March 20, 2014


Resilience is a gift in life.  It helps us recover quickly from the inevitable ups and downs that occur – a failed interview, the loss of a job, an illness, or worst of all - the loss of a family member.   We all need to learn resilience to regain the happiness and joy in life after something bad happens.

Webster’s defines resilience as the property of material that enables it to regain its original shape after being bent, stretched or compressed.   So it is with humans.  Everyone has disappointments in life.  It is how we recover our shape and balance that really matters.

Resilient people manage to shake off the bad and recover their sense of self - fairly rapidly.

I encountered two job seekers who had experienced recent failure.  Both were discouraged.  After one bad interview, the first person wanted to just give up and take a menial job rather than pursuing a professional level job any further.  He had done poorly in the interview and felt awful.  The other had had so many rejections he was in a serious depression – letting his appearance go and discontinuing any job seeking effort at all.  In the process he was letting go his dreams of being an engineer after just three months of looking.

This is not good.  We are in a relatively good economy where there is a real demand for the talents these young people possess.  Attitude affects behavior.  When a person gives up on the future it is self-destructive.  Accepting failure as a final destination is really not a good option.

NPR recently did a story on child educators who are focusing on the idea of resilience…  teaching children “grit” - the ability to overcome failure or adversity and learn from it, rather than becoming discouraged. 

I have often heard it said that we learn more from our failures than from our successes.  I have also heard it said that things happen for a reason… It may not seem possible in the midst of a crisis but over time it becomes obvious.

People encounter adversity not because they are bad or careless, but because stuff happens that cannot be controlled.  We cannot control what happens, but we can control how we react to it.  If you think that a rejection or failure is the worst thing that ever happened, it will be.  If instead you think of it as an opportunity to improve or challenge yourself, it will be. 

It is easier to get on with the next thing in life if you view bad happenings as something you can overcome. 

Career growth, like a lot of things in life, requires resilience, agility, flexibility, and a positive attitude. 

A friend of mine was rejected for a job a while back.  He was disappointed but he didn’t let it paralyze him.  He grew in many ways – stepping back and working on things he was passionate about – building relationships, expanding a program, doing yoga, and developing a reputation for excellence.  Now as he enters the last phase of his career, he has a position that is so much better and so much richer because he is so much better as a person and as a professional.

Time to regain your happy!