RESILIENCE – A Core Competency for Everyone

Let’s discuss resilience. For the past few weeks, I’ve been working with a group of new college graduates as they embark upon their first corporate role and the question that keeps coming up is “how to build resilience”.
How do you build resilience? How can you build the skills to recover from setbacks, bad news, and challenges, both in your professional and personal lives?

First let’s define resilience. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties or tough situations. But, what does it mean to be a resilient person?

To be resilient you have to be aware of your situation – no hiding or ignoring your situation. You have to be in touch with your own emotional reactions, both positive and negative. You also have to be aware of the behavior of those around you and how that affects you.

Stated even more simply, resilience means you have the ability to remain calm during crisis, or through a setback, and move on from it without any long-term negative consequences.

Sounds easy right? But for many people, it’s not. The good news is that you can build resilience. Working through a few steps, outlined in the infographic below, you can find a way forward.

© 2022 M McCown, Clarity Coaching DC

The information above is tactical and in response to an active setback or challenge, but let’s say you are not in the middle of a setback. Can you still build up your resilience muscle? Of course you can!

Here’s some of my favorite ways to do that.

1. Be optimistic. It can be a stretch if you’re not naturally wired that way but do your best, every day, to “see the glass half full”.

2. Build positive relationships. If you have a relationship with a friend, a family member, a coworker, or an acquaintance that isn’t positive, do your best to get out of it or distance yourself from that person. You may have heard that we are the product of who we spend most of our time around and that can be very true for most people. If you are constantly listening to someone go on about all the bad things that are happening to them and all the bad things that are happening in the world, it can really affect your mindset. Find some separation from that person.

3. Take care of yourself. This sounds simple but many people don’t really look after themselves. Do your best to get the amount of sleep that leaves you feeling your best, cultivate healthy habits, engage in positive self-talk, and cut back on anything that isn’t good for you (smoking, excessive drinking, drug use, fatty foods, etc.)

4. Don’t be afraid to fail. If you look at the history of inventions over the last 200 years or so countless numbers of them began from a failure. We’ve all heard the story of how Edison discovered the light filament as a result of failing more than 1,000 times. We’ve also heard about how the Post-It Note came to be as the result of an industrial adhesive failure. When you fail, you learn valuable lessons and you naturally build your resilience

5. Work on your strengths. If you’re good at something, lean into that and try to find opportunities that allow you to do that. If you have a job in technology but you are a really good writer, try to carve out a few hours a week to write. Finding time to work on your strengths can give you the boost you need when things don’t go your way.

6. Set realistic goals. When it comes to goal setting many people struggle. And that’s because they don’t account for all of the little elements that go into successful goal setting. In a future post, I’ll probably cover how to write an effective SMART goal but, for now, remember that your goal has to be achievable. It also has to have a finite time period in which to achieve it and, it has to be tied to actions you can take in your current situation.

7. Finally, never give up. As long as you have the ability to get out of bed every morning, under your own power, there is no reason to give up! Resiliency is all about digging deep and tapping into your internal reserves of strength, when everything else is going sideways. By not giving up, you’re putting faith in yourself and your ability to handle whatever comes your way. That’s resilience!

What do you think? Do you have any tips you use to build resilience? Share them in the comments!

Have questions about coaching or want some help in developing your resilience? Reach out to me at

Thanks for stopping by!


Here is a simple infographic to help those who may be struggling to lead their teams in these very troubling and chaotic times. These tips are based on years of coaching leaders, being a leader, and working for leaders (good and not so good). If I missed any you think are critical to good crisis leadership, sound off in the comments. Thanks for stopping by!