Resilience: The Baking Powder of Success

What was the best piece of cake you’ve ever eaten? Close your eyes and take a moment to remember it. (Mmm. Mine was my wedding cake six years ago.)

Now that you’ve had that mouth-watering moment (and hopefully, you’re not reading this while hungry), what was it that made it so delicious?

Did baking powder pop into your head?


Yet no matter how good the chocolate, high-quality the butter and eggs, or perfectly balanced the hint of cinnamon, if the essential – and flavorless – ingredient of baking powder had been missing, that cake would not have been so yummy; it would have fallen flat and tasted funny.

Resilience plays a similar role in success.

Just as we tend to think of the more flavorful ingredients that go into a cake, so we think of the obvious ingredients of success: brains, hard work, expertise, talent, creativity; leadership, relationship, and communication skills. The list of characteristics that make you successful goes on and on. But without resilience – the ability to bounce back from setbacks, change, and plain old disappointment – your success is likely to fall as flat as a cake without baking powder.

If you’re going to reach for your dreams, you need stick-to-it-iveness. Whether it’s a business or personal goal, giving up too quickly won’t get you where you want to be.

That’s where resilience comes in. It helps you focus your energy on moving forward when things don’t go as planned. And they rarely do, unless of course you’re living in a different universe than most us ;-).

Luckily, you don’t have to be born with a natural ability to roll with the punches. As I can personally attest, it’s a completely learnable skill.

Expect good things. A few years ago my friend Jill was going through a rough patch. When I asked her how she was holding up, her answer was, “I wake up every morning and expect something good.” Ultimately that’s exactly what happened. Attitude matters. Big time.

Control what you can control. There’s little to be gained by beating yourself up or railing against the fates. Rethink the problem and find a new approach, make a list of positive actions, or simply go for a jog or a yoga class to lower your stress. There’s always something within your control.

Find the learning. My client Annette is fond of saying, “Failure is not an option.” That attitude has directly translated into building a successful business because she never gives up. She’ll come at a problem three, five, ten times until she finds the solution that works. Even more importantly, she learns something from each attempt that didn’t work.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. In reality, most of the things that knock you for a loop end up in the “wasn’t such a disaster after all” category when you look back a year later. If you can remember that in the moment – instead of months later – you’ll be less stressed and more able to see your other options.

There are few investments of time and energy that yield a greater return than building your resilience.

Next time events catch you off guard or things don’t work out as hoped, flex that resilience muscle and keep right on going. Not only are you more likely to find good in the experience, but a lot more of your days will start to look like the way you want to live your life.

“I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
~ Thomas Edison


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