Lemons or Lemonade? Building Personal Resilience

The challenges of life will come your way eventually; it’s inevitable! Trust me I know! The real challenge however is how quickly and how strongly you manage to bounce back.


For the last two years, all everyone has spoken about is the need to pivot quickly, managing through the crisis and the art of building resilience. Regardless of your role in business or society, you would have been exposed to at least one, if not all three of these survival techniques.

The need for and focus on improving business resilience came to the fore at lightning bolt speed, producing some real success stories. “You can think of resilience as a set of skills that can be, and often is, learned. Part of the skill-building comes from exposure to very difficult, but manageable experiences.” ~ New York Times. Meanwhile, Eilene Zimmerman described resilience as “the ability to recover from difficult experiences and setbacks, to adapt, move forward and sometimes even experience remarkable growth.”

For many of us at a personal level our minds may still be playing catch up to the current reality that we are way more resilient than we ever imagined. I personally still experience a few “wow” moments when I think about how I overcame all that life has thrown at me in the last two years. In our most difficult times, our focus must be fixed on coming out at the other end of whatever the ordeal by displaying both grit and tenacity.

Building Personal Resilience

Truthfully, life can sometimes come at us hard! I personally find that the higher the elevation or bigger the vision, the greater the intensity and or frequency of the challenges presented. I like to refer to these as our most defining moments. The art of building personal resilience is to know with an unwavering belief that difficult times are only temporary while embracing a renewed mindset that “this too shall pass.” The goal should be to come out on the other side stronger with some key lessons that strengthen the foundation for a “better you” as you continue to evolve into the person God is shaping you to be.  A conscious decision that no matter what you will keep moving forward can keep you grounded in the face of a crisis and adversity.

Much easier said than done I know!  Especially when the weight of the world is literally yanking away at your core.  I am by no means at expert but I have had my share of defining moments so I may have learnt a thing or two which I have attempted to capture below.

1. Acknowledge your emotions – what you are feeling is real! There is value in connecting with whatever emotion you are experiencing in the moment. Whether it be fear, sadness, curiosity, sketisism or disappointment or all of the above, give yourself some grace to accept that you are only human and your feelings are valid. This approach helps more than it hinders if you ask me because in the end, it’s how you process your feelings that makes the world of difference.

2. Pivot your thinking – sometimes you need to take control of the heart and mind before you wreck yourself completely. Yes, we are allowed to have our moments of weakness and vulnerability; however, getting lost in negative emotions for too long can become detrimental to your journey. A more positive outlook and a rational assessment of the alternatives will become your best armor in the face of  adversity, trauma or even in a pandemic.

3. Act strategically – we must be prepared to get right back up and start to think and act strategically (essentially you need to fix your focus). You better believe that there is power in prayer, yet this must also be supported by your actions. Your actions must be intentionally aligned to the desired end state. In challenging times, we must ask ourselves “what is it you ultimately wish to achieve or what does the ideal outcome look like?” Whatever the obstacle, you must force yourself to see beyond the horizon. Grabbing ahold of that vision not only keeps you grounded, it helps to dictate your actions as you move to evaluate the options. Be intentional.

4. Get help – way too many times we are afraid to reach out for help. Honestly, being vulnerable is not easy yet there is value in seeking assistance that helps you to better cope in the face of difficult times. Whether that be a counsellor, mentor, life coach, friend or family member. The goal is to talk to someone that can help you to unbundle your thoughts and navigate your options to arrive at the desired path or simply to achieve clarity. Your social network or inner circle becomes key! Don’t be fooled, the most resilient people don’t go it alone.

You Have It Within You

Without some level of confrontation of life’s challenges it’s hard to achieve the art of building personal resilience. As with business resilience, the same holds true for personal resilience, “the more challenges faced the more resilient you become.” Personal resilience comes from a willingness to trust your judgement to make sensible decisions and a willingness to move to take deliberate action.

In the end, we all have two options; we can embrace the lemons that life throws at us and make our preferred flavor of lemonade or we can throw the lemons right back to the sender and live in a state of denial which cases us to become stuck in a rut right where we are. Ultimately, there is power in making a conscious decision to stay in the game. How you choose to move is normally an indication of how resilient you are. The attitude you adopt daily can either empower a breakthrough or enable unfriendly and destructive emotions. In the face of adversity, we all have the power to bring about long-lasting, personal transformation. You must trust the foundation set from past experiences because with each challenge we confront, the goal is to connect with the life lesson. Conversely, if we have made poor decisions with weak or undesirable outcomes in the past, we must be prepared to seek council. There is power in being vulnerable to the right people.

Lemons or Lemonade?

When you see yourself as an “Overcomer”, this mindset changes everything about how intentional you are at processing your feelings. How you ultimately show up in the face of adversity will dictate how successful you will be in pursuit of the person you are desirous of becoming.

Personal resilience requires “intentional action” which needs to be fueled by more positive thinking. Your ability to untangle your feelings and grow through distractions and uncomforting situations can position you for a win, which may not manifest itself to you immediately but rest assured that the foundation is being set for greatness to emerge from within.

Know that personal resilience also feeds off of “courage” – a boldness within that drives you to take the actions that are necessary. It’s like an internal compass that ignites the flame that forces you to keep moving. We ultimately have to determine in the moment whether we have the courage to get up and fight to make the lemonade we are so desirous of having.

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