Resilience is learnable: how to train success

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Nobody likes failure. But it is important to get up in the event of failures and setbacks. resilience helps. How can you learn to be resilient?


Here writes for you:


Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherConsultant and head of the Institute's job pictures Yourweb.


resilience: The ability to see things calmly

We see that again and again: some people are successful. They seem to succeed with virtually no effort, while others have stress from morning to evening and do not seem to take a step forward. That makes many dissatisfied. What are the successful ones doing better?

An answer to this question could be the term resilience: the ability to see things calmly and to get up even after setbacks. Best of HR –®-Author Dr. Dennis Mourlane is considered one of the leading resilience experts in Germany. Together with the Bertelsmann Foundation, he has published a study. Result: resilience is learnable.

Can success be trained?

This study was carried out with the scientific support of the Department of Work and Organizational Psychology at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, 564 people from 121 German small and medium-sized companies and corporations were interviewed.

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The result sounds good to anyone who would like to be more resilient and therefore more successful: people in professional life can obviously train their resilience to psychological stress.

The harder, the more successful?

As an employee, you can significantly better prevent burnout symptoms and psychosomatic complaints of any kind. And also employee losses and the risks of chronic occupational diseases can be significantly reduced.

How a person is psychically resistant can also decide whether and how much professional success he has. The study also shows that executives often have a higher level of resilience than employees, as the study shows.

Only positive thinking for success?

This sounds a bit too positivistic and reminds me of neurolinguistic programming: I only practice my resilience long enough, then I will succeed already?

In my opinion, it's not that simple. And vice versa, everyone who is unsuccessful has to reproach himself for not having practiced enough. So be careful with such statements, one shouldn't expect too much from “positive thinking”.

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The more resistant, the more emotionally stable

After all: Employees with a high level of mental resilience, also called resilience, are obviously characterized by various factors: they do their work more conscientiously, get on better with other people and are more curious.

But above all, the study says, others perceive them as emotionally more stable. Note the statement “to be noticed”. That says little about the actual condition.

To control emotions and to resist them

Resilient people, according to the study, are better able to control their emotions, are more disciplined, empathetic, set themselves challenging goals time and again, and more often believe in their abilities.

The best way to improve the resilience of their employees is by giving them good guidance and control over their respective workspaces. In addition, bosses positively influence the satisfaction and health of their employees when they behave authentically, honestly, exemplary, and spiritually.

Resiliency as a crucial skill of managers

The psychological resistance seems to be an important indicator of the ability to be a superior, the study concludes. And then utter a pious wish:

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As leadership quality also impacts on the business success of a company, the resilience of employees in the future should play a greater role in manager selection and development. Unfortunately, you often do the opposite experience in everyday life.

The undiscovered ability of the truly successful

But what are the skills of really successful people? Can you say that in general and really get to the bottom of the topic? One of the main skills is to control emotions and impulses with discipline without suppressing them, one of those skills for him.

What sounds like squaring the circle actually helps us keep an eye on personal goals. Empathy allows resilient people to recognize the needs and moods of their environment. After all, it is also important to have a realistic, optimistic self-assessment as well as the basic conviction that you can cope with negative situations yourself.

Remember the strengths

Just like Jean Poirier: For eleven years he was a camera assistant for films in Montreal. A dream job for many, but at some point it reached its limits: "I lacked contacts to really make a career in the industry," he recognized with fine antennae.

Instead of sticking to the supposed dream at any cost, he looked at his situation with a healthy sense of reality: he could not change the playing rules of the industry.

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Resiliency saved more damage

But he remembered his strengths and changed jobs. Did another nine-month apprenticeship. Today he runs his own outdoor company in Baie-Saint-Paul north of Quebec City. "A lot of my colleagues didn't understand that at the time," Jean told me. But he always had his goal clearly in mind and was convinced that he was doing the right thing.

His resilience finally saved him from major damage: "When the economic crisis came, many former colleagues became unemployed and didn't know what to do next," reports Jean. But with good intuition he had sought a path in life that really suited him.

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  1. Denis Mourlane

    Hello Mrs. Janson,

    her comment on NLP I can understand well. I also think that in us humans is much more potential than we have possibly got it mediated but one must of course differentiate.

    Regarding the Big 5 test: we have used a very well validated instrument for which you can hardly answer “socially desirable”. It is therefore very likely that these are “true” values. These are also compared with a norm sample. For a long time I have argued that a core element of resilience is emotional stability and, related to that, emotion control. I express it in my book with the sentence: “Resilient people have the irrepressible will that they are well”.

  2. Denis Mourlane

    Hello Mrs. Janson,

    Thank you for your contribution to the study. I find a critical examination of the results very well. This should be science!

    To your criticism:

    1. Size of the sample: this has a size which can be judged as representative. It would obviously be nice to replicate the results on an even larger sample. I suspect, however, that the results would be very similar. Especially since we have almost exactly the same results with an even larger sample in the US and there are other studies that come to similar conclusions.

    2. Success can be trained: in the study we only found that managers have higher scores than employees on many resilience factors. That's all. We do not conclude here whether success is "trainable". But: I think it is obvious that factors such as healthy optimism and a high level of self-efficacy can promote success. These factors are actually trainable. To keep up with Henry Ford's famous phrase: “Whether you think, you can or your can't, you're usually right”.

    3. Perception of emotional stability: this is actually somewhat misleading in the press release. In fact, we measured the Big 5 dimension of neuroticism (= emotional stability) in the study. It is thus a self-assessment, ie, how emotionally stable the human being feels himself. These are usually also perceived from outside.

    Best Regards

    Denis Mourlane

    • Simone Janson

      Hello Mr Dr. Mourlane,
      thank you for your references and the quick reply. My headline was perhaps a little too blatant.
      My criticism was also directed a little against the common, widespread NLP attitude according to the motto “You can achieve everything you set yourself to do” - there are people who then believe that and don't differentiate.
      The self-assessment, however, I find exciting: Is that objectively or not colored by wishful thinking?

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