Resilience - Part 1

Resilience – Part 1

When I was in grade school, I played the clarinet.  On the day of my first music competition, I prepared to play a piece that I had been practicing for weeks.  The room was packed.  I took a deep breath and started playing.  Instead of notes, only loud honking noises, and my clarinet sounded like a flock of geese.  Not having any additional reeds in my clarinet case, I had to excuse myself and travel back to school to get a fresh supply.  When I returned, still red-faced with embarrassment, the judge let me play my song.  This time the room was empty, but my notes were crystal clear.  This near disaster taught me a great deal about myself, and it was one of my first lessons in resilience.  Being able to handle setbacks and challenges in life and in work is one of the keys to success.

Measuring Your Resilience

Resilience is composed of a bundle of different abilities that can each be measured, taught, and improved.  You can measure the different components of resilience using the RQ Test found in the book The Resilience Factor (at pages 34-47). 

You can also go to the website to measure your resilience free of charge. 

Increasing Your Resilience

Start by remembering what you ATE (adversity, thought, emotion):

STEP 1:  Notice how you respond to different adversities or stresses in your life such as studying for exams, preparing for a trial, maintaining balance between work and family, dealing with client conflict, or handling a work setback.  What does your thought process look like in each of these and other situations? 

STEP 2: Analyze what you thought about each of these adverse events.  Your thoughts will generally fall into two categories – thoughts where you ask “why” (such as, why did this happen) and thoughts where you wonder “what next” (such as, if I don’t get picked to work on the next trial, then I’ll never make partner and my career will be over).

STEP 3: Ask how these thoughts shape your response to the adverse event or challenge – what is the emotion these thoughts produce.  You can begin to reframe your thinking style when you become mindful of your thought processes.   For example, if you tend to jump to conclusions, try slowing down and then ask yourself what evidence you’ve based your conclusion on; or, if you take an overly narrow view of challenges, refocus on the big picture. 

(Source: Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte (2002). The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength and Overcoming Life’s Hurdles. (Broadway Books: New York, NY).

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