Resilience: The Key Ingredient Of Success
If I only had one strength that I could choose, I would choose resilience.Resilience is the shock absorber for tough times, and there surely will be tough times occasionally. The only people who don’t experience bumpy waters are people who are not doing anything.
The rest of us are out there trying to do outsized things and that, by definition is fraught with danger and the very real possibility of failure. Sometimes that failure is public. Sometimes it’s private. But either way, it always hurts.
And, when it stings like that it is hard not to think about giving up, no matter how brave we are or how committed. Heartbreak can send us into a tailspin emotionally. Resilience is the tool that helps us level off and find smooth air and keep flying. Without it every failure would stop us dead in our tracks.
I loved Angela Duckworth’s book, Grit. Her thesis is really powerful: No matter our backgrounds or educational institution or family or how we were brought up, only one thing truly determines our success or failure in this life. It’s the ability to finish.
Resilience is the key to finishing. It shows up in our self-talk. When we fail there are always people around us who feel bad for us and some of them, though well meaning, might even suggest that we abandon our mission and find another one, one that is less difficult and less risky. That’s when we should begin to talk to ourselves about all of it. Cue the Rocky music! We can do this! While we pick ourselves up off the mat you can almost see our lips moving as we deliver the internal speech that helps reset us, that reminds us that we are just the right person (maybe even the only person) who can get this done.
Another key to resilience is to find at least one other person who believes that we can do it, whatever it is. You know who I am talking about. These are true believers. They don’t roll their eyes when you say you are planning to (fill in the blank here with the requisite over-the-moon task). Yes, they’ll be honest, but what they really want to do is to look you straight in the eye and tell you how great you are and how you can finish the task. I love those people! And, I have to say that I have had more than my share of them though the years.
One time, back when I first began my speaking career, I spoke at a big Inc. Magazine event. The attendees were told to rank all the speakers at the event when it was over. I found out that I was dead last! I was embarrassed and I started second guessing myself a little. It shook me. Rattled, I called a good friend, one of those people who really believed in me but who I knew wouldn’t spare my feelings to tell the unvarnished truth. He suggested that I take myself to the woodshed and spend some time thinking about what went wrong and get busy fixing it. No mention of quitting or walking away. Not once.
I did exactly that and a couple of years later I mustered up my courage to go back to the very same guy who booked me in the Inc. event before. When I called him, I got a very nice surprise. He told me that he had been hearing great things lately about a speaker out there on the circuit. That speaker? Me.
I went back and hit it out of the park.
That was a great lesson for me. I came from some pretty small beginnings, but I have always stretched myself to do more and be more. Today I have written six books and I am a board member of a NYSE company. From where I started that would have been unthinkable.
But here’s why it happened. I was relentless. I figured out my mission and I never stopped pursuing it, even to this day. I have weathered some wicked storms along the way.
Resilience has been my shelter. Make it yours too. Stay with it. Fix your self-talk so that if nobody else is around you can make yourself believe that it’s all okay and that you can still win. Find at least one friend who feels the same way.
Then, get going. It’s a great big world out there. It needs what you have to offer. Make a difference, because you can.