top of page
  • Writer's pictureCMPS Staff

Neuroscientific-Informed Resilience Training in Public Safety with Jurie Rossouw

Updated: Apr 17

Neuroscience researcher, resilience expert, author of Executive Resilience, and founder of Driven, an AI-powered resilience program used by hundreds of organisations worldwide, Jurie Rossouw talks about technological solutions for building more resilient public safety agencies and cultures and the High Adversity Resilience Training (HART) program he developed, which is in use by emergency responders and law enforcement agencies. Current neuroscientific understanding of traumatic stress and resilience. The need for good assessments and ongoing support and training rather than one-time training programs, including the use of apps and other new technologies like the AI-based Driven app. Training first responders to prepare them for high stress, high adversity situations and following through with ongoing support and training.

SUBSCRIBE to our weekly podcast - available on Podbean OR:






For more info on our training programs visit our Training page.


You can have LIFETIME ACCESS to the Global First Responder Resilience Summit with Audio Downloads & Transcripts, featuring world-class experts in Physical, Mental, Emotional & Spiritual Fitness, and Resilience. Click Here To Learn More!


Neuroscientific-Informed Resilience Training in Public Safety with Jurie Rossouw Transcript


Fleet Maull:  

Hi! Welcome to another session on day five of the Global First Responder Resilience Summit.  My name is Fleet Maull, your co-host. And today, we're focused on creating healthy agency  cultures of resilience.  


I'm really excited to be here today with Jurie Rossouw from Australia, who has done  some amazing science-backed and AI-based work of really how to take resilience work to  scale in agencies and organizations. So welcome, Jurie. 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Fantastic. Good to be here. 


Fleet Maull:  

It's great to have you. I'm going to share a bit of your background for our audience, so they get  familiar with you, and then we'll jump right into the conversation. Okay? 


Jurie Rossouw:  

All right.  


Fleet Maull:  

Great. So, Jurie is a resilience expert and author of the book executive resilience, a book that  delves into the neuroscience of cultural resilience. Jurie is also the founder of Driven, an integrated AI-powered resilience program that is used by hundreds of organizations  worldwide, combining workshops, peer training, certifications, and technology to create  comprehensive resilience cultures to build truly supportive environments.

  

Jurie has also developed High Adversity Resilience Training (HART), which is used by  emergency responders and law enforcement agencies. Jurie has published multiple research  papers on the neuroscience of resilience, resilience assessment, and new analytics frameworks  to better understand the deeper functioning and value of resilience.  

From that, I think our audience can easily see why we reached out and got you to be on  this Summit. So again, welcome. I'm really looking forward to this conversation. Thank you for the work that you're doing. Please tell us a little bit about your background, how you got  involved with neuroscientific-informed resilience training and went on to start Driven as a  relatively recent startup and got into this whole AI-driven approach. I mean, it's really  innovative, what you're doing. And so, how did all this come about? 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Yeah, thanks. I guess it started a long time ago in my own childhood, where I had my own  interest in mental health and just trying to improve my own mindset. Through that, I started  doing a whole lot of research into the different aspects of mental health and physical health. I  ended up going into university around a bunch of different things, really. Everything from  finance and eventually studied organizational psychology and later went into neuroscience as  well. A lot of it was from my own interest in my own mindset. But then, as I was doing that, over in about ten years or so, I had so much research that I put together that really helped me. 


It felt like it took too long for me to learn all these things. So, what if we can put it  together into some kind of format that might be useful for other people to access that might  make it a lot simpler. In many ways, it's me creating the program that I wish that I had access  to all those years ago because I felt that if I could have had that very simple type of approach  to use and to access this information in a more engaging way, I think it would have helped me  a lot. So, that's where I started publishing more of the research that I did on the neuroscience  of resilience.  


What is it? How do we measure it? Where is it in the brain? How does it work? I'm putting together some books. As I was publishing all of that, I started talking more to people  who are reading the books and reading the materials and thinking about more ways that we  can use this in a way that might be more accessible for people because that's one of my big  aims is how do we get this out to as many people as possible. And to be able to do that, we  really need to have some type of way that is more accessible and more scalable. Especially  economically, because we can't always do face-to-face coaching with everyone, as great as  that would be, that'd be fantastic, just the financial barrier for that is quite big.  


That's where the idea of a virtual coach came in. What if we could have some  technology that people can turn to? They can open it up and use their phone and essentially  have that type of coaching experience and have it more regularly. That's where I've already  

been doing some work in application design and using technology, and then I thought, what if  we use the kind of AI that's starting to form these days and put it all together alongside the neuroscience of resilience and those ideas and have it in an app, something that people can  access anytime and use that to scale it out.  


And then, of course, how do we reinforce it with all types of different approaches from  making in-person workshops and things available. Scaling out the technology side to reach  more people at the same time.  


And so, essentially, that's where Driven came around, where it's combining all of these  things that I've basically been up to over the last 20 years or so into something very simple  and engaging that a lot of people can access. Essentially, that's where I'm at now. 


Fleet Maull:  

That's quite a story. Fabulous. That's that true value-added entrepreneurial spirit, right? There's got to be a better way to do this and a way in which we can benefit a lot more people,  right. So yeah, that's just fabulous. I'm glad that your entrepreneurial spirit found its way to the  world of neuroscientifically informed resilience training. That's just fabulous.  

