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Building Personal Resilience: A Guide to Thriving Amidst Life's Challenges

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

Portrait of a resilient woman with eyes closed, looking towards the left, embodying inner strength and determination, with a text overlay that reads 'Building Personal Resilience'.

The Executive Summary:

  1. Resilience has garnered increasing attention, especially in corporate settings, due to the rise in mental health issues. Traditionally defined as the ability to bounce back, resilience is now understood as a transformational process that can make individuals stronger after overcoming challenges.

  2. Personal resilience is akin to a shield or an elastic ball, protecting and allowing us to thrive amid significant challenges. It is influenced by self-worth, emotional intelligence, the ability to plan and feel in control, problem-solving skills, and support from others.

  3. The Personal Resilience Course by Mindshop is highly recommended for building personal resilience, helping individuals recover from stress, and transforming potential energy into kinetic energy for personal growth.

  4. Motivational Maps, an ISO-accredited tool, can play a crucial role in resilience by identifying an individual’s inner Motivators. When there is a lack of distinction among the Nine Motivators, resilience can be lower. Clear distinctions among motivators provide individuals with anchors to lean on during adversity, boosting resilience.

There’s been a lot of talk about resilience in recent years, and a much greater focus on resilience training – especially in corporate environments. At the same time, there’s been a significant increase in negative mental health over the last several years, and these two phenomena are linked.

The dictionary definition of resilience is:

‘the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity’,

and ‘the capacity to withstand or recover from difficulties; toughness’. - Oxford Dictionary.

So, that’s our starting point. A key counter-argument to this definition is that humans don’t simply ‘spring back into shape’ instead, we are transformed and reshaped by our experiences. The majority of people feel stronger and more capable after overcoming challenges successfully; it’s how we develop and learn as a species. However, I wouldn’t go as far as to say, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’.

My own journey with resilience began fairly recently when it was severely tested over an extended period of time. Besides the usual day-to-day challenges and opportunities we all face, my father was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s. We had just emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, and my resilience as a business owner had been put to the test, as was the case for almost everyone else on the planet; we each faced our own set of challenges. This additional strain was an enormous struggle, and I found myself feeling incredibly ‘thin’ – not in the physical sense, but rather worn down.

At times, my resilience felt like a shield, akin to the dome-like shields cast over Hogwarts or Wakanda. There were moments when I felt that I couldn’t continue holding up this shield, that it had become so fragile that it might shatter entirely, leaving catastrophe in its wake. As the business leader of our family business and the primary carer for my parents, I believed that many people were relying on me.

To me, resilience is our ability to thrive amidst sustained and significant challenges. My goal is for my resilience to be more than just a shield protecting a fragile interior. I want it to be more like a rubber ball, which, although susceptible to pressure, can withstand it because it is made entirely of rubber; its elasticity allows for compression without damage.

There are numerous factors that influence our resilience:

  1. Self-worth is a significant one. Without it, we build layers of security and social esteem based on our capabilities, achievements, and the ability to function with minimal reliance on others. However, our social esteem eventually crumbles when we don’t receive the recognition, support, or respect that we believe we deserve through our achievements and status.

  2. Emotional intelligence, encompassing self-awareness and self-management, is another crucial factor.

  3. Our ability to plan, feel organized, and be ‘in control’ of enough aspects of our lives, as well as to feel secure, supported, cared for, and valued, is also vital.

  4. Being adept at problem-solving, using methods and models to examine problems more objectively, is enormously beneficial.

  5. And, allowing other people, both close acquaintances and strangers, to support you is essential.

Image of a professional business woman triumphantly walking through a parted ocean, symbolizing growth, perseverance, and the essence of personal resilience in overcoming adversity.

The support I received enabled me to keep holding that shield. They held me up while I held my parents. They assisted in practical and emotional ways until my strength recovered. And I am stronger now than I was before.

I highly recommend the Personal Resilience Course by our partners, Mindshop. Industrial Psychologist and founder of this global business advisory firm, Chris Mason, has developed a comprehensive and practical course with a strong track record of helping people recover from stress and build personal resilience. You can learn more and join the online course here.

Interestingly, resilience is also connected to our inner motivators, the things that drive us in our work and personal lives. Motivational Maps, an ISO-accredited tool, measures an individual’s motivation at work through nine factors known as Motivators. Each of these Motivators reflects different aspects of what drives and satisfies us, much like the various layers and components that constitute our resilience.

Bringing this into the context of resilience, when the scores across these nine Motivators are largely similar, appearing as a flat range, it can indicate lower resilience. This could be because when one's inner drivers are not distinctly defined or prioritized, an individual may not have specific anchors or motivational pillars to rely upon during times of adversity. Imagine resilience as that rubber ball I mentioned earlier; if the material within isn’t well-structured, it’s less likely to bounce back effectively.

On the other hand, having clear distinctions among the nine Motivators – Defender, Friend, Star, Director, Builder, Expert, Creator, Spirit, and Searcher – means that an individual has specific elements they can lean on and derive energy from during tough times. For instance, someone with a high score in the ‘Creator’ motivator might find solace and rejuvenation in innovative projects during stressful periods, while another with a high ‘Searcher’ score might find strength through actions that create meaningful impacts.

Understanding and leveraging these Motivators is akin to knowing the material your resilience ball is made of. You can then strengthen and improve its elasticity. By connecting with your inner drivers through tools like Motivational Maps, you not only bolster your self-awareness but also add layers of strength to your resilience, helping you bounce higher and, as I discovered, even take flight.

A footnote:

The rubber ball metaphor resonates with me because a bouncy ball can bounce very high once it has been compressed enough to convert its potential energy into kinetic energy. Through Mindshop’s Personal Resilience Course, I realized that I don’t just want to be a rubber ball, but to bounce so high that my wings take flight. As I let go of the need to cling on, to be in control, I can soar and trust the wind to support and elevate me, using it to twist, turn, and glide majestically and effortlessly as I explore this magnificent world of ours. I am supported as I flow with life.


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