We benchmark great leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela, among many others, who have proven the power of true resilience in the face of extreme adversity. These leaders did not just survive and adapt, but also imprinted the true meaning of resilience in all walks of life!

How will we, as individuals and organizations, show resilience during this adversity and not just adapt to survive, but strive toward success, achievement and imprinting true resilience in everything that we do?

We as individuals carry within us many resilient traits. Traits of empathy, staying positive, helping others in times of need, being adaptable and open to change, always ready to improvise, taking the time to develop others, striving to have open and transparent communications, taking calculated risks, having the right attitude, and most importantly, knowing who we are by being self-aware and open to change. It’s these same traits of resilience that help us in our work and ultimately help the organizations we work for navigate through the toughest of times.

Building on your resilience traits is an important journey for everyone, especially with the stress and strain of today’s dynamic workplace. Resilience gives us the capacity to respond to situations and demands of daily life, while defining who we are as a person. The qualities include staying flexible, durable and strong, and home in on our ability to bounce back from adverse situations.

The simple attitude of responsiveness and being available to your colleagues, family, friends and social network can help individuals build their capacity to manage adverse situations and continue to build resilient traits and strong character. At work, resilience will help us deal better with, and be combat ready, in the face of everyday stress responders that force us to ‘Flight, Fight or Freeze’. While some people thrive in the face of challenge and adversity at work, others panic and withdraw. Strong resilience helps us cope with upheaval that can hit us from multiple sides. With work challenges such as cutbacks, organizational change, internal conflicts and unrelenting competition from the market, it’s critical to enhance our traits of resilience and build skills and techniques that help us flourish during adverse times.

“Stay hungry, Stay foolish” -

An attitude of continuous learning and childlike enthusiasm help build strong habits that look at challenges as opportunities to acquire or master new skills. A childlike enthusiasm lets us celebrate life and its everyday milestones with a higher focus, while taking the time to review and learn from mistakes rather than focus on failure or negativity.

There are many other ways to strengthen resilience at work that include meditation, practicing mindfulness, taking time out for prayer, and spending personal time every morning to practice habits that build resilient traits and reconfirm them in our mind. The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well as part of a personal strategy for fostering resilience at work, home and in any situation.

Servant Leaders on the journey to organizational resilience - 

Within organizations, it’s important to find and nurture Servant Leaders with a high level of natural resilience, who can respond in positive ways to crises and adverse situations their organizations may encounter. Servant Leaders can focus their efforts on meeting the psychological needs and health of their followers and are therefore well placed to positively impact subordinate resilience. Organizations can better study the impact of servant leadership and increase the resilience capabilities through the development of servant leaders who also exhibit strong resilient behaviors.

We can take guidance from some of the simple but highly effective and powerful resilience traits of servant leaders from history.

Mahatma Gandhi, for example, was exceptionally resilient in the face of extreme violence and oppression from a foreign regime. Many of the adverse situations were near impossible to surmount, but he prevailed. And he prevailed through a strong inner code of resilient behaviors that included courage, determination, non-violence and a strong conviction, belief and faith in his movement for freedom, and the ultimate inner voice of restraint and forgiveness. His concepts of freedom, detachment, truth and peace can give psychological strength and mental resilience to any individual trying to cope up with the demands of life.

Considered to be the greatest president in history, Abraham Lincoln was an embodiment of resilient behavior. A leader that had experienced failure after failure in all aspects of his life but emerged from that to be a true and resilient leader of his time, and for generations to come. Some of the milestones and decisions that he established, were unequivocally ahead of his time. His resilience stands the test of time, and even today he’s looked up to as a beacon of resilient hope. Lincoln brought an uncanny discipline to his way of life, a deep understanding of his people, politics and a never faltering conviction against adversity, and the deep inner belief in what he wanted to accomplish.

To learn all about resilience from another great leader, what better way than to read and understand famous quotes. Nelson Mandela provides true lessons in resilience by asking us to reflect, find inner peace, kindness and forgiveness, and to be an optimist.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”

 “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

 “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

“There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

 “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

“Tread softly, breathe peacefully, laugh hysterically.”

Closing para – Every journey starts with a first step, a step forward, a step into the future – building your personal resilience charter is as simple as that first step. Charting where you want to be, and how you see yourself down the road, will allow for an objective way to track, measure and correct, as you kick off on your personal journey to attaining true resilience. And as you build your resilience through repeatable steps and everyday tasks and actions based on all of the key inputs, markers and best practices, it will also start to show up at your work place. The way you interact with your colleagues, and in the actions you take to help your organization build their journey to resilient leadership.  Let me leave you with this quote from a poem by Robert Frost, “I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”

If you found this interesting, please reach out to us for more information as you build your resilience charter!

Quotes and Inspiration to Make You Feel Resilient

There are many ways to encourage resilience in people. Something as simple as an inspiring quote can be empowering.

"She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails." 
— Elizabeth Edwards, author

"Resilience is knowing that you are the only one that has the power and the responsibility to pick yourself up."
— Mary Holloway, resilience coach

“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo — far more flexible than you'd ever believe at first glance.” 
— Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper

“Perhaps what matters when all is said and done is not who puts us down but who picks us up.” 
— Kate DiCamillo, Louisiana’s Way Home

“Grief and resilience live together.” 
— Michelle Obama, Becoming

“On the other side of a storm is the strength that comes from having navigated through it. Raise your sail and begin.” 
— Gregory S. Williams, author

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” 
— Sheryl Sandberg, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

“Since our problems have been our own creation
They also can be overcome

When we use the power provided free to everyone 
This is love” 
— George Harrison, “This Is Love”

“Adversity has the remarkable ability of introducing the real you to yourself.” 
— M.B. Dallocchio, The Desert Warrior

“Even the tiniest of flowers can have the toughest roots.” 
— Shannon M Mullen, See What Flowers

Five of the top books on resilience

References – 

  • Resilience at work, why it is important and how to develop it (www.barrywinbolt.com › resilience-at-work » 9 Ways to Improve Your Resilience at Work)
  • Resilient Leadership: The Impact of a Servant Leader on the Resilience of their Followers - Jason L. Eliot - First Published August 29, 2020 Research Article - Resilient Leadership: The Impact of a Servant Leader on the Resilience of their Followers
  • How to Combat ‘Flight, Fight, and Freeze’ - There are simple ways to short-circuit the body’s response to stress - Ashley Abramson - Oct 16, 2019
  • “Stay Hungry Stay Foolish” is a 2008 book by the Indian non-fiction author Rashmi Bansal. Originally published: 200. Genre: Biography
  • What Is Resilience? Your Guide to Facing Life's Challenges, Adversities, and Crises - By Katie Hurley, LCSW - Medically Reviewed by Allison Young, MD - Last Updated: October 23, 2019
  • 17 Wise Nelson Mandela Quotes That Will Inspire Your Success

About the author:

Shankar Bhaskaran, Group VP and GM International Operations.