News & Insight
November 2012

Find Your Resilience

BC Forbes, one of the greatest business leaders of the past century, was famous for stating, “victory is often nearest when defeat seems inescapable.” Resilience is the quality we need to rely on when our lives and businesses are most challenged. In the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, resilience has been an important characteristic for people to embody. As you can see from the news, many people are facing very difficult times that make them feel vulnerable, unsafe and out of control. Unsure of their future, people respond in various ways - with heightened stress, anger, emotional imbalance, or in extreme cases by completely shutting down. These are times where we need to find our resilience.

Resilience is defined as our ability to “quickly” recover from difficulties. Research has shown that our struggles can define our lives. When asked to recall important emotional events, people remember the negative ones over the positive. It is in our struggle that our true character is defined. Anyone can be a good sport when they are winning. But it is in losing that the true measure of our strength is revealed.

Life can be very hard. Difficulties that are completely out of our control and some that are within our control can devastate our lives and our business. What we need to see in these times is that it’s our true opportunity to rise to the occasion. While we don’t welcome or try to create hardship, hardship is a part of life. We need to deal with it head on.

The good news is that research shows that even if you are not a naturally resilient person, you can learn to develop a resilient mindset and attitude. Here are some quick tips to find the resilience you need to put your best self forward:
Don’t let your challenges derail your dreams. Find your resilience and keep your sights on your goals. You will undoubtedly have struggles and discouraging days, but keep doing what you can to move forward. This sentiment was beautifully expressed in a brother’s eulogy for a member of my community who recently lost her valiant fight against cancer. He talked much of her, but also of her husband, stating, “If one said that the measure of a man’s worth was by how he handled crisis,” her husband “was a giant among men.” Let’s all strive to be giants in our fight to recover from adversity and find resilience.

  • Create a winning mindset - Remember that you choose your mindset everyday. You cannot control your circumstance but you can control how to respond to it. Your mental approach is critical to your success. Do you view your struggle as a victim or a survivor? Is your situation a challenge or a paralyzing event? It is critical to not view your adversity as a negative reflection on your own abilities or self-worth.
  • Tackle problems one at a time - When in the throws of difficult situations, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and feel that the impossible cannot be achieved. In these circumstances, it is critical to take everything one day at a time. Be proactive and address each problem as it arises. The road to success happens one small step at a time.
  • Visualize your success - Visualize the success you want to achieve. A famous study was conducted by the University of Chicago with basketball players to prove the power of visualization. It consisted of three basketball teams. Team 1 was instructed to go to the gym every day for one hour and practice throwing free throws. Team 2 only had a visualization period whereby players envisioned themselves successfully shooting hoops: no physical practice was allowed. Team 3 was instructed to play no basketball whatsoever neither mentally nor physically for the month. When the month had passed, the three groups were assessed to determine if their shooting had been affected. The team who had neither mental nor physical practice had dis-improved. The team who engaged in just physical practice had a 24% improvement rate. Amazingly, the team who had only visualized themselves throwing successful free throws had improved by 23%.
  • Stop feeling sorry for yourself - To grieve and mourn your loss is an important part of your recovery. But only feeling sorry for yourself will slow that process. John Walsh suffered one of the greatest of hardships when his 6-year-old son was kidnapped and murdered in 1981. Although he was devastated, he went on to start “America’s Most Wanted” TV show which has contributed to the capture of over 1,000 fugitives and criminals.
  • Remove judgment - Everyone is not going through your battle. In some cases, only you will really understand the depth of your struggle. It is important that you stop judging the people around you who are trying to help or are moving on with their lives; it is only a distraction from finding your resilience and working toward your recovery.
  • Create support systems - There are people who are willing to help and can. Allow them into your life. Share your emotional burden and lean within reason on people who can help, knowing that this is not going to fix the problem but may alleviate some of the stress.

WJM Faculty member Liz Bentley is an Executive Coach who works with clients to help them visualize and achieve their work goals. Drawing upon her background in psychology, 10 years of experience in sales and a lifetime of experience in competitive sports, Liz has a unique appreciation of mindset and the power it has to change patterns of behavior.

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