Building Resilience

One of the most frequent questions I am asked as a motivational speaker is how to build resilience.  Every one of us experiences set backs or failure in life but those who achieve their goals somehow have an ability to never give up when met with these failures. As an elite athlete for over two decades I’ve had plenty of adversity thrown onto my path on the way to winning World and European medals and so resilience just became a byproduct of that journey. However in retrospect there were deliberate actions and thoughts that I put my focus on that were responsible for the development of this important skill. After being diagnosed with Crohns Disease in 2014, a debilitating illness for which there is currently no cure, I remember peoples shock that I did not entertain the idea of quitting my sport. To me it was just another hurdle and this particular hurdle has helped me identify the ten most important factors that I believe will help anyone build the resilience to bounce back after setbacks.

1. Fail forward

Failures or setbacks are part of life and the more you go after your ambitions or goals the more likely you are to meet these failures. While in the midst of some poor results or bad news it can be difficult to see the good but to me this has always been a learning curve. Making mistakes is never a bad thing when you can learn from it and make improvements for the next attempt. You win or you learn.

2. You become what you believe

What I’ve learned the hard way is that you become what you believe and what you think about. So if you put your focus on life being unfair, being jealous of others’ successes and why it won’t work for you, well that’s exactly what you’ll get more of. Convince yourself that you can achieve what you want and you’ll give yourself a much better chance of success.

3. What others think is none of your business

Often we choose not to go after our dreams for fear of what others will think. We are embarrassed that people will think our ideas are ridiculous. Remember, someone has to be the first to accomplish something so why can’t it be you? Ignore the naysayers and tune out the negative opinions of others.

4. Take action

All the self belief in the world will only get you so far. You need to take action towards your goal. When you get an idea or inspiration to act DO IT!

5. Get comfortable with the unknown

Obstacles can be viewed as a challenge or an impossibility; it’s up to you to decide which view you will take. What I’ve learned throughout the last few years is the only way to succeed and enjoy the journey is to embrace these as challenges and have fun trying to figure it all out.

6. Stay positive

Positivity can be a difficult idea to contemplate when things seem to be going in the wrong direction. However there is always something to appreciate and focusing on what is going right will make it a lot easier to persist and see your goal through to the end.

7. Embrace change

If you want to keep growing and challenging yourself then change will certainly be part of this. Wanting to remain with the known is just repeating events from your past. The unknown is where the excitement is and when you develop the belief in your abilities there will be no fear of the unknown.

8. Always be willing to learn

Accept that there is always more that you can learn. Be open to new ideas and even new beliefs as what you once believed can always change. Be ok with that and be flexible in your approach to new information.

9. Build your support network

When you don’t get the results you want at the time you expected, it can be difficult to swallow. Having people around you that support you and help you get back on track is definitely helpful.

10. Make yourself a priority

Take care of yourself physically and mentally. Find time to do what you love. When you’re happy and stress free you’re much better equipped to succeed.