Resilience is Crucial – And it Can Be Learned!

Because of the hectic and fast pace of the world, many companies are questioning their workforce’s ability to keep up. If you’re peering in your competitors’ backyard and noticing a workforce that is succeeding and bouncing forward from the same adversities that are knocking your company over, you may wonder – what is missing?

Many companies are now investing in mindset training and mental wellness initiatives. This is because of extensive research demonstrating how open our brains are to developing these skills and the impact that Resilience training can have.

The New Yorker recently featured an article titled “How People Learn to Become Resilient”, which discusses three extensive studies by Norman Garmezy, Emmy Werner, and George Bonanno. While all of the studies were completely separate of one another and conducted in opposite parts of the country, they all ultimately came to the same conclusion – resilience can be learned.

Each researcher began looking at something many hadn’t before; how a negative event or situation can have positive effects on a child’s ability to succeed and persevere. Emmy Werner conducted a thirty-two-year longitudinal study in which she observed nearly 700 children from birth to their third decade of life. Throughout their lives she monitored them for exposure to any stress, for example: poverty, family issues, deaths, and even maternal stress in utero.

Werner found that what most factored in to a child developing resiliency was their internal locus of control. “They believed that they, and not their circumstances, affected their achievements. The resilient children saw themselves as the orchestrators of their own fates. In fact, on a scale that measured locus of control, they scored more than two standard deviations away from the standardization group.”

Now here comes the most important part: Werner also discovered that a person’s resilience could change over time! “Some people who weren’t resilient when they were little somehow learned the skills of resilience. They were able to overcome adversity later in life and went on to flourish as much as those who’d been resilient the whole way through. This, of course, raises the question of how resilience might be learned.”

Bonnano ultimately came to a similar conclusion. The article says, “… Positive [mindset] can be taught. ‘We can make ourselves more or less vulnerable by how we think about things,’ Bonanno said. In research at Columbia, the neuroscientist Kevin Ochsner has shown that teaching people to think of stimuli in different ways—to reframe them in positive terms when the initial response is negative, or in a less emotional way when the initial response is emotionally “hot”—changes how they experience and react to the stimulus. You can train people to better regulate their emotions, and the training seems to have lasting effects.”

While resiliency is an essential life skill, it is extremely vital in the world of business. But we can’t expect our employees to know how to be resilient without giving them appropriate training. By teaching people about the biases that we possess, we can learn how to overcome them and see the more constructive picture.

Resiliency training can enhance:

  • Sales
  • Wellness Programs
  • Managing Change
  • Developing Leadership

Click here to view more research in resiliency training.


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