Build your Resilience: 3 steps to a stronger you

According to legend, Thomas Edison made thousands of prototypes of the light bulb before he finally got it right. Yet despite dealing with ‘failure’ throughout his life he never let it get the better of him. “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. His resilience gave us some of the world’s most amazing inventions such as the phonograph, the telegraph and the motion picture.

For many, 2020 has been a year of setbacks, difficulties and failures caused by the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic. Although there are recent notes of optimism, experts are predicting that the economy won’t recover until 2022, which means that we are likely to continue to face tough trading conditions and setbacks in the year ahead.

Like Edison, we will have to display resilience if we are not to succumb to these unprecedented conditions and allow them to get the better of us. Indeed, resilience may prove to be the single quality that determines whether we succeed or fail and whether we merely survive or grow stronger than before.

What is Resilience

Resilience is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as planned. Resilient people don’t wallow or dwell on failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward.

We tend to overlook this critical quality and fail to understand it. In fact, individuals tend to overestimate their own resilience. Studies show that many more people think they have high levels of resilience but far fewer score as resilient in tests.

We are not born with resilience; resilience levels are not connected to gender or age. It’s a reactive state of mind that can be built.

How can we build and develop it?

There are 3 elements that are essential to building resilience:


We can’t avoid the fact that setbacks happen, but resilient people see setbacks as a challenge. The event itself may not be in your control but you can choose how you interpret and respond to it. By making an active choice you take control.

Think of a setback you experienced recently, or perhaps a worry or fear you have about something in the future. The natural human reaction might be to blame someone or something for creating that problem. We hear people doing it all the time: “It’s the customer’s fault”. “It’s the Government’s fault” and when they can’t think of someone or something to blame they just put it down to ‘bad luck’.

But here’s the problem; by diverting the blame you are absolving yourself of all responsibility. You’re effectively saying “This is nothing to do with me. It happened to me”. Immediately you adopt the role of the ‘victim’ and you are powerless to deal with the problem.

However, faced with the same challenge imagine if you asked yourself “Could I have done anything differently to avoid this situation?” and “What courses of action are available to me now?” This simple shift allows you to take responsibility and the change in attitude empowers you to find a solution. A simple shift in your attitude can lead to a major change in the result.

Commitment to our Goals

You can build your resilience by having goals and a plan and having a commitment to your plan. Goals give you purpose and meaning, a reason to get out of bed and a way to measure your progress.

But goals alone aren’t helpful. Many people set themselves a goal in their business, or perhaps some life-goals, and unfortunately many of them suffer the disappointment of not achieving those goals. Worse still, they don’t know why they haven’t been successful.

Setting goals – short, medium and long term – is a good discipline but the process must go together with a plan. The plan is your route-map to get you from where you are today to where you want to be and it tells you what you need to be doing at any point in time. When setbacks or challenges occur, and inevitably they will, your plan acts as your guiding-light to ensure that you don’t lose sight of your goals or stray too far from your chosen route.

Resilience is made stronger by having a commitment to your goals. When setbacks occur, change the plan not the goals. Significant events, like the one we have experienced in recent months, may render your short -to-medium goals and plan obsolete. By having a firm commitment to your long-term goals you might only need to review and change the short- and medium-term plan.

However, resilience is not built solely on your commitment to business or work – it’s also about the commitment you make to relationships, your beliefs, your values and the causes you support. Figure out what’s important to you, and why, and make a commitment.

Personal Control

When a setback or challenge rears its head, thinking about things that we can’t control can make us feel anxious and fearful, powerless and lost. Naturally, our mind starts to form possible outcomes that might result from the setback – usually negative – and those negative thoughts trigger more negative emotions. You can see how anyone can easily get caught in that potentially destructive cycle.

Resilience is about focusing on the things you can control. When you put your efforts into the things that have the most impact for you, for your business and for your success you will feel empowered and confident.

Often, the things you can control are small acts or disciplines, like starting work at a particular time each day, making sure you speak to 5 clients every day or spending one hour on planning every week; small acts that are key to your success and that, crucially, you can control. Turn those acts into disciplines and keep repeating them until they become habits and you no longer have to think about them.


The months ahead remain uncertain and there will undoubtedly be setbacks and challenges, many of which will be beyond our control. However, we can learn from Thomas Edison and his ability to adapt and bounce-back from adversity by actively building our own levels of resilience. The more we understand this quality and practice it, the stronger and more successful we can become.


For more practical and actionable ideas on how you can build your own levels of resilience, attend our free webinar on the 1st December 2020. Click here to register for the webinar.