Do you know any rubber-band people? People who, no matter what happens to them, always seem to bounce back. Despite whatever is going on in their life, an illness, a family tragedy, some bad luck, or any other type of misfortune, it never seems to keep them down. Life can stretch them to their breaking point, but – like a rubber band – they always find a way back to their original shape.
Would you like to know their secret?
Resilience is the ability of an object to return to form after it’s been bent, stretched or compressed. Think about the stress balls you see on some office desks; no matter how hard you squeeze those things, they always return to their original shape. They have resilience.
People can have resilience too. In fact, I’ve been coaching executives for a long time, and of all the traits I’ve learned from the leaders I work with, nothing has been as useful to me as resilience. The ability to bounce back from a setback is often the difference between losing and winning. As the saying goes, you only lose if you quit.
There are several key factors in resilience. The first is healthy relationships – having a community of people who love and support you is an important key to bouncing back from disappointment. The larger the network of support and care, the more able a person is to be resilient.
Another factor is the ability to create and execute realistic plans for the future. This ability helps minimize the sense of being stuck in our pain. And on those days when you’re tempted to believe you are worthless, the ability to have a positive view of yourself as well as a healthy self-confidence can keep you from falling further into depression. And learning to manage those times when our emotions threaten to overwhelm us plays a huge role in our ability to heal.
But resilience isn’t easy to learn; the learning process requires something difficult to happen to you. It might be a business setback, you might lose a loved one, or maybe just your busy life creates overwhelming stress. Second, you have to choose to overcome the setback. That requires a level of personal commitment and discipline. You have to get up every day, face your setback, and determine to not let it beat you.
So how do you develop resilience?
LEARN FROM YOUR FAILURES
There is no setback so severe that you cannot recover from, but it takes a certain mindset to make that recovery possible. You have to look at your setbacks for the lessons and insights about yourself and your circumstances. It’s hard – especially when the setback is out of your control. However, you can always find wisdom in even the most difficult circumstances.
CHOOSE PERSONAL GROWTH
This is a natural outcome of choosing to learn from your failures. When you start looking for lessons, you choose a path of personal growth. As you learn about yourself in your struggles, you also learn about the people around you. You begin to reflect on what you want from life, and what it would cost to get you there.
HELP OTHERS AND THEY WILL HELP YOU
I’ve always been an promoter of empowering others, helping others. But, there are times in your life when what you need most is for others to pour back into you. When you experience a difficult setback, those you’ve invested in will want to return the favor. LET THEM. Let the value you’ve given to others help you through your dark hours. You’ll emerge stronger – and more committed to adding value to others in the future.
FIND STRENGTH BEYOND YOURSELF
Highly resilient individuals usually believe in something bigger than themselves. For me, when things get to their most difficult, there is only one place for me to turn—and that’s to God. For you it could also be a credo, an ethical construct, a code of conduct, a grander corporate or personal purpose, a vision. Sometimes life is filled with challenges that stretch us so far that we fear we may never “snap-back.” You may find yourself struggling to make sense of your feelings, your thoughts, your very place in this world. Times like these demand more than human strength, and if we look beyond ourselves we’ll find someone or something to inspire us.
Life has no shortage of difficulties, but the good news is that no matter how tough things may get, you can bounce back. That’s the beauty of resilience. No matter how many setbacks you’ve faced in your life, it’s never too late to develop resilience. You too can grow to become a “rubber-band person,” someone who bounces back from obstacles every time.