RESILIENCE: Growing Through Challenges
In the last issue, I discussed the relationship between stress and performance. I suggested that stress can be both positive and negative. Positive stress helps to motivate us to seek direction and pursuits in life, and this results in positive feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. Negative stress arises when situations or challenges seem beyond our ability to control or manage. At the mild end are everyday challenges in relationships, work, study, etc. At the extreme end are big challenges that often involve a lot of uncertainty, confusion, disappointment and setbacks. In this article, I discuss how resilience can help to not only manage challenges better but also to achieve growth along the way.
In a nutshell, resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and challenges. People with higher resilience tend to see challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. This gives a person more staying power, helping to work through difficulties and setbacks long enough to experience the results on the other side. This helps to lay down positive memories of past setbacks, which motivates people to move toward challenges, rather than avoid them.
People with lower resilience tend to regard challenges as worst-case scenarios. This can reinforce a sense of low confidence and “what’s the point of trying”, which motivates people to avoid challenges. As a result, they have more negative memories around situations that make them feel uncomfortable or distressed.
Resilience builds confidence, which in turn helps to maintain a positive outlook, and a sense of hope that things can change for the better.
In early resilience research, resilience was regarded as part of a person’s character or personality, something a person either has or doesn’t have. In recent years resilience has also come to be regarded as a skill, not just a personality trait. This means that resilience can be learned.
Resilience is not just one thing – it involves six skills:
Vision: Acts like a compass, to help provide purpose and direction. Vision doesn’t have to be about big dreams. It’s about using goals to stay motivated to keep going. This provides a sense of control.
Composure: Involves finding calm even if difficult situations, being able to recognise stress, regulate emotions and manage negative environments
Reasoning: Involves problem-solving, seeking opportunities in challenges, being ready to change plans if needed
Tenacity: Involves perseverance, avoiding self-judgment and learning from successes and setbacks
Collaboration: Involves being able and willing to reach out to others for support, rather than isolating from others
Health: Involves maintaining healthy habits in exercise, nutrition and sleep
At work, resilience enhances the performance-stress curve (see June issue). At the low end, you can better self-motivate through your own goals. If you are in overload, using resilience skills helps you recover and move back to your peak performance zone.
Resilience helps us through small and big challenges in life - creating experiences that provide positive memories for facing future challenges. No matter your age and stage of life, you can improve your resilience.