Bouncing Back … Learning Resilience

Today, more than ever, the need for resilience exists – in us, in our leaders, and in our organizations.  Each day brings news of catastrophes – in business or in life – that call upon the inner strength of those involved.  In order to recover from the obstacles placed before us, we need to exercise our ability to be resilient.

Resilient leaders create resilient organizations. 

We know that failure is a learning tool.  Resilient leaders use that failure to enrich their innovative thought patterns and produce even better products, processes, and services.  Resilient organizations have energy within, a buzz of activity, and the appearance of never standing still.

A resilient leader is an upbeat leader – one who is excited about the possibilities of tomorrow, but one who is also very goal driven and willing to adjust as circumstances dictate.

resilience - dandelion through asphalt

Resilience looks different depending on the person, but there are some commonalities.

  • Belief … in a goal, in a dream, in a vision, in a future

 “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

― Louisa May Alcott

  • Optimism … a realistic analysis of the situation coupled with a “glass half full” outlook

 “However long the night, the dawn will break.”

– African Proverb

  • Connection … reliance on one’s network and relationships

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

― Brené Brown

  • Humor … the ability to smile, to find light in the midst of the darkness and enrobe sorrow with laughter.

“Humor can make a serious difference. In the workplace, at home, in all areas of life – looking for a reason to laugh is necessary. A sense of humor helps us to get through the dull times, cope with the difficult times, enjoy the good times and manage the scary times.”

― Steve Goodier

Resilience is a learned skill

It is a matter of training your mind and your “automatic” response system.  Think muscle memory.  We train and practice and train and practice to allow our bodies to perform certain tasks.  As an example, if you play golf –your muscle memory comes into play regardless of how much time has passed between rounds.  You pick up the club, grip it as you always have, and swing as you have practiced.  Maybe its not the smoothest stroke or the straightest hit, but you are not relearning the basics.  Your body remembers.

Apply this thinking to your resilience response. During times of calmness, “practice” being resilient.  Establish goals, think positive as opposed to negative, connect with others, and allow yourself the freedom to smile and laugh. Practice, practice, practice – and then practice some more.

You have now trained yourself to bounce back when stress becomes overwhelming.  Your “muscle memory” will generate your automatic response of belief, hope connection, and humor.

The resilient organization is one that faces tomorrow with confidence.  The future may not look like it was once described, but it will still be a future filled with triumph and results. Being resilient might not be easy … but the rewards are definitely worth the effort.    Start or continue practicing today!

“More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails.  That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.”

–       Dean Becker



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