This is not to be confused with perseverance or determination. Resilience is that “thick skin” developed over the years, built layer by layer, experience by experience. Calluses on your hands build in time through use, as the stresses of the world impart its force upon your once soft and supple skin. The hardening and thickening of your dermis are important protection for your hands. It provides resilience to the elements you are exposed to. Calluses are not destructive - they are designed to protect your body and reduce sensations, to enhance performance. They grow to allow you to continue to work at whatever it is you are doing. The resilience is adaptive, not limiting.
Our daughter, Madison, also trains and fights as a Muay Thai fighter. Her hands have developed calluses as she has gotten stronger, but what always amazes me when I hold her hands, is just how soft and gentle they are at the same time. She is strong and protected, but her hands and personality are soft and inviting. People might tell you resilience hardens you. They are wrong. The true meaning of resilience is accepting the world and forces that affect us with the adapted protection of experience to shield ourselves from harm – not hide from it.
Stress is an important component of personal development. For some people, they simply have not been exposed to enough of it. They wither or become injured (personally or physically) under duress. They crumble or hide when pushed. Their dreams are constantly halted or never attempted because of the perceived imminent threats they face. Without stress they don’t build resilience.
Successful entrepreneurs and business owners constantly build resilience. We are sometimes told we won’t succeed. People look at you as you describe your goals and ambitions and they might sneer or fold their arms in judgment. They’ll poke holes in your plans; they’ll say you don't know what you're doing. These will be people close to you. They’ll be people who you look up to or might have viewed as your peers. In fact, the worst thing, the saddest thing, is that it's often your family, your friends, your immediate peers who are probably whispering in your ear that maybe you shouldn't do what you're doing. “Why would you do that?”, “Isn't that risky?” “Do you really know what you’re doing?” They’ll say almost anything to draw to your attention that maybe you shouldn't be taking on a risk that you view as an opportunity.
When you have a clear vision of your own future as an entrepreneur, a lot of people won't really understand you. Most people aren't hard-wired for entrepreneurship. They don't understand what it means to look at an opportunity and see the blue sky versus all the red flags. In order to exist in a world where you are exceptional and viewed as different, you must build resilience. You are not erecting walls. You don't want to ignore the people that are around you and don't tune them out, turn them off, or close them out of your life because they're in your life for a good reason. Your friends and family are with you for the long haul and they may be able to provide you with so many other things such as emotional support, acceptance and encouragement that you otherwise wouldn't get from strangers.
You will find as you become more successful, more popular, and your products or services are seen, purchased and exposed to more people, that people you have never met will manufacture and share their own opinions about you that aren’t accurate. How you deal with this - the strategies you put in place and the calluses you build - determines whether those voices become prophecy, fuel, or simply noise.
The internet and social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube are platforms where everyone has an opinion to share. These are massive online aggregators for people to share opinions and comments. Not all of them will be kind or supportive. Opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one, and some people choose to be one – an asshole, I mean.
In order to drive forward and succeed with your vision for your best life, you must become resilient. Resilience requires intestinal fortitude beyond the basic strength that it takes to wake up every day and plow a new field or set a new course as we do as entrepreneurs and business owners. Choose to be resilient in the face of not only adversarial feedback, which gets our competitive blood flowing, but plain old negative feedback. Someone else's notion of what they think our lives or our business should be or what our opportunities are should not define us. We shouldn't allow them to dictate our successes or dictate our commitment.
During my career as a wealth manager, when I turned my focus on giving back, most of my investment industry peers and corporate partners did not support my efforts. They didn’t understand what I was doing. Their preconceived ideas and experiences prevented them from seeing the upside of my path. Some passed judgment and some were skeptical. Some unscrupulous ones would wait until I inevitably miss-stepped or produced marketing they didn’t understand just so they could complain to our management team about what I was doing. Negative feedback was pervasive. Ironically, I was attempting to do “good”, by helping charities and their donors realize their philanthropic dreams with a mission heart.
I did not listen. I built my calluses and chose to seek out support from those who were positive, who would lift me up. I ignored the negativity. Shit, I didn’t have time to listen to others’ negativity when I was already constantly questioning what I was doing! Without resilience to protect me from those naysayers, I could not have persevered. It was not easy. I spent the first couple of years doing so many things wrong. Spending and investing in my business and education to become the subject matter expert. There was so much doubt. It took time to build the right processes, systems and team to support the business. Incredible determination, dedication and commitment made me known as a valuable resource. None of the charitable impact, neither the happiness in my life nor the reward in my business would have ever been possible if I didn’t have resilience. Without resilience I would've given up. I never would've had that experience; we would never have been able to accomplish such great things and it probably wouldn't have set me on the course I am today.
Find an excerpt of this story on Thrive Global: