For us these qualities constitute Resilience. It is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, amongst them, a hunger to succeed, a positive attitude, optimism and the ability to control emotions. After misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on.
This means that it's not just talent that matters but also character. "Unless you're a genius, I don't think that you can ever do better than your competitors without a a hunger to succeed.
Nomsa and Victor, two Mining employees, were laid off by their companies 18 months ago. Both went into a tailspin: They were angry, listless, indecisive, and anxious about the future. For Nomsa, the mood was only temporary. After two weeks she told herself, “It’s not you; it’s Commodity prices and the economy that are going through a bad patch. I’m good at what I do, and there will always be a market for my skills. I have set goals for my career and want to succeed” She updated her résumé and sent it to a dozen firms, all of which rejected her. She then tried four companies in the North West province and eventually landed a position. Victor, by contrast, spiralled into hopelessness: “I got fired because I can’t perform under pressure and don’t have what they want” he thought. “I’m not cut out for Mining. The economy and commodity prices will take years to recover.” Even as the market improved, he didn’t look for another job; he ended up moving back in with his parents.
Nomsa and Victor stand at opposite ends of the continuum of reactions to day to day challenges. The Nomsas of the world bounce back after a brief period of malaise within a year they’ve grown because of the experience.
The Victors go from sadness to depression to a paralyzing fear of the future and failure. It is people like Nomsa who rise to the top, and whom organizations must recruit and retain in order to succeed. Maybe Nomsa was born a "stronger" person, or maybe Victor's parents are less supportive than Nomsa’s. While this may all be true, one factor supersedes the influences of genes, childhood experiences, and opportunity or wealth when it comes to resilience. In fact, according to decades of research, the biggest influence on resilience is something within our control. The biggest influence is our cognitive style -- the way we think.
Like hunger being a driving force for lions, so can optimism, and resilience be a force to drive the Nomsas of this world.
Remember: "your hunger to succeed needs to be greater than the fear of failure.".