Have you ever wanted to give up? I have. Many times. Any time I face challenges and the end result is unclear, I am tempted to quit. Any time I am tempted to quit, I think about the importance of resilience.
No business, no family, no cause, nothing worthwhile is easy. All worthwhile endeavors have periods of challenge that make us wonder if it’s worth it. We won’t accomplish anything worthwhile without resilience.
I’m blessed to be surrounded by incredible examples of resilience. Many of my colleagues have faced and continue to face incredible resistance to their goals. But they don’t give up. They keep pushing. They inspire me to keep pushing.
Like any character trait, resilience comes more easily to some than others, but it can be learned. Chances are, the most resilient people you’ve observed built their resilience over time as they faced and overcame challenges.
Here are 4 ways to become more resilient:
1. Gain experience over time (and start young)
You can build resilience at any stage of your life, but it helps to start young. Over time, whether or not you’ve always been a model of resilience, you will recognize patterns. You will notice good things only come into people’s lives after pushing through challenges.
Why do many parents spend so much time and money on youth sports? Only a small percentage of athletes get college sports scholarships, and an even smaller percentage are able to retire on pro earnings.
Sports give kids something fun to do and keep them out of trouble, but I believe building resilience is one of the biggest benefits of youth sports. This resilience can benefit the rest of their lives.
I distinctly remember being at the end of close high school basketball and football games. I’m so exhausted I can hardly see straight. I want it to be over, but I can’t give up. I have to play my heart out until the buzzer goes, or I will let down my team and our fans. If I give up, the coach probably won’t give me the chance to play in a close game again (or any game!).
Parents who want to raise kids to become great adults should look for ways to teach their kids resilience. Sports aren’t the only way. Music, theater, service, school work, and part-time employment, for example, can all help.
2. Level your emotions
Sometimes we want to give up because we can’t handle the emotional roller coaster. I wrote a previous post about how to level the roller coaster.
Life is never as bad as we feel during down moments and never as good as we feel during high moments.
Our emotions are coded for survival. The fight or flight response is meant to keep us alive in life or death moments. In our day we rarely face such moments, but our ingrained emotional response can make tough situations feel like life and death. This is a good thing if it motivates us to do all we can to get through the situation, but we shouldn’t let fear become debilitating.
Controlling our emotions can be difficult, but it helps to take a step back and think about why we’re feeling a certain way at a given moment.
3. Talk about your feelings
It can help to talk through our feelings.
We can talk to someone removed from the situation. Whoever you talk to might have some objective advice for handling the situation. They may give you the encouragement you need to keep going. Just having a listening ear might be enough. Sometimes expressing our thoughts out loud helps us recognize when we’re thinking irrationally.
Talking to someone involved in the situation can help provide perspective. They may correct misconceptions you have about the situation. They may have additional information or insight that you weren’t aware of.
We should be careful not to discourage those around us, especially if we are in a leadership position, but healthy relationships and a healthy culture should allow for free expression of our feelings.
4. Intentionally practice resilience
Michael Hyatt has mentioned on his podcast the story of his friend who runs marathons. He ran the Boston Marathon with his daughter, who asked at mile 21, “Dad, please remind me: why are we running this stupid race?” He replied, "Because we are practicing not quitting."
We can choose to participate in activities that allow us to practice resilience. Maybe marathons are not your thing, but you can find other ways to practice resilience. Choose to take on a challenge in your career that scares you. Commit to a demanding role in a non-profit organization.
Resilience is an essential character trait for those who want to accomplish important things in their life. Nothing worthwhile comes without challenges, and the resilient push through challenges and enjoy the rewards.
Question: How do you build resilience?