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Resilience is often talked about as an ability to bounce back and keep going (think of a bar, bent under pressure, but returning to its original state when the pressure is released).

It’s a pretty natural human quality that we all have. Granted, some people seem to have, or at least show, enormous resilience in coming through great adversity and hardship. Think of Sir Ernest Shackleton, or five-time Olympian Dame Katherine Grainger (check their stories).

But resilience is something we can learn, particularly as we learn to deal with life’s inevitable ups and downs - like a tough medical diagnosis, a financial scam or a family bereavement.

All my studies and conversations about resilience can be summarised by seeing it as having three parts:

  1. Facing the reality of the situation – not seeing it through rose-tinted spectacles or trying to brush it under the carpet.
  2. Somehow deriving some learning or meaning from what is happening.
  3. The capacity for coping and moving on. Not getting stuck in the face of the reality, but acting in some way, to go forward (mentally or practically). To quote Churchill, “if you’re going through hell, keep going”!

Past experiences - setbacks and failures - can be extremely useful learning experiences to grow personal and organisational resilience. (How did you keep moving forwards?)

Keep Learning!

Sir Ernest Shackleton – Anglo-Irish Explorer

Dame Katherine Grainger

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