Resiliency Is The Key To Success

Resiliency is the Key To Success

Resiliency definition:   is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on.

In words that we can all understand resiliency is a person’s ability to get back up after getting knocked down.  If something in life kicks their ass they may be temporarily stunned or set back but over time these body blows and shitty things happening will not slow them down.  They will figure out a way around or past most obstacles.  What doesn’t kill them makes them stronger.  That’s resiliency.  And in many ways resiliency is the key to success.  Let’s Explore.

Traits of Resilient People

Let’s take a look at some common traits and characteristics of being a resilient person:

Resilient people are self-aware.  They have the ability to look inward at themselves and view the person they are in a realistic light.  They know their strengths and their weaknesses and tend to play to their strengths.  If they know they aren’t good at something they figure out a way for someone who is good at it to do it instead and focus on what they do best.

Resilient people are good at receiving constructive criticism.  They don’t get offended when someone tells them a way they can do something smarter or better.  Many people get rubbed the wrong way when someone offers them constructive criticism but resilient people look at it as a chance to get better.

They don’t let setbacks close the door.  With every setback a resilient person looks for a different way to achieve what they are after.  They don’t give up because they have a setback, rather they use the setback as a chance to alter their approach.

Resilient people compete against themselves.  They don’t typically compare themselves to others or waste time feeling sorry for themselves because someone else makes more money or whatever.  They don’t compare their success to other peoples, they are on their own path and come up with their own definition of success.

Are great problem solvers.  While much of the population only focuses on a problem resilient people look for ways to solve the problem.  They don’t waste a lot of time pissing and moaning about something that needs to be fixed, they actively look for ways to go do it.

Resilient people are optimistic.  They are glass half full people who see the positive side of life in general and most situations.  They are great to be around when a crisis is occurring as they can galvanize people into action and keep a positive mental frame.

They are confident in their abilities.  Resilient people believe in themselves and have a good sense of self confidence.  They know that they will be able to address most situations and can figure out a way to get things done.  If they don’t have the tools and skills to face a challenge they go find it and add it to their arsenal to face the situation.

Resilient people control what they can.  They don’t waste energy worrying about things outside of their control.  They control what they can which is themselves and their efforts and concentrate their energy appropriately.

They own their actions.  Resilient people own responsibility for their lives and their actions.  They realize that they are 100% responsible for their happiness and they must drive their own bus to whatever destination they want to go go.

Resilient people know that change is inevitable.  They know that change is a given and is constant.  They are able to go with the flow easier than a lot of people and know that things can change at any time.  Thusly they typically have a backup plan or two and are able to think on their feet well and adapt as needed in a given situation.

How Traits of Resilient People Help With Success

All the traits we mention above seem like good characteristics to have in general. Let’s take a look at how these traits can translate into success in business/career and life in general.

In any venture into starting your own business and being an entrepreneur resiliency will help you in so many ways.  First of all it takes lots of patience and hard work to launch a business.  You are starting from scratch and working hard to get something off the ground that isn’t giving you anything back at first.  You have to be able to take the long view and know that the work you put in now will yield results later.  Patience and persistence helps so much, it’s all about the never giving up and the constant push to make it work.

When you are working towards a big goal of any kind, creating a successful career, training for a marathon, sweating at the gym to compete in Mr. Olympia or raising twin 4 year old’s in the same house, resiliency is required.  With any long term goal you will have setback after setback after setback.  Resilient people will not let these make them give up.  They may feel like tossing in the towel and walking away but ultimately the quest for the goal will burn brighter and they will learn from their setbacks and get better at what they are doing.

Resilient people are great at learning from their failures and setbacks.  Remember the definition of crazy – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?  Not resilient people.  They will do something that works until it doesn’t.  Once it stops working or they get a roadblock they assess the situation and adjust accordingly to keep moving forward.  They LEARN from what doesn’t work and make the right changes to then make it work.  They are always learning and adjusting.

Examples Of Resilient People and Success

Elon Musk is a great example of resiliency.  In 1996 he was kicked out of the company he started with his brother.  His first version of PayPal was widely considered to be a terrible idea.  Several of his SpaceX Rockets have ended in terrible explosions.  Despite this he is the first private citizen to sign a deal with NASA and is worth over $20 billion.

Steven King and his wife were so poor they borrowed clothes for their wedding and got rid of the phone in their home because it was too expensive.  His first story, “The Glass Floor” was rejected 60 times before he sold it for $35.  His best selling book Carrie was rejected dozes of times before a publisher gave him a meager advance on it.  And now we all know how many books his has written as well as how many movies have been made from his books.

