How many times did you run into people who have experienced the worst circumstances and yet, they seem to move on with ease? Today we answer the question, what is resilience? And explore the key role it plays in your life and your career success.
The best way to answer what is resilience is with an example. Over a period of two years, a friend of mine suffered four major surgeries, had a severe accident that required two additional operations plus two months of recovery, the loss of her job, personal bankruptcy and the attempted suicide of her daughter. To tell you the truth there were times when I feared for her life. I though she wouldn’t have the strength to survive the magnitude of the difficulties facing her. But not only did she survive but in addition, she came out of that period stronger than before.
What is resilience? — Definition
There are many definitions of resilience, a word that refers to the quality in objects to hold or recover their shape, or the quality of people to stay intact in the face of adversity.
Psychological resilience is the ability to bounce back from a negative experience with a “competent functioning”. Neuroscience considers that the most resilient people have stronger emotional balance when faced by stressful situations. This better prepares them to put up with higher levels of pressure. It gives them a sense of control over their circumstances and an expanded ability to face challenges.
How resilience impacts your career growth
It’s not enough to answer the question what is resilience, but it’s critical to understand how it affects your career. Consider that the more resilient you are the easier it will be to:
- Overcome adversity
- Adapt to change (whether it’s change you seek or that happens unexpectedly)
- Manage highly stressful situations
- Face crises
- Go through hard personal and professional times
Traits of resilient people
Many studies on resilience have been done over the past few years. They are helping identify people and organizations that conquer extreme adversity. (For example, people who are able to overcome a severe recession, a natural disaster or a terrorist attack and those who can’t.)
One of the best ways to answer what is resiliency is to explore what resilient people have in common.
According to Diane Coutu, author of a great article on what is resiliency and how it works, many of the
latest theories agree that resilient people share three characteristics:
1A staunch acceptance of reality– This is what enables them to consider the real possibility of extreme and adverse situations that might happen in the future. It’s what enables them to prepare for this eventuality.
2A deep belief that life is meaningful– This is what enables them to strengthen their relationships with others, seek solace in their values, interpret what happens as a challenge, and find hope to keep going. Rather than getting stuck asking, “Why is this happening to me?” they adopt a proactive attitude towards their new circumstances.
3– Unusual ability to improvise. This is what enables them to adapt to any new situation, regardless of how challenging it may be, and find a solution.
If you think about it, many of these are typical traits of people who grew up in Latin America and other countries in the developing world where the unexpected is the norm. People in those areas are used to having a plan B and plan C at the ready. They are creative, problem solvers. And history has shown that they are able to overcome any challenge put in front of them. If you grew up in that region your make sure to use those innate strengths to your full advantage.
Now, if you have a tendency to come undone when faced by an obstacle or if it takes you way too long to recover from an unexpected situation, it’s time to strengthen your resilience. It will not only help you in your career but also in your personal life.
Test your resilience with this quiz
Here are a few ideas on how to do it:
- Face the reality that unplanned, stressful things often happen and prepare for them the best you can.
- Understand that there are circumstances out of your control and focus on those you can control. For instance, your interpretation of what is happening. If you find a meaning to the situation it will be easier to go through it.
- Strengthen your personal relationships. They are key to support you during high- pressure times.
- Practice using improvisation and creativity to resolve problems on the spot.
- Build self-confidence so overcoming adversity becomes second nature.
Nowadays, resilience is one of the most valued characteristics for employers. They guarantee your adaptability to new situations and your quick response time. It’s a quality you can continue to develop throughout your life. So go for it!