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Resilience – A Skill for Success

Resilience.  Its a word I hadn’t thought much about until I attended a training on it.  A training? For resilience?  Really?  Yes, really.  Often in Extension we use the word resilience in relation to insect pests and diseases, but today we are looking at it as a personal trait. Considering the social and political climate we find ourselves in, I feel like it is a good time to examine the topic. Resilience isn’t just an ability, it is a skill.  And a skill that can be cultivated, nurtured and improved.  Let me explain.

What is Resilience?

So, resilience is the ability to deal with high levels of challenge. Resilient people can deal with difficult situations more skillfully, and grow stronger from them. Years ago I heard a story about a business man who stopped for lunch at a beach access one day. After enjoying his meal at a picnic table watching the waves, he returns to the parking lot to find a flat tire on his car.  He goes off! He yells, kicks the car, rants and raves.  A passing surfer carrying his board toward the beach sees it happening and says, “Acknowledge man, move on.” Resilience is our ability to do just that.  

Just think about it: entrepreneurs have to be some of the most resilient people we know. This is a class of people that make a habit of seeing opportunity where others see roadblocks. Entrepreneurs love the challenge of starting something new and making it grow. Farmers and gardeners are pretty resilient too, if you look at it that way.

Where Does Resilience Come From?

To be resilient, we need to develop a growth mindset, according to Dr. Ed Osborne, a professor with the University of Florida’s IFAS Ag Ed & Communication Department. He’s been researching resilience for more than a decade now. He says a growth mindset is cultivated early in life from messages that we receive about ourselves from the world around us. Being given responsibility during our formative years helps with that. Solving problems and experiencing setbacks are part of this growth as well. Throughout our lives, continuing our learning proves critical for resilience development.  You can see resilience in others when they embrace challenges and show they can learn from criticism. Resilient people tend to be more optimistic, healthier and happier than those with a fixed mindset.

How Do You Develop Resilience?

Luckily for those of us who may not have been born resilient, we can develop the skill.  You can flex your resilience muscles!  The best part is, you don’t have to go to the gym!  So, to develop your positivity muscle, do little things like celebrating special events (Yay – I remembered to put out the trash bins today!). Pull out the positives in difficult circumstances.  For example, you got a flat tire? Well, now you finally get to put that AAA membership to use! Or maybe you are grateful to have found a shady spot for changing the tire.  Taking time to work on your goals is important too. This will help you plan your time, get organized and eliminate distractions.  You may have to practice saying no – its not a bad thing.

Resilience is cultivated through positive social interactions. Clicking ‘like’ on a social media site doesn’t cut it, though.  Take the time to seek other people’s opinions and resist judgement.  Ask for help and, in turn, be helpful. Also, don’t be stingy with compliments – people love to hear something positive about themselves.

Finally, recognize that your energy levels effect your resilience.  Maintain your physical energy with proper nutrition, exercise and sufficient rest. Don’t forget your spiritual energy either.  You might look for deeper meaning, adopt a belief system or simply volunteer somewhere to cultivate your spiritual energy. A big boost to your emotional energy comes from reducing time with negative people! Take time to focus, declutter, reflect, and even play sometimes for your mental health.

Now that we both know how important personal resilience is in relation to our success and well-being, I expect to hear more compliments from you! And you can expect the same from me!