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Resiliency: A Trait You Develop, Not One You’re Born With

Written by on August 19, 2015

Resiliency: the ability to recover, regroup, and rebound when things go wrong. It’s an overarching concept that generally involves leveraging a positive and optimistic approach into forward-thinking decisions. Your personal resilience affects many – if not all – aspects of your professional life, and yet applying resiliency can be challenging, especially when you’re facing difficulties in the moment. The truth is, people are not born resilient; each individual can build up their resiliency in their everyday lives and careers over time. Resiliency can be learned, acquired, and honed through conscious decisions to observe and practice – for benefits you’ll reap when the going gets tough.

  1. Make Meaningful Choices: Learn To Prioritize

    One of the best ways to hone resiliency is by learning how to select and pursue priorities. In good times and bad, it’s important not get sidelined by things that don’t matter – stay focused on what’s truly important to you. When you have a strong set of priorities that drive your actions and decisions, it’s easier to be resilient against other demands, setbacks, and other hurdles, because you’re guided by that which is profoundly meaningful to you. Maintaining focus on your chosen priorities makes it easier to devote the proper amount of energy to conflicting demands when you’re facing a professional moment of crises. In this instance, the habits you form in good times carry you through the bad.

  2. Practice Dedication, But Not Without Engagement

    Resiliency can also be built by devoting time to projects you find worthwhile. When facing an uphill climb, dedication and engagement are paramount. Beyond helping a professional produce work at the highest level, dedication and engagement send a clear, positive message to other employees or team members. Everyone wants to work with those they can trust, and it is easier to trust someone whose effort and character is plainly on display and that can be counted on long-term, through thick and thin.

    Keep in mind that these indicators of a resilient character can’t simply be turned on to help someone power through difficult times. Dedication and engagement are habits that require cultivation. If you practice staying engaged through long-term or ongoing projects or relationships, you build your resiliency to stay an active and meaningful participant even through long-term woes – fewer challenges will be able to “knock you down” or cause you to give up, which makes you an invaluable, reliable colleague. More importantly, you will be able to rely on yourself, knowing that you are capable of “sticking with it”.

  3. Turn Setback into Successes: Positive Thinking Leads To Solutions

    Perhaps the best way to learn resiliency is to practice it on a micro level by turning small failures into learning experiences on a daily basis. This way, when a larger disappointment occurs, you will be ready to analyze what led to it and make the appropriate corrections for improvement – without falling apart.

    One of my favourite examples of an analysis in action is from when I saw a Paralympian come up short of his expectations in London. Even at the young age of 23, he had the maturity to assess his shortcomings in the competition publically, and plot out a path to improvement. Realizing what went wrong, and then planning an according path of action shows that he is taking responsibility for his current status. Even when facing a difficult or unfair situation, you are always responsible for what happens next – resilient people assess, learn, and plan instead of assuming, complaining, and quitting.

Resiliency is all about learning how to arrest the attitudes, behaviours, and responses that lead to success, even when it seems like success is far off. Being aware of how emotions and decisions matter at all times will help any professional properly navigate the hard situations where their attitude is most important. Professionals know that resiliency can help them to be better leaders and colleagues – and to get the most out of their careers. But resiliency isn’t something that magically appears when you need it: it’s a habit you cultivate day-in, day-out.