Measuring and improving your resilience
Sep 03, 2020
Numerous studies have now conclusively proven that there is one characteristic above all others that can predict your long-term success in anything you choose to do. If you develop and train this characteristic then you become far more likely to achieve any goal you set for yourself.
It's called grit.
But what is grit? How does it differ to resilience? And what can we do to build and enhance these behavioural characteristics?
What is grit?
Grit is the ability to push through and persevere despite wanting to give up. It's your capacity to endure and to see things through to completion, especially when you don't want to. It is about sustained, consistent effort toward a goal even when we struggle or fail.
Resilience is our ability to bounce back after we have faltered or failed. It's the ability to pick ourselves back up and get going again after a set-back. The amount of time it takes us to recover after failing is called our refractory time.
Antifragility is different again. Being anti-fragile doesn't simply mean we aren't fragile. It actually refers to our ability to get stronger and more capable as a result of stress, shocks, volatility, noise, mistakes, faults, attacks, or failures. It's our ability to GROW from adversity and set-backs. People who are antifragile tend to seek out what scares them because they know they will grow from the experience.
Each of these are distinct characteristics, but the good news is that you can train and develop each of them.
Impacts of low grit or resilience
Individuals with low levels of grit or resilience often exhibit the following behaviours:
- they tend not to finish things that they start.
- they may create lots of lists of things to do, but rarely do them.
- they tend to give-up after a set-back or failure.
- they tend to avoid difficult things and hard conversations.
- they typically do not achieve their goals, and are less likely to even set goals.
- they tend to have lots of new ideas or even start lots of new things, because they find it much easier to start something than to finish it.
- they may also be more likely to hold back and wait, looking for "the right" circumstances to appear.
- they are more likely to overreact to situations.
- they can struggle with "commitment issues" or fail to fully "show up".
- they tend to be "outwardly directed" - meaning they tend to point to external things in their situation or circumstance as the reason why they can't do something or why they can't move forward.
It's important to note that the impacts of low grit and resilience go far beyond simply not achieving goals. Research has now shown that individuals with low grit and resilience are also more likely to suffer depression or anxiety, to feel shame, and are slower to recover from emotional trauma or other adversity.
The good news is developing your resilience and grit also increases your sense of happiness and wellbeing. This is because your sense of wellbeing comes from how you feel about yourself and your life regardless of what is currently happening to you or around you.
Measuring your resilience
If you haven't already done so, consider taking our personal resilience quiz. This quiz will give you a score out so that you can re-take the quiz in the future and track your comparative progress.
Our quiz questions are adapted from the Nicholson McBride Resilience Questionnaire (NMRQ) and also elements of Brief Resilience Scale (BRS) developed by Smith et al (2008).
Here are some broad notes to help you understand your score from our quiz:
- 0 to 90: A developing level. Although you may not always feel at the mercy of events, you would in fact benefit significantly from developing aspects of your behaviour to provide you with a greater sense of control.
- 90 to 105: An established level. You may occasionally have tough days when you can’t quite make things go your way, but you rarely feel ready to give up.
- 105 to 125: A strong level. Your above-average score indicates that you are pretty good at rolling with the punches and you have an impressive track record of turning setbacks into opportunities. You may want to start developing your antifragility, such as with some of our more advanced programs.
- 125 to 150: An exceptional level. You are very resilient most of the time and rarely fail to bounce back, despite whatever life throws at you. You believe in making your own luck. You can choose to now focus on developing your antifragility, such as with some of our more advanced programs.
Factors affecting your resilience
There is no one agreed-upon set of elements that determines our current level of grit or resilience, but below is a list of contributing factors that are commonly referenced as playing a role in our level of personal resilience:
- Your natural optimism – individuals who are generally optimistic and positive tend to be more resilient since they are more likely to remain positive about the future even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The good news is that the science of neuroplasticity shows you can train your brain to naturally be more positive!
- Your altruism – it turns out that the most resilient among us are often also highly altruistic. This is because helping others is a form of stress relief that also boosts your self-efficacy, and shifts your focus. Focussing on others instead of focussing on yourself has been shown to have many benefits to improve your psychology and resilience.
- Your moral compass & honesty – people with a strong moral compass or steadfast set of values generally have an easier time bouncing back from mistakes and adversity. Individuals who clearly learn from their mistakes and re-commit to adhering to their value system tend to bounce back faster. Individuals who are honest are more likely to seek help, support and guidance from others, and less likely to withdraw or hide from the people closest to them.
- Your self-confidence and faith – while spirituality is not an essential element for resilience, people with a strong sense of self-confidence or faith in a higher purpose typically find it helpful in surviving challenges and coming through stronger and wiser on the other side.
- Your level of humour – people who have a healthy sense of humour and are able to laugh at their own misfortune are usually less impacted by adversity.
- Your role models – those who have a role model in their mind that they actively think about can draw strength from their desire to emulate this person. This can act as a guide for behaviour when acting through new or difficult experiences.
- Your social support – your social support group is extremely important when it comes to resilience. Individuals with strong, close and deep relationships with open and honest communication are better equipped to bounce back from loss or disappointment.
- Your ability to face fear – individuals who are willing to regularly leave their comfort zone and confront their fears are more likely to overcome their challenges and grow as a person.
- Your sense of purpose – those who feel a tremendous amount of meaning in their lives are more likely to recover from failure or disappointment; when you fervently believe you have a purpose, you are less likely to give up when faced with tragedy or loss.
- Your training – we only need to look at the military, sports professionals, and adventurers, to realise it is possible to improve your resilience through training and regular practice.
But be careful not to make assumptions. Many people may assume they are resilient because they have endured hard times, had a "hard life" or a "traumatic childhood". Unfortunately, simply experiencing hard things does not necessarily increase your grit or resilience. In fact, it can often decrease them.
How to improve your resilience
Our work with thousands of individuals and our collation of the latest evidence-based scientific research has identified the four key areas for developing your resilience, grit and anti-fragility:
- Your mindset
- Your habits & routines
- Your toolkit of techniques
- Your tribe of support, accountability and enablement
There is a lot of content out there on these topics, but the problem with most other programs is that they focus on the theory or on trying to motivate individuals. Unfortunately that approach isn't effective.
At Peak Persona we have developed a program with multiple evolutions of action-based activities for you to adopt into your daily life, to sustain incremental improvement and growth, along with a community of individuals just like you, on the journey with you, who are there to provide accountability and social support.
You too can get access to our program and our growing global community.