Today, day five of the Summit is focused on creating healthy agency cultures of  resilience. You can look at both how to create a culture that supports resilience for the  individuals and the agency and how to create a culture that is resilient itself, right? It's actually  a resilient culture. I mean, it could be anywhere from one small Sheriff's Department, the MSA  agency, small municipal police department to a very large police department, a very large  correctional agency. So, there's really a difference in scale in first responder agencies, but  regardless of the size of the agency, it really is about taking it to scale and dealing with all the vicissitudes and obstacles and challenges of those environments, with a lot of competing  interests and priorities and budget issues and time and so forth. Coming up with this, a very  efficient delivery method seems to make a lot of sense.  


The mission of our today's focus on the Summit, creating healthy agency cultures of  resilience, seems very congruent with the mission of your company, Driven. And so, I'm curious. Before we get into kind of the technology side of it, what you've discovered, what do you think  some of the foundational considerations are when it comes to scaling, resilience training, and a  culture of resilience within various agencies, government agencies, corporations, or in  particular first responder agencies?


Jurie Rossouw:  

That's an interesting question, especially because there have been a lot of these different  types of programs that have tried to achieve something. There's usually some type of  challenge around getting these kinds of cultures to actually take hold. One of the biggest  challenges that we see is that resilience is more of an equation, almost if you're talking about a  culture of resilience, because there's the individual effort in terms of investing in their own  resilience, taking up these kinds of programs and building their own skills. But then there is the  organizational effort on the other side that essentially needs to basically balance that equation  to show that, as an organization, we are putting in the effort to create a culture that supports  the resilience of the individual.  


These could be in all kinds of little things like, "Can we make sure that there are enough resources available? Can we make sure that we're treating our people in a way that respects them and shows that there is an actual appreciation for what they do?" So, that's part  of what we work on when we go out with agencies is we like to do that training with the  leadership about really understanding and defining what resilience is going to look like for this  organization, for this agency, whether it's a tiny agency with ten people, or five people or  whatever, or whether it's a big organization with 75,000 people like the rural fire service here  in Australia that we're now working with as well, where much more diverse type of  organization with lots of volunteers that's not actually employed. So, they don't necessarily get  the same kind of benefits as the employed firefighters.  


All kinds of different types of challenges there that we can then bring in, because we've  got the ability to use more technology and scale it out and provide more benefits more cost effectively, and still have that level of interaction with the management layers and the  leadership layers so that we can help them to understand how do you create the culture that  supports people, and how did we then work with individuals as well so that they see. Yeah,  here are things that I can do myself. Here are the things that the organization is doing for me. There's a match and balance in terms of investment, and then gives people that idea that yeah,  this is something that we can do and we can keep doing. 


Fleet Maull:  

Just to give our audience a sense of scale, and you did mention you're working with a rural  firefighters association in Australia with 75,000. I know Driven works with all kinds of  corporations and organizations, not just first responder agencies. You do have your HART program that is designed specifically for emergency responders and law enforcement, and so  forth. But can you give me some of the sizes of some of the organizations you're working with, where you see that you're really getting traction of the largest organizations? You may give an example of one of the smaller type organizations you're working with and what you're seeing in terms of actually getting real scalability and real culture change, culture shift around resilience? 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Yeah. It's really all types of organizations. Some of the larger organizations here in Australia, as  well as some of the big financial services, organizations, where it's more just corporate  workers, people in insurance. And then, to recently both start working with Georgia State  University as well. There are organizations like that, where they're going to be rolling out  Driven to all of their first-year students, which they've got about 57,000 students on campus  there.  


There is those type of organizations we're working with as well. And then, probably the  role of fire service is one of the biggest ones we're starting to work with now, where 75,000  people. We're starting with smaller groups in there and then rolling it out from there. And also  expanding it to the family members of people at home as well.  


In terms of the results we've been seeing across all these that we published some  research back in 2019, where we looked at a bunch of these organizations that we've been  working with. And there, we see quite a bit of engagement over time with the program. We  saw around 25% improvement in resilience over six months or so in terms of resilience that  actually sticks around. So not just the quick blip in terms of, "Hey, I've just been in a workshop, and then you know, a couple of weeks later, you're back down again." So, this is more of a type  of resilience that stays there. And that has more of a meaningful connection to reducing rates  of depression, anxiety and increases protection against a psychological injury, like post traumatic injury, and so on. 

 

That's one of the big things that are really important to us is to be able to take all the  results that we get. Publish research around that so that we can show that, yes, this is  something meaningful. And that's something that's important to me is to show that you were actually making a difference and what we're doing really works. 


Fleet Maull:  

Well, in terms of your basic approach, I know you've talked about something called connected  resilience, and you also focus on an empowerment model. Can you talk about those two things a little bit?


Jurie Rossouw:  

Yeah. So, this is one of those interesting ideas where not all forms of resilience are necessarily  equal. Sometimes we might look at someone, and they might seem resilient, but it's almost  more because they've kind of given up, and they don't really care anymore. They're not really  engaging with life anymore. They seem like they're very unbothered and can create this  appearance of being resilient, but it's essentially a space where you might, in some way,  deteriorate over time because you're not really engaging with life anymore. You're not really  going out and connecting in some kind of way.  


So, connected, resilience is more of that idea of you are connected with people, where  you have strong support networks, you're out there, you're doing things that matter to you, and  you feel like there's personal growth, you're engaging with life overall. And that term  connection, as you know, all kinds of different meanings in a way it's connecting with people,  but it's also creating these connections in the brain as well that create healthy patterns of  behavior. How do you look after your physical health, look after your mental health? And  through that, expanding it out into everyone that's around you as well. So, what's the kind of  relationship and connection you have to your co-workers? How important is that? How about  between you as a manager or you as staff in your, in your leadership teams? What's the  connection there? What's the connection you have between your family members as well?  How supportive are those relationships? 


