“Out of massive suffering emerged the strongest souls;
the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
– Khalil Gibran
Resilience is that ability to bounce back and to reframe things in a positive way when you’re faced with a difficult time or adversity.
When there is a lack of adversity in your life it’s probably not necessarily a good thing. There are times when it’s okay to not have any adversity. But in the end, it’s through adversity that we grow. The challenge that we face helps us grow. Through experience, the world grows and widens before us. So, adversity actually plays an important part in us becoming resilient universal men.
Many people either consciously or unconsciously avoid facing into the difficult times. They will project the anger onto somebody else. They will blame others. They will dump on somebody else. They live in a hot-cold pattern or they get all spiritual where it’s fate, the luck of the draw, God’s fault or will. All these are forms of avoidance. They’re not taking responsibility.
Sometimes adversity happens out of the blue and there is nothing you could have done about it. And that’s okay. Resilience still requires an ownership of even the most random situation you find yourself in. Because if you revert to the running away it’s not taking ownership of you and rising up to your greatest version of yourself.
If we consider our four pillars – mental, social, physical, and spiritual. Each of these elements can be heavily impacted in tough times. In a purely physical sense, all of the negative stress hormones, like cortisol get released into the body. And that cortisol can hang around for days at a time. It affects your immune system, your heart rate and your cognitive function. And it plays out in the social realm, in the quality of your relationships with people at home, and at work. It really can affect you across all of these elements. So the importance of resilience cannot be understated as it protects your health and the health and relationships of the people around you.
When you’re resilient you shift into a world that’s clear, focused, relationships are thriving even through the adversity.
And there’s something special there. When you’re clear about your goals. When you’re focused. When you are centred. But when there’s a challenge which actually stretches you up. You know, that brings out the very strongest within you, the best.
One of the big pitfalls of resilience is we can get stuck. And we can really get pulled down into the depths of despair when we don’t know what the new challenge is as opposed to the problem they’re stuck with.
We’ve all had mates call and say, “Hey man, I’m just really down. I can’t seem to get out of this hole that I’m in!”
And the first question to ask is, “What is the outcome? What are you trying to achieve? What’s your career goal? What’s your goal with your family? What are your financial goals? What’s the challenge we’re trying to accept here?” And that’s missing for them. And as a result, they get stuck in the problems without knowing the direction.
We have created a little decision tree to help you understand it in more depth.
And it says, first and foremost, there’s a state of mind which we might call your level of resilience. And it’s either good or bad. And the quality of that resilience then leads to a particular event happening. And out of that, there are a few options. One is, you can either deflect the thing that’s coming your way. And that is a valid choice sometimes. And the other option is, you bounce back, or you rise back out of the ashes.
A very quick example of what that’s like in the real world. Imagine a day, you go to work, you’ve had maybe an average night’s sleep. Things haven’t been going so well, you feel a bit out of whack. You haven’t had good downtime for a while. You’re a bit edgy. And then you walk into a meeting room, and there’s a guy at work who you’re just a bit tired of. And, he gives some terribly bad news. It was completely avoidable. And, he’s famous for it. And you just think, you know what? I know what’s gonna happen here. And then you unload. And you just give it to him.
The thing is, you weren’t resilient in the first place. Then you didn’t accept. And then what you did, in the end, was dump on someone. And they copped it, and no one in the room wins anymore. As opposed to, you walk in the room and you are resilient, you are resourceful. You accept in the moment what has just come your way. And then you make a choice, do I deflect this because it’s really of no great consequence in the world? Or, do I respond to it positively so we all bounce back personally and as a group?
And that’s the little pattern. Be resilient in the first place. Then, in the moment, choose your response. Deflect or accept.
When you accept the challenge part of that is to be open to the wisdom within it too.
And when you deflect things. This is when some heat comes your way and you know it really isn’t about you. It’s actually the other person’s stuff. There is still wisdom and strength in that moment for you to note.
CLARITY: Resilience comes when you’re on the front foot. When you’ve got your goals and dreams and what you really value. Remember, resilience is easier when you’re moving towards a goal away from the difficulty.
SELF CARE: This is having the right balance and preparation in your life by keeping fit, doing meditation or yoga, listening to music, going for a run, going for a ride, rock climbing. Whatever your thing is. Having that rock so to speak, that everything works around, and the right amount of family time and things.
OTHER-CENTRED: Do not be self-centred. If you’re thinking ‘me’ all of the time when the struggles come, there’s a danger you go within in a poor me type of a way. But when you are an other-centred person, the current resilience has got a context, a goal. It’s to make the world a better place. So shifting that to serving other people, and serving the world. Makes you a lot more resilient on a day to day basis.
PRESENCE: And the next is just being present. Sometimes you’re trying to put your kids to bed, and they don’t want to go to bed. And it can be frustrating because you’re thinking, I’ve gotta get that work done, I wanna catch up with my wife, have dinner, have a glass of wine or watch something on Netflix. And next thing you know these little kiddies just won’t go to sleep. And you realise that all of your frustration has nothing to do with them. And everything to do with the fact that you want to be somewhere else. So remove the need to be for somewhere else, and just be present. All of the pressure in your head releases.
RELATIONSHIPS: One of the toughest things in life where resilience is really difficult is close relationships. Keep following the same process. What is the outcome you’ve got? Go back to what you want out of that relationship. What’s the depth of connection you want? What do you really want to achieve out of it?
TEAMS: One common trait of high performance teams is that it’s often through adversity that they unite and bond. And out of the ashes, they rise like a phoenix to a tight-knit group. Look around your work or a sporting team you’re involved with. What adversity has that group been through? If it hasn’t been through any create some. And you don’t have to put them through hell through some boot camp. Instead what you can do is set the bar incredibly high and challenge the team to greatness as individuals and a team.
All those things lead to a whole mindset, that you can handle anything. You actually welcome some of those difficult times. Because you know you’re not going to just cope, you’re going actually thrive.
Let’s finish with a passage from one of our favourite poems by William Earnest Henley, “Invictus”:
“It matters not how straight the gate. How charged with punishments their scroll. I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”
Grego and Pricey