What do we mean by Success – Blog 14: Your Resilience?

Resilience is something that we all possess in life, some may be seen as being ‘more resilient’ than others, some conversely my be seen as ‘less resilient’ or maybe ‘not as resilient as somebody else’. So if it exists inside all of us, can we use it as a measure to determine how successful we are? That’s what we’ll be looking in today’s “What do we mean by Success?” blog!

Hello and Welcome to Sweeney’s Blogs!

Today’s blog is the fourteenth blog in the “What do we mean by Success?” series and is going to look at if we can use one’s resilience as a measure to determine how successful, or not, somebody is in life. Resilience is something that lives inside all of us in one way or another, so is it a fair judgement to decide whether someone is a success or not simply off of how resilient they are?

Let’s take a look at this in more detail…

Resilience has always been a really interesting topic for me personally. I always like finding out how people develop their resilience, the different types of resilience, whether or not you can be more or less resilient and more! It is a topic that comes up a lot when we look at subjects like Mental Health, and for good reason too.

So, before we look into if we can use resilience as a determiner of success or not, I feel that it is only fair to take a look at what we actually mean by resilience. What does ‘being resilient’ actually mean?

The Oxford Dictionary define Resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” So in essence, resilience is the ability to get back up again after you have been knocked down. Resilience in itself is a skill and is one that we can improve on over time. So, if we can improve it and work on it, can we say it is a good & fair measure to compare one’s success to?

Resilience, for me, is one that you learn more about when you are actually in the position of needing to stand back up again. There have been moments in my life, for instance when I nearly died during my life saving operation back in 2014, where I did not know that I was as resilient as I was until I actually got through it.

I showed a great deal of resilience when I had the operation, such as when I had to learn how to walk and breathe properly again but I never really knew that that was resilience at the time, it was just something that came so natural to me, like almost an instinct. People talk about instinct a lot, such as when you react in a high pressure situation, but is instict simply a form of resilience?

Instinct can be a reaction that we have to a particular situation. For instance, if there is emergency and people are panicking and you step in to help fix/resolve the situation, based merely off of your instinct to do something, isn’t that a sign of resilience? Aren’t you being resilient to simply planning by actively trying to resolve the situation? Or in other words by taking action to get back up again?

Whatever your definition of resilience may be, I think it is safe to say that everybody is resilient in their own way, right? So can we compare it to our success?

To best answer this question, we need to look at how exactly one would compare the resilience of two people, because after all, resilience comes in many different forms right? We have Mental Resilience, Physical Resilience, Pain Resilience, Educational Resilience, Emotional Resilience, the list goes on.

If the list of different types of resilience is as big as it is, how would you compare the resilience of two different people? Would you take in all of the different factors and give them an overall ‘resiliency level?’ In my opinion, this would be next to impossible to do.

See resilience is something that you often don’t know about until you are in a situation where you need it. Let’s say you are looking for a job and send out 25 applications, then hear nothing back from any of them. If you send another 25 out to different shops/companies then that is showing resilience, right?

By trying again and sending out more applications, aren’t you getting back up again and attempting to try again? Isn’t that in itself a show of resilience? For me, when I was applying for placements during last year I never noticed how resilient I was being until I looked back at everything I had done and took a minute to appreciate the journey I had come on.

I had applied for over a 100 different placements before I found the one that was right for me. Granted the first ‘no’ that I had hit me pretty hard, but I got back up and I tried again, showing resilience. When another 99 no’s from companies all across the world came in, did I give up? Of course I didn’t, I kept on going, which shows even more resilience.

Resilience is something that I often closely link to success, not in the point of view that they are similar, more in how we see them, both for ourselves and with each other. People tend to undervalue their own success and their own resilience and often overvalue other peoples, it is simply a part of human nature for so many people.

It happens far too often that we think, “why can’t I be more like them?” when what we should be doing is looking at all of the amazing things that we have done and are yet to do! Most of the times when I have shown resilience in my life have not been planned. I did not plan on being resilient when I got the no’s through from my placement applications, or when I had my operation, but I acted on instinct and my resilience came through.

Back to the question at hand, how can we compare the resilience of others?

My answer would be simply, we can’t. Let’s take another example in here, let’s say that there was an emergency and a small group of people were there to try and fix/ resolve it. If most of the group were panicking, could you say that they are more or less resilient than the people who are calm?

Have we factored in what else is going on in their lives? Maybe they have more reasoned to be stressed as they are already showing a great amount of resilience balancing everything as it is. Maybe they do not react that well to an emergency but are good at picking themselves up afterwards, that is still resilience, is it not?

What if we had two men who were both relatively calm during the emergency, who would be the more resilient there? If they both set off to help resolve the emergency and one was really loud about it, whereas the other was quiet, who would be more resilient there? The loud one for taking that confident position? The quiet one?

I think it is next to impossible to answer that question, but that is just my opinion. First of all, the confident person could be acting really confident but that is all a pretense and they are panicking and freaking out internally? What if the quiet one is quiet because they are panicking but still wants to try and help out.

In my opinion, the only way that would be remotely fair, in any description of the word, in comparing the resilience of one person against somebody else, would be to know the complete situation. From what is going on there and then, to any other problems they have, to how they react both on the outside and on the inside, you name it, which at least nowadays is more or less impossible.

As I said at the start of this blog, there are a lot of different types of resilience and most of the time we do not even realise that we are being resilient until we are in the situation when it calls for it. So in saying that, how can we ever compare our success to our resilience? Personally, I do not think we can, but I am interested in what you think?

As I often bring up in this series, success means something different to everybody, as does resilience. To bring the question back that I asked at the start of this blog, do you think we can compare one’s success off of their resilience? If so, how would you do it? I am genuinely curious here as at the moment I do not see a way in which I could do it.

Would it be simply off of how many times a person has gotten back up again after being knocked down? But wouldn’t you need to factor in what caused them to fall down? The size of the fall and how they go up? I am genuinely very interested in this, so do let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter.

That’s all I wanted to talk about in today’s blog, thank you all for reading! What do you think? What does success mean to you? Are you still enjoying this series? Is there any particular topic that you would like to see me cover on the page? Let me know your answers and thoughts to the above questions and any other comments you have, either in the comments below or through out Facebook page!

Thank you all for reading and I hope you have a great day!

Sweeney’s Blogs

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James Sweeney

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