Because all those things really come together to be able to support your own resilience  and your own ability to be resilient. So, that's where connected resilience, I think, is a concept  we need to embrace more as something that we need to support rather than that expectation  of you as the individual. You just need to be stronger to deal with more stress. Let's try and get  away from that. And say, as a community, as a culture, we need to be coming together and  supporting each other to be resilient. 


Fleet Maull:  

That's really interesting and, I think, an important idea. We do have individual resilience. It's  kind of a vertical pole of resilience. It's not just what sometimes is called grit that maybe you're  born with. It's actually things we can cultivate. There are things we can do to really become  more individually resilient and that ultimate reservoir of our own spiritual resilience. I mean,  the way we tap into some level of beingness, right.


But then, another really important part of our resilience is the social networks that were  nested in, right? And our connectedness with others. In fact, often, the clinical description for  spiritual resilience or fitness is a sense of connectedness within ourselves, with others, and  then with some greater dimension that kids are like, meaning and purpose, right? So I think  both those verticals, I mean, often in the current today's literature, there is a big focus on external systems of resilience.  


I personally think both are really important. But I especially think that idea of connected  resilience is important in terms of first responder communities because there has been that  kind of go it alone, Lone Ranger, kind of mindset a little bit. Somebody toughened up, and it  looks like they're handling things pretty well. But actually, what's going on inside may not look so good.  


When we stop really investing in our social connection, that can be a real sign of  empathy fatigue, burnout, or even the pathway into suicidality, especially when people start  isolating and not maintaining their usual professional and social relationships. We're also good  at compartmentalizing, that, you know, someone might look like they're pretty tough and  resilient. But really, that's not really what's going on, right. And so, I think it's really important  that we honor both of those. I love that term. I know you also want your program to be  presented in a way that actually empowers people in their own resilience and creating their  networks of resilience. So, could you talk about that aspect of your model? 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Yeah. It's exactly why you would say no because both of those parts are important for us.  That's where through the app itself and the individual and AI-powered type of coaching, there  is a lot of self-directed investment in your own resilience to start to understand yourself more, start to understand where are you at, and that's where there's quick self-assessment that  people can do to give them that insight in terms of where am I at across these six domains of  resilience. We even have these little coasters and things to remind ourselves. 


Fleet Maull:  

And they've got the program in their pocket, right? There in their smartphone, right? So, talk  about empowerment. They've got it right there. They can use it. 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Right. Exactly. And that's what's really nice about it is that it gives you that proactive training  every day. And even just five minutes a day of learning a specific resilience skill gives you the chance to practice it as well. But then also, if you're not feeling great, then you can turn to it, and you can basically access the free chat where you can just talk about what's going on. Like, "I had a really hard day today. This thing happened." And you can do like a self incident debrief  as well, things like that to talk about stuff that you might not yet feel comfortable talking to  someone else about. You can start to structure those thoughts and get those thoughts out of  your mind into the world out there if you can start to process that.  


So, that kind of self-direction and individual empowerment to really understand more  about yourself, more about these skills, how you can use them, and have that instant access to  be able to use them anytime. That is really useful. And then also, going a step beyond that into  turning people into trainers themselves so that they start to build those skills about how can I  better support my colleagues? Like, I really care about mental health. My colleagues are not  really into that much yet. Can I become some sort of influencer in a way to have more skills to  just talk about these kinds of concepts? 


It doesn't mean you become a coach or anything like that. It just means that you know a  little bit more so that if you see someone struggling or you have a chat with someone, and you  see them poking in a way that might have indicated vulnerability in their own minds, if they've  got catastrophic thinking or those type of thought distortions, then just being able to recognize  that and just have a normal conversation with it like you would with a friend. So, all those  types of ways are ways in which we can empower people that I think is really powerful in the  long term.  


Fleet Maull:  

Yeah, absolutely. In terms of really moving the needle in terms of any kind of cultural change  of various professional social domains, right. It really comes down to implementation science. The old model that's often derisively known as trade and pray, right? We're going to do  training. They may be fabulous training to get people really excited, give people great tools,  and they're all excited. But within a matter of days or weeks, and certainly months, we get  either caught back in our own conditioning, our own habit patterns, or the habit patterns and  conditioning of the organization we're part of. Right? 


The power of habit is just so strong. We all know that. And so, that really great training  everybody was excited about, it just kind of disappears into the woodwork, right. And so, that  model doesn't really work. There have been all kinds of things that have been experimented  with in implementation science and often combining training with follow-up coaching, the  whole communities of practice model.


A lot of it comes down to engagement, right? How you increase engagement. Even  during training, what level of engagement do you get during your training? And then, in terms  of whatever ongoing learning growth opportunities you provide or follow-up opportunities you provide or anything, even like an app, how do you increase the engagement? Right? We are  also pulled in so many directions. There are so many distractions, right? There's so much  information coming at us. Right? Helping people engage is challenging, right?  

So, I'm curious about the approach with Driven, the approach with your app. I know you  start with an assessment process. I suspect you may use some gamification and some built-in  rewards, and so forth. So, what are some of your strategies and technologies for increasing  engagement so that a person like myself who might sign on to your program or get the app stays engaged and actually start really reaping the benefits by sticking with it? 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Yeah, that's a good question. And is part of what set me on to this journey, as well, by creating  all these programs because I used to see all these kinds of corporate programs come past  where we were run a full-day workshop or something like that, and everyone really enjoys it,  they have a lot of fun, they fill in their seats at the end saying, "Yeah, I love the session." and  they compile all that those, those feedback forms and send it over to management. 


