How to Build Resilience to Survive in This Difficult World

Facing difficulties is all part of life. It can often feel like we face endless challenges instead of happy endings – when we overcome one challenge, another one rears its ugly head.

Some people I know grew stronger through these challenges, some became weaker and couldn’t see hope anymore.

Two friends of mine were made redundant from their job during the recent financial crisis: while one felt humiliated, lost confidence and therefore had difficulty finding a new job, the other analyzed the situation, spent time identifying his strengths, saw it as an opportunity for growth and found himself a senior manager role in a new company.

It’s not how many challenges we’ve been through that differentiate us, it’s how we see these challenges that matter.

It’s not just optimism. It’s resilience 

While optimism is a positive outlook defined as “the quality of being full of hope and emphasizing the good parts of a situation, or a belief that something good will happen”, there is a difference when it comes to resilience.

Resilience is defined as “the quality of being able to return quickly to a previous good condition after problems.” In other words, it’s about moving on from a difficult situation without just emphasizing the positive parts and blindly believing that something good will happen. Instead it’s about seeing both sides, good and bad, being aware of the potential issues of the situation and taking action accordingly while keeping hope alive at the bases of it all.

Resilient people never think they really fail

The only failure is when someone does nothing, doesn’t try and just wallows in the injustice of a situation. Failing 90 times, to a resilient person, means learning 90 lessons and it’s these so-called failures that contribute to ultimate success.

Having the mindset that a so-called failure is a setback rather than a time for growth and redirection can be enough for us to give up. We’ve all experienced these and may well have given up on a dream or positive path as a result. But even though these failures can hit us hard, it’s actually just a symptom of big success because most of the huge successes in our life come from 80% failure and 20% intended outcome.

This is how the 3.8 billion company succeeded

Slack is a perfect example of resilient success. The $3.8 billion company failed massively before they succeeded. The CEO began spending 3 years building a revolutionary video game raising $17 million and recruiting over 40 staff without knowing if this would be a success. With staff moving across the country to get involved with the project, it was a gamble that initially didn’t pay off: with fierce competition, the company lost money and the team was laid off leaving a few to pick up the pieces.

But instead of giving up at this massive hurdle and what many people would describe as a failed attempt, the CEO and remaining employees focused on their strengths to develop the chat system used by millions of people around the world and the rest is successful history.

Resilient people ride on their internal qualities, not external triggers

It’s so easy to get affected by what’s going on around us and lose sight of the big picture. Resilient people know this very well. That’s why they work on their inner qualities which will save them when they get into difficulties.

The success of Slack was built on the mindset that the external factors weren’t going to get in the way when the choice to keep going with the skills they were already good at would lead them to a better opportunity.

So how can we make this important shift of focus to gain resilience?

Write down what is most important to you at critical moments

Your why in any given moment or long term goal is important to create resilience and writing this down is what’s called value based affirmation. Many studies [1] have backed up the idea that intervening at crucial moments to write down what is most important to you increases long-term positivity.

In suburban middle schools, minority students were found to perform worse than other students and were asked to reflect and write what was most important to them at the beginning of the school year and before exams. By doing this exercise, grade repetition amongst these students dropped from 18% to 5%.

Value based affirmation helps to shift one’s negative mindsets and raises his self-worth. Remembering what is important, especially in challenging times, makes us see the bigger goal instead of the short-term difficulties and this is what makes us survive.

Focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses

Challenges tend to remind us of our weaknesses and cause us to dwell on them. People who are resilient tend to already be well aware of their weaknesses but they don’t spend time focusing on them or trying to improve them with too many efforts.

Instead, they look towards their strengths and tune their direction accordingly when things appear to go wrong. Focusing on our strengths is how we acquire growth while focusing on our weaknesses only ultimately serves as a reminder of why we fail because of them. Resilience means knowing the best way to move forward in order to get ourselves back to a place of strength and we can’t do this if we allow our weaknesses to keep us down.

Resilience isn’t something many of us are born with, it’s a skill that comes out of experiencing dark times and setbacks in life. It’s about developing the skill to see challenges differently and the skill to intentionally shift our focus and mindset to create a position in which we can take advantage of trying times.

Reference

[1] Stanford Business: The Value of “Values Affirmation”

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High Achievers Are the Ones Who Make the Most Mistakes

The impact mistakes have had on most people’s lives is tremendous.

At school, you were taught to answer questions with model answers. At home, you were taught to be disciplined, have good manners and follow social etiquette. And at work, you’ve become accustomed to a constant expectation that you operate in a mistake-free manner!

The problem with all the above scenarios is that they punish mistakes. A teacher deducts marks for a wrong answer – a supervisor scolds people for failing to take the right action.

