I get feedback most weeks. Sometimes it is just a few words but then every so often I get a bit more. Yesterday I received an email after my comments about Tunbridge Wells but also referencing my comments about resilience. It’s quite funny because most weeks I spout forth with my own views. A very one-sided conversation. So, it is interesting when you get another viewpoint. It sets you thinking all over again.
On this occasion it set me wondering where resilience comes from. The comment was that people can only take so much turmoil and no amount of resilience will prevent stress, anxiety and potentially depression. But is that right? Are there degrees of resilience? If there are degrees of resilience, what determines your level of resilience? What increases your resilience and are there things that are detrimental to your well being and levels of resilience? Questions and no answers. Probably because, at the end of the day, I don’t really know, but I have my own thoughts.
I reckon that one way or another I am pretty resilient. I suspect that deep down I always have been. That does not mean that I have not had periods, particularly in my teens when I lacked confidence and felt uncomfortable in my interactions in everyday life. But underneath it all I never considered that I could not carry on and weather the headwinds of everyday life, moving forwards, even though I did not know where I was going.
I think everyone has periods in their life when circumstance conspires to put you under pressure and life becomes difficult. So, why do some people crumble, and others just keep going until that period passes?
Is resilience learnt? Was I born with it, or was it something that I absorbed from life, from my parents, other relatives, people around me and the world around me? It must have come from somewhere.
To me resilience and confidence are different, but they impact each other. Is a confident person more resilient? They give that impression. Is a lack of confidence likely to mean that you are less resilient to whatever life throws at you? If you lack resilience, I suspect that once you accept that, you will inevitably feel less confident in your own abilities.
As you go through life, you gather experiences. You also make a lot of mistakes, or should I say you have a lot of learning experiences. Running your own business is more likely to bring more such learning experiences and as you gather your experiences (and count the bruises) you learn that at the end of the day you can probably cope with most things, good or bad.
I don’t know about you, but I avoid things like Breakfast Television, that daily dose of depression to start off your day. The radio isn’t much better. You may disagree, that’s fine. I prefer a more positive or at least less negative start to a day in which I will probably have various difficult and often stressful situations, but I will cope. I am not saying that people who watch things like Breakfast television are more likely to be less confident and be less resilient, but I am saying that I feel happier that I can cope with anything the day throws at me, if I have not been dragged down to that level first thing in the morning.
I think the close relationships that surround you make a difference. I have always said that I would never have wanted to work as a sole accountant. Helen and I run the business together. We agree sometimes and disagree on other occasions, but we discuss things the whole time. That strong bond makes us stronger together than we would be otherwise. It adds to our internal strength and our confidence that we can cope and overcome just about anything. We have been doing just that for many years and I don’t think that is going to change anytime soon.
Do you only start a life in business if you are confident and resilient? No, I think most people start off in business out of ignorance. If they had known what it was going to be like, would they have thought twice about the venture?
Being in business is not everyone’s cup of tea. In my own case, I now understand just how ignorant I was at the start. But it was new and exciting, and we had learning experiences every day. But then with learning and getting through various crises, we came to understand what it really was all about and realised that we could now cope with anything that life threw at us.
So does that mean that resilience, although present from an early age, is enhanced as you develop as a person? If you don’t have these learning experiences and you experience life through the lens of breakfast television and the like, how will that affect you and will stress and anxiety be more likely to find the weaknesses in your personal armour? Does that mean that modern life conspires to hold you back, possibly causing increased levels of discontent and leading to higher rates of depression?
More questions than answers this week. But something to think about.
Anyway, it’s time for me to go off and have some more learning experiences, moments of personal development. That’s life, or at least that is the life I choose.
So, maybe at the end of the day resilience comes from knowing absolutely that your life is in your own hands. You always have choices. If you believe you do not have a choice and cannot influence your life, then you are like a rudderless boat, subject to everything and everybody around you, unable to steer in any other direction, worrying where you will be taken by the headwinds of life.
Maybe that is the answer. I know I have choices and I know that nobody can take that away from me. I have made my own choices and accept that I sink or swim by my own efforts. I am in control of my own destiny. Perhaps that is what gives you and me our resilience. But, you do not have to agree.
Alan E Long
The Long Partnership