7 ways to be more resilient
Walt Disney was once told he lacked imagination and good ideas. As a result, he gave up animation and went in to accountancy. Well, obviously, he didn’t. Nor did Oprah Winfrey, JK Rowling or Richard Branson when they were fired, rejected or went bust.
1. Don’t forgo other important skills
A few years ago, I wrote a book called The Recipe For Success (A&C Black, £8.99), where I interviewed various influential people and asked them what it took to be successful. The results were surprising. Good manners came out consistently as being important. The ability to build trust (and be someone who trusts others) was also mentioned by many of my interviewees.
2. Develop a steely determination
Successful people aren’t just lucky. They have, running through their core, a rod of steel and despite numerous setbacks, this steely determination does not bend or break. My interviews showed being resilient was far more important than talent or intelligence when it came to being able to predict who would succeed at whatever they chose to do.
3. Grit will help you go far
The University of Pennsylvania led a series of experiments into what they called ‘grit’ – a belief that ‘gritty’ people are more likely to achieve success in school, work and other areas because their passion and commitment help them cope with setbacks. In one case, they measured which candidates were most likely to survive the first year of training at US military academy, West Point.
All 1223 cadets due to enter the class of 2008 were asked to complete a ‘grit’ survey. It turned out that high-school class rankings, SAT scores, athletic experience and faculty appraisal scores were nowhere near as accurate a predictor of who would make it as the ‘grit’ study.
4. Know that good academic results don’t determine resilience
Resilience isn’t taught at school. Instead, success is measured by grades. The ‘effort’ in my school reports didn’t really matter if the grade was high. Equally, if the grade was low, it didn’t matter if I was trying my hardest.
So, while good academic results may show you were good at your studies, they don’t show if you can cope in the real world when things go wrong, you face a challenge, experience bad luck or are criticised by others.
5. Allow yourself to fail
Next time something goes wrong and you want to give up, have another go. Remember that everyone who ever achieved anything failed first. Think about the low and high points in your life. Often you’ll notice that a low was followed by a high – for instance, maybe you lost your job and it was awful for a while, but then you found a job you liked even more.
6. Develop an ‘internal locus of control’
Keep in mind, when things go badly, they often turn around. Develop ‘an internal locus of control’, which means taking responsibility, however things turn out. See the part you played and look for the positive lesson to take forward in life.
7. Keep inspirational quotes
There are thousands of quotes on the web from writers, politicians, sportspeople and business leaders who express beautifully the power of failure and the importance of resilience. Have a look yourself if you need a boost, but this is one of my favourites from Sir Winston Churchill: ‘Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.’