Tag Archives: failure

“R” is for Resilience

“Life is not about how fast you run, or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.”

The world is filled with obstacles and situations that cause us stress. How is it that some people are felled by criticism, failure, or change and others seem to take a deep breath, dust themselves off and keep right on going? One word: RESILIENCE

Resilience is the ability to rebound from a crisis or any situation that threatens to pull you off course. While fear and resistance to change may hold some back, resilience can help you rebound. Back in the day, it was believed that you either had it or your didn’t. The good news is that it is not innate. Resilience can be learned!

How? Here are four strategies research supports in terms of becoming more resilient:

  • Get connected. Resilient people use social support (not necessarily social media) to help them through the rough times. They open up to family or friends and allow others to help them get through the tough times life can serve up. Who can you tell your troubles to without fearing judgment? Do you have a “person”? And whose “person” are you?


  • Practice optimism. Numerous research studies show how negative thinking can become a habit. What spin do you put on your experiences? When your thoughts turn negative, challenge yourself to re-frame the situation in more positive terms.

Resilient people challenge themselves to re-frame situations. One  could say they look for the silver lining. But don’t think they’re “Pollyanna”. They don’t deny the gravity of a situation; they  acknowledge the reality of what’s happening and then seek another way to look at the situation.


  • Stay healthy. Often when things get tough we’re tempted to turn to “too much”. Too much food, too much alcohol, too much sleep, too much work. People with higher levels of resilience turn to exercise, healthy foods, plenty of water, and 7-8 hours of sleep. They know that every situation is more tolerable and you can think more clearly when you feel healthy and are rested.

  • Explore the spiritual. Spiritual doesn’t necessarily mean religion. It can mean a sense of “we are all in this together.” It can be opening yourself to the wonders of nature, the calm of meditation, or the peace of silence.

Resilience does not eliminate stress or erase life’s difficulties. At a certain age we realize that life isn’t fair, bad things happen to good people, and each of us will eventually have to dance with adversity. Resilience gives you a hand getting up when life knocks you down.

Don’t wait until the next time life deals you bad cards. Start beefing up your resilience now by answering the following questions.

  • How can you better connect with someone at work?
  • Who can you turn to for support when things get dark?
  • How can you re-frame a bad situation? Look back at an old crisis. From the safety of time, can you determine another way to see the situation?
  • What is one healthy habit you can commit to?


Jerilyn Willin is a career strategies coach, workshop facilitator, and professional speaker. She works with individuals in transition in their careers and from their careers to the next stage of life. http://www.jerilynwillin.com

“F” is for Fear

cheese “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?”

Spencer Johnson, “Who Moved My Cheese?”

 There is a lot of fear in the world today. Whether you are six or 60, fear is a factor in many of the important choices you make. A Chicago police detective once told me that fear of looking foolish, fear of being embarrassed, and fear of looking fearful led to dozens of deaths every year. Trust your gut, he told me. If you have chest pain, tell someone, don’t go into the bathroom and die. If you think someone is walking too close behind you, turn around and look at them, don’t wait until they grab you and NEVER go with them, even if they have a gun. Run. It’s hard to hit a moving target. Fear of looking foolish or making a fuss can kill you.

How does this relate to career strategies? We all know there is fear in the workplace: fear of change, fear of not being a team player, fear of sticking your neck out, and possibly the most debilitating… fear of failure. What would we do if we weren’t afraid?

two campsWhen it comes to fear of failure, the workplace seems split. On the one side there is the camp of “failure is a learning experience to be valued”. Here one hears complaints about young employees who have not learned to spring back from failure because of a coddled, everyone-gets-a-trophy mentality in their childhood. The Harvard Business Review gave an entire issue to failure, citing it as a driver of creativity and lauding managers who create cultures in which failure is not only an option, it is inevitable. In the other camp is the culture where failure is not tolerated. It is seen as weakness and winning by any means necessary is the name of the game.

Robert T. Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad says, “Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” If we are afraid of failure, we don’t take risks–even calculated ones—and we don’t grow because we pass on taking assignments or projects that stretch our skills and raise our visibility.thief

Fear is a thief robbing us of our potential and opportunities to use that potential. It makes our world smaller and more anxious and it does the same to us. Fear is the #1 killer of creativity and innovation. It freezes flexibility and rapid response. And what is needed for success in today’s marketplace? Creativity, flexibility, innovation, and rapid response.

Where is our attention when we are anxious or drenched in dread? Most likely we are ruminating about the past or trying to figure out what is going to happen in the future. We are not fully “in the moment” deciding what is needed, evaluating what is truly happening, and responding in a way that is on target.

Is your workplace swathed in fear? In a March 2013 HR Magazine UK article, Chris Wellford scared manshares five telltale signs of a fearful workplace:

  • A preoccupation with status and conformity and where rules have precedence over common sense
  • Distinct in-groups and out-groups exist with little opportunity to cross the boundaries between them
  • Everything is measured but nothing is questioned
  • Appraisals are one-way
  • The focus is on pace but short term gain is known to be at long term cost

http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hro/features/1076556/fear. Sound familiar?

Feelings of security and confidence are born when we know we can handle what may be coming. This knowledge comes from:

  • Previous experience of having risked and prevailed
  • Determining “the worst that can happen” and making a plan
  • Having a support network to help us “soothe the horror” when things go awrypositive failure

As a coach, I encourage my clients to write their fears and the “worst that can happen” on a piece of paper. Actually seeing their fear put into words on paper often strips the words of the power they command while in our head.

An environment that helps people cope with fear must include leadership, trust and vision. It must be a place where people can share information without concern for repercussions and retaliation.

Sally Stanleigh, in her article “Diminishing Fear in the Workplace”, http://www.bia.ca/articles/DiminishingFearintheWorkplace.htm says that while leaders can influence the amount of fear employees feel through some rather commonplace management techniques (i.e. communication), it is important that individuals realize they can manage their fear as well. How?

  • Acknowledge fear exists and determine its origins.
  • Be clear on what the boss, co-workers and staff expect from you.
  • Define the level of trust you have for those around you and they for you.

While transferring departments or changing companies can divest us of unfortunate bosses, negative co-workers, or work we were not cut out to do, fear is something that lives inside us. We take it with us when we go. The work we must do to get the most from our life and career begins with us. As is stated above, acknowledge your fear and determine its origins…then get to work on showing your fear who is boss. Only then can you answer the question: What would  I do if I wasn’t afraid?cat