. Imagine watching yourself from a distance, as a character in a movie.

By checking in on ourselves we can make changes, which allows us to be more purposeful and effective.

“We’re on the brink of adventure, children. Don't spoil it with questions”– Mary Poppin 

Procrastination is a choice. We can choose whether to get on with a particular task or not. Procrastination can be the downfall of individuals as well as organisations. In a constantly changing world we need to be sense makers and respond appropriately as soon as we can. There is no time for procrastination. If we don't do it someone else will! That could be a colleague or a competitor.

We tend to procrastinate when the reward is not immediate so the key is to make the benefits of action feel bigger, and the costs of action feel smaller. Get on with it!

“So when life is getting scary, be your own illuminary”– Jack

When the going gets tough, don't be a pessimist, be a realistic optimist.

A realistic optimist believes that things can change for the better. Optimism helps increase resilience by reducing stress.

But optimism is not about having your head in the clouds and hoping things will turn out ok. This is an idealistic optimist. An idealistic optimist believes that success will come to them if they just visualise it hard enough.

On the other hand, a realistic optimist believes that they will succeed, but only with hard work, planning, and persistence. They don't visualise an easy path to success, they think seriously about probable obstacles, and how to overcome them. They recognise that effort is involved. They know that they can shoot for the stars but they must not lose sight of the ground.

 “Today or never, that’s my motto”– Mary

Just do it! Nothing ventured is nothing gained. When change is constant organisations and the individuals within them have to be prepared to ‘have a go’. 

Resilience means being prepared to try new things. It means being prepared to experiment, embrace the vulnerability that this brings, accepting that there will be mistakes and recovering from failure. It is ok to jump into the unknown.

Innovation is now key to organisational survival and innovation is fuelled from experimentation.

You cannot change things for the better if you are not prepared to experiment. Be prepared to fail along the way. Failure is a way of learning what doesn't work and what will. If you accept failure you will lack resilience.

“Everything is possible, even the impossible”– Mary Poppins

In a world of constant change and challenges we all need to become effective problem solvers.

The ability to effectively solve problems is key to being resilient. The way in which you think about and approach problems helps you build resilience.

If we don't have problems-solving skills we should seek them out. We should look at creative problem solving and the design thinking process as a starting point.

Find an approach, which best suits your problem solving; remember a collaborative approach is generally most beneficial.

“There’s nowhere to go but up”– Balloon Lady

We need to be futurist in this topsy-turvy world. We have to avoid seeing stressful events as all encompassing and say ‘this too shall pass’.

When we are resilient, we understand that, although a situation or crisis may seem overwhelming in the moment, it may not make that much of an impact over the long term.

We have to try to avoid blowing events out of proportion. Organisations and individuals obsessed with the here and now will suffer. We must not lose track of the need to conserve resources and plan for the future.

“When the world turns upside down, the best thing to do is turn right along with it”– Mary Poppins

We need to be adaptive and flexible when change and uncertainly is present.

In a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world of constant change, the ability to continually adapt is a vital competency.

Not only is adaptability key for individuals it is also key for organizations needing rapid response to constant change. Non-adaptive behaviour will kill the organization. Success comes from the ability of people to adapt to new ways of thinking and working and to do so cohesively whilst also remaining calm, attentive and confident.


And finally…. Don't’ forget to maintain a sense of humour. You can’t be a victim when you are laughing. Spit spot!


Karen Ferris2 Comments