Vincent Van Gogh sold exactly one painting the entire time he was alive.  He is widely considered to be one of the most influential and (now) celebrated artists of all time.  Despite the fact he sold one painting while he was alive he painted over 900 pieces.  He is the ultimate proof that you don’t need external validation to be proud of what you are creating.

Benjamin Franklin dropped out of school when he was 10 years old.  His parents could only afford to keep him in school until his 10th birthday.  Instead of accepting the hand he was dealt he took charge of his own education and self-taught through his voracious appetite for reading.  Besides becoming one of America’s founding father’s he invented the lightning rod and bifocals.

Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star newspaper because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”.  When he first acquired the animation studio Laugh-O-Gram he was so bad at managing money they the company wound up deep in debt and he had to file for bankruptcy.  After deciding he needed to get out of the midwest he moved to Hollywood and formed the Walt Disney Company, I think we know how that went.

Wrap It Up – Work On Your Resiliency

It goes without saying resiliency is a character trait that can help you immensely in business as well as life in general.  Here’s a few things you can do to help build your resilience:

  • Re-position how you view things that don’t work out.  Instead of seeing it as a complete failure or flop or waste of time or whatever, look at what you’ve gained from the experience.  Look at it as a way to help you gain greater success in the long run.  Basically look for the silver lining.
  • Face your fears.  This doesn’t mean you need to go swimming with the sharks.  What it means is to push yourself outside of your comfort zone from time to time.  The is how you build self-confidence, by learning that you can handle new and different situations.  Put yourself out there to some extent.
  • Forget the grudges.  Let go of bad feelings and resentments that you have, all they do is weigh you down.  When you continue to hold onto grudges and resentments for long periods of time they take away from your positive energy and just add fuel to the negative energy.  Let it go.
  • Remember the times that you killed it.  Too many of us don’t take the time to pat ourselves on the back when we do something great.  You don’t have to take out a front page ad when you hit a home run but make sure you remember the great stuff you did and reflect on it when something else isn’t working out as you’d hoped.
  • Your story isn’t written in stone – that’s up to you.  Never ever forget that you have the ability to write your own story how you want it to be.

Thanks for taking the time to read.  I’d love to get your thoughts and feedback – cheers!

All my best,

Mat A.




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  1. Thanks for the encouraging success stories. I think I heard Elon Musk was as broke as Stephen King was too at one point. I can relate to only half of their stories lol. Do you have any advice for how to stay resilient when its a do or die situation say financially or literally? I have found it easy to be resilient when I have a couple of chances to do something but that breaks down for me when there is a one shot deal. I don’t know if I’m making sense but there it is.

    1. Hey Gord – good to hear from you.  I hear you, I can’t really relate to either of those guys too much either.  I think the key to your question is a sense of knowing you can handle any situation.  Now when you say “do or die literally” there’s obviously nothing we can do when it’s our time so to speak.  But if you get downsized or canned or whatever and it looks like financial ruin on the horizon there is a way out of that.  It might be mixing drinks or hauling lumber or flipping burgers but KNOWING that you can figure it out and handle it will make you soldier on.  These situations are where we learn the most and being able to handle them makes us stronger.  Cheers!

  2. Thank you for sharing such inspirational words. I love your examples of resilient people – it makes me feel like anyone can be successful if you have the right attitude. I agree with you that resiliency is a character trait, but many of us don’t know where to get it if it’s not natural to us. I particularly like your examples of how to build up your self confidence. Such a well written article.

    1. Hi Katie,

      Thank you so much!  I am glad you enjoyed the article.  It’s amazing how helpful resiliency is in life as a way of overcoming obstacles which we will all face.  The cool thing is it really is a trait that can be learned and improved up.  Have a good one!  Mat A.  

  3. Matt,
    Loved the blog! I started to look at ME to see if I was resilient. Welcomed myself to the club! I heartily agree the keys to success are 1) a positive attitude 2) Optimism, 3) Letting failure be feedback! I had to do this just days ago.

    Then the traits were critical and I liked it: Self Aware (reminded me of the teenage years! Mom always told me I was ahead of my time) and your blog hit the target. Balanced: can look at the positive and negatives of our selves and work with it eyes wide open.

    You gave some good examples but Ben Franklin has always been my fav self made, teach yourself, grow up, type of man . . .
    enjoyed your input immensely.

    1. Hi Christian,

      Great to hear!  Thank you for stopping by and checking it out.  I am really glad you enjoyed what you ready.  I think it all starts with self awareness and the ability to learn from failure is HUGE.  Thanks again!!

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