What makes you stronger-the value of Resilience

As a boomer, I often get chided for talking about how things were in my childhood. You have heard the stories; walked uphill to school both going and returning, had limited resources, etc. While some of this might be a little overblown, some of it is true and the presence of challenge and adversity in my life is one of the things that has made me who I am today. The fact that I have overcome challenges also makes me a stronger version of who I am than I might have been had I not dealt with some of those circumstances.

Merriam Webster defines Resilience in this manner:

  1. the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
  2. an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

While these definitions also consider material and physical resilience, my intent is to talk more about mental resilience that occurs when we are challenged or undergo a considerable amount of stress. Let me share a few times that has occurred for me:

  1. In 1989 I was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer-fortunately I had a less aggressive type and the long term challenges have been fewer
  2. In 1983 my father died at age 59-one week prior to this I was part of a reduction in force from my first job-one month later my wife graduated from college and we moved that afternoon-three months later we moved again and I started a new job

I’ll stop with those, but in hindsight those circumstances helped me be stronger now. At the time I remember going through a wide range of emotions and even some physical stress, but several factors helped me persist through the difficult situations. I’ll start with some of those coping mechanisms today and circle back with more in a follow-up post. Here are some of the things that helped me:

  1. supportive spouse, friends, and family
  2. prayer and faith in God
  3. exercise
  4. a positive mental outlook

I could add one or two more to this list, but these are the key factors I can remember.

Many of the leaders I work with have developed, and are developing resilience through their work and their personal life.

When have you dealt with challenge? How has it helped you develop resilience?

Let’s talk more about this in a future conversation.