Resilience is not a new term in academic and preventive medicine circles, nor is the idea of nurturing people’s inner strengths a new idea. In fact, the view that resilience is an important aspect of our well-being has been gaining attention among researchers and health professionals over the last 25 or so years. Studies have increasingly shown that the way people cope with the challenges they face in the various stages of life is influenced by their sense of who they are, how they relate to the world and others around them, and how well they manage the various parts of their lives.
Many of us know people who may not be famous, but who have shown great resolve and resilience in their lives. They may be our parents, friends or neighbors. Or they may be us. Exceptional leaders understand the potential for resilience exists in everyone and one of the best ways to develop it is to evaluate and affirm our strengths and abilities. Other simple, yet profoundly powerful strategies can also be used to build individual and organizational resilience. Here are a few to consider:
- Nurture a positive view of yourself. Develop confidence in your ability to solve problems and trust your instincts.
- Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can’t prevent stressful events from happening, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events by developing a positive perspective.
- Look for opportunities for self-discovery. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship report better relationships, a greater sense of strength, an increased sense of self-worth, and a greater appreciation for life.
- Make connections. Good relationships with family, friends or others are important. Accept help and support from those who care about you.
- Maintain a positive outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect good things to happen in your life.
- Assist others in times of need. You will gain the benefit of learning what others need and what you too may need during difficult times.
- Do a perspective audit. Take a look at the positive elements in a situation as well as beyond the current challenge.
- Focus on what you can learn. You can’t change what is happening to you, but you can learn from it and change how you respond to similar situations next time.
- Wisely measure and manage your goals. Identify one thing you can do next in a situation to further your goals.
“…the potential for resilience exists in everyone and one of the best ways to develop it is to evaluate and affirm our strengths and abilities.”
Within each person, there is a capacity for resilience – the ability to turn loss into gain; to transform tragedy into triumph; to choose to be strengthened by adversity. In effect, resilience is an attitude built on one’s internal belief that no matter what you may be facing today, it need not dominate the direction of your life tomorrow. It’s an attitude that informs our actions, encouraging us to struggle forward when it would be easier to stand still or worse, slide backward into feelings of depression, self-pity or despair.
Resilience then, is the inner strength, that certain something that enables some people to thrive through hardship that would likely destroy others. Resilience isn’t a “some have it, some don’t” quality. It’s an attitude that informs our actions. A skill we can choose to develop and nurture both within ourselves and in those placed in our care.
Remember, resilience is what allows you to keep your emotions from hijacking your good reason, equipping you to remove yourself from the immediacy of what is occurring in order to gain a broader, more positive perspective. Resilience is a powerful blend of attitude and action that enables your past and present circumstances, no matter how difficult or traumatic, to inform your next choice. Intentionally building your level of resilience will make you a better leader, and happier, healthier and more satisfied person.
So on a scale of 1-10, how resilient are you? More importantly, in which areas can you improve your ability to bend and not break when the storms of life inevitably arrive?