The Essential Qualities: Resilience

So far in this series of blogs I’ve mainly talked about practical things… actions, strategies and the like. But the truth is, you need to cultivate a specific state of mind and an emotional stance in order to thrive and survive in any self-employed arena.

The first essential quality that I want to suggest you cultivate and pay attention to is Resilience

Definition of Resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness OR the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape

What does this mean as an Entrepreneur?
This might sound like the worst case of negative thinking on the face of the planet, but actually resilience is a positive attitude that requires some quite difficult mental work… like for example accepting that it’s not always about YOU and the importance of not taking everything personally.

Resilience and work
Give and take, push and pull

1) Things won’t always go according to plan
Even when you’ve thoroughly researched your plan, your suppliers, your market, you audience and your partners, things can go wrong. When they do you need to be honest that things have gone wrong. Face it, accept it. Be clear about what has gone wrong and why. Doing this requires a lot of personal strength, especially if you have made the mistake. But you need to understand that things will go wrong. And that’s OK. In fact it’s normal…. And you can be ready for this.

2) How do you deal with this?
Always remember that De Nile is a river in Egypt and not an acceptable reaction in business. Acknowledge that things are not going according to plan. Identify the specific issue and adapt to it. Do NOT continue trying to stick with the original plan. That’s just egotistic: ‘Oooo, things are going wrong but my plan is so good, I am going to stick with it.’ NO. Surrender. Accept the set-back and carry on. Resistance is a waste of energy.

3) Areas of resilience
You need to be Emotionally Resilient because self-employed people are always emotionally connected to their ideas and work. It’s important that you do not put your head in the sand and pretend nothing is wrong. You need to learn how to deal with things on an emotional level.
Structurally you need to be resilient too. This means you need to have things in place to help you cope when times get rough. You need proper filing, invoicing, record keeping and timelines and deadlines that are visible and enforceable. Nothing keeps you on course like knowing what logically comes next.
Strategic resilience gives you that sense of a bigger picture when the small picture is falling apart. A good big picture will help you overcome small term setbacks far more easily. Don’t sweat the small stuff, as they say.

The Secret is: positive thinking and not acting is never ever going to help you survive. Do not mistake stubbornness for resilience. Stubbornness refuses to accept that things aren’t working out. Resilience sees that they are not and makes new plans. Stubbornness says that you are right and everyone else is against you, resilience admits you could have got something wrong and lets you find a new way to carry on. Stubbornness brings you to a standstill and resilience waves you on.

Remember: just saying things will work out and thinking it every day will not change anything. You need to act!

As the cliché goes: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If you’re not getting the results you want, you need to change your actions. In order to do this, you will need some emotional resilience to accept you might have been wrong. You will need intellectual resilience to figure it out and structural reliance to weather the storm while you change course.
Don’t get caught up in thinking that nothing can go wrong. Rather anticipate what could go wrong, act in ways that avoid whatever you can and then be willing and able to act in new ways if other things go wrong later. We don’t live in a perfect join-the-dots world.

Accept that and act accordingly. You will be happier.

6 Responses

  1. Alex

    Thanks for a great article Dave,something I have also found in terms of being an entrepreneur is that your position as a leader for the company or project doesn’t mean that you have to come up with the idea or solution. Generally you a presented with options and it will come down to your experience as to how you choose the right one. It is also very important to have a strong team as this is where your selection of options come from. The stronger the team you lead,the better they will be at making decisions on their own but ultimately as a leader you need to be able to direct everyone away from pitfalls and into a successful path. Whichever way it goes the success and failure if your team will ALWAYS be your responsibility. Just a thought from my experience. Love your work brother.

  2. David Chislett

    Good thoughts, Alex. It is often hard to realise it really isn’t only up to you or down to you when you’re self-employed. I think entrepreneurs are often bad when it coems to relying on their team.

  3. Peter Cook (@AcademyOfRock)

    Structural resilience is overlooked imho – entrepreneurs often tell me they like to be spontaneous and creative – horse shit – chance favours the prepared mind and a little more planning and organisation would help lots of self employed business people.

  4. David Chislett

    I cannot agree more! This is a topic I will be expanding on further at a later stage. Creative entrepreneurs especially seem to specialsie in a kind of seat of the pants business approach that does nothing but burn them out!

  5. David Chislett

    “Why rise from the ashes without asking why you had to burn?”

  6. David Chislett

    Just saw another really good article about resilience online that I thought I’d share here:

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