Perhaps the best part of my eclectic job is the ability to interact with hundreds of students and nearly 60 staff members on a daily basis. I’ve observed the behavior of nearly every personality type and I’ve seen adults and children who have succeeded and failed based on a variety of factors – some outside their control.
Yet, stretched over nearly 30 years working in schools I’ve found that perhaps the most crucial Habit of Mind to embody for success (however one defines it) is resilience. I find myself using this word in meetings on students and in private conversations with staff when they find themselves in a difficult place. I’ve discussed resilience with my own adult children as they strive to succeed in their college journey or begin their careers. Lately, I’ve had this conversation with myself as I faced some difficult decisions and lived with the consequences of these choices. I call up my resilience when I realize that I could have made a better call on behalf of one of my teachers and my only choice now is to learn from mistakes. I rarely need much resilience when I stumble on success. Instead I need to learn from success as much as failure. Much like the words of George Santayana who said that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” I believe strongly that those who don’t analyze their successes are not likely to repeat them.
How does one call up resilience? Clearly, our genetics determine how much of this trait we can call up quickly, but there are ways to maximize it. While simplistic, getting enough sleep, lowering stress through exercise, and finding times to decompress – these are the front line factors. I have to create peak conditions so that my physical, emotional, and spiritual elements will be as ready as possible for creativity, decision making, and unexpected events.
Resilience is also attained more easily when life is organized to its fullest extent. I am fortunate to be able to use digital means to organize my thoughts, papers, projects, and to-do’s which allows me more time to tackle the areas of my life that require greater thought and vision.
How do you call up resilience in your life? What strategies work for you? Or, are you struggling with managing life?