What is it that makes one person more resilient than another?

I was fortunate enough to attend a talk by Stephen Mcgown.  The South African who became the Al Qaeda’s longest-held prisoner. On that particular day I was facilitating training on resilience, as the specialist tasked with setting the scene for the “motivational speaker”. But little did I know that I would be the student that day.

I walked away inspired and curious.  What is it that makes one person more resilient than another?  Research will talk about genetics, personal history, environment etc, but when that traumatic experience hits, what does it all come down to?  What makes one person walk away from an experience stronger and more positive and another broken and changed forever?

Listening to Stephen, I realised that he had a lot in common with Dr Edith Eger and Viktor Frankl (both holocaust survivors) – attitude and the power of choice.   For Stephen freedom was an attitude. In the book, The Choice, Dr Edith Eger explains how her mother told her that no one can take away from you what you’ve put in your mind. Again, a choice.

 

How do you look at hard times?

We all have a choice in how we look at hard times. Do we step into blame, anger, holding on to the past or do we take up the power of choice? Now this statement comes with accountability and the responsibility to be conscious in the situations you find yourself in.  Being resilient requires mastery more than optimism.  In Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” he talks about individuals who had expectations about certain dates in the future and when those dates came and they were still in captivity, they gave up and died.  Mastery involves control and links closely to the ability to choose.  If I can make decisions about what I let into and keep in my mind, then I have control.

 

Choices in the workplace

How does this relate to the world of work?  We are experiencing exponential change and disruption and with this heightened emotion and stress.  The choice we have is how we take up these changes.  If we allow for negativity and blame to take residence in our thoughts then our behaviour and general resilience will be guided by that.  The fact is that we can’t change our current reality and we cannot predict what comes tomorrow but TODAY I have the choice in what resides in my mind.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Cindy Squair

For more information contact us or visit our Facebook page.

011 782 7007