It takes courage to walk away. Resilience is often talked about as if it is a wall we build to deal with the stresses of life and attacks on our personal safety and integrity. However, it is is in fact much more than this. It may well be helpful to build a wall and hide behind it but it is much more beneficial to create fallback positions. According to Dr Michael Grant, resilience is created through ongoing self education, and supportive networks. Resilience is the lake behind the dam wall. It is the opportunity we give ourselves to swim away if needed and to take a different course – even to swim to the other side of the lake at times. Facing up is admirable and heroic which is fine as long as the wall holds but no-one wants to be standing on that wall when it crumbles.
So enough about walls, water and swimming. The point I’m making is that part of the pathway to self actualization e.g. self fulfillment is realizing that at times, we are not ready for the challenge or the challenge is too great. It is then that we build resilience by going back to the beginning, reviewing our progress and ascertaining whether we have taken a wrong turn somewhere on our journey. It’s okay to do that. It’s okay to acknowledge that every experience changes us. Choosing to reassess is not failure. It’s actually a characteristic of success and it builds resilience.
So don’t be afraid to change tack, to try something new. It’s not giving up, it’s swimming away. Whether it’s a ‘burning platform’ or a ‘disorientating dilemma’, these are opportunities to dive off into a new future. Before you do though, check to see if you can see the shoreline on the other side of the lake, whether you’re wearing floaties and you’d better be able to swim. They are your elements of resilience and you can be gathering these things before you make the leap. In a workplace context, this could be professional development, research into further study, building your network through LinkedIn, connecting to like minded professionals, and saving money to support yourself when you make the leap. It’s varies little if you’re a student at school or at University. All these activities build both foundations for the future, (the wall you build to stand on) and your resilience (the lake you might end up swimming in).