Learning to Bounce Back

We all suffer failure from time to time, whether in business, relationships, health or other. I’ve had my share… starting with 11th grade math! However, our success in life isn’t determined by if we fail or not, it’s determined by how we react to that failure. After we suffer the typical tailspin and a period of distress or malaise, do we bounce back? Or do we sink deeper into hopelessness? Resilient people bounce back.

A fundamental question then is “Can resiliency be taught?” The answer is “Yes” according to Dr. Martin Seligman, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and author of several books on the topic of Positive Psychology. He is involved in a program with the U.S. Military that is teaching resiliency and mental toughness to sergeants and other boots-on-the-ground leaders. The goal is to decrease PTSD and increase well-being and Post Traumatic Growth. The skills they are teaching also work well for leaders in other fields.

There is an excellent article about this by Dr. Seligman, in the April issue of the Harvard Business Review. Check it out. I just read it this morning and I highly recommend it.

What are they actually teaching? One of the key skills being taught is how to be optimistic when experiencing failure or trauma. I will write more on optimism later. It’ll be a full blog post on it’s own, because not all experts agree on the benefits of an optimistic attitude.

For now I’ll conclude with this. Challenges are short-term, but success is long-term!