Resilience - The secret ingredient of success

Nobody gets through life unscathed. Everyone, at some time, will encounter difficult and challenging experiences. Most peoples immediate reaction is the same; shock, disbelief and fear but, over time, some people do better than others at adapting to changed circumstances.

This is because people have differing reserves of resilience. Resilience is the ability to adapt to changed circumstances and is considered a greater determinant of success than IQ. Increasingly organisations view resilience as a key competency when recruiting.

Resilience is also important as it provides the tools to escape damaging situations, whether a bad relationship, job or financial circumstances. Resilient people are more likely to believe that they have the ability to change their fortunes for the better.

Resilience is not the ability to escape unharmed, it is about functioning during times of great challenge and subsequently growing from the experience - it is possible to be hurt and to rebound at the same time.

Professor Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania and author of the book ‘Grit’ credits a combination of passion and perseverance over intelligence or talent, for success. Duckworth won the MacArthur "genius" award in 2013 and gave a TED Talk on grit, which has been viewed by millions.

Some of the factors that support resilience include optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, the ability to receive feedback and a positive disposition. The good news is that resilience can be cultivated over time.

Developing resilience requires strengthening the inner self to see oneself as competent and capable. Other behaviours which support cultivating resilience include:

Change your locus of control. Developing an internal locus of control and learning to reframe situations is core to developing resilience. While we cannot control situations and other people, we can control how we react and respond.

Maintain an optimistic outlook. This leads you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Focus on what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.

Accept that change is constant. Some goals may no longer be achievable because of challenging situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on what you can alter.

Relationships foster resilience. Good relationships with others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you strengthens resilience.

Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.

Look for opportunities for personal growth. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of strength even while feeling vulnerable.

Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.

Take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience. Consider your own needs and feelings, exercise and engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.

The key is to identify what is likely to work for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.

“I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

 ― J.K. Rowling