Resilience, or mental toughness, is one of the key traits you’ll find in most successful entrepreneurs. Success doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen without hard work and the ability to overcome setbacks and failures. Our very own founder, Woodrow Kantner, showed amazing resilience throughout his life.
Some people are born with natural resilience. Maybe you know someone for whom obstacles seem like no big deal or bounce right back from insults and shortcomings. For the rest of us, here are four things you can do starting today to strengthen your resilience muscles.
1. Face Your Fears
“You can conquer almost any fear if you will only make up your mind to do so.”
– Dale Carnegie
Not all fears are bad: things like a fear of falling or a fear of the dark are primitive ways our brain keeps us alive and healthy. If a particular fear is part of your survival instinct, it’s usually fine. However, when your fears – of failure, of being mocked – hold you back from achieving your dream, they need to be faced and overcome. These fears are not helpful, and they will control you if you let them. To realize your dreams, you’ll first need to stop letting those unreasonable fears be the boss of you.
Every time you face and overcome a fear, you build confidence and teach your brain that this particular fear is not as bad as you thought. The Greater Good in Action center at UC Berkeley has created three simple steps you can start practicing today to face your fears and build your resilience.
The key here is to remember that success isn’t a straight line. Your path, whatever it may be, is bound to have detours and obstacles that will require you to face the things you are most scared of. By practicing now, you can build the mental fortitude to face anything at any time – and win.
2. Be Adaptable
“You must welcome change as the rule, but not as your ruler.”
Change is a natural part of life. You likely already know this by now. Events beyond our control happen all the time: natural disasters, death, or sudden change in financial circumstances. And not all changes are bad, either: moving to a bigger house, finding new love, buying a new car. However, even good change can cause a certain amount of stress.
This is why learning to accept change is such an important part of building resilience. Adaptability will help you bounce back a lot quicker when you feel blindsided by changes. Without adaptability, even the most positive or most minor change will send you into a tailspin.
Developing adaptability takes practice, and it’s not always easy. Start with small changes, such as using a new toothpaste or taking a different route to school. If you start to feel overwhelmed, follow this simple rule: Stop. Pause. Breathe. Before you push back against the change or quit and resume your old habits, stop what you are doing. Pause for a second to notice how you feel and remind yourself that this feeling is not forever. Then, take a deep breath and forge ahead.
Very soon you’ll be ready to build yourself up to bigger and more difficult changes, which in turn will strengthen your mental resilience.
3. Practice Gratitude
“Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life.”
– Joel Osteen
The American Psychological Association considers gratitude to be an essential component of resilience. Why? Gratitude helps you maintain positivity, which is good for your mental and physical health. Of course, positivity doesn’t mean ignoring real problems in your life or in the world. Adopting an attitude of gratitude can, however, help you deal with those problems in a more productive way. In other words, gratitude helps you build resilience.
There are many ways to exercise your gratitude muscle and make it a strong and vital part of your resilience. The easiest thing to do, right this second, is to think about something small you find pleasure in. That sip of water you just took to quench your thirst. The comfort of the couch you are sitting on as you read this. The favorite shirt you’re wearing. Those things are so small and so simple, and yet taking the time to acknowledge them and to be thankful for even the tiny bit of joy they bring you is a big step in developing gratitude. Pretty soon you’ll start noticing all kinds of things that you’re grateful for.
You can also let others know how much you appreciate them. From remembering to say, “Thank you,” during your interactions with customer service personnel, to writing thank-you notes to your teachers and mentors, everyone likes to feel appreciated. Making others feel good just for being in your life is a beautiful way to practice gratitude.
Make it a habit to write down or tell someone every single day at least one thing you are grateful for, and you’ll start to notice a major positive shift in your entire life’s outlook.
4. Respect Yourself
“Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that, so it goes on flying anyway.”
– Mary Kay Ash
No successful entrepreneur got to the top by letting self-doubt win. If you feel like you aren’t worth the time and effort it takes to start and maintain a business, then this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Resilience requires you to believe in and respect yourself. Otherwise, each roadblock on your path and even the most minor setbacks will seem like personal failures. But if you believe in yourself and know your worth, you’ll be far more able to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on.
As a young entrepreneur, you are likely in the throes of adolescence—a period not known for anyone’s high self-esteem. This is why, for young entrepreneurs, it is especially important to build up your sense of value and respect.
Start by making a list of things you know you are good at. Where are the areas you really shine? It’s not bragging or conceited if you are telling the truth. Ask others who know and love you what they like best about you and write that down. Read your list every night until you feel it in your bones.
When negative thoughts pop into your head, try to take a step back and ask yourself what the reality of the situation is. You’re not really stupid or bad at life, you simply had a hiccup. No one is good at all things all the time, so why beat yourself up for a silly mistake? If you can fix it, do so, and if you can’t fix it then accept it. (See above, re: adaptability.) And then move on. It happened. It’s over. And now you’re that much smarter. Remember, building resilience is a practice, not a perfect. You wouldn’t run a marathon on your first day of training, right? Just the same, start small with each of these areas, and pretty soon you’ll be bouncing back from any setback!
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