Developing a strong personal brand takes work. We can spend a lot of time and energy on identifying and communicating our brand attributes and what differentiates us, but what happens when life throws us a curve ball and all that branding work is knocked sideways?
In this post, we explore the question “why do some people bounce back from misfortune while others tend to sink?” The answer lies in their resilience. Resilience essentially equates to a durable level of mental toughness. A resilient individual will not allow life’s circumstances to push them down and hold them under…and their personal brand remains a buoyant one.
So what exactly differentiates someone who is resilient?
They are flexible and adaptive
If you look at the Latin origin of resilience, you’ll find the word resilire — to jump back. So essentially, resilience means that one is able to jump or bounce back from life’s setbacks. It means being able to survive (and even thrive) in the face of adversity. Resilient people accept that failure and setbacks are temporary and a part of being human. Flexibility is a central attribute of resilient people, one that helps them adapt to new circumstances quickly. They not only bounce back from these struggles, they find healthy and effective ways to integrate such challenges into their lives moving forward. Resilient individuals also do not allow their names to become associated with the word “victim”; a highly resilient personal brand is not defined or shaped by adversity. Instead, resilience itself becomes a defining feature of their personal brand.
They don’t try to control everything
Resilient folks don’t try to control all the variables in the equation. They build acceptance around what they cannot control and instead focus on what they can control. This extends to how they handle unhelpful thoughts and emotions. In psychology, we know that struggling to suppress your emotions inevitably backfires. When we struggle with certain unwanted thoughts or emotions, we become embroiled in a control agenda that takes us out of the present moment and off course. Instead, resilient people are connected to their emotions, handle them more effectively (vs. trying to get rid of them) and practice self-awareness, which gives them the bandwidth to focus on moving towards the life they want when the going gets tough.
They maintain a positive outlook and don’t buy into negative thoughts
In addition to regulating their emotions, resilient people hold an optimistic, positive outlook on life in general. And when negative thoughts do appear, they don’t buy into them. In other words, they don’t treat these thoughts like facts. They have learned that they can have any thought they want without letting that thought control them. For example, they can have a thought that tells them they “can’t do it”…yet do it anyway. They avoid getting hooked by cognitive distortions such as “catastrophizing” (irrationally viewing a situation as considerably worse than it actually is) and “all or nothing thinking” (being black and white, with no middle position). They also tend to sidestep placing blame on themselves for their misfortune, or pinning it on someone else. By and large, they are able to see more positives and persist in the face of self-defeating, critical thoughts.
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela
They learn from misfortune and take responsibility
Resilient people will use what whatever obstacles that come their way to change their trajectory in a more positive or productive direction. They harness a sense of responsibility
for their actions in the face of adversity, a hallmark of mental toughness. This responsibility extends to their thinking style, mentioned in the point above. Positive psychologist Martin Seligman believes that people are unable to be resilient unless they assume responsibility for the way they think about themselves. Learning from situations, taking responsibility and figuring out a way forward fuels determination. Despite setbacks, the resilient are able to come up with a Plan B that keeps them moving forward…and above and beyond.
They push themselves
In one of my previous posts, I discuss the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone. This uncomfortable space is typically where growth happens, and the more opportunities we create for ourselves to grow and evolve, the more resilient we are likely to become. Resilient people continually move outside of their comfort zone to learn how to handle their fears – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of looking silly, etc. – and move with these fears. In other words, they don’t wait for their fears to go away before they take action in their lives, but instead confront challenges head on and push forward while feeling their fear. Instead of waiting for their circumstances to change, or waiting for others to change it for them, resilient people view themselves as the agent for change; they tend to believe they are the catalyst for their own rebound. They continuously move towards a goal, and treat pain and despair as transient states.
“The things which hurt, instruct.” – Benjamin Franklin
Regardless of upbringing, genetics or circumstances, anyone can add a bit more resilience to their personal brand. At the core of resilience is a belief in oneself, a belief well worth cultivating…in personal branding or any self-development work for that matter!