The Management Group goes, "Yeah, people loved it. Let's do more of this training and  get more people through it." But then, a week later, everyone's forgotten it. But it seems like  it's good because people enjoyed it. That's not necessarily the simple aim. It's not about how  much fun you had. It's about what actually happens in six months down the track, a year down  the track. Do you actually have important skills now that help you to cope with whatever  environment you need to face?  


So, that's a big thing that set me on this path of how can we learn more about how the  brain actually changes? How can we keep people engaged with these types of programs? How  can we make a meaningful long-term difference in actually achieving improvement and uplift  in resilience and across all these different domains of resilience as well? So, not just one small  aspect, but we need to increase this holistic concept of all these different skills that people  need that create that resilience capacity.  


So, there is really a whole bunch of different things that come together that enable engagement in the longer term. Part of it is through the community, yes. And part of it is through the technology as well. Just on the technology side, that is where the structure of the  app and the training is really through these short daily activities that we use. We check in with  people and go like, "Hey, how are you doing? Let's do something really quick." And make it  more fun as well and use some humor in it too. And, you know, check in with people just in  terms of their mood, how are they doing so we can also be responsive that if you're not doing  so well, let's do something different. Versus, if you're doing well, cool, let's do some training  that might be interesting and might help you learn.  


And then, as you said, using some gamification as well. So, giving people dings and things that do give you also that feeling of accomplishment. We've got this scoring system as  well that helps people keep track, which is almost like a mental fitness score. It functions similarly to physical fitness. If you work out, then you get more fit. And if you stop working out,  then fitness goes down. So, you need to maintain that consistent effort to maintain your physical fitness.  


It's similar for the brain as well if we want to maintain our mental fitness. It's that  consistent investment. So, that's more of what we want to encourage, so the people are going  to keep at it basically because this is something that takes long-term commitment to really  look after yourself. So, that's essentially what a lot of it is, is how do we reward people for  looking after themselves so that they keep going with it.  


Those are little things that we do in the app itself to help support people. Then there  are things outside of that, that we can connect with as well. One of them is, and this is  something that we hope to replicate in more industries. In the US, for example, we're about to  have Driven accredited to provide continuing education credits to emergency medical  technicians and paramedics. If they use the Driven app and they use this training for  themselves to learn more about resilience, then there is a CE that they can earn as part of that. And they earn it by staying consistent with us over time. Those kinds of rewards, if we can link  this into things that people actually need, which again, it says, rewarding people for looking  after themselves. It should be its own reward, but if we can make it more rewarding, then  fantastic, then we can help people. 


Fleet Maull:  

Whatever works.


Jurie Rossouw:  

And then, yes. Then it's outside of that where we see. And this is really through the experience  I've had with many organizations where if we can get management and the supervisors and  peers and so on to be more invested in this as well, do training with them even to help them to  understand the importance of leading by example. Because if you show that, "I'm the  supervisor. I'm the manager. I'm super busy, but I'm making time for this." 


I talk about the impact this is having on me. Like, "I was having this conversation with  my kid the other day, and he was getting really upset. And then I remember this strategy here,  and then I used that. It really helped us to kind of connect at that moment." And sharing those  little moments about how this stuff is actually making a practical impact, it's actually useful. That type of thing tends to really inspire the staff themselves to eventually actually use it as well. 


If they can see that, yes, the leaders are taking this seriously, they're really investing in  this, they're using it, and then that is the practical type of thing that we saw that organizations  that do that well get high engagement rate. Like even a year later, where they start with 80%, and a year later, 60% of people are still engaged in it because there's a really strong culture  where they're really encouraging it. They're really interested in each other doing this type of  stuff and taking it seriously. So, it takes a bit of investment. Again, it's a kind of equation that  we need to balance. 


Fleet Maull:  

Yeah, absolutely. The things you're talking about are so important. I mean, leadership is critical. Leadership, not only being willing to support that programs and not only preaching resilience but actually modeling it, really doing their own self-care work.  


We hear again and again in our training when there is an ongoing training program,  coming back and talking about the changes that have happened in their personal life, with their  kids, like you were just mentioning, with their spouses. That really creates the buy-in. Or their  sleeping for the first time in their career. They're getting off blood pressure medications, right?  But really, that family stuff is so important. They're learning some basic emotional intelligence and mindfulness, and resilience skills. And suddenly, their family experiences them as being  more available and actually listening. And they're having different kinds of conversations with  the kids and their spouses. It's transformative. And then, you really get to buy-in. And  especially if you have leaders who have that experience and they become real champions. 


Jurie Rossouw: 

So, yeah. That's huge.  


Fleet Maull: 

Yeah, absolutely. So, I want to talk about your HART program and more about the Driven  approach, but I'd like to back up for a minute. Maybe we should have even started here  because you've done a lot of research, a lot of neuroscience study, and been studying resilience  for a long time.  


I'd like to ask you a little bit about just kind of what is resilience? I asked this question of  a number of scientists in a global resilience summit we had for the general public last spring  and got little different answers. I tried to pin people down a little bit, but can we look on an  MRI and tell the difference between a resilient brain and a non-resilient brain? I got different  answers about that. 


