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Components of ResilienceWhy do some people bounce back and persevere and end up accomplishing more than others?

By Karla Schlaepfer
Coaching, Inspiration, Mental Health

Developing resilience helps cultivate drive, passion, courage, stamina and use these aspects to help achieve your goals

What is resilience?

Like other psychological constructs, measurement of resilience is complex and not an exact science. Resilience is defined differently depending on who you ask; psychological researchers may have one working definition, while those who work directly with people who are struggling to achieve their goals often see it differently. In a nutshell, resilient individuals use positive emotions to bounce back from negative emotional experiences.

The main difference between resilience and grit is that resilience is the ability to easily recover from or adjust to misfortune or change, whereas grit is the passion and perseverance for long-term goals. Resilience and grit are two positive personality traits that help us to be successful in life. It is worth noting that “resilience” has been cited as a predictor of well-being.

The first lady of “grit” bestselling author Angela Duckworth[1], based her definition on years of research. She defines grit as part of the “package” of resilience, and is in essence “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” She looked intensively at high achievers and how they continue on with sustained commitment toward completing a specific endeavor or goal despite episodes of failure, setbacks, and adversity and tried to figure out how they did it.

There is no single accepted set of components of resilience or grit, but this set of characteristics and contributing factors can provide useful orientation.

  • Optimism – those who are optimistic tend to be more resilient as well since they are more likely to stay positive about the future even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

  • Altruism – the most resilient among us often turn to help others when they need to relieve stress and boost their self-efficacy.

  • Moral Compass – people with a strong moral compass or steadfast set of beliefs about right and wrong generally have an easier time bouncing back.

  • Faith and Spirituality – while not a required factor for resilience, people often find their faith helpful in surviving challenges and coming through stronger and wiser on the other side.

  • Humor – people who have a healthy sense of humor and are able to laugh at their own misfortune are at an advantage when it comes to bouncing back, for obvious reasons!

  • Having a Role Model – this is also not a requirement for resilience, but those who have a role model in mind can draw strength from their desire to emulate this person.

  • Social Supports – unsurprisingly, social support is important when it comes to resilience; those with strong social support networks are better equipped to bounce back from loss or disappointment.

  • Facing Fear – this is not so much a characteristic as an action or tendency to act, but people who are willing to leave their comfort zone and confront their fears are more likely to overcome their challenges and grow as a person.

  • Meaning or Purpose in Life – it shouldn’t be surprising that those who feel they have a specific purpose in life or find a tremendous amount of meaning in their lives are more likely to recover from failure or disappointment; when you fervently believe you have a purpose, you are less likely to give up when faced with tragedy or loss.

These components are not present in each and every measure of resilience, but they form a good basis for understanding the nature and scope of this important resource.

Seeing the many individual cogs that make up the resilience machine, it is easy to imagine that there are many different ways to define and measure resilience. Indeed, there are virtually countless ways that resilience has been described, and many different methods of measuring it.

Would you describe yourself as having a lot of resilence or grit, or are these a skills you would like to develop further?

Maybe it’s very easy for you to be passionate about a certain goal, but you have a hard time pursuing it in the long term? Or it is a challenge for you to identify things that you really want to invest yourself in?

I hope you have a clearer understanding of what next steps you might want to take, and if you need some support, you can always explore this more with the help of a professional coach.

Reach out to me, Karla, for a free consultation.

  1. Great TedTalk with Angela Duckworth on what grit is, how it can be measured and the connection to a growth mindset. ↩︎