No you don’t need something bad to happen to build your resilience

So many people believe that you can’t really build resilience until you have experienced a major setback. The good news is that isn’t true. No two brains are created the same, which means that some people are naturally going to be more optimistic and resilient than others. And thanks to neuroscience we know that brains are able to be re-wired so that resilience can be built even if it doesn’t come naturally to you.

A major setback is more like an event that you train for

So let’s take a step back and define resilience. Generally speaking, it’s the ability to be able to suffer a setback and then mentally move back to the position you were in and hopefully be in an even stronger mental position than you were before the setback. And the more resilient you are the more quickly you will be able to do this.

Now let’s face it, suboptimal things are going to happen in our lives, some quite serious and others just might seem bad if you don’t have good resilience levels in place to start with. For example, we coach a lot of sales teams around resilience and they have minor setbacks all the time. Every time a client or prospect doesn’t return a phone call can seem like a setback if you don’t have the resilience in place to start with.

So it’s important to think of a setback more like an event that you train for, rather than waiting for the event until you start training. In other words, waiting for a setback to build resilience is like waiting for marathon day to start training.

So don’t wait for the setback to be the catalyst to build resilience – that’s the time when you put your resilience skills that you should have already built to the test.

A few ways to start building resilience

Now your wiring won’t change overnight and it depends on the state of your current wiring. The stronger your negative wiring is, the longer this could take. Neuroscience teaches us that we can’t undo existing wiring – we need to create new wiring so there is no time to waste!

Positive psychology studies have shown that if you increase your optimism and accountability you increase your resilience so here are some ways to get you started…

What went well –  Martin Seligman coined the activity “what went well” and there are variations on this such as keeping a gratitude journal. Whatever works for you to get your brain thinking more positively. Basically once each day, write down 3 things that have gone well for you that day or that you are grateful for.

#crushinglife – We can trick our brains to build optimism by getting excited by the tiny things and making them seem bigger than they really are. Got a great carpark? #crushinglife. Snagged the last block of your favourite cheese at the supermarket? #crushinglife. You needed a particular report at work and your colleague got it to you on time? #crushinglife. Your luggage arrived at the baggage carousel? #crushinglife……..You get the idea.

Be accountable – This one’s big and simply telling someone to be accountable rarely achieves accountability. Tools are required to help people to fully implement a culture where they are in control of every response they have to every situation that’s thrown at them. Start this one by adopting a no excuses approach to everything you do.

Optimism, accountability and ultimately resilience doesn’t just build itself, so if you would like to know more about how you can build all of these for a high performance mindset please do get in touch. Our workshops and 1:1 coaching can be tailored to suit your needs.


If you’d like to find out more, join the conversation in our next open workshop.