Sometimes we talk about resilience, as you can see it in response, the way people were  actually able to respond, right? And, you know, the old metaphors for resilience were elasticity being able to bounce back, spring back. Today, people are sometimes saying no. We want to  think of it in terms of being able to bounce forward or spring forward because sometimes it's  going back to what was isn't that great, right? And that kind of ties into the whole idea of post traumatic growth and things like that.  


The common sense metaphor that we might all have is, "My tank feels pretty full." "I'm  running on fumes here." And then, we don't feel resilient, and we're really running towards  burnout. Is resilience something that we can kind of build, we have a reservoir of? I mean, what  is your understanding of resilience? Maybe both in common sense terms but also what you've  learned from neuroscience. 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Yeah. Essentially, if I define resilience, the way I look at it is three words, really, which is  advancing despite adversity. That means, from an advancing perspective, if you're always  moving towards something that's meaningful to you and you've got a sense of purpose in life,  despite essentially encompasses that idea that nothing really holds us back. And we don't  even necessarily need to wait for adversity before we develop these things. We can also be  proactive about this. We can prepare for things. 


And then, adversity is really the big thing in life, the big challenges, but it's also the  small daily challenges, like, I can't get my favorite coffee because my coffee shop is closed  because of lockdown. It's got its own little bit of adversity there that we need to have a  response to. That idea is that we're always moving forward in life, and there's going to be ups  and downs, and all of that, but we have a sense of meaning. We have a sense of purpose that  we can constantly advance towards to actually make that happen. 


That's where we see the six domains of resilience, where vision is one of them, which is  that meaning of purpose. Then composure, which is more about emotion and stress  management. Reasoning is more around preparation, planning, introspection. There's health,  which is more of the physical aspects of looking after yourself physically, nutrition, sleep,  exercise, tenacity, which is more around persistence, maintaining motivation. And then  collaboration, which is really that connection with others having strong relationships.

 

Fleet Maull:  

Is that the little diagram you just showed me? Are those the six areas on there? 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Yeah. Hold on. I got a stress ball here. There are little things like that. We can give people as  well just to essentially get going to get resilience out of the head and into your mind. It  reminds you to think about these things. The brain is, of course, the most complex thing that  we're aware of. It helps us simplify that into something that's a bit more understandable. And  we can almost look at it more from the perspective of limbic brain activation, that, you know,  fear response, fight or flight, all that. And frontal cortex activation, which is more of that  strategic thinking and feeling safe and engaged.  

A lot of these resilience skills that we build create connections between different parts  of the brain to be able to regulate the activation of the limbic brain more so that essentially the  limbic brain becomes less reactive. It becomes less able to interrupt your thinking, and thereby,  you can, in more situations, feel confident and feel that, yes, I can think clearly. I can use all the resources available in my brain to deal with the situation that I'm facing and think more  constructively about that. 

 

That's where I think in a similar way, that if you were to put someone in an MRI, and  you want to or if you want to do diffusion studies or whatever, then you would need to run  scenarios through them and basically say, "Okay, you're facing this scenario now." And then  through that, I would suspect you'd be able to see less reactivity in many of the limbic brain areas and more frontal cortex and generally association cortex activation than you would in  other people. So, that's the kind of study I would love to run sometime.  


Fleet Maull:  

Yeah, I find all that quite fascinating. We do know neuroscientifically that basic mindfulness  training, resilience training over time will actually shrink the size of the amygdala, those  warning bells in the limbic system that are the reactivity that triggers that fear-based  response. It actually increases the grey matter density of neural pathways that support a  positive outlook, emotion regulation, cognitive control, and so forth, that the brain actually  does change based on the phenomenon known as neuroplasticity over time with this kind of  training.  


I liked the idea you're talking about relating it to adversity and how we can respond to  adversity and move forward and grow. I also wonder if you connect with the idea of thriving. My friend and colleague Richie Davidson at the University of Wisconsin Centre for Healthy  Minds has done a lot of neuroscientific research on well-being. And really, they understand the  neuronal substrates are what we call psychological well-being, both dynamic well-being, and  subjective well-being, and that we can now think well-being is something we actually train up  and we know how to train ourselves to have greater well-being.  


And also, now his work is focusing a lot on thriving but really any thriving in the face of  adversity. I also think of Kelly McGonigal's work around stress. We're beginning to realize  stress is not the enemy. We all need the stress. I mean, what do we call putting stress on our  muscles and bones? We call that exercise, right? If we don't challenge ourselves physically,  emotionally, mentally, spiritually, we don't grow, right. And so, a lot of the challenges that first  responders face that can lead to very significant health risks could also be the basis for thriving  and evolving to another level of human performance and driving if we have the skills to do that in a resilient way. Does that make sense from what you're talking about? 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Yeah, absolutely. And it's that relationship that we have with stress that changes quite a bit as  we become more resilient. That's that human function curve that we tend to see as well, and it  was our personal efficacy and performance on the one axis and performance on the other,  where there's pressure on the other. And at very low levels of pressure, then we might feel kind of bored, but as pressure and stress increase, then our performance tends to increase as  well because we feel like, "Yeah. Okay, we need to do things, and there was something  important that we need to work on here."


There's that peak performance zone there where your personal efficacy and the level of  stress kind of come together. And you almost get that feeling of flow where you state, "Yeah,  I'm getting things done. And other stuff is important. I need to work on it. I'm kicking goals." And you just have a great feeling there. But then, if pressure increases beyond that, that's  when our performance starts to go down, and we start to feel that, "Okay. Now, there's too  much. I'm falling behind." And you start stressing so much about the things you need to get  done, but you don't actually do them. And then you get even more stressed, and you get this  whole challenging space. 


