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4 Habits of the Most Resilient People

| May 20, 2014

by Jim Bruce

Today’s Tuesday Reading is 4 Habits of the Most Resilient People” and is an excerpt from Ready to be a Thought Leader? by Denise Brosseau.  Brosseau is founder and CEO of Thought Leadership Lab.  She has an MBA from Stanford and in 2012 she has honored by the White House as a “Champion of Change.”

It’s a truism that no one of us is perfect.  We each are sometimes successful, and sometimes we face adversity and pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and move on.  Jeffrey Pfeffer, faculty member at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and Jim Collins, author of Good to Great did an informal study of the 2012 Stanford MBA class to learn what factors were the most influential in determining which students had “made it” and which had not, where “made-it” was defined by being successful in achieving their goals and dreams.

The study led them to conclude that the one defining skill and behavior that differentiated those who “made it” was resilience.  Resilience is what really makes the difference.  It’s the ability to recover quickly from difficulties, the mental and physical toughness in the face of adversity.

 Brosseau has identified four habits that help us to stay on the track, get back on it when we fall off, and help us stay motivated when things don’t go our way.  People who are resilient:

 1.  Don’t listen to the negative voices in their heads.  We all have voices in our heads that tell us that we cannot be successful at the task we are considering, or anything;  so why start?  The first step in being resilient is to stop the voices.  One of Brosseau’s clients talks about this being like two wolves fighting – one to take on new challenges and the other against any success.  If this is your model, if you nurture the negative voices, the bad wolf wins.  To nurture the good you focus on your past accomplishments, on believing in yourself, and on taking steps, even small ones, forward toward your goal. 

 2.  Have a personal board of directors.  Many people have found it helpful to have a personal board of directors, a set of personal advisors who know you and can provide advice on issues that you face.  Some individuals actually convene their board on a regular basis – perhaps a few times a year.  For others the board is virtual, they may not even know of each other, but together they serve to provide advice to you on the decisions and challenges you face.  Who do you turn to when you are challenged?  Who needs to be added to your “board” so you have someone to turn to when you are challenged and need an external sane voice?

 3.  Are comfortable not knowing.  Sometimes we have to move forward when we don’t have, and may not be able to have, all the information.  In these situations, we have to “get over it” as Annie Stunden one of our leadership coaches would say, and move forward acting on the information that we have while admitting that the actions we are taking are based on what we know at that moment.  To get better at this, you need to improve your skills at extemporaneous speaking and at improvisation. 

 4.  Let go of the “Yeah, but…” But no one will join my personal board of directors.  Those negative voices are really loud.  I never step forward like that, etc.  It’s a long list.  The important thing is to not let the “Yeah, buts” take you out of the game. 

Resilience is one of those must have skills if you are to thrive as a leader in this fast paced world.  Do take the time to work on your skills.  Perhaps you start by quickly picking yourself up the next time you get dumped on your backside and get back on the track and make progress toward the goal you were working on.


Have a great week. . .jim