Resilience is often defined as the ability to recover from or adjust easily to adversity or a sudden change in circumstance. 

I recently led a group of powerful women working in global development in a conversation about what resilience means to them right now. The openness and vulnerability during this conversation helped to underline what we know to be true and real about the role resilience plays in the lives of purpose-driven leaders. 

Three takeaways that stuck with me: 

1. Resilience is the practice of breaking down and building up. It’s not getting it right the first time around, graceful, or free of failures. Resilience is practiced on rocky terrain where we experience highs, lows, and everything in between. On this journey, we welcome a range of emotions, knowing that the feeling of hopelessness and hopefulness can exist together. 

2. There are no “gold stars” in the practice resilience. This isn’t a competition with a judge, metric, or end point. We are “in it”  all the time because our circumstances are always changing and our sense of control fabricated. So although we may assume an image of stoic strength, a conquerer or champion, when we are in the throws of practicing resilience, it is far from that. Resilience looks like messy tears and skinned knees and, at the same time, joy, innovation, and a vision for the impossible. Most importantly, the practice of resilience looks and feels different to each of us. 

And my favorite….

3. Together we restore to our own resilience. We are not alone in practicing resilience. In fact, we are better together. We can learn from, inspire, and be mirrors for one another as we each navigate tricky waters and stay the course. As Aristotle put it, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” When we restore our individual resilience as a community of purpose-driven leaders, we can access the potential of our collective leadership. It is this collective leadership that we need more than ever right now. 

Our next conversation is May 22nd at 12EST we’ll be  talking about sustaining personal leadership through the practice of core-values alignment. To join and for more details, register HERE

Looking for some practices to boost your own resilience? Check out this article for science-based approaches from the Greater Good Science Center.