When you search the word “resiliency” on Google, you will see over 5, 500,000 results. What a fascinating statistic for a word that encapsulates an essential character trait that lies at the core of every individual. What makes a person resilient? Can resiliency be taught or are some people better able to rebound from adversity than others? There is certainly a “buzz” around the term in business as well…given the volatility of the economy. What about the roller coaster ride of the stock market that many of us are reluctantly enduring, even though the nausea has us reaching out for the airsickness bag on a regular basis? Why do we choose to stick it out? Is it due to the fact that we are enjoying the ride? I don’t think so. Or, perhaps it is because we identify with this premise: We are eternally optimistic about the future because we possess an inner- knowing based on our past risk-taking experiences that ultimately, the economy will prevail and the peaks and valleys are part of the journey. This is more than practicing blind faith. Rather, by viewing current circumstances in these terms, we are demonstrating an understanding of what it means to employ resiliency as a habit.
Our professional and personal lives are inexorably linked. We have learned that adversity is a natural part of every aspect of our lives. We know that although there are times when the discomfort is almost too much to bear, the alternative option of panic would place us in an anxiety-prone state; yielding results that could be far worse. Resiliency is the cornerstone of our emotional and psychological survival in challenging times. We often underestimate our ability to rise above extremely difficult situations.
For example, at a recent meeting of the American Psychological Association, the question of resiliency in relation to aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 was on the agenda. Although there was general agreement regarding the psychological magnitude immediately following the event, there were differences in opinion regarding the long-term impact. One psychologist commented as follows: “I think we are wired to deal with trauma…It’s not only in the person. There’s lots of other factors that determine whether (a person will) be resilient or not…Part of it has to do with who they are, their circumstances, the resources at their disposal, their own trauma histories. They’re less resilient if they have health problems or a history of traumatic reactions, or lack economic resources.”
In order to rise above current challenges, we need to focus on developing a mindset of managing rather than coping . Getting a grip, is hardly a proactive approach! Yet, it is a business and life strategy that many individuals and organizations adopt in order to deal with adversity as well as uncertainty. Rather, the solution lies in the willingness to dig deep and gain strength from past experiences. We can overcome seemingly impossible challenges in the present by drawing upon our own inner resources. Ask yourself: “How do I perceive the enormity of my current challenge?” When faced with a particular conundrum that feels overwhelming, reflect on a different time in your life when you felt similar angst and were able to triumph over the situation. As a result, you will prove to yourself that your resiliency muscle can be exercised anytime. All that is needed now is for you to flex it!