Resilience

rɪˈzɪlɪəns/
noun
1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
“the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions”
2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
“nylon is excellent in wearability, abrasion resistance and resilience”
Synonyms:
flexibility, pliability, suppleness, plasticity, elasticity, springiness, spring, give
strength of character, strength, toughness, hardiness
Resilience … it’s something I know a bit about. And as I can say this without doubting how it comes across, it tells me how much I’ve developed it in recent years.
A couple of years ago I asked an indirect line manager (matrix working and all that) for some feedback. She told me what she thought I was good at, and then she told me that she didn’t think I had been very resilient in the early weeks of my new assignment. I remember it like it was yesterday — reading that email on a Sunday morning before taking my boys to the park. As soon as I had read it, I sat on the loo and cried. My husband, trying to be understanding, asked me why I was reading my emails on a Sunday morning, and then asked me why was I letting this person affect me so immensely. What he was saying was logical and made sense (not that I told him) but it took me a long while to acknowledge it.
What actually kept spinning around and around my head was what did she know about my life? How did she feel able to judge my resilience? Did she know that out of work I was coping with my Mum’s recent cancer diagnosis, my two young and demanding children, my wavering self doubt, my recovery from post-natal depression, my constant worry about juggling mummy-hood vs my quiet ambition at work. How could she say that without any true understanding about me or my life?
So between then and now, I decided that I would never, ever put myself in a situation where I allowed someone to judge me in that way again, but most importantly, I promised myself that I would look after me, and that if anyone did chose to judge me in that way it would be more of a ‘water off a duck’s back’ reaction than a crying on the loo reaction. So that’s what I did.
The great thing that I learnt to develop (maybe through experience) was an understanding of my capability and how to maximise and apply it. This is the best form of self belief. I didn’t get there on my own though — I have had two fantastic coaches, an inspiring yoga teacher, and some incredible friends (and several glasses of wine) as I unpacked, naval gazed, and talked about all the things I needed to talk about. They all helped me realise that I am one heck of a resilient (if a little cliched) chick. Am I fixed? Heck no, but I don’t feel I need to be. I can now celebrate my craziness, I can acknowledge my moments of self doubt, and usually I can move on from them and it’s getting slightly quicker every time.
So why is any of this relevant, and is there a tenuous link to all this and innovation?
I think it’s more than tenuous, and if you’ve read this far, you’ll know that too. Innovators have to deal with rejection, feedback, criticism often. But it’s how you deal with it, learn from it manage it, channel it, move on from it, that determines whether you will continue to innovate and encourage innovation or not.
Some of the best inventions had knock backs — here are my favourites:
1. “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” Western Union internal memo dated 1876.
2. “Who the hell wants to copy a document on plain paper???!!!” Rejection letter in 1940 to Chester Carlson, inventor of the XEROX machine
3. “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Ken Olsen (President, Chairman, and founder of Digital Equipment Corp) in 1977