That's where we often find ourselves in. But then, as we build resilience, we start to  expand that zone of our peak performance because we can now think about stress in more  healthy ways. We have strategies as well that if we find ourselves in this overload space, then  we can more easily recognize what's happening and bring ourselves back to the point where  we feel more positive about things, even if it's saying no to things in the signal. 


We can't do that. I've got these other things. And you put yourself in this mindset, more  effectively, where you feel that yes, okay, this is good. This is where I'm enjoying myself. This is where I feel personally challenged. Essentially, as humans enjoy that feeling that I'm being  challenged, and I'm meeting that challenge, and so thereby I feel like I'm growing, I feel like I'm  advancing, and I'm doing the things that are important to me.  


So, it's that type of relationship where we can start to think about stress in a more  healthy way as well that it also starts to change our response because, again, it comes back to  the brain. If we think about it in a healthy way, then there's less limbic brain activation, there's  less cortisol, there's less stress in the body, less detrimental effects to the rest of our body, and  our minds feel more engaged with what we're doing and the situation that we need to work  through 


Fleet Maull:  

Absolutely. It's the incredible power of the mind and mindset and things like cognitive  reframing, where we can see something as an impressive thing and get up. "Okay, there's a  challenge. Cool, I'm ready. Let's go." Right? There are so many good things you talked about  there. I mean, I love that notion of flow. 


One area of research in my own personal growth and study. I'm really fascinated by  kind of joining the flow state with more awareness and more consciousness because we sometimes stumble into the flow state. I think we can end up in a flow state because of an  emergency. Some people end up in a flow state in the middle of a car accident, right? I think  first responders may click into a flow state because they've trained train, train train, and then in  a crisis, something kicks in. And for a while, they're just in this state doing what they need to  do, right.  


And also athletes and performers. They train, train, train train. They can access this flow state. And then sometimes they talk about it's almost as if somebody else was doing it,  right. But can we bring more awareness into that consciousness? So great, both greater access  to it. And so, it's not like we get on the other side of the flow. What happens? We actually feel  like we were there during the flow, right?  


It's like marrying a couple of models there because you talked about this kind of peak  performance zone. Dan Siegel coined the term the window of tolerance. I and others  sometimes like to call it the zone of resilience. That's where we can be in that responsive  relational mode to the challenges of life rather than getting triggered down in the shutting  down into hyperarousal, starting to shut down, or we get triggered into hyperarousal, right. And then, we get outside of our zone of effectiveness, right? But that's kind of our normal  response to relational, our best self-functioning, right. But then, when you talk about peak  performance, that's kind of a different zone, right? It's similar, and we're going to still be  resilient and responsive, constant relational at our best, but now even at a higher level of  challenge, maybe a higher level of stress.  


I think that's really just fascinating and gives a window because a lot of first responders  are really into performance or high-performance people. A lot are really into fitness, really in  various forms of athletics. Right? So, I think this science of performance is really important and  could be one way to attract the first responder community integrated to resilience in a way. I  mean, in some places in the fitness world, they get into fitness in ways that are actually not  healthy in the long run. Right? But if we can get into this idea, how do you marry wellness,  resilience, and performance? Right? And really have a greater scientific understanding of that And then, you know, get in a sense, "Okay. I'm feeling like I'm growing along those  dimensions?" 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Yeah. No, exactly. That type of idea of a lot about resilience is the investment we make ahead  of time that gives us the skills that at the moment when we need it, we are actually really prepared. Our mind is really focused on the task. We feel like, yes, we've got the training,  we've got the mindset, we've got everything to deal with this.  


And then, also having that sense of confidence that even if it ends up being a really  challenging situation, even if there are things that end up being really difficult through that,  afterward, I've got more of the mental capacity as well to be able to deal with that and to start  processing that rather than try and bottle things up and try to ignore it. 


We've got more of the mental skills to be able to work through it and in a much more  healthy way and sustainable way. I think that word sustainable is one of the big things about  resilience as well is that we want to be able to perform really well and have a really high level so that we have that peak performance. But we want to be able to do that over the long term, like year after year.  


So, it's not a case of you come in as a firefighter, and for a couple of years, you're a star, and you're a hero and all that. And then, you just kind of burn out because you just cannot  sustain that pace in the long term. I think that's often where the veterans and all that have a lot  more to say about, "Okay, if you want to be able to stick around in this, then here are some  things to keep in mind." So, more of those strategies, we can teach people early on so that they  can sustain that type of performance. They can have a long career that's really meaningful and  really enriching over the long term. That I think is really important. 


Fleet Maull:  

Yeah, absolutely. Along with performing, building in those rest and recovery loops is critical. I  mean, I would say the big ones at night or whenever we sleep to having a good night's sleep is  critical. But even moment to moment, through breath regulation and just that one conscious  breath, pause. Right? You're just constantly building in those recovery loops because we can't  just live in a state of that kind of activation. We have to build in the rest and recovery. 


So, continue with the science a bit. You have this predictive six-factor model or PR-6 model that has to do with your assessment and evaluation as people go through using your  model to become more resilient. Could you talk about that? 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Yeah. So, the idea of the PR-6, the predictive six-factor resilience model, is that we're looking  both at where the individual is right now. So, giving people that insight across all the six  domains. This is where I'm at. These are my strengths. These are areas where there may be some room for improvement, but also then looking at what are the types of behaviors you're  starting to show now that indicates potentially where you're heading in the future? Are you  starting to disengage from the world? Or are you really still engaging with the world to give  that sense that this is where you're at, this is maybe where you might be heading too so that you can have that mindfulness in terms of what's your mind like at the moment and your  current trajectory so that you can use that to inform what are you going to be doing next. And  that's where the training then comes in, which is essentially prioritized based on the scoring  itself.  