It’s no surprise, then, that from a very young age, people have been made to feel bad about making mistakes. Some have even felt like a complete failure. This constant negative feedback leads to most people desperately trying to live their lives without making any mistakes. It can actually become a compulsion. It may even lead to them trying to hide or lie about their mistakes.

But there is more to making mistakes than most have been led to believe.

The Unexpected Positive Side of Being Wrong

The truth is, by forever seeking to avoid mistakes – we actually end up making more mistakes!

It’s time to start looking at mistakes from a different perspective. They aren’t the monster they’ve been made out to be. They’ve the remarkable ability to help bring about powerful and rapid personal growth.

If you try to avoid mistakes, then you’ll also be missing opportunities to experience something different from what you planned or expected. Imagine that you miss a connecting flight while traveling to an exotic location. By missing the flight, you are forced to stay for 24 hours in a destination that you’d never been to before. To your surprise, though, you find that the nearest city to the airport is picturesque, cosmopolitan and friendly.  In fact, during your time there – you begin to fall in love with everything the city has to offer. When you finally have to leave the city to go back to the airport, you feel genuinely sad. The city captivates your interest and warms your heart.

Clearly, if you hadn’t missed your flight, you would’ve never visited the city – and never discovered your immediate liking for it.

Life can be like that. Mistakes can lead to adventures and opportunities. And beyond that, mistakes can help you to understand how to make better decisions in future situations.

Making Mistakes Does Not Fend off Success, Avoiding Them Does

Unsuccessful people put the bulk of their focus and energy on avoiding mistakes, whereas successful people put the bulk of their focus and energy on making continual attempts at reaching their goals.

Jim Carrey, on his debut comic stand-up at a club called Yuk Yuk’s in Toronto, he was booed off stage. However, he didn’t let this break him. Instead, he used the experience as a wake up call to improve his performance. This wasn’t the only set back he endured. When auditioning for the Saturday Night Live 1980-81 season, he failed to land the part.[1] Again, he didn’t let this destroy his confidence or ambition, but instead he kept on pursing his dreams until he finally broke through to the mainstream in 1994 with the blockbuster movie “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”

Jim Carrey wasn’t so successful as a comic stand up at the very beginning.

And then there is Michael Jordan. His profile on NBA’s website describes him as “the greatest basketball player of all time.”[2] And this is how most people think of him. However, Jordan himself said that:

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life.”

But he clarified this statement by adding some vital information: “And that is why I succeed.

Each attempt they made was open to mistakes. With more attempts made, the more feedback they received, and the more chances they gained to do better.

So, if you really want to avoid mistakes – attempt nothing and take no risks. Your record may remain clean, you’ll make few mistakes, but you’ll also have few achievements to write home about. In other words, avoiding mistakes is the easiest way to become and stay unsuccessful.

From Making Mistakes to Mastering Mistakes

Failed attempts are only futile if you don’t learn from them.

Let’s say that you expect that mistakes will happen after you’ve made a choice. This is natural. You’re aware that choices come with risks, and risks can lead to mistakes. However, if you allow the same mistakes to occur time and time again, then you’re not learning or evolving – but instead are stuck in a rut. Albert Einstein said it well:

“The definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results.”

A much better approach, is to analyze your mistakes, and to see if you can work out how to avoid them in the future. Put another way, make every attempt count and learn from it. By doing this, you’ll quickly overcome foolish mistakes, and begin to make real progress in your life.

As a hard-hitting example for you to think about, if you know that drunk driving can kill, and you still do it because you think it’s about “making more attempts and mistakes,” that’s a foolish act – not an attempt that will help you grow.

On the other hand, if you plan a business project with some risky ideas, but expect there will be mistakes, then even if these efforts turn out to be unsuccessful, you’ll learn from them.

A mistake is just a mis-take, start over by learning from your last mis-take.

Making mistakes doesn’t equal failure. Not making any, however, will mean that you miss out on tons of attempts and learning opportunities. This guarantees failure.

Be brave, be bold, and be prepared to make mistakes.

Reference

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How to Ask for Negative Feedback Without Feeling Hurt

Ever since childhood, our parents and school teachers were constantly correcting and directing us by teaching the difference between right and wrong, and how to behave appropriately. We have been shaped by feedback, as we were always submerged in a “feedback pool.”

Somehow we have tricked ourselves into believing that no news usually implies good news. “If I don’t receive any feedback, then that must mean that I’m doing a great job and nothing needs to be improved. Right?” Unfortunately, not always. Many people are reluctant to give feedback because they feel that they may come across as bossy, or start a conflict.

We never learned how to actively consult for feedback, so we are typically very passive when it comes to receiving it.

This is because we receive less feedback as we age. Our parents and teachers start to back off a bit. This could be because they become more conscious on the impression that they leave on us, or they believe that it’s time we shape ourselves as people. True as that may be, many people don’t have the ability to fully self-reflect and find what needs improvement. We need some sort of guidance from an outside perspective to point out the variables that we can’t notice ourselves.

