In its simplest form, resiliency is putting one foot in front of the other when faced with a challenge.  It is learning to pivot and see opportunities in the challenges that face us.  However small the step, it’s making the choice to take it. But what makes some people more resilient than others? Is it an innate trait? A learned behavior? How can certain people overcome unthinkable situations while others can barely handle a hangnail?

I’ve recently witnessed resiliency in its most beautiful form… when it is a full expression of the wonderment of the human spirit. And in this observation, I recognized four factors within highly resilient people:

  • Relinquishing Control and Moving Toward Acceptance – It is only when we release control and come to acceptance that we can be truly resilient. When fighting for control, especially when it is slipping away, we are in a constricted state of resistance and there is no opportunity to grow (AKA be resilient). This constricted state, over time, can lead to anxiety, depression, dis-ease and that “glass half empty” kind of feeling.
  • Radical Acceptance – Once we accept the situation for what it is, we can begin problem solving in a constructive and responsive say. The most resilient people understand that life is full of the unexpected – sometimes bad, sometimes good – but they accept this fact as a part of life and take it on with curiosity, grace and humility.
  • Finding Humor – Incredibly resilient people allow and seek out humor in even the most egregious situations. It’s about being light without taking things lightly. Sure, there are scenarios where humor cannot be found, but it’s okay (and helpful!) to find a way to laugh and smile even through the worst of times. Laughter lowers the stress hormone cortisol and adrenaline levels… it really IS the best medicine!
  • Leaning Into Your Tribe – It’s an untruth that resiliency is a solo practice and up to an individual to “pull yourself up by the bootstraps.” Resiliency requires meaningful connection. Often times that first small step of putting one foot in front of the other equals making the choice to let others in.

From a business leadership perspective, many company cultures are not taking the necessary steps to help employees become more resilient. More important than a workshop or training teaching resiliency, a culture of resilience needs to be fostered from the top down. Leaders need to ask themselves these questions:

  • Do we have a culture where control can flow from one area to another, or is it tyrannical?
  • How well do we do when things do not go as planned? Do we see these situations as opportunities, or dwell in the past of how we wished things would have gone?
  • Do we promote laugher in our workplace? Do we purposely plan activities and events that foster laugher and light-heartedness?
  • How connected are we? Do our people feel a true sense of community, or are we siloed? This goes beyond “working well together.” Is there an actual kinship?

The most difficult times open us up to discover the remarkable human spirit. What brilliant surprises can we uncover from the challenges we are facing? The spectacular nature of the human spirit is POWER, and resiliency is the conduit and the outcome of this power.