How resilient are you?

I credit my level of resilience to the lessons instilled in me through horse riding ...

Resilience can be described as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.

In my opinion, resilience is a mindset which is built on practice, not theory. And, the only way to build more of it is to fail often, and bounce back quickly.

Growing up, I was riding horses before I could walk. I credit my resilience now to the strong mentality that was instilled in me through the belief of “If you fall off, get straight back on that horse again”!

… And falling off was something I did often.

Through years of riding difficult ponies and horses, I became quite a pro at hitting the dirt; and I wish I could tell you that I fell on my feet, but in my 18 years of riding, it didn’t happen once!

There were many times in my life when I thought about giving up, when I was sick of falling, and when I wished I could break my own rule of “get back on that horse again”.

But I couldn’t. It was a habit ingrained in every ounce of my being, and I can probably only count on one hand the number of times I broke that rule (and it was only due to maintaining a serious enough injury which stopped me).

These principles I developed through childhood have allowed me to recover quickly from life’s difficulties – both personally and in business. If it weren’t for the resilience and sheer determination I possess, I would likely not be where I am now.

Because the thing is, resilience isn’t built when life is easy. It’s when shit’s hitting the fan, when we are battered and bruised, and when we don’t think we can continue anymore. True resilience lies in these moments when we could easily crumble, but instead, we choose option B – to get back up again.

To be positive and to get up again when things are going wrong is not an easy feat. But we have found ourselves in a society where blame is laid to others (often), and when there is often someone by our side telling us, “It’s Ok, you don’t have to do it”.

I mean, how can we work through our own problems, establish solutions, and build a strong mindset if we get a free pass every time something doesn’t go to plan?

Resilience is developed through repetition. We don’t overcome something difficult once, and never have to do it again. As humans, it’s not as if we are never going to fall or to fail, so why do we treat ourselves as if everything’s going to go perfectly all the time? We need to stop wishing for perfection, because the messiness and things going wrong give us a chance to learn, overcome, and grow.

So, how can you build more resilience?

Well, the first step is to break your own rules!

As humans, we all like to have rules to follow, and we like to set boundaries for ourselves based on what we “should” and “shouldn’t” do. The rules that we live by define what we do and how we respond to events or circumstances. But sometimes these rules which we’ve instilled in our lives to protect us, are the very thing stopping us from getting to where we need to go.

A rule which could be holding you back from developing your resilience could be: “I can’t fail more than 3 times”, or “I can’t show my failed attempts on social media”, or “if I don’t get it right first go, I’ll move on”.

But how would you likely behave if you lived by rules such as this?

Do you think you would embrace the life lessons given to us in difficult moments? Or would you shy away from them?

If your rules are no longer serving you, it’s time to break them and develop better ones!

Resilience is developed through repetition. We don’t overcome something difficult once, and never have to do it again.

The second step is to gain complete responsibility in your life!

There is a big difference in the behaviour of the “action takers” and the “talkers”; and it comes down to how they handle their faults or mistakes: One takes radical responsibility for themselves and their outcomes, and the other passes the buck on to someone else when the going gets tough.

Our ability to take responsibility for both the good and the bad in our life will increase our likelihood of getting back up and trying again. When we can accept the shit that went wrong, we can work through what needs to be done in order to learn from it and get going again. However, when we play the blame game, we won’t take ownership for the mistakes or failures, which means we won’t have the motivation (or a reason), to get up and try again.

Lastly, you must learn to embrace failure.

Failure is inevitable in life. The reality is, not many people get it right first go, we just see the outcome of them finally succeeding and believe that they “were lucky”, or “had it easy”. However, we need to change our relationship with failure, from one that is fear based, to one which is lesson based!

We don’t learn how to be successful from things going right, just like we don’t build a resilient mindset from the easy times. We learn success and strength in the screw ups and mistakes we make along the way, and these build data and information we need to choose a different path the next time. We live in a world where we fear making a mistake or failing, because we don’t want to look like a fool. But, in order to become Ok with failure, and to build resilience, we must put ourselves in situations where failure is a likely result; because the more often we fail, the more Ok we become with failing. It’s no longer this horrific fairy tale of woe and despair; instead, it becomes something that we realise isn’t quite so scary after all.

We must remember that greatness doesn’t come from doing everything right. It comes from getting back up again; both when it’s hard and painful, and when we are tired.

As a child, I lived and breathed horses. Being an enthusiast was fraught with danger and uncontrollables; however, everything was worth it when I had that awesome ride, or when my horses and I accomplished something together. It was in these times that I would forget the falls, the mistakes, and the bruises and broken bones; and feel truly happy for how far I had come.

So, our craving for the end result must be greater than the roadblocks that stand in our way!

When we have a strong reason to do something, or when passion is involved, these feelings don’t just “go away” in the presence of failure or hardships. In fact, these feelings strengthen our willingness to keep going and to succeed, and this is where true resilience is found – when giving up no longer becomes an option.

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