Finding resilience in adversity

Some years ago when my brother was in the process of selling our family business he called and told me that he thought I was the most resilient person he’d ever met, and he asked me how he could develop that same gift.

The process of letting go of something that our father and mother had begun 50-plus years before was getting to him. Up to that point, I had never thought about resilience and how it helps one to bounce back from challenges, adversity, and/or misfortune. After that phone call, I began to study how other people dealt with the “stop signs” in business and in life. There are many examples all around us every day of people who are dealing with big or little emergencies with flexibility that keeps them from breaking down.

Take the old adage, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” Those who master resilience are somewhat adept at accepting what comes down the pike, and even when things seem at their worst they have perseverance and trust in their ability to work through the challenge.

Thinking of different situations our family has faced and worked through — in business and life — I remember when a lady drove her car into our showroom. Putting her foot on the gas pedal instead of the brake, she and her car jumped a curb, crossed a sidewalk, and crashed through our showroom windows, which were full of a crystal display, and then came to rest in the middle of our showroom floor. Fortunately, this happened on a Sunday afternoon when we were closed and all our customers were home watching the Green Bay Packers play the Chicago Bears. Most important, no one was hurt, not even the lady driver. We just had a lot of cleaning and fixing up to do. Resilience entered the picture when we realized we had an opportunity to “make lemonade” by totally revamping that section of the showroom and laugh about how we could now be a “drive-in trophy shop.”



I told you in a recent blog about a car accident that left me with some back and leg challenges. I am so fortunate that I can look on my recovery process as just a nuisance, an interruption during a busy time. During my latest challenge many business friends have shared their own stories of resilience. It’s interesting how many never knew how resilient they are until they started thinking about it. After listening to these stories, I decided to ask two life and business coach friends what they could share about how to better deal with challenges. Each one said that resilience means being able to roll with the punches and adapt to life’s misfortunes and setbacks. Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Try to think of the challenge as temporary.
  • Try to find a way to “make lemonade.” Look for a silver lining whenever possible.
  • Take action. Sometimes it’s easier to just stick your head in the sand, but don’t do this. Take action.
  • Keep good company. Get support from other resilient people.
  • Stay tough. Resilient people face the situation and focus on all the possible ways to recover.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Laughter is the best cure! Looking for things to laugh at will help reduce tension and stress.

My coach friends reminded me that developing resilience is a personal journey. So being the resilient person that my brother thought I was, I am now working through my latest challenge — getting my independence back. To that end, I am cheerfully allowing a physical therapist to help me abuse all the muscles I didn’t know I had and I’m working at my goal of getting out of this darn wheelchair and being able to walk with a cane. Resilience will get me through.

The term “resilient” could describe people who handle stress well. This trait helps them bounce back from life’s setbacks. They are grateful for simple pleasures. Nothing seems to bother them. What a gift! Do you have it?

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