R is for Resilience

There are many models for developing resilience. This article explores some approaches to developing this quality.

Resilient people develop the inner strength, strategies and skills to overcome setbacks. Managing such challenges can sometimes provide the platform for achieving future success.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the past when you demonstrated resilience.

Describe the specific things you did to demonstrate resilience in that situation.

Slides Resilience.001

Slides Resilience.002

Al Siebert did pioneering work on resilience. His superb books – such as The Survivor Personality and The Resiliency Advantage – enabled many people to develop their inner strength.

He provided more than inspiring stories. He offered positive models and practical tools that enabled people to develop their resiliency skills.

They could then apply these to overcome challenges when using their strengths. He helped many people to make breakthroughs in their personal and professional lives.

Returning to college after completing his military service, Al resolved to study psychology, but he grew frustrated by its emphasis on mental illness.

He decided to study life’s survivors – those who grew when overcoming tough challenges. Scoping out the areas of study, he chose to focus on people that met the following criteria:

They had survived a major crisis and surmounted it through personal effort.

They had emerged from the experience with previously unknown strengths and abilities.

They had, in retrospect, found value in the experience.


Building on his research, Al outlined some of the strategies survivors adopt to overcome crises successfully. Such people have often developed life competencies that help them in emergencies. These include the following.

The Survivor Personality

They feel totally responsible for making things work out well during a crisis.

They stay calm and quickly read the new reality.

They maintain a sense of perspective and are open to doing anything.

They totally commit to pursuing their chosen way forwards.

Al went on to start Thrivenet. This a web site packed with stories and tools that people can use to overcome adversity. Here is the link:


He then produced another compelling book.

The Resiliency Advantage

Expanding on the theme of survival, Al focused on how people can thrive in a fast changing world. This calls for individuals, teams and organisations to develop their resiliency skills.

Why? In the old days many people relied on institutions to tell them what to learn and how to behave. Nowadays people must manage increasing information, complexity and unpredictability.


Such events may include personal setbacks, sickness, redundancy, market changes, reduced budgets, technological changes, economic downturns or whatever.

People will need to deal with such challenges. This calls for them taking responsibility, seeing to the heart of the matter and making good decisions. Even if they choose the right strategy, events may conspire to throw them off track.

They will need to recover quickly, practice course correction and do everything possible to reach their goals. People who develop such resiliency skills are more likely to increase their chances of success.

Al illustrated these ideas with real inspiring stories. Some are in the book, some on The Resiliency Center web site. You can discover more via the following link.


The Adversity Advantage

Paul G. Stoltz and Erik Weihenmayer wrote The Adversity Advantage. This shows how overcoming setbacks can fuel a person’s ability to produce greatness.

Paul originally gained public attention with his work on AQ – Adversity Quotient. This enabled people to measure and improve their ability to overcome adversity.


Erik became the first blind person to climb Everest. A journey he chronicled in his book Touch The Top of The World.

After seeing Erik featured on the front of Time Magazine, Paul sought him out. Building on the views they shared in common, they decided to write The Adversity Advantage.

Their site outlines strategies for overcoming adversity and achieving peak performance. Here is a brief summary taken from the site, which describes these in more detail.


Take It On.

Learn how to overcome frustration, helplessness and anger. Also learn how to benefit from adversity.

Summon Your Strengths.

Challenge the conventional wisdom that natural strengths drive success. Exceed expectations of what you and others can, or should, attempt to do.

Engage Your CORE.

Learn how to handle adversity better and faster. Engage your CORE and learn how to turn adversities into advantages. (CORE stands for Control, Ownership, Reach and Endurance.)

Pioneer Possibilities.

Devise signature systems for turning the impossible into the possible. Learn to create strategies that others fail to see.

Pack Light, Pack Right.

Learn how packing poorly cripples you, but how choosing the right things, people, obligations, and pursuits strengthen you. Spring clean, so you can rise up, rather than crumble, under the weight of adversity.

Suffer Well.

Character is forged in the flames of adversity. Done right, suffering can fuel greatness.

Deliver Greatness, Every Day.

This summit, the culmination, weaves together the most important ideas of the book, providing a coherent, portable package of practices that you can apply anywhere, anytime.

You can learn more about Paul and Erik at the following websites.



The Resilience Research Centre

There are many other people who focus on resilience and how it can be developed.

Michael Ungar and his colleagues at The Resilience Research Centre in Canada explore how these qualities can be developed in young people. Below is a video of Michael presenting on these themes to the Simcoe County District School Board.

You can discover more about The Resilience Centre via the following link.


The Centre’s work highlights several things that children need in order to grow. These include, for example:

To enjoy positive relationships with an advocate, mentor or role models.

To develop a sense of identity.

To feel in control of their lives.

To be treated fairly and experience social justice.

To be able to fulfil their basic needs by having access to basic services.

To have a sense of cohesion, purpose or spirituality.

To develop a sense of their own culture, whilst also respecting the cultures of others.

The Centre provides information and tools that parents, teachers and institutions can use to nurture resilience in young people.

You will have your own approach to developing these qualities in yourself and others. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future where you may need to demonstrate resilience.

Describe the specific things you can do to demonstrate resilience in that situation.

Describe the specific benefits of demonstrating resilience in that situation.

Slides Resilience.003

Slides Resilience.004

Slides Resilience.005

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>