What's interesting there and we saw that with our research as well is that people who  tend to find that they have more areas to work on, that tend to be an inspiration for them to  then actually work on those things and they then they actually use the program more and get  more out of it to just start to take ownership of their own training. I think it makes sense  because pretty much all of us think like yeah, sure. I'm resilient. Because if you ask someone,  Are you resilient? Like, yeah, sure. It's such a nebulous concept. Like, what is it really? I don't  really understand. But then, once they do the assessment, then they see, "Oh, okay. This is  what it really is. And it's all these different things. And yeah, I'm good here. But over here, I'm  not doing that great. And yeah, that makes sense. So, maybe I should learn more of that."  


What is it exactly? What are the strategies that I can use? So, it's that type of  inspiration that I think is so important and so valuable in terms of this understanding. And  doing that benchmark. Because that's essentially what it is. You're kind of benchmarking where  am I at compared to everyone else? People always tend to be interested in that type of thing or just having that sense of comparing in a way. And of course, comparing is also the thief of joy, as they tend to say. 


So, there's the other side of that. But having that insight into what is healthy, what's a  level that it could be protective for you, and comparing to that type of thing is useful, just to  inspire more ownership to say that, "Okay, yeah. I could be better at this. Let me do some work  on that." As you do that, then you get the benefits of building your confidence and building  better relationships with other people and feeling that, "Yeah, actually, I've done this work in  myself. I've got more pride in myself now in where I'm at and what I can accomplish." 


So, that's essentially what the PR-6 model is. It's getting people to get that insight and  have that ownership into themselves, build their skills over time, and then be able to reassess  over time so we can see what do we do? What did we accomplish? Where do we still maybe  have some work to do so it's useful as well for like an organizational litmus test in overtime to be able to see, "Okay, where did we start? Where are we at now? How can we keep building  on this over time?" 


Fleet Maull:  

So, yeah. If you have an agency that uses the Driven app for their agency, I don't know if you  white label it or not or what, but let's say the agency is really offering this app to all their  employees. Can they look at collective data on the back end and kind of see whether they're  moving the needle collectively, as well as the individual results? 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Yeah, so the individual results is always confidential, so that you as a participant can always  feel safe and that you can be totally honest because you're the only one that gets to know  about yourself. But then, for the agency level, then we can look at teams more broadly and  across the agency so that you can see what's happening. Are we moving the needle? 


Fleet Maull:  

Right. So, it's the aggregate data. You don't have the names, but you see the averages. The  aggregate data, yeah. 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Identified and aggregated. In that way, we can split it by teams as well so that individual  managers and leaders can see it. "So, this team is doing great. Let's learn from them. What are  they doing that's making the team so awesome?" Is this team not struggling a little bit? What's  happening there? Let's see how we can invest more in helping them to improve. So, it's a really useful insight to get? 


Fleet Maull:  

Well, let's talk a little bit about the HART program that you developed specifically for  emergency responders and law enforcement. 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Yeah. So, HART (high adversity resilience training). That is really where we take these ideas of  the PR-6 domains, and we'll look more at the specialist skills that really apply to people in emergency response. So, what we essentially put together there are a whole bunch of  evidence-based strategies that people can use for the bigger challenges that they would face  that the general public wouldn't face. So essentially, the type of training that we do with HART is quite a bit different from what we do with the more corporate office worker type of  resilience training.  


Here, we get deeper into different types of strategies, like how do you prepare more for  the type of things that you would see if you come across a crash site. There are things you're  gonna see there that believe in mental traces that we need to be able to process effectively. What are some strategies there? How do we do compartmentalization even? It is a useful  strategy if you do it in a sustainable way. So, how do we turn it into sustainable compartments so that we can use it at the moment when we need to, but we are always prepared to unpack  that? We're always ready to kind of open those boxes at the right times and start to process  the things that even goes into the boxes in the first place.  


There are all these kind of different strategies that we use that is much more relevant  and also be a bit more interesting because they're more relevant essentially for the different  types of occupations. The way the training works as well through the app is, you can say, I'm a  police officer, or a firefighter, or a whole number of other occupations. And then, the training is  also tailored to that occupation. So, you get your specific examples, specifically for you in your  type of occupation. So then we extend it further out into more of the culture of resilience side  where there's training for the leaders, there's training for the managers. 

How do you create a culture and an environment that supports resilience but then also  take it out into the family members of the staff themselves? That's where we can start to build  resilience skills in the partners and even in the kids at home so that they can understand how I  can build my own resilience to support my husband, or my wife, or my parents? What are the strategies that they're using as well? Because if I, as a family member, can understand the  coping strategies that the emergency worker is using, then it gives me more context. It gives  me more understanding to be able to support more effectively. It just increases communication. It increases understanding. It increases connectedness, which then is where we come back to  that idea of connected resilience, where you're not just connected to each other with your  colleagues but also to management and family at home.  


And you get this really amazing culture of people around you, where everyone really  supports each other and has the same language that they can share. And that's where a heart  essentially really comes together as a really holistic type of program that uses everything from  technology to relationships to really support people and enhance their individual resilience.


