Recently, I watched the mini-series “Genius” on the National Geographic Channel, which was the story of the life of Albert Einstein. Einstein struggled for most of his early life with the fact that he viewed the world through a different prism, that his ideas of physics were abstract and difficult to prove. And, on top of everything, he was living as a Jewish physicist in Germany during the rise of Hitler.
His early academic life was conflicted, as he was often passed over for collegiate recognition and awards. Yet, he had the resilience to move forward with confidence in himself and competence in his ability.
According to the Harvard Business Review (01/05/2015, Andrea Ovens) “Resiliency is the ability to recover from setbacks, recover from change, and keep going in the face of adversity.” No matter what happened in Einstein’s life – ultimately culminating in losing his wife and family, he continued forward, never giving up on the ideas formatting his goals.
His resilience gave the 20th century, and hence the world, most of the technological advances we benefit from today, not only in the space program but in the computer, the microwave, etc. And his work has transferred into collateral areas of discovery, which may ultimately be the source of clean energy for the world, such as cold fusion.
Looking at Einstein’s life, you can easily see the importance of resiliency. And, like compassion and empathy, resiliency can be taught to ourselves and our children.
The Power of Resiliency
Resilient children and adults have several characteristics in common:
- They do not take failure personally but rather think about restructuring errors while looking for different avenues to approach problem-solving.
When my children were little, my husband, Jenard, would drive them to school by a different route each day because he wanted to show them that there was more than one way to conclude. Of course, that is the key to problem-solving, to not get personally invested in one direction – but to open your mind to all possibilities.
- Resilient children and adults focus on commitment, responsibility, and obligation to themselves and others. These characteristics are necessary for a relationship and transfer to your wants, needs, and goals.
- Resilient children and adults learn to prioritize. They put their energy where it will get the best results and learn early how to focus their time on things that are within their control; rather than scatter their energy in areas unrelated to their goals.
Another perfect example of resiliency is Madam Curie. In 1903 and again in 1911, Madam Curie received the Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering and studying two previously unknown elements – Polonium and Radium. Imagine a woman in the early 1900s working under impossible conditions at the Sorbonne in a lab that was vulnerable to the elements of cold and rain while experimenting with radioactive material. Her resilience changed the world forever, as did her intention to create ways to advance diagnostic tools for medical care, both on the battlefield and at home.
- Resilient children and adults use optimistic self-talk, understanding how to converse and confront their inner critic. This allows them to let go of what no longer emotionally serves them. For example, the critical voice of childhood and the insecurities that no longer relate to today’s confident and competent adult.
- Resilient children and adults view failure as temporary and do not transfer the experience of failure onto the next project but rather percolate until new ideas emerge.
- Resilient children and adults don’t cry over spilt milk. Instead, they see problems as short-term obstacles from which they can garner or gain knowledge.
- Resilient children and adults don’t play the “blame game,” castigating themselves. Consequently, when confronted by the defeat of an enterprise, they consider that the project or venture failed – not that they failed.