I have frequently been asked to write a blog on what people can do to enhance their resilience: “tell us what practically we can do, and base it on your research!” has been the request. The research has been written up by Prof. Kurt April of University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business and I, which we aim to have published in an overseas academic journal, but that takes time.


In order to meet the requests for practical ideas on resilience, I will use this blog. Thus once a week for the next seven weeks, I will post a short description of each principle and include brief practical information on how to enhance your resilience in that area.


The seven principles are:
1. Connect to your purpose and meaning in life
2. Use your unique strengths
3. Maintain perspective
4. Generate positive feelings
5. Be realistically optimistic
6. Persevere by being open minded and flexible
7. Reach out to others


This blog is the introduction and starts with the context which is the turbulent times in which we live and during which the research was carried out.


Employees at all levels need to have inner strength and resourcefulness to cope with large scale organizational change, such as new priorities, major change initiatives, new technologies, mergers and downsizing. Outside of work, these individuals also have to cope with the “normal” stresses of daily life such as troubled relationships, financial pressures, security concerns, serious illness and death of loved ones.


We all have experience of people reacting differently to adversity, and even as individuals we ourselves react differently to adversity at different times: sometimes with resilience and cope, and other times with less resilience and really struggle to get through the day. The question arises: why do some people succumb to adversity or become disabled by it, whilst others overcome significant adversity, heal and are able to strive towards self actualisation and flourishing?


To find the answers and to understand resilience better, the research into resilience involved critical incident and focus group interviews with South Africans at work asking how they deal with adversity. The outcomes were exciting. We found resilience in an organizational setting enables one to remain task focused and productive whilst experiencing tough times. Resilient individuals are best able to resist stressful experiences impacting on their job productivity, remain focussed, deal with multiple demands, and stay calm and healthy. Resilience enables “bouncing back” after stressful organisational and life events and incorporates the intriguing concept of emerging from the adversity stronger and more resourceful.


From the research we have extrapolated seven principles for building personal resilience and four steps for reacting resiliently in the face of adversity. These principles and steps are useful for anyone who wants to build their resilience, live a more joyful and fulfilling life and ultimately flourish. Most importantly, training using these concepts has been shown statistically to enhance resilience which is sustained over time.


In other words, applying these principles in your life has the potential for you to be able to enhance your resilience too. Good news indeed!


A brief description of each of these principles will be outlined in successive blogs over the coming weeks.