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Why resilience matters to you

We have all come across the word resilience and perhaps even have used it to described someone as being "resilient" but do many of us actually stop and think about what it means to be resilient. How important is it? Resilience refers to the ability of an individual to withstand setbacks and/or adversity and bounce back without being affected negatively by the experience.

Commentators and business people also talk about business resilience and it is also an important topic and one which I will write about in the near future but the purpose of this article is to explain how criticial resilience is for our day to day well-being and also for success in your career and business and to show you some simple strategies for building resilience.

A great example of resilience is from Michael Jordon...

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shotand missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that's why I succeed" Michael Jordon

Another great example is J.K. Rowling. who was a divorced single parent living on benefits when she wrote Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - and the book was rejected by 12 publishers before accepted by Bloomsbury. Now – seven Harry Potter books, eight Harry Potter films and three adult novels later – Rowling is one of the most successful authors of all time, and is worth an estimated $1 billion. She believed in herself and was able to withstand her many setbacks before finding success - due to her resilience!

Explanation of resilience

Resilience is essential if we are to be able to function normally in our day to day lives and is also essential for our mental well-being. It is said that people often learn the most about themselves when faced with darkness. Those who are resilient find ways of coping and adjusting to adversity and setbacks and even become stronger mentally from undergoing such events.

But is resilience a trait that some people seem to possess naturally or is it something that can be acquired and learned? The good news is that resilience is not something limited to a few "lucky" or gifted individuals but is a character trait and strength which can be learned. Studies have been done to show that there are common traits that resilient people possess. In 2003, Dr Kathryn Connor and Dr Jonathan Davidson of Duke University conducted a seminal study to identify such traits and even developed the Connor-Davidson resilience scale which comprises 25 items rated on a scale of 0-4. This list includes:

  1. Able to adapt to change.

  2. Close and secure relationships.

  3. See the humorous side of things.

  4. Coping with stress strengthens.

  5. Tend to bounce back after illness or hardship.

  6. When things look hopeless, you don’t give up.

  7. Know where to turn for help.

  8. Under pressure, focus and think clearly.

  9. Think of self as a strong person.

  10. Can handle unpleasant feelings.

  11. Strong sense of purpose.

  12. Pride in your achievements.

By using this scale, the study concluded that resilience is quantifiable, is modifiable, and can improve. In essence, resilience is a skill which can be developed and improved. There are a number of important ways to do this and these have been expertly summarised by Dr Mitthu Storoni in her brilliant book "stress proof":

  • Optimism: Resilience is developed when we are optimistic about the eventual outcomes, even if the short term is looking bleak.

  • Interpretation: Looking at unfavourable events as actions that have happened rather than as a negative reflection of you or a personal failure and viewing the setback as a signal for personal growth, thus tricking the mind to view the event favourably.

  • Self opinion: Having a strong positive belief in your self will help you get through any crises. Ensure your self belief is comprised of positive memories of your strength pulling you through difficult situations to help you in times of need. "I've been through X before so I can get through this".

  • Physical fitness: Being physically fit gives you confidence and is likely to make you more mentally fit too, helping you overcome difficulties and setbacks.

  • Active coping: When you suffer a setback, it is important to take some form of action rather than do nothing and let the setback overwhelm you. Active, rather than passive coping builds resilience.

  • A social network: Creating deep connections through relationships and friendships is an important way to build resilience. It could also help you to meet people who are resilient and who could be role models.

Final thoughts

Resilience is a critical skill which we will need at some point in our lives and probably a lot more often than we realise. It enables us to get through the ups and downs of life's shocks with minimal disruption and can help us to grow and become stronger mentally and spiritually as a result. Not only will it ensure we don't get battered and run down by setbacks and disappointments, resilience can also help ensure our success in our career and other chosen fields - music, business, sport etc. However, we are not born with it; it's a skill which we have to develop or find someone to help us develop it - for example using a resilience coach. I have spent many years finding and developing strategies to overcome severe setbacks and am now very passionate about sharing these with my clients. If this is of interest, please contact me at to see how I could help you develop these skills.

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