No one likes eating asphalt. Yet as a kid, that’s all you do.
You fall on your face while playing basketball at recess. You trip over your untied shoes and fall again at lunch. Childhood is filled with a constant barrage of face-planting. You don’t stay down though. Once the debris is removed and the scrapes are cleaned, you get up and resume the game. That is, until your next fall.
As you grow up, you tumble less and less. Physically speaking. Mentally and emotionally, you continue to eat it. You confess your love only to be rejected. You mess up during an important interview. Your knee may not be bleeding, but your heart is. It’s at those moments that the most resilient people shine.
Are you one of them? Here are four signs you’re an especially resilient person.
You welcome failure.
A friend and I spoke about how we view failure. We like it – even though it hurts. We are both in the world of content creation. Thus, whatever shortcomings we experience become something to write about. Something we can share with others. For us, failing isn’t bad. It’s an article to be written, a podcast to be recorded, a story to be told. It’s something we can use to help others.
Resilient people welcome failure. Not because they enjoy coming up short, but because it provides an opportunity to do better. Imagine walking through a cave. You can only see one foot in front of you. When you take a step forward and encounter a wall, you step back and smile. That’s one less path to take. Resilient people welcome failure because it gives them a chance to learn and improve.
“If you can change the way you see failure, you gain the strength to keep running the race. Get a new definition of failure. Regard it as the price you pay for progress.” – A passage from Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell.
You learn from mistakes.
Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell is one of my favorite books on the topic of resilience. In it, he recounts the struggles of well-known individuals. From Amelia Earhart to the founder of Chick-Fil-A. Maxwell argues: if you make the same mistake two or more times, you haven’t learned from it yet. Until you have, you will continue to repeat it.
When you slip up, Maxwell suggests you write down:
- What happened (ie. the failure),
- What you learned from it,
- And how you can do things better next time.
This is something I’ve implemented into my own life. I call it a Learn Log and its sole purpose is to actively learn from missteps today so as to improve tomorrow. Resilient people see failure as a game they can win. They learn from their past and let it empower their future. And they embrace the chance to do so.
You know good days are on the horizon.
I was drunk in Vegas. An unseasonable rain had squandered my pool party plans. As I walked along the strip, a realization dawned on me. I turned to my friend to share my thoughts. I said, “It’s good it was canceled. You can’t have great times without bad. You can’t appreciate the amazing things without the inverse.” Remove the slurring and pretend I was that eloquent and you have roughly what I said.
Resilient people don’t shut down when things go awry. They may take a day or two off to regroup, but they don’t throw in the towel. They don’t quit. Instead, they know bad things happen from time to time. And when they do, they don’t panic. Because they know good things are to follow closely behind. This isn’t optimism, but a learned realization based on experience.
I think about that rained-out trip a lot. I was right.
You let others inspire you.
Resilient people know their problems aren’t unique. History is full of bad business deals, social faux pas, and egg-on-face moments. In times of turmoil, resilient people turn to these instances for reassurance.
From 1876 to 1878, China was hit with a number of natural disasters. Specifically, floods, drought, and locusts. It was the most intensive period of calamity within 200 years and was one of the worst in Chinese history. Millions died from famine and disease, particularly Typhus. In Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang, Cixi was faced with leading China through it.
In The Power Broker by Robert A. Caro, Robert Moses struggled in his early career. He lived in a small apartment with his wife and young daughters. He was low on funds, often running up a tab on groceries he wasn’t sure how his family would pay back. From that lowly state, Moses became one of the most powerful people in New York during the 1900s.
Resilient people use stories like this to anchor them. To realize that if Cixi and Moses made it through that, you can surely weather whatever storm you’re facing. Resilient people let others – either biographically or through present-day relationships – inspire them to keep going.
Signs of an Especially Resilient Person
As someone resilient, you are prepared for whatever comes your way. You are able to embrace the positive and overcome the negative. If these signs didn’t resonate with you, there’s good news: resilience can be learned. Through active study and practice, you can become more resilient. You can transcend whatever challenges you face. Start by implementing the four lessons mentioned above. Again, they are:
- Welcome failure;
- Learn from mistakes;
- Expect good days to follow bad;
- And let others inspire you.
Resilience doesn’t mean you are cold and unemotional. It doesn’t mean you are a stark optimist either. It means you are confident in your abilities. You know that you can navigate through whatever comes your way. It means you have the personal experience and the learned experiences of others to justify that confidence.
With that knowledge, your life isn’t a trial to suffer through. It is an adventure to experience.