Recently, one of my friend shared a video that was a true inspiration. It’s in Hindi but you can follow the subtitles and still capture the essence of this beautiful emotional message. It’s about Arunima Sinha, an Indian sports woman and a mountain climber. In 2011, she was attacked by robbers who wanted to snatch away her belongings and while fighting with them, she was pushed from a running train, resulting in a full-leg amputation. She shares her long road to recovery and how she relied on her resilience to not only bounce back but achieve the impossible by climbing Mount Everest within 2 years from her leg amputation. With an audacious goal to climb the highest peaks in all the continents, she has already climbed several peaks with only a few more to go.
How do some people not only bounce back, but become stronger and achieve remarkable success in facing adversity, while some succumb to the relentless tug of gravity and spiral into a deep black hole of negative circumstances and never bounce back?
The one word answer to that is “Resilience” Resilience is the ability to bounce back or recover when faced with challenging or difficult situations. Unlike the popular belief, research has proven that Resilience is not always an innate capacity you’re born with, it can also be developed.
I am going to share with you the concept penned by psychologist Susan Kobasa on how to build resilience. She shares that there are 3 elements that are essential to building and developing Resilience: Challenge, Commitment and Control.
Challenge is all about our mindset. How do you respond when you are facing a difficult situation? Dealing with a loss of a loved one, or personal serious health conditions, financial stress or job loss? Viewing adversity as a challenge or as an opportunity to rise is a key element of building resilience.
Another key element of resilience is commitment: a strong sense of purpose and meaning for life. Resilient people are committed to not only their work, but also care deeply about their relationships, impact on society and commitment to leading a purposeful and meaningful life. Commitment enables them to remain grounded in their authentic self and moving forward even during turbulent times.
A key characteristic of resilient people is their ability to focus on the things that they can control and not worry about the things outside of their control. I love Stephen Covey’s tool where you are primarily focusing on expanding your circle of influence and the things you can control rather than dwelling on the things you can’t control.
Are you interested in finding out how Resilient you are? Don’t wait, take this free quick online assessment offered by Harvard Business Review.
Now that you’ve done the assessment, do you want to improve your resilience or take it to the next level? Read along for some tips and techniques to develop each of these elements to build Resiliency.
How to build challenge
Growth mindset: Growth mindset is based on the idea that we all have the ability to learn and master any skill with hard work and effort. So, learning, experimenting, being open to failure become the corner stones for individual growth. When we see failures are learning opportunities, the potential is limitless.
5 Second rule: This concept shared by Mel Robbins in her book The 5 second rule offers some great tips. I’m going to share two of them. First: Anxiety, self-doubt, fear and all the negative emotions are quite common when facing a challenging or uncertain situation. The key would be to move forward and spring into action in spite of it. She explains that you have a 5 second window to take action when you have an instinct to act on a goal. If you don’t take action in five seconds, your brain literally stops you from taking action. So, next time you are scared or have self-doubt, still count 5-4-3-2-1 and move forward into taking action! Second: How we react or feel when we are nervous is the same feeling we get when we are excited. This was such an eye-opener for me! If you are nervous about a situation (public speaking, taking an exam, presenting to senior leaders), then simply trick your mind by thinking “ I am excited” instead of thinking “I am nervous” Try it next time and see the difference for yourself!
Positive Thinking: This tip sounds so simple and is wildly popular. Positive emotions and finding positive meaning in any circumstance is critical to how we handle the myriad of situations life throws at us. This research paper shows that when a problem is seen as a challenge to be met and overcome; when we find positive meaning in a difficult circumstance: we tend to easily bounce back from negative emotions and focus on taking positive action.
Set a goal: When faced with adversity or a major disruption, setting goals gives us a sense of normalcy and anchors us to our core values and what we are trying to accomplish.
How to build commitment
Find your purpose: Self awareness and self reflection are vital in order to find your true purpose. Read my blog post on this topic and do the activity to reflect on your purpose and meaning.
Build a strong inner self: Self concept and believing in yourself is another key way to build resilience. How do you do that? It’s simple: set goals, take action, invest in yourself, learn new things, learn from failures and move forward. Oftentimes, we don’t take action (apply for a promotion, start a business, write a book) because we are worried about what others would think of us if we fail. Inner self gets stronger and more committed when we stop worrying about how others would judge us.
Take care of health and well-being: You’ve heard this time and again but it’s so true: You cannot pour from an empty cup! Taking care of our body, mind and spirit is not only needed, but we should see this as our duty to protect our inner empire! Tune in to your fitness routine and nutrition to ensure that you’re taking care of yourself. This is a building block to grow the resilience muscle.
Relationships: Surround yourself with positive people- who inspire you, challenge you and support you in your journey. Invest your valuable time in building strong relationships with family, friends and society. At the end of the day, strong relationships offer fulfillment and provide a deep sense of meaning.
How to build Control
Gratitude Practice: Gratitude practice is a game-changer when it comes to building your control. Finding and acknowledging the things you’re grateful for, gives you a sense of control and also allows you to reflect on the things you have versus focusing on the things you don’t have.
Meditation, Mindfulness Practice: Meditation allows you to better connect with your inner self and is a great way to lower stress levels. Being mindful offers you the gift of giving undivided attention to others and to be in the moment rather than allowing our minds to wander in several directions.
Set boundaries: Setting boundaries and following through on commitments in all aspects of your life including to yourself is key to building a sense of control. Sometimes, it might mean prioritizing your family time or sometimes it might mean giving your undivided attention to the project that needs to get done at work.
Spiritual Practice:Believing in a power higher than yourself is common in many spiritual practices and typically helps you ground yourself and supports with finding an overarching meaning in life. If you have a spiritual practice, tapping into this energy can help with building resiliency.
Are you ready to take it to the next level and do a self reflection activity to tackle your individual circumstance and come up with a game plan to overcome it? Subscribe to my blog posts to receive a free "How to build Resilience activity guide".