Saturday, February 20, 2021

What are qualities of a resilient person?

Why is resilience important?  Recently, I was on a trip for work and I was reminded of resilience by the airline steward. As he stood and gave us the typical before flight instructions telling us that when the mask drops in the case of an emergency that we were to put on our masks first before helping others. This reminded me of the importance of resilience. We cannot give what we do not have! Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior, George Kohlrieser, states, “It is often forgotten that one must learn to lead oneself before being able to lead others successfully. Self-leadership provides the backbone for the effective leadership in groups.” When companies build in resilience training it opens doors for resilience to grow. When a company recognizes that our human economy plays an important role in our effectiveness at work and in relationships, we are more likely to be creative and productive. This builds in the natural response of retention because resilience when honored will grow the mental, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual well-being. This always makes for better employees and better work environments. Resilience training provides a framework for relationships to prosper and grow because doors are opened so that communication and conflict resolution skills are able to flourish because people are serving out of balance and stability rather than crisis. How can growing your resilience improve your work environment? Where do you think your team needs to seek out resilience training? 

So, we find ourselves asking, what are qualities of a resilient person? Who in your life have you observed resilience? A mentally resilient person tends to be able to adapt well to new circumstances because they gather information and then seek to be strategic in how they engage their resources to help them and others persevere! An emotionally resilient person will use positivity to help themselves self-regulate to find the internal strength to be calm or mindful in the moment to help them bounce back. Physically resilient people know how to use rest and recovery to their advantage so that they can endure physical challenges without further injury. This is what makes them stronger in the long run! While a spiritually resilient person knows that there is a source of strength outside of themselves that they can call upon. This gives them peace of mind and a sense of contentment despite their circumstances because they use their core values as their moral compass. Spiritually resilient people find ways to empathize with others and serve them on the journey.  This frees them from being so self-focused and reminds them that they must take care of themselves so they can take care of others. The Founder of the Resilient Institute, Dr. Sven Hansen points out that, “Our ability to function, deliver, and thrive depends on how we leverage our mental, emotional and social strength, so any program that wants to a develop more resilient workforce and culture needs to focus on all aspects of the emotions and mind to care and listen with empathy which is difficult in burn out.”  Essentially, we should build resilience in times of peace as much as we might grow in resilience in a time of crisis. Training ourselves to develop resilient awareness and strategies will make us stronger. Which qualities do you struggle with personally or in your work environment? What can you do to grow this area of your life? 

One way to grow resilience is to look for circumstances where resilience is observed. Look for the quality and then consider why that quality is important and how to grow that quality in you. For example, we can discover resiliency characteristics within the animal kingdom.  The animal kingdom seems to have numerous examples of resiliency. I have chosen four creatures to consider. For example, the fire ant. I know it is a creature most of us do not want to encounter because they bite and leave a painful sting when they do! When we were escaping the floods in Houston, we were dodging enormous fire ant colonies floating precariously around us in the flood waters. We were so afraid that if we were hit by one that they would jump on us and sting us all over. This is not a good thing! Curiosity caught my attention by the fact that they traveled in a massive colony through the floodsso I researched and discovered that fire ants can exist this way for months because they interconnect their legs as they move about.  Apparently, an ant can stay under water for as long as twenty-four hours so, the colony keeps moving. They never let go of each other and they always make sure that no ant stays under water too long. This way they all survive and make it through. They are always aware of their need for each other and the importance of protecting one another. The two characteristics that I decided to cultivate in my life from observing the fire ant was keeping a communal approach and to always be looking for the one that needs to be lifted up that might be drowning. What if we had the attitude of community awareness that no one was left below or behind too long?

Emperor penguins show resiliency by also being communal. When the mother penguin goes off to sea for two months for food the male penguin will sit with the baby egg on his feet. The male penguins will huddle together to fight the bitter cold and keep each other warm while protecting the eggs from predators inside their penguin huddle. The male penguins will not eat for the entire two months and in some cases losing as much as two thirds of his body weight. The male penguins use each other for warmth, a barrier to the 90-mile winds and the -40F temperatures, and predators.  What if we lived out sacrifice and shared responsibilities like the emperor penguins? How would our team or family change if we were willing to work together to fight off the elements? What kind of sacrifices can we make to help our team? 

Another animal that you might like being on the resilience list is the rat. These pesky rodents are built for resilience. Their persistence to chew through something is quite astounding. They do not give up. I realize that this is not okay when it is your house, but there is something to be said for persistence paying off. But, what really surprised me about this creature was based on some research some scientists did on rats. Honestly, I do not know that it is necessarily the best methods, but what they discovered is important. Scientists were testing to see how a wild rat versus a domestic rat by survive in adverse circumstances.  Would a wild rat swim longer than a domestic rat? They expected it would, but that is not what they discovered. They found that a domestic rat would out swim a wild rat and survive every time. The scientists came up with a hypothesis that the domestic rats lived with hope because they had someone that would help them survive. So, the scientists set about doing research on giving hope to a rat in bucket that was drowning and not giving hope to another rat. They discovered that rats that were rescued once would always swim longer. Scientists concluded that hope of rescue always made rats more resilient. They came to the conclusion that hope produces resilience. What if we developed hope in each other and lived out persistence? What if we found ways to rescue one another at work and at home? How can we help each other move through? How can we communicate that we are a team that will rescue one another and never let one of our own drown? What might building hope look like for you and your team?

The tardigrade is the said to be the most resilient creature.  It can survive under the most stressful of circumstances. Scientists call tardigrades survivors because they can withstand outer space, be frozen and thawed, dehydrated, and radiated and still bounce back to life. This little creature is adaptable! It will curl up in a small ball and wait it out. If necessary, it will release a special protein that protects its body and then wait until the circumstances change. Essentially, the tardigrade has good genes. There is a special genome that it passes on to the next generation. I realize that we do not have a say in our genes, but we do have a say on what we will intentionally pass on to the next generation. We can determine to pass on characteristics of resilience by learning them and sharing them. What if we made it a determination to make it a mark of our team or family to be known for resilience? What if we were determined to show that we know how to adapt, reduce when we need to, release when we must, and when we can reproduce ourselves in others? Imagine the possibilities!

How are you being challenged right now to be resilient? Which animal characteristic did you like most? Which one do you want to grow in? Which one do you feel your team or family might need to grow in? Imagine the possibilities and determine to be the one to build into the next generation of your team or family the resilience characteristics to bounce back! 😊 Shalom Y’all!

[1] Kohlrieser, George. “Resilient Leadership: Navigating the Pressures of Modern Working life.” REAL WORLD LEARNING. No. 42. 2014

[2] Hansen, Sven. PhD. How to Build a Culture of Resilience. Resilience Institute at

[3] Incredible Floating Fire Ants Help Develop Waterproof Materials and New Robotics. (n.d.). Retrieved from

[4] H., Y. (2020, October 07). How To Be Resilient like the Emperor Penguin? Retrieved from penguins are known,resilient living creatures on earth.&text=They travel over 50 miles, catch and feed the young.

[5] The Remarkable Power of Hope. (2014, May 07). Retrieved from

[6] Dvorsky, G. (2016, September 20). Scientists Finally Figured Out Why Tardigrades Are So Indestructible. Retrieved from

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