Resilience is one’s ability to bounce back after adversity. One cannot go through life with experiencing tragedy, adversity, stress, illness, loss, and pain. Resilience means having the capacity to cope and adapt in a positive manner to otherwise negative events.
Almost every major study on the importance of resiliency points out that positive and loving relationships are one of the most important factors of minimizing the negative effects of stress, tragedy, and adversity.
So…what are the top 10 ways to build your resilience?
I recently learned the importance of Awareness to learning new things. Add a touch of emotional context or personal experience and the learning accelerates. How do I know this to be true. Because of an experience I have had during the month of April.
First, prior to this year, South Africa was just a spot on the world map to me. I had never experienced anything regarding the country and particularly it’s history. And, I am certain that their were TV shows about South Africa and it’s history as well as magazine articles focused on it’s current and past history. But, with no personal involvement it did not register with me.
Second, this month I made a trip to Cape Town, South Africa for the Global Speakers Summit. This was the starting point for awaking my world as to what South Africa was all about – and importance of Nelsen Mandela to the world. My experiences in Cape Town were outstanding.This led to a new understanding of the importance of South Africa and the influence of one man – Nelsen Mandela. A true leader of men, who dealt with more adversity that anyone – yet, survived the ordeal to emerge as a great leader of people.
Third, since going to Cape Town my awareness of South Africa has increased dramatically. And, due to this factor, I am aware of the numerous articles about South Africa, the current election status, the election of a new leader, and a history channel biography on Nelsen Mandela. The cable show detailed the life history of Nelsen Mandela and filled in the blanks that were missing after my trip to Cape Town.
Finally, why would this be important to YOU. Good question with a good answer. There are four key learning points from this story:
- Awareness – is the starting point of new learning. You suddenly become sensitive to new information and experiences you have encountered. Personalized knowledge also leads to the internalization of information which creates new wisdom in your thoughts and actions.
- Adversity – is something that the great leaders learn to deal with during their earlier years. How to overcome the external issues and conditions by remaining true to your internal values and principles. Mandela experienced more adversity than anyone, yet, remained true to his principles of fair play and equal rights. He envisioned a true democracy for South Africa where all people (white and black) were equal and no one had absolute power over others.
- Leadership – is a trait that is earned using personal strength rather than a position or title. True leadership is about having principles that are based upon doing the right things all the time. This focus on the higher good for the country, organization or group is more important than personal gain.
- Learning – is the pathway to new wisdom. Thinking or reflective thought is the key to future growth for an individual or leader. New knowledge leads to an expansion of ideas, thoughts, and most importantly – understanding. Life is a continuous learning process. Take time to study, read and discuss new ideas or information.
Use your life experiences to expand your world view and understanding of your role in life. Great leaders have experienced great adversity at some point in their life and have learned from the experience. Taking complete responsibility for their thoughts and actions, true leaders remain humble and focused upon the greater good of the whole. If more leaders had this trait, we would be a better world.
Adversity is a good thing for people. It provides an opportunity for the development of character and a solution orientated thinking. Now, this was not the way I felt about things early in my career. In fact, I, like most people felt that adversity was a bad thing and usually lead to higher levels of conflict with others.
However, as I experienced more events – including numerous periods of adversity – I learned that events come and go. How we deal with the adversity is the key element to our future growth. In fact, character growth has a direct relationship with great leadership.
Great leadership is tracked by how well a leader handles situations and events – negative or positive. This characteristic came to light as I experienced situations as a turnaround advisor during early 1980’s and found leaders facing total loss of their business. The ability to commit and focus upon getting the company back in good condition was a limiting factor with the leaders. Some leaders learned how to deal with the adversity, accept responsibility for their part of the situation and then focus on the correction process. Others were into the blame game – it was not their fault – it was their customers, their employees, the government, the stars and planets, etc.
One thing is certain, great leaders learn to deal with adversity and look for advantages and opportunities to improve and grow. As we deal with the current economic crisis, it is time to allow our character to strengthen. Keep integrity at the top of the priority list. Take responsibility for all your actions. Use positive self-talk to reinforce your mental edge to deal with difficult times. Encourage others to continue to focus upon performance levels and things will work out in the long term.
Finally, enjoy life to the fullest and live with purpose of thought and actions. Situations and events come to strengthen our resolve and help us to build our character to a higher level.
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