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Resilience: The importance of connections when times are tough

Last year was a long and challenging year for me. There were a number of things that happened in my work and personal life that ultimately led me to become one of the many who joined what has been termed the ‘great resignation’. During the year, I came to the conclusion that the things that were most important to me needed to take higher priority in my life… my health and wellbeing, my family, work-life balance and my desire to have more time to do other things beside work.

Even though I consider myself to be a very resilient person, 2021 tested my resilience big time. After more than 20 years as a CEO, it wasn’t easy for me to make the decision to leave behind this career that I absolutely loved.

Most people agree that ‘resilience’ is the ability to ‘bounce back’ from stressful or challenging experiences, particularly when things don’t go as planned. For me, I did eventually ‘bounce back’. One of the important things that I did, was that I reached out to people who were close to me and people in my broader relationship network. These were people who I trusted, people who acted as a sounding board for me. This helped me ‘bounce back’ and ride the storms that came to disrupt my life during that year. 

Recent research by Cross, Dillion and Greenberg (2021)*, shows that resilience is heavily enabled by strong relationships and networks. Their research suggests that we can nurture and build our resilience by developing different kinds of relationships with a wide variety of people. Often it is these types of interactions and relationships that motivate and support us to persist when times are tough and challenging. 

Nurturing and growing these important relationships and connections takes time and energy, but I have found that it is well worth the investment.

What do you do when things outside your control disrupt your life?


* ‘The Secret to Building Resilience’: Harvard Business Review, 29 January 2021