I’ve been thinking about the word resiliency for over a year. As many of you know, last year I was diagnosed with Stage IV Lymphoma. I battled, and so far, I’ve won. Last week, I went to see my oncologist to get my “ticket punched” for four more months. I got it. Beyond grateful. Through the diagnosis and process of the battle (six rounds of chemo that lasted a week at a time—24 hours for five days), I wondered often if I could be/would be resilient. Could I rise from what seemed and felt like that which was so much bigger than me?

Last week, at an annual mammogram, it was decided that I needed a biopsy for suspicious calcifications. A new cancer? More adversity? Why? Had I not been through enough? What was the learning I still needed? For me, I believe resilience is a two part equation. One is physical. The other, mental. The physical part of battling anything is tough, but battling the mental part can feel unbearable. I’m waiting for the results of that biopsy. I’ve done all the physical parts in my power—I got through it. The mental part, as I wait for the outcome, I’m still enduring.

When I think about resiliency in leadership, I believe the equation is the same.  Of course there is the physical part—actually acting or executing decisions and standing by those decisions. But the mental anguish that a resilient leader faces can require so much more.

I looked up the word resilience and was directed to Psychology Today:


Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after misfortune, resilient people are blessed with such an outlook that they are able to change course and soldier on.”

So, as I read, I thought, outside of the ability to regulate emotions (this one I’m still working on), I believe I have been and continue to be resilient.

Do you think that resilient leaders express emotion? Is a resilient leader vulnerable or do they hide their own vulnerability in order to lead well? And what about you? Are you a leader that exudes resilience?

We all, if we call ourselves leaders, have to overcome adversity. Either we’re resilient or we die. Resilience means always being willing to getting up one more time. It’s focusing you mental attitude towards the parts you can control and letting go of the parts you can’t. 

I love this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjqIvKKMGSY

It shows one penguin knocking another down. I don’t love the knock down part, although I suspect each of us has held that role at one time or another in our lives, intentionally or not.  I love that the little penguin just keeps getting up. That’s resilience. A willingness to keep getting up.

As I wait for my test results, I am committed to continuing to get up. No matter the result, I would ask that as you read this, you pause and think about how you’ve been resilient in your own life. Then, I’d ask for your help, prayers, energy whatever you’re so inclined to offer me. Thanks in advance for holding me up.

And again, as my gift back, I want to personally invite you to attend our Inspiring (S)heroes™ Event at RR Donnelley on Friday, April 7. It’s a gift to yourself. It will help you know and understand what overcoming adversity and resilience looks like in the living examples of the people who are speaking. You’ll leave inspired, energized, and committed to your own (S)hero-ness in your own life. Information is at www.globalwlf.com/inspiring-sheroes