La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy who is consistently recognized as being the best academy in the world to train champion soccer players, said that the number one predictor of success is resilience.
This last week has been one of the crazier weeks in history. I am sure your life has been turned upside down, as has mine. There are things that are unknown, constantly changing and we’ve probably felt more anxiety and fear than ever before. But, simultaneously I also believe in the human capacity to be resilient.
Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. And I think that we are all in need of some strong resilience right now.
Research shows that resiliency is a skill that can be developed and there are some common characteristics that add to your resiliency. I have drawn these ideas from the research of Kendra Cherry and Diane Coutu.
- Face Down Reality
We often cope with hard situations through denial, but instead, take an honest, matter-of-fact look at your reality. You’ll prepare yourself to act in ways that enable you to endure—training yourself to survive before the fact. Facing the reality makes action a possibility.
Example: Admiral Jim Stockdale survived being held prisoner and tortured by the Vietcong in part by accepting he could be held for a long time. (He was held for eight years.) Those who didn’t make it out of the camps kept optimistically assuming they’d be released on shorter timetables—by Christmas, by Easter, by the Fourth of July. “I think they all died of broken hearts.”
- Be a Problem Solver
Problem solving skills are essential. The skill of pragmatism allows you to take things others see as problems and see them as opportunities. When a crisis emerges, resilient people are able to spot the solution that will lead to a safe outcome. Part of this is a mindset, an understanding that problems hold potential benefits.
- Build Strong Social Connections
Whenever you’re dealing with a problem, it is important to have people who can offer support. Talking about the challenges you are facing can be an excellent way to gain perspective, look for new solutions, or simply express your emotions. At this time of social distancing we need to make a concerted effort to still maintain connection with others via technology because our connections make us stronger. Friends, family members, co-workers, and online support groups can all be potential sources of social connectivity.
- Identifying as a Survivor, Not a Victim
When dealing with any potential crisis, it is essential to view yourself as a survivor. Viktor Frankl, Austrian Neurologist, Psychiatrist and Holocaust Survivor taught us a lot about his mindset with some of his observations.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Avoid thinking like a victim of circumstance and instead, look for solutions and opportunities. While the situation may be unavoidable, you can still stay focused on a positive outcome.
― Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.”
One thing I do look forward to is seeing the amazing life stories that come as a result of people’s resilience in this, or any, crisis, so look around.