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The road to resilience

Resilience is a skill, says Sarah Pearce - and one business leaders and anyone else can draw plenty of examples from in order to achieve their own success.

 What is resilience? It’s the ability to bounce back from tough situations; both mentally and physically. It's the ability to endure. It does not mean that you don’t feel the intensity of the situation, instead imagine resilience as the speed that someone returns to their relaxed state. Pretty much, it's your ability to keep pushing through when times are tough.

Resilience is a skill. We aren't born with it but we can develop and strengthen it through deliverable focus on specific habits. Here are some tips to help you on your way.

Surround yourself with the right people – Resilient people understand the value of keeping good company. They steer away from those who might drain them, and spend time instead with positive people who provide solid support and a wider network of resources.

While his career can be criticized for many reasons, the manner in which Walt Disney built his team is admirable. He surrounded himself with family, friends and other top animators. These were the people he knew would help elevate his dream to success. The depth of their relationships is so well-known that this team is referred to as Walt’s “Nine Old Men.”

Know thyself - When we feel burnt out and stressed, it is difficult to accomplish anything , let alone remain resilient in the face of adversity. A key characteristic of resilient people is their self-awareness. This means knowing when they need time for self-care or nourishment for their emotional needs. It also means knowing their personal boundaries and limits, as well as knowing how to solve them.

Former President Barack Obama did something no other presidential hopeful did during his 2008 campaign. He knew he needed to bolster the younger demographic, but he wasn’t in tune with social media on a level that was required. He called on his friend Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder, to manage it instead. Through knowing and outsourcing his weakness, Obama outshone the competition.

Be adaptable - The ability to adapt is going to become more and more important. The rate at which technology is currently changing the world is unprecedented. The ability to adapt has been a constant in evolutionary terms, but instead of a slow and gradual process, today it must happen quickly in order to stay competitive and relevant.

Kodak is a great example. They went through many prosperous years as a provider of high-end film, but then the rest of the world went digital and Kodak failed to keep up. They eventually faded into obsolescence. Today, Kodak has adapted by announcing a cryptocurrency product, doubling the value of its shares practically overnight.

Keep a positive mindset – Positivity also provides the fuel to keep trying for success, even when the odds are not great. When Emily Blunt started acting, as a 14-year-old, she had a major stutter. She used to struggle just to sit and talk with someone, never mind performing on the big screen. She didn’t let that get in the way though. She stayed upbeat and soon discovered that when she tried faking accents or changing her voice for auditions, her stutter lessened. Today, she’s a Golden Globe nominated actress.

Be persistent – There’s a big difference between persistence and patience. Patience is passively waiting for things to happen, persistence is actively pushing towards your goal while waiting for better circumstances. In business this makes all the difference!

J.K. Rowling is a prime example. Despite the fact that her first Harry Potter novel received tons of rejections, she refused to give up. Before it was published, she couldn’t afford a computer or even to pay for photocopying, so she manually typed the hundreds of copies that were sent out. Rowling’s dogged persistence eventually paid off, making her one of the richest women in the world, and also one of the most charitable.

Communicate – Shutting down and holding stress internally is not good for you. Find a sounding board! Having someone to confide in is important. Just speaking about your situation out loud helps put your issues into perspective. And once you can put the problem into words, then you can talk about how to solve it.

In business and everything else in life, your resilience will be tested often. Like any other skill, the more practice you have, the better you become. While nobody wishes for hard times, there is simply no way to avoid them completely. So when this happens, take a deep breath and commit to progress and triumph, one day at a time.

As Henry Ford said, “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the  airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”

Sarah Pearce is a professional speaker, business coach, social strategist and author of Online Reputation: Your Most Valuable Asset in a Digital Age. 

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