Possessing resilience means you have the ability to bounce back from adversity or failure and respond positively. Studies show that having this trait is absolutely crucial when it comes to being able to successfully navigate life, work and relationships.
To that end, we’ve been studying the “secret sauce” to resilience for decades. Developmental psychologist Emily Wenner has studied resilience in children over the span of 33 years, and what she found is that what consistently sets resilient children apart from the ones who aren’t is a clear sense of autonomy and independence. Even moreso, resilient children possess what psychologists refer to as an “internal locus of control.” Meaning they believe they determine their own fates.
The trait of resilience plays out significantly over a lifetime. Resilient people are able to respond to stressful and traumatic events in a way that construes personal meaning, like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg managed to when her husband abruptly died in 2015. In fact, Sandberg felt compelled to impart what she learned from Martin Seligman, a pioneer in positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, which ultimately became part of her book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, about her journey through grief using resiliency and grit.
The good news is that if you have resilience -- great. Your optimism and feeling of self-efficacy will continue to serve you well. And if you’re less than resilient, don’t despair. It’s a set of skills that can absolutely be learned. Seligman has devoted part of his academia to teaching the cognitive skills that underpin resilience, such as changing the way we think from global to specific (“Everything is horrible” to “Today’s meeting went poorly”) and permanent to impermanent (“I will always feel this bad” to “Feeling bad is normal and eventually I will feel better”).
That said, it’s good to know where you stand on the resiliency scale -- and where you could improve. Check out the next five slides to get a gauge on your resiliency strength.