“Every frightening event, no matter how negative it might seem from the sidelines, has the potential to be traumatic or not to the person experiencing it.”
The concept of resilience is widely used — and its meaning is essentially the same no matter the context. In industry, resilience is used in reference to everything from the economy to engineering; from construction to chemical manufacturing processes; from building to branding; from software to the smart grid to the supply chain. A company, a culture, a community can all be — or not be — resilient.
When used in reference to human health, resilience typically means the psychological ability to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy or significant stressors — such as the death of a loved one, loss of a job, serious illness or a terrorist attack. It’s the ability to “bounce back” from difficult circumstances or to withstand traumatic events. When used in the context of physical health, resilience is the body’s ability to overcome serious injuries, chronic illness and the effects of aging.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one quarter of all employees view their jobs as the biggest stressor in their lives. So many people experience stress, in fact, that the World Health Organization describes stress as the “global health epidemic of the 21st century.”
Even for those who love their jobs, stress is a fact of life, so it’s important to cultivate skills and build a toolkit of techniques that will help you be resilient in stressful situations.
“MindTools offers a short, 16-question survey to help you assess your resilience at work with statements you can rate yourself on, such as “I find it easy to ask my colleagues for help” and “Failures are hard to forget and successes are hard to remember.”
Harvard Business Review offers a whole suite of resources to help build your personal resilience in the workplace in its Building Resilience Insight Center, such as “5 Ways to Boost Your Resilience at Work,” which shares these techniques to effectively navigate your work life:
Another insightful piece, “Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure,” looks at the research behind resilience and recovery.
“We often take a militaristic, ‘tough’ approach to resilience and grit,” explain authors Shawn Acher and Michelle Gielan. “We imagine a Marine slogging through the mud, a boxer going one more round, or a football player picking himself up off the turf for one more play. We believe that the longer we tough it out, the tougher we are, and therefore the more successful we will be. However, this entire conception is scientifically inaccurate.”
“The very lack of a recovery period is dramatically holding back our collective ability to be resilient and successful. Research has found that there is a direct correlation between lack of recovery and increased incidence of health and safety problems. And lack of recovery — whether by disrupting sleep with thoughts of work or having continuous cognitive arousal by watching our phones — is costing our companies $62 billion a year… in lost productivity.”