At the end of June I went to Wales to attend the 10th anniversary of The Do Lectures. It was a transformative experience for me. The speaker than more than any other struck my attention and shook me to the core is Giles Duley, CEO of Legacy of War, photographer, storyteller and master of resilience. In his closing speech he shared the stories of him as a young stubborn boy in search of his call. I think it wasn't stubbornness but the traits of the most resilient person I ever met.
When he got seriously injured during a photo campaign in Afghanistan that almost caused his death, and got close to take away the work he loved and dedicated his life to: photography; it took all the stubbornness of his young genius to stand up again and if ever possible get even closer to his call.
It wasn't mere stubbornness the resource he tapped into. Giles tapped into grit, and courage to build up resilience. Resilience isn't about coping with and push through the obstacles of our lives; it is about accessing the incredible regenerative power we all posses.
Believing that we, our personalities, our characters can be developed rather than being immutably engrained traits, is the first step we can take to grow resilience. There is no such thing than an exceptional (or un-exceptional) person. We all have the capacity to learn
as long as we commit and trust.
Let’s ask ourselves: “how do we become more resilient in face of circumstances and events that challenge us?”
This is the recipe I distilled after observing the more resilient people I know. If we want to become more resilient let’s start cultivating:
- Compassion: which is being sensitive to the burdens and suffering of others as well as ourselves, along with the desire to help alleviating those burdens.
- Courage: the choice to stand up and confront pain, fear, uncertainty for ourselves and others.
- Generosity: the virtue of giving to others (and self) happily without attachment to the outcome.
Our inner need for safety might limit our resilience but we all can do something. It doesn't need to be grandiose, nor put our lives at risk. When we think we are stuck somewhere or can’t seem to find our way out of a challenge, asking ourselves some self-reflecting questions can help us take action. Pick a challenge you are experiencing right now and ask yourself:
- How do I want to feel?
- How can I expand to those involved in this challenge some generosity and in so doing feel more peaceful, content, and loving?
- What burden or wound can I address by being a bit more self-compassionate?
The answers to these questions point to the resources needed to get through the challenge you are facing. We all can create beneficial experiences, out of everything that happens to us, this power is within all of us.
To grow the inner resources that produce resilience we must heal our own heart first and then expand that compassion, courage and generosity we have found into our hearts to others.
Making a commitment is perhaps the most important aspect of building resilience. When we make a commitment to build or develop something into our own life, then the questioning, the doubts, the self-limiting believes stop and instead we focus on doing the work. We find a way or life finds a way.
How do you become more resilient? Start by committing to cultivate compassion, courage and generosity in your life.