Thrive with Resilience

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The following is an excerpt from Doug Holladay’s newly released book, Rethinking Success: Eight Essential Practices for Finding Meaning in Work and Life, which is available from the link on this page.

As we develop our own definition of success, one that makes room for failure, a necessary trait becomes obvious: resilience. If we do not know how to bounce back from failure or hardship, then we may never achieve the success we seek.

Research is clear that those who thrive are resilient. Success seldom comes to people who live problem-free. Setback and adversity can provide opportunities to test and develop your resilience. My friend and investment partner Bill Mayer has observed that the best way to see if someone is a great leader is to place them in a circumstance where they need to “figure it out” for themselves. He divides people into two categories: the ones who, if stranded on a remote island, would quickly die, and the others, who would find a way to survive. Which are you?

I’ve long pondered the relationship between suffering or setback and resilience. The French existentialist Albert Camus observed a powerful connection between these forces in himself. He declared, “In the midst of winter, I finally found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” Camus is pointing to a moment of discovery of inner strength that had been unacknowledged up to that point.

I’ve wondered whether people are born with resilience or is it a learned behavior. According to UCLA Health, “Resiliency is a cultivated habit. The more you practice it, the greater your ability to bounce back from adversity. It’s not about pretending everything is fine. Rather, it’s about developing healthy life management skills.”

I tend to agree. Clearly, some are born with a more sunny, resilient outlook, but resilience can be built and strengthened through positive attitudes and practices. You can learn and improve resiliency skills every day. Don’t wait for trying times to test your resilience. Create a solid foundation, one that will enable you to weather those severe times. Be a communicator with yourself and others. Meditate, converse, and reframe situations. Focus on gratitude and laughing. All of these actions decrease stress hormones and boost the immune system, making you stronger and more resilient.