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Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.
-George S. Patton

Motivational quotes like that can be inspirational but not very practical. Intellectually we know bad times eventually come to an end. But why is it that some people seem to bounce back more quickly than others?

The authors of Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed believe there are five characteristics of highly-resilient people:

  1. Active Optimism
  2. Decisive Action
  3. Moral Compass
  4. Relentless Tenacity
  5. Interpersonal Support

Let’s take a look at these in a little more detail:

Active Optimism. We all know someone who always seems to see the positive side of a situation. It’s as if their personal motto is ‘Every cloud has a silver lining.’ But active optimism is not just a belief system. The emphasis is on the word ‘active’ and the belief you should always move forward and be an agent of change.

Decisive Action. The key to rebounding from a setback is to take action. Often the exact action is less important than the simple decision to do something. Decisiveness requires us to be comfortable being wrong because complete clarity is never possible and indecision can be costly. The motto which applies here is ‘He who hesitates is lost.’

Moral Compass. Since decisions are based on imprecise information, it’s critical to have a set of principles which guide you. The authors claim there are “four points to our moral compass: honor, integrity, fidelity, and ethics.” But I find these can be too abstract in business. My version is simpler: put your customers’ interests before your own.

Relentless Tenacity. Make your motto ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.’ We all love to read stories about overnight successes but these are mostly myths. In most cases, what seems like overnight success is really the belated realization of the value of a product or service. Likely the creators refused to give up in the meantime. One of my favorite examples is the story of the failures of Abraham Lincoln.

Interpersonal Support. In the western culture, there’s a romantic image of the great loner – epitomized by the novel Robison Crusoe and the movie Cast Away. But like overnight successes, this is mostly a myth. Yes, great strength comes from within us but even greater strength comes from the support of others. Remember ‘No man is an island.’ Knowing when, and how, to rely on others is the key to bouncing back.

I can’t say whether this is a sure-fire formula to become more resilient and bounce back more quickly. In fact, I can’t say whether any such formula even exists. But I can say that following these recommendations will give you solid tools to deal with setbacks. As Confucius said:

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

This blog was originally posted on Manage by Walking Around on November 27, 2016.

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