8 Powerful Ways To Build Resilience

By Somali K Chakrabarti

At an altitude of 5,000 metres in the Siachen Glacier, the levels of oxygen in the blood of a healthy solider is similar to that of a patient with severe lung disorder at sea level. Prolonged stay at these high altitudes presents a completely different set of medical challenges.

In addition to the constant threat of enemy action, life in the glacier is all about combating long periods of isolation, making do with tinned food, struggling for clean drinking water, living in cramped temporary shelters without electricity and the absence of a host of things taken for granted by civilized society.

—Beyond NJ 9842: The Siachen Saga |The book captures stories of stories of courage and resilience of Indian soldiers posted at Siachen Glacier, the Highest Battlefield on Earth


Resilience is not a one off event

Resilience in Adversity

Resilience is your ability to sustain under difficult circumstances for prolonged periods of time, while maintaining your resolute, energy, hope and self belief.

You need resilience when

  1. You are dealing with adversity over a considerable period of time.
  2. Face uncertain and complex choices that are difficult to evaluate at the given point of time
  3. You experience myriad emotions, exhaustion and/or loneliness
  4. Feel that your efforts are not recognized or rewarded.
  5. Feel that things are NOT within your control
  6. Have doubts about your own talent or ability.

Given a choice, we all try to avoid such situations. However when we find ourselves thrown into tough situations, we hardly have a choice but to face the challenge and deal with it.

Dealing effectively with adversity demands people nurture resilience. It provides the opportunity to learn and grow, albeit in a rather hard-hitting manner. This often results in immense personal growth of people who are able to conquer adversity.


Dealing with adversity teaches valuable lessons in life


Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.  ~ C.S. Lewis

In face of adversity

  1. You understand what you actually value
  2. You reflect, learn and grow
  3. You may discover your higher purpose

You may have seen at times people make incredible changes to their lives or take up a cause after they experience a big loss. Patients who survive cancer or other terminal illness, have inspiring stories to tell.

In fact, tough situations can act as remarkable catalysts for re-evaluation of our lives, although the outcome is hard to envisage at that point of time when one is going through the ordeal.


How to develop resilience at work


The human capacity for burden is like bamboo- far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance. ~Jodi Piccault

To rise to the challenges one is faced with, one needs to develop resilience. To be resilient you need to build both commitment and control. The following ways will help you to do so:

  1. Work with your strengths

When things get tough and problems intensify increasingly, one may get overwhelmed by the issues. So it becomes necessary to figure out and focus on the areas where you do have control and influence. When things seem out of control, if you focus on factors that are under your control, you can make them work for you.

Mind you it easy to become paralyzed by issues, whereas it takes effort to focus on what’s good and working well with us. As negativity is more potent and contagious than positivity, we are hard wired to quickly notice when anything goes wrong.

Your internal strengths could be knowledge, perspective, courage, persistence, vitality, humour etc.

When you identify the strengths that are pertinent to you, you will be better positioned to use your strengths to cope with  tough situations as you will approach them from a position of power rather than a position of weakness.


  1. Understand your ‘ Big Idea’

When you introspect and understand what is your ‘Big Idea’ or your fundamental motivator, you will have the will to keep driving towards it.

For example, ‘Big Idea’ could be to create some innovative product or to make a positive difference in the lives of others, or to create a brilliant symphony.

Some trigger questions can help you to find your ‘Big Idea’:

  • What motivates you to come to work?
  • What theme connects your successes?
  • What lessons in life have shaped you?
  • What are your beliefs that have guided you?


  1. Focus on your core work

The essential part of your job or your core work contributes most to feeling engaged at work. Spending more time and focusing on your core work and setting aside some amount of time for your routine chores such as answering mails, routine meetings and status updates will increase your mental involvement at work.


  1. Develop self-belief, show intent, build trust

People with high self belief are more likely to tackle larger and challenging goals, try harder, plan better, are more persistent and recover faster from failures and set-backs. You can develop self belief by modeling others who are similar to you and have succeeded. Often other people who you respect can boost your confidence by encouraging you and telling you that you have what it takes to succeed, thus motivating you to live up to the mark.

When you believe in yourself it reflects in your thoughts and feelings. Your intent shows in your actions and helps in building credibility and trust. Trusting relationships are possible only when people think about win-win scenario not win – lose scenario.


  1. Recognize your personal energy, have belief in yourself, and be hopeful

When you feel motivated your personal energy levels will increase, and you will be more resilient. The key is to change the level of motivation as per the demands of the situation.

Recognize the time when you get your ideas, and separate it out from the time when you execute your ideas.


  1. Build effective goals

Building effective goals is key to maintain motivation and resilience. Breaking long term end goals into short term performance goals will give the feeling of achievement as you keep accomplishing the smaller goals.

People feel motivated to work towards a goal that they perceive as realizable, they feel competent enough to deliver it and more or less in control. If the goal is too difficult, or too big and too distant you naturally wont be too motivated or resilient in your approach.


  1. Develop perspective

When you are facing adversity, you may feel low and depressed, bereft of hope, and get into bouts of bad mood. It’s easy to lose perspective of what is happening.

By examining what you’re facing from different angles, you’ll be able to broaden your thinking and increase your chances of finding a solution.

At times writing down about your perception of the situation, your feelings about the situation and how rational your beliefs are may help you to decide upon the course of action to get out of the situation.


  1. Work with your intuition

Your intuition grows with experience, judgment and results.

Positive intuitions help you to find solutions or make decisions, whereas negative intuitions warn you what not to do.

You can develop or hone your intuitions in the manner given below:

  • In a quiet place, project yourself into the future and imagine the desired outcomes.
  • Work backwards and think about what you’ll need to achieve those outcomes. Who can bank upon for helping you, you might want to hinder you etc.
  • Check in how you feel and what you are thinking.
  • Then purposefully leave it and divert yourself.
  • Later check in your thoughts and feelings again.


Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  ~ Steve Jobs


Resilience is a journey. You may not feel resilient all the time, but if you become aware of the factors that add to or subtract from your energy, you can pull yourself back into the track/ path of resilience as the situation demands.


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Resilience for Leaders, iOpener Ltd

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