Bend, Don’t Break
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

One of the quotes that turned up during my First Quarter Reflection was, “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken.” A simple but powerful statement made to sound like one of the Beatitudes. The quote speaks of resilience. Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. If you agree with that definition, you will realize that resilience is a key characteristic of a leader. Leaders are frequently faced with adversity, threats, and significant sources of stress. Valorie Burton, a new colleague and mentor of mine with Maxwell Leadership, believes there are five traits resilient people possess. Let’s take a look.

  1. Resilient people are authentic. Authentic people are at peace with who they are. They don’t feel that they need to pretend to be someone they aren’t. They admit their mistakes and view them as learning opportunities. As they learn, they make course corrections to turn the learning experience into a positive outcome.
  2. Resilient people are flexible thinkers. They are very self-aware and realize when their thoughts are taking them down the wrong path. When they have negative thoughts, they realize that these thoughts are counterproductive and change course towards positive thoughts.
  3. They are (mostly) optimistic. What I love about Valorie is that she is so real. She shares that resilient people are mostly optimistic; they have an “I can get through this” attitude towards risks and challenges. It’s not that resilient people don’t see risks; they do. The difference is that they take precautions to prevent problems. They are also realistic and understand that there are times when they need to stop or consider a plan B.
  4. They reach out to others. Please don’t skip this. Resilient people don’t go it alone. They are humble enough to know when they need help. They reach out to thinking partners, coaches, or mentors to help them think through their most challenging thoughts.
  5. They use their strengths. We all have strengths and areas of giftedness. When we work in our strength zones, we are energized and feel more empowered. Resilient people are well aware of their strengths and leverage them in the most challenging times.

Resilience will be the key to capitalizing on opportunities in our ever-challenging world. If you would like to hear more about building resilience, please join Marisa Norcross and me for episode 254 of The Next Page podcast as we take a deeper dive into Valorie’s teachings and review what the American Psychological Association recommends for building resilience.

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