Originally posted in our October 2022 Top of Mind Newsletter.
While few of us would wish for adversity, much can be learned from those who overcame it to achieve success. One study, referenced in this piece from the Wall Street Journal, sought to do just that. In the study turned book from 1962, Victor and Mildred Goertzel analyzed the lives of (at the time) 400 eminent figures around the world. What they found was that 75%, around 300 of those surveyed, had undergone some form of adversity early in their lives.
These people are exemplars of resilience. Resilience, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is “adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.” Meg Jay, the author of the article, notes that the type of resiliency we are looking at here is not based on one-time events but are ongoing challenges that people learn to overcome.
To be clear, Jay is not suggesting resiliency is something some people have and others don’t, nor is she saying that it is simply a matter of gritting our teeth and getting through challenges. However, clearly, from the aforementioned study, some learn to become resilient without much guidance. But Jay has something for the rest of us to consider:
“So where does that leave those of us who would like to be more resilient? It helps to take on long-form projects that feel like challenges rather than threats. Whether taking up crew or judo, studying for an advanced degree, or mastering an instrument, hard things that aren’t emotional or unexpected help us practice for those that are.
“And when life inevitably becomes difficult, own the fighter within. Resist defeat in your own mind by a schoolyard bully or an alcoholic parent. Fighting back on the inside is where battling back on the outside begins.”
One important piece to keep in mind, resilient people also need help. Leaning on our support community is a crucial tenet of being genuinely resilient.
If you do not have access to a Wall Street Journal account, consider reading the book referenced in the article: https://www.amazon.com/Cradles-Eminence-Childhoods-Famous-Women/dp/091070757X?&linkCode=sl1&tag=elimindset365-20&linkId=fb4a008e1546623103a3a02b70559d20&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl