4 Ways to Become More Resilient

June 2017

plant in a crack

Source: Thinkstock

When we are young adults, we’re drawn to the most successful classmates and companies. As we age, though, the more interesting people and places tend to be those that bounced back from serious setbacks.

Their resilience attracts us because we can learn from their mistakes, even if the only miscalculation was poor timing. We all are brought down to zero by bad news or a bad breakup at some point. It’s how we respond to losing a contract, a job, a loved one, a friendship, a game or ideal health that shows our strength, more so than perceived weaknesses.

There are a number of ways to bounce back from something as chronic as a poor-fitting job or a sudden turn of events. No two journeys are the same, but there are some tactics the more resilient among us have in common.

1. Acknowledge the pain, and then move on. Don’t fool yourself into thinking something initially hurts less than it does. You don’t appear stoic to others; you appear in denial. Conversely, don’t remain wrapped in a shroud of sadness or anger for too long. It may no longer look like you were wronged but that things happened for a good reason.

Absorb the gravity of what’s happened for a few days to a few weeks (depending on the magnitude of loss). Then shift your focus to next steps—from finding new work to starting a new life. The hurt may periodically sneak back to the surface, but over time those sadness spells will become far less frequent.

2. Stay optimistic. I’ve always lived by the mantra, “If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.” Find out why something went sour, even though honest feedback stings. Don’t dwell on what didn’t work; instead, re-engineer your mindset on what can be done better. If a prospect went with a competitor, find out why and then build on the skills and assets to be a stronger contender. (And if the selection appears to be based on something underhanded, be grateful you didn’t get the job or contract.)

3. Balance ambitions. Once a thorough post-mortem is done and a new plan is in place, try to maintain equilibrium as you carry out new initiatives. In the past, did you devote so much time to pursuing a new client that you stopped nurturing existing ones? Did your personal drive for a promotion alienate those closest to you? Are you still partnering with people no longer contributing as needed?

4. Build a strong support network. Some of us retreat into ourselves when times get tough. Others seek distractions and become more social. Either way, always work on building and maintaining a robust support system of friends, family members, colleagues, classmates, community leaders and subject-matter experts who are compassionate, both respected and respectful, and resilient themselves. These are the people you need in your life and in your business … just as they will need someone like you too someday.

—Anne