People are reluctant to give feedback, and even more reluctant to receive it.

Not receiving feedback from others does not always mean that we are doing a good job. In fact, it can cause a rift in our performance because we have no direction in terms of the progress we have already made, and how to approach oncoming tasks.

The absence of feedback creates a bias

Self-reflection is a vital practice for improvement, but if you think you can quickly improve by relying solely on your own self-review, you are sorely mistaken.  We develop a certain perspective when we perform, and we follow the path and practices that we think will bring us the most success.

If we only look at things from our own perspective, then all of our decisions are influenced by bias because we only consider one side of the coin. This practice of only accepting information that supports your perspective is called confirmation bias. The lack of feedback feeds into the idea that your way is the right way, because no one has ever challenged you or suggested any sort of improvement.  That’s why relying only on self-reflection is not impossible, but takes a lot more effort and time.

So it’s very important to get feedback from an outsider perspective. You will be forced to consider variables that had never occurred to you, and in the end improve your performance.

Asking for feedback can be very intimidating. You’re essentially asking people to tell you what you’ve been doing wrong and point out your flaws. There are techniques to safely ask for feedback and appropriately digest the information, equipping you to use to it your advantage.

The way that you approach for feedback will influence the way that you receive it

Feedback will only be helpful if you choose to accept it positively, and use it as momentum to improve.  Resist the natural reaction to take things personally, because this information is a chance to grow and learn. If you allow yourself to be offended, you will never accept the information on a factual level. In other words, buck up and take it.

It’s okay to feel bad because it’s not easy to hear that you’re anything less than perfect. Especially when it feels like an attack on your livelihood. But you can’t doubt yourself because of this, or try to explain away the criticism.  Just assume that whoever is giving you this feedback wants to see you improve.  And once you know what needs to change, all you need to do is get out there and do it.

The key is to pick the RIGHT person and frame your question accordingly

You want to choose someone that you trust and respect, and who really has a firm grasp on the topic at hand.  They should have experience facing the obstacles that are coming your way, and will provide you with honest feedback and advice on how to overcome them.

How you approach receiving feedback is crucial as well. It is not enough to ask someone that you admire. They may not be properly trained on how to give feedback appropriately as teachers are. So you need to be prepared with questions to ask them so that you receive answers within your scope of expectation.

For example: If you want to improve your speech presentation, you need to ask questions directly related to that. Instead of asking what they think about a certain aspect as a whole, ask what specifically could be improved. The broad question of, “what do you think of my ____?” leaves room for personal judgment, and even more room to get offended. By carefully asking questions, you will be directing their focus towards a solution.

Create a positive Feedback Loop

Taking in feedback is never easy if you only see it as criticism instead of a chance to improve.  Thinking of it as a fast track to achieve what you want will make you feel less offended and motivates you to ask for more feedback.  Last of all, you must act on the feedback given and apply it!  At Lifehack, we encourage everyone to get feedback fast, and get it early during the learning process.  Like running up a staircase, each time you receive and apply feedback you’re creating a feedback loop that helps you make upward progress.  Going up stairs step by step is much easier than having to suddenly climb up a wall.  So have confidence and be proactive.  With this perspective, you’ll find that getting the right feedback is like gold – it can save you hours of wasted effort and accelerate your progress by leaps and bounds.

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Leadership Quotes Teaching You to be a Friendly and Capable Leader

Angela Merkel (leader of the European Union), Aung San Suu Kyi (Chair of National League for Democracy), Dalai Lama (leader of the Tibetan), Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon.com), and George Kennedy (head coach of university swim teams). They are people on the list of successful leaders. How? Leaders want to keep the authority but never wish to be the common woes of the members. If you are struggling to balance between the two, take a look at the leadership quotes and find the answer.

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20 Encouraging Quotes That Lift You Up From Gloomy Days

We all have time when we get lost. We need hope. We need encouragements. Sometimes we can’t find someone to prove our worth. But don’t forget. You are always the first to help yourself. Scroll down and brighten you with these encouraging quotes. You are stronger, wiser and better than you thought.

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Beam at the Smile Quotes to Refresh Yourself With Happiness

Do you know you look amazing when you smile? If you are tired of faking a smile, here are tips that help you find true happiness. Start the day with a natural smile. The first step – look at the following quotes and you will see a smile on your face.

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Friend quotes That Make You Appreciate Someone Even More

Text you when you are busy. Tease you when you were silly. Celebrate your birthday. Introduce the loved one to you. Find you when being sad. Stand by you when you feel hopeless.

Do these remind you of someone important, someone special? Check out the friend quotes to see how awesome your accompany is.

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