Fleet Maull:  

That's really great because I think first responders are looking for training and resources  designed specifically for the challenge they deal with every day. And then, even have it  specifically focused on through your AI-driven app, you're going to find different resources in very discipline-specific whether you're a police officer, or fire rescue, or EMFs, and so forth. So, wow. That seems to be an ideal application of technology. So, how do people find out about  Driven, whether it's at the agency level is? Is there a free Driven app online that people can  access through their app store? Or is this something that's available mostly at the  organizational level? 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Currently, it's mostly at the organizational and agency level. Anyone can really contact us at  HelloDriven.com if they want to check it out and try it out. We can actually give you a code as  well that you can make available. And people can just try it out if they want to check out what  it is, how does it work, or otherwise get in touch with us directly.  


There is FirstWatch as well, which is an organization that we work with within the  United States that we're partnered with as well. Also uses Driven with a whole lot of agencies  already in America as a way to start and build resilience. So, pull out ways to try to access it  and try it out. Mostly, I'd love to talk to people and just get it out to more agencies because I  think there's so much work that needs to be done out there. And if we can help people do this  in a more cost-effective way that we can actually reach people and make a meaningful  difference, that's what really matters at the end of the day. 


Fleet Maull:  

Let's say an agency already has a resilience program, maybe an internally resourced program they developed, or maybe even have another provider that's providing some kind of resilience  training program. Will the app be something that could be an adjunct to that that would  provide effective assessment and help them really get a better sense, maybe get more traction  with their program, but also get a better sense of the results? 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Yeah. No, it's interesting because that's some of the work that we do quite a bit already is that  for some agencies, we are mainly just doing the assessment component to then start to  understand what's the impact of other programs that they are running. So, just in that kind of  way, that's something we can help with as well. 


We've done a whole bunch of different types of assessments and even helped some  agencies develop unique assessments for the specific type of applications that they're running.  So, there's a whole lot of different types of work that we can help with there. We've helped to  develop some specialized training as well for some large social media organizations with the  crisis management staff that they have there.  


So, all those different types of ways in which there might be some kind of need around  improving individual capacity or measuring individual capacity, that's always a space where we  can come in. And we've got a lot of scientific experience there and analytics and data and  statistical analysis. That's part of where I go into flow, which is weird. 


Fleet Maull:  

Hey, that's your nerd flow? Right? 


Jurie Rossouw:  

That's something I realized more later in my life. It's interesting, but I guess we just kind of  enjoy numbers and things now. 


Fleet Maull:  

Yeah, interesting. Well, this data-driven approach is so important at the agency level, so we  know what we're doing. We know what we're spending money on. We can evaluate it. But  even at the individual level, it's so amazing all the new technology, the wearables, that we can  get so much data.  


I mean, I use a smart scale, and I have a smartwatch, and by getting this data as we  engage in resilience and fitness training of any kind, we're really developing sort of neuro  biofeedback loops because we do an activity. I mean, even at some point, everybody knows  you workout, and you get on a scale. Do you see a difference? And maybe people have done  simple biofeedback where you're hooked up to a heart monitor. You get a digital or analog representation of your heartbeat. And with your mind, you can learn to raise and lower your  heartbeat. I mean, it's easy to learn.  


The more data I'm getting about the results of my efforts, it's just going to increase my  own confidence in what I'm doing. I'm also going to be able to get more refined and more  nuanced about how I'm investing my time and energy in my fitness and resilience training because we're all busy, right? Today, we already talked about hacking, right? Everybody wants  the latest hack, right? 


If I can get as resilient with 30 hours of work that I could with two hours of work and then do it the other way, which one am I going to choose? Well, sure, I'm going to choose the  30-minute approach, right? But the way we're going to figure that out is by having the data  really and getting in that, right. So, I think it's both at the individual level and the agency level.  This approach you're taking with Driven just makes so much sense. 


Jurie Rossouw:  

That is so true. Just trying to help people understand and, even from a plasticity perspective,  just what the value is, of just putting that little bit of effort in every day and building those  connections. And then, if we can start to make that more tangible and more visible for people,  then that is so important to just inspire that consistency of effort over time. 


Fleet Maull:  

Yeah. Really inspiring the work you're doing. I always come back to one of the more famous  performance coaches and experts, Tony Robbins, worldwide renowned. He talks about what  really are the components of lasting happiness and satisfaction as a human being.  


He says it's really two things. It's a deeply felt experience that we're growing and  evolving and which you've been talking about. And then, it's a deeply felt experience that  we're contributing. First responders are really positioned to express. 


Now, unfortunately, without good coping skills, it can push people into a cycle where  they start to feel like they're not growing. And even that sense of contribution can wane, right?  But with these skills, I mean, who's better positioned to feel like they're growing, evolving, and  making a huge contribution to life than our heroic first responders? 


I think with the kind of support organizations like yours and approaches like Driven, this  can really be a huge boost to the first responder community. So, thank you so much for the  work you're doing. 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Fantastic. It's my pleasure. As long as we're making a difference and we keep learning as well  ourselves, I think there's so much work to be done here. So, it's great to see all these different  people with only different types of work that they're doing. This is all about making individual  sustainability differences over time, which really matters. 


Fleet Maull:  

That's great. And it's HelloDriven.com


Jurie Rossouw:  


Fleet Maull:  

HelloDriven.com. So, Jurie Rossouw, the CEO, founder of HelloDriven.com. Great to be with  you today. And thank you so much for the work you're doing in supporting first responders. 


Jurie Rossouw:  

Fantastic. Thank you for having me.

0 comments

Comments


bottom of page