Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”. It is fundamentally a system property. It refers to the magnitude of change or disturbance that a system can experience without shifting into an alternate state that has different structural and functional properties.  Building resilience is necessary for leaders who seek to come out of this pandemic alive and thriving like never before.

We are living in unprecedented times. Our businesses, our families, our institutions, and our economy are being tested like never before. We know that the most successful organizations coming out of this pandemic will be those who adapt, react, and pivot into whatever the new normal is.

What are the characteristics of a highly resilient person or organization? And, while it takes time to build resilience, it is a skill that can be developed.  In the book “Prosilience”, author Linda Hoopes describes this as building “resilience muscles”.  The content of this blog post are inspired by this book.

The Need for Building Resilience

Building resilience is not a new topic.  I wrote a blog earlier this year on the need to build more resilient organizations.  In that blog post, I use the Taipai 101 damper (pictured here) as a great example of what resilience looks like.  Recently, I lead a webinar on this topic.  You can download the link to view this webinar by filling out the form on this page.

We have taken a real blow.  This pandemic has been a jab to the face and a punch to the gut. Uncertainty reigns and we know that if things don’t get better, many of our businesses will fail. And we are afraid about what the “new normal” may be.

The strong will survive.  Survival of the fittest applies here as much as it has anywhere in history.  But with effort, we can develop the skills necessary to be successful, whatever the new normal is.

There are Four Keys to Building Resilience

Mastering Calmness

Now I have to be honest.  When I’m upset, I don’t like being told to “calm down”. But resilient people have a calmness about them.  When facing a crisis, they do not scream in fear and run out of the room in a panic.

How do you develop a mindset for this?  How can you become a calm person, when facing a crisis?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Practice meditation or Mindfulness
  • Spend time in prayer or devotion’
  • Exercise, take walks
  • Deep breathing
  • Take a pause
  • Get creative.  Music, Arts, etc.

These techniques will help you develop a calm, resilient mindset.  With a calm mindset, you can learn to watch for and avoid emotional “triggers” and the subsequent “death spirals” that often accompany a panic.

Develop Strategies for Handling Problems

Learn to implement the Serenity Prayer as a method for building resilience.  This prayer, written by Reinhold Niebuhr in 1932-33 goes like this “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”.

It’s interesting that it was written during the great depression which followed a global pandemic.  I believe that these words are never more appropriate than they are today.

We need to focus on three strategies for mastering challenges.  First, we should try to “Accepting” the things we can’t change.  Second, we should try “Altering” the things that we can change.  When neither of these approaches works, we should try “Reframing”.  Reframing means we shift problems to opportunities.  It’s a mindset.  And it’s necessary for building resilience.

Develop Your Resilience Muscles

In her book, Linda Hoopes identifies seven “muscles” that we use to be resilient.  She describes them as:

  • Positivity
  • Confidence
  • Priorities
  • Creativity
  • Connection
  • Structure
  • Experimenting

We each have these muscles developed at various levels.  By recognizing our strengths and weaknesses, we can tailor our response to problems and challenges.  And by leveraging our strengths, we develop appropriate strategies for withstanding the impact of a crisis and come out better prepared to handle the challenges put before us.

Manage Your Energy

Withstanding a crisis takes significant energy.  The author identifies four categories of energy:  Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual.  In order to be resilient, we must maintain energy levels at a minimal level.  A crisis depletes our energy.  So it is important for people to recognize when their energy levels are dropping, and develop strategies for recharging their energy levels when they are depleted.

I work with my clients to recognize the source of their energy and implement methods that preserve their critical energy levels and find ways to recharge.  For example, if running gives you the physical boost of sending endorphins to your brain, then, by all means, go for a jog.  If reading feeds you, then, by all means, read a book.  If you need spiritual energy, perhaps you need to read the Bible or spend time in prayer.  Whatever recharges you, put it into your daily activity.

Furthermore, recognize tasks that deplete your energy.  If balancing your checkbook drains your energy, find someone to do it for you.  If conducting a workshop gives you energy, then conduct a workshop!  Whatever gives us energy is good for our overall resilience.

It’s Never Too Late to Start Building Resilience

Building resilience takes time and effort.  But it’s never too late to start.  You can see some differences immediately.  But it takes intentionality and you must be held accountable.  Interested in learning more?  Watch the video, or contact me at