The Power of Resilience

Resilience is a word that has come up very often in the last few weeks. Talking to a parent, a student or even an executive, I found myself reminding them of their inner strength, one I called resilience.

This ability to bend and not break. To carry on despite the hardship. To find the courage to rebuild themselves after incredibly difficult moments.

There is a proper definition of resilience: (Merriam-Webster)

1 : the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2 : an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

What was truly surprising to me was the reaction those people had when I mentioned it.

Surprise then denial.

As if for some reasons, being resilient, being strong was a bad word, an insult of sort.

And in reality, in a weird way, it was to them.

In a way, those people got attached to their story of hardship, of always struggling against the world, that they “liked” to think that they are always the unlucky ones. It is their identity.

And they could not see that in that struggle, in that hard time, they have shown their true colours. They showed up time and again.

They were and still are real Heroes!

But they don’t feel like one.

Because in the collective imagination, heroes are strong and invincible and they can only see that they “almost” fail, that they struggled so much to come out of the situation. They CAN NOT be heroes.

In their mind, it should have been easy to overcome their problems. So they can not focus on the fact that they have succeeded, they can only focus on the struggles to get there.

Is it logical? Not really, but it is extremely human!

The human mind is wired to think of the negative, to focus on what went wrong, so that we can learn from our mistakes and increase our chance of survival moving forward.

But if we remain stuck on the negative and we don’t move forward, there is no lesson. There is only stress.

By pointing out to my clients, their incredible quiet strength, their resilience, I offered to look at their situation from a different perspective. Maybe a more positive outlook. It did not change their situation. The parent is still overwhelmed by the kid’s situation. The student is still facing exams at the end of the year and the board of directors will still be asking hard questions to the executive no doubt. But rather than thinking of themselves as losers, weak and underachieving, by pointing out their power, their resilience, I encourage them to change the way they see themselves.

We all know the power of words and the energy (positive or negative) that can be associated with a  simple word. By pointing out their resilience in those difficult situations, by highlighting that they were powerful in a quiet way, I forced them to look at their situation from a position of strength.

From that position of strength, their outlook was completely different. Being certain that they would succeed once again no matter what opened their mind to other possibilities. Rather than thinking about the hardship ahead of them, they could focus on their goals and could become creative once again.

While for some, being resilient is a sign of weakness, I truly believe that the true heroes are the people who go the distance. Who don’t give up at the smallest obstacles, who rise time and again despite the odds.

So many people say I don’t have a choice, and I would argue, that we always have a choice and every time they decide to not give up and try again, THEY make a choice: To be strong.

And there is so much power in that realisation.

People move from being a victim to being confident and empowered.

And in that state, the sky is the limit!

The difficulty is to stay in that state and to remember that they have not failed so far, they are not going to fail now.


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