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HomemilastwordThe Last Word: What Doesn’t Kill You!

The Last Word: What Doesn’t Kill You!

If there’s one thing that is certain about the future, it is that it will surprise us. We can’t be sure how, or where, or when… but sooner or later we’ll all be blindsided by someone or something. None of us are immune.

Sometimes the unexpected obstacle is a personal and intensely private event. Sometimes it touches many of us at once. Recent natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and bushfires fall into this category. Sometimes it is professional, impacting on the capacity of our business to survive. Sometimes it is something we have brought on ourselves. Many times it is not. Ever wondered how some people trip and fall at the smallest speed bump, while others seem to overcome major hurdles seemingly unscathed?

The key is resilience. Resilience is an individual’s tendency to cope with stress and adversity. Resilience can help us to ‘bounce back’ to normal. It may even produce a ‘steeling effect’, allowing us to function better and achieve more than we could before the crisis hits. A Japanese proverb sums up resilience this way: “Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

Recently, I spoke with an acquaintance whose life has been touched with intense grief that shattered him, his family and his marriage. Resilience pulled them through this period and his marriage and family are stronger for it.

When it was all he could do to survive, the tough decisions were already made…

This man attributes his survival to the fact that many of his core principles, values and goals were settled ahead of time, before life’s curveball struck. When it was all he could do to survive, the tough decisions were already made, allowing him to function on autopilot.

While his life plan was personal in nature, similar strategies apply in business. When business is going well, take the opportunity to examine its strength and weaknesses, the risks and opportunities. Settle your goals ahead of time, while building in systems that are sufficiently flexible to accommodate failure.

Albert Einstein valued failure as an opportunity. He said: “a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” It’s hard to believe that basketball icon Michael Jordan was rejected after trying out for his varsity basketball team in his sophomore year. He said: “If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” His attitude and resilience saw him become arguably the greatest basketball player of all time.

No one is born with resilience; it’s a process – one that can be learnt. Here are some tips1 on how to build resilience into our professional and private lives:

1. Maintain good relationships family, friends and others

2. Avoid seeing a crisis or stressful event as an unbearable problem

3. Accept circumstances that cannot be changed

4. Develop realistic goals and move towards them

5. Take decisive action in adverse situations

6. Look for opportunities after a struggle with loss

7. Develop self-confidence

8. Keep a long-term perspective

9. Maintain a hopeful outlook

10. Take care of yourself – mentally, physically and spiritually.


1.‘10 Ways to Build Resilience’ from the American Psychological Association