Do you have what it takes to bounce back?

By Gale Mote / Guest Column

You don’t have to be very old or have been in the working world very long to have experienced adversity or disappointment. Maybe the promo­tion you were counting on went to someone else. Perhaps you found yourself struggling in a new role, feeling like a failure when what you need­ed most was a small win. Sometimes the waves of change swallow us up and spit us out on the shore, shaken and defeated.

Resilience is a personal competency for indi­viduals who want to re-ignite their enthusiasm, succeed in making changes, recover quickly from work setbacks and remain on course to ful­fill work and personal goals.

Let’s look at a few core emotional intelligence behaviors you can develop to build your ability to bounce back: flexibility, self-regard and optimism.

Flexibility is the ability to adjust and adapt – to take in new information, stay open to alter­natives and adjust your course of action. Blessed are they who are flexible for they shall never be bent out of shape. As simple as it sounds, one way to develop more flexibility is to change your routines – how you drive to work or the process for starting your day.

When you look at the pros and cons of an option or idea as well as the consequences of action versus inaction, flexibility becomes much easier. The biggest risk is often not taking the risk. Stretching yourself to learn a new skill, show interest in someone not like you or step­ping outside your comfort zone helps to build the flexibility muscle.

Your ability – in full light of your strengths and weaknesses – to both like and have confi­dence in yourself is essential to brushing yourself off after a fall. This is your self-regard – you are worthy, you are valued. Identify your strengths and take time to develop them.

According to Mark Murphy, of Leadership IQ, it is important to set HARD goals: Heartfelt, Ani­mated, Required and Difficult. You will be more motivated and disciplined to accomplish some­thing that really matters to you, where you can see the benefits of making it happen and where it is not just something nice to do – it is neces­sary. When you reach a milestone, your confi­dence builds to set and achieve the next one.

According to the words of Samuel Beckett, “Fail. Fail again. Fail better.” Some of our greatest lessons in life come from mistakes that we make. James Joyce once said that “mistakes can be por­tals of discovery.” Get curious – ask yourself, what did I learn? How can I use this experience to better myself and my future? No blame, no pity parties. The key is to demonstrate vulnerability, own it and focus on what you can control.

Optimism is the ability to look on the bright side of a situation or event. Is this the worst thing that could happen? Maybe yes, maybe no. Re­search scientists have helped pessimistic people rewire their brains to see their worlds differently. One of the ways they do this is by developing an attitude of gratitude. When we focus on what is right and good in our lives, we also train the brain to look for what may be good in any situ­ation – a coworker’s idea, a difficult diagnosis, a pink slip or a natural disaster.

You don’t have to be naïve to be optimistic. While you accept the reality of the situation, you have faith, hope and a deep belief that things work out best for those that make the best of how things work out. “Always look at what you have left. Never look at what you have lost,” says Robert Schuller.

Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving – we simply get stronger and more resilient.

Gale Mote is a trainer, organizational development catalyst and coach in Cedar Rapids. Contact her at