As the famous quote goes: “Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
Resilience is the ability to fail repeatedly and still stay steadfast on your goal. It is about dusting yourself off and getting back up on that horse. John Maxwell explains this succinctly in his famous growth law, “The Law of the Rubber Band”, where he says the rubber band is only useful when it is stretched and thus is out of its comfort zone, similar to what should happen to our lives in order to be successful, to hone the gifts and talents we have, and to lead a life of purpose and accomplishment.
Based on my interactions with numerous leaders, I have derived the most apt definition of resilience in the professional context – The ability to remain professional and focused on attaining results despite obstacles and setbacks.
Psychologists affirm that resilience is an innate human capacity and as such, exists in each and every human being. It can be manifested, learned, and developed in anyone. All humans have the ability to develop the skills that will put them on the path to resilience.
On the other hand, several research studies show that when individuals are confronted with major life stressors, such as spousal loss, divorce, or unemployment, they are likely to show substantial declines in well-being, and these declines can linger for several years. In the face of adversity, resilience falters, with despair, regret, or even denial taking its place.
Like every other skill, the psychological muscle of resilience can be trained and strengthened. While we talk of professional goals, a practice of resilience simply means not to be fazed by setbacks in any situation, mental, emotional, personal, or professional.
Cultivating All-Round Resilience
Let us focus on how to develop and enhance our inherent gift of resilience. The following four domains are based on research of various individuals who demonstrated resilience during key events in their life, converting their failures into teachable moments.
On the physical aspect, these individuals keep themselves physically fit with an exercise routine, practicing flexibility with yoga or other modalities, having a fixed sleep pattern, and monitoring their diet. In addition, they keep tabs on physical wellness and use gentle guidance instead of hyper-controlling themselves to stay on track for these goals.
On the emotional aspect, these individuals are emotionally flexible and accommodating of unexpected situations and circumstances. They maintain a positive outlook towards life and try to find diamonds in the dust, unearthing opportunities when faced with adversity, spending “ME time” with themselves to check in with their inner voice, and acknowledging their emotions without judgment or shame.
We see the mind and the body as a tangible collection of cells and organs, but it’s harder to care about the upkeep of our spirit when we cannot perceive it. But in reality, the spiritual domain of resilience is far more important and often neglected. Individuals strong in the spiritual domain have their consciousness compass oriented towards their sense of purpose or the ‘WHY’ of their existence; they uphold their values and show a strong commitment to them, orienting their decisions according to their value system. At the same time, they are appreciative and cognizant that our differences make us human and are thus accepting and respectful of others’ values and beliefs. Given their flexibility and understanding of diversity, they generally develop deep connections with their peers and community.
The mental domain is very critical and one cannot be resilient if they lack this component. You can sense that your mental resilience is lacking if opposing viewpoints offend you, or you are unwilling to learn new perspectives if it means you will be proven wrong. Mentally tenacious individuals are intellectually flexible, open to ideas, and do not take sides. Despite unpredictable events, they embrace change and find the best course to move forward. They have good attention spans and can stay focused on the outcomes rather than the roadblocks.
The domains of resilience aren’t separate factions but rather a connected cycle of expanses that make up the human existence. If you are in the practice of building tenacity but aren’t at full potential yet, understand that leveling up gently even in one domain will give you the incentive to develop resistance on other fronts. Also, consistency in developing resistance to tough situations will yield far greater results than a burst of occasional sporadic intention.
Motivated To Find Your Inner Resilience?
You can use the below tool to check how you are doing in terms of Resilience Practice:
- Give yourself 1 point for each practice from the below you can answer YES to
- You have a good belly laugh at least once a week
- You make sure you have “ME” time for at least 2 hours every week
- You make time (at least 20 minutes) for quiet prayer / contemplation / reflection / journaling / meditation at least 3 times per week
- You seek and receive developmental feedback at work at least 2-3 times a year, and you act on it
- You feel you have a friend at work who you can trust / talk to
- You feel that you are able to bring your best self / use your strengths at work most days
- You generally have a habit of finding the positives in a potentially negative situation (diamonds in the dust)
- You regularly reflect on the things you are grateful for
- You are able to set boundaries around work and family, and me-time
- You exercise at least 3 x per week for 20-30 minutes
- You get 7-8 hours sleep on most nights
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