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Resilience – how to Bounce back from a failure

No matter who who you are, you have experienced it or will. But don't be afraid of the word failure, all great things come out of failure. Einstein once said "Failure is only success in progress"

Resilience – how to Bounce back from a failure

We are only human, failures will occur in our lives and in our careers, resilience is there to guide us through it.

No matter who you are; you have experienced it or you will. But don’t be afraid of the word failure, all great things come out of failure. Einstein once said

“Failure is only success in progress”


But we can own our story by developing resilience which will help us to change the narrative on failure in what is a ‘winner takes all’ environment. Failure does not mean you are not or cannot be successful and resilience is your battle cry to make you come back stronger.

There is a considerable amount of extremely well researched papers available on the character of resilience. Most of these papers come back to a number of key concepts. I personally can vouch for these characteristics as it is what I have had to pull on at times of failure or setback.

Optimism with realism

I have always been an optimist in everything I do and towards everyone I know. Although I have always ensured I included a good helping of reality. There is no point being optimistic when you are ignoring the massive brick wall that is in front of you. Optimism without realism can lead to further failure. 

Like you, I have faced challenges that came at such great speed and shock I was simply not prepared. I had to face the reality of the situation. I will not pretend I came out of the gate running with optimism. It is hard work to look at a situation when it is still raw, upsetting and frustrating and then to put those emotions aside and have optimism. All of this without rose tinted glasses. 

Accepting the reality of your situation is not easy regardless of how you got there. But by really staring it down we prepare ourselves for what might happen and also strengthen ourselves to survive hardship when we are deep in it.


Having a belief is a strong follow up to optimism as we tend to construct ourselves around our beliefs or moral standings. It tells us why we are here, why we get up every morning and guides us as we build our legacy.

This belief has enabled me to build a bridge from today’s situation to a better brighter day. It has ensured that I am not swamped with the present but can manage it as I know I am working towards something brighter. We all have a belief, you might call it a meaning or if you are a follower of Simon Sinek you might call it your Why. Finding this why is not a clear cut task. It will take much soul searching but something you can call on people to support you with. I have seen it before that other people can see your Why clearly before you can. If in need of help start with your partner and then your best friend.

Your WHY is going to be your closest traveller on your life’s journey.

Hopefully the organisation you are part of has a belief, a vision statement. These statements support it through troubled times. It ensures the people can rally around a central cause to support the organisation’s resilience. Those organizations that don’t have one, change it often or simply do not live their purpose tend to find resilient people quite freely stepping away in order to ensure they survive.

Where does belief rank for you – I recently did a Clifton Stregthsfinder – now called CliftonStrengths 34. It gave me further insight into the characteristics I pull on throughout my life. It also showed the ranking of the characteristics I pull on the most.

Gallup – CliftonStrengths

As you can imagine my top was ‘Developer’ but ‘Belief’ was number 2.


Don’t they say necessity is the mother of invention.

When a setback or a failure happens resilience shines through when we wipe ourselves down and try to figure again. Inventiveness is how we try again, how we can make something work with the resources available to us. Throughout our lives, both personal and corporate, we need to improvise. We have to get the job done, so we figure it out. 

This innate ability to be creative is a reaction to adversity, a personal characteristic carried by resilient people. They take action and bring people, ideas and resources together to figure out what next. It is not typical to imagine when under pressure instead of throwing your hands in the air you are quietly hunting for the creativity which is going to unlock success.

Resilience wrap up

After reading the 3 areas of bouncing back above you might be thinking ‘Well I am just not like that’. Fair enough you might not be, but you can be. There is a school of thought that resilience is genetic and that does have its place. Although the environment, an organisation and your overall characteristics have a part to play. 

You can build resilience by taking on board the 3 areas mentioned above. 

  1. Optimism with realism – Be optimistic about the future but keep in mind the realities around you and either work with them or change them.
  2. Belief – find your why. Go out there and search for what gets you up in the morning, what keeps the fire burning. Talk to your family, get some assistance. Watch this video from Simon Sinek. 
  3. Inventiveness – Take a deep look at what is around you. What about the skills you have, the contacts and the tools in front of you. How can you use these to get to where you are going. Are you the MacGyver we don’t know about.

Setback and failure is hard but it is only a small part of your bigger journey.

Use it as a time to learn and build your resilience and show who you are and what you really can do.

Further reading

Resilience – how to Bounce back from a failure

Grit and Resilience – a powerful combination.

Recovery is the key to your resilience

Crisis – how to successfully deal with it