As a professional speaker, when you're starting off you have to apply for a ton of engagements just to get a few on your calendar. It's a numbers game. I remember a couple of years ago I applied to speak at nearly 100 events, including a mega women's conference called BlogHer. Maybe you’ve heard of it? (If not, definitely check it out. It’s awesome! Hence, why I wanted to speak there.)
I filled out the application and honestly, I felt really good about the inspirational topic I submitted for consideration. I was pumped about bringing positive energy and a powerful message to this audience.
Now don't get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting to be on the main stage with Michelle Obama and Brene Brown, but I felt pretty confident I would be selected to host a breakout session. Weeks went by and finally, decision emails started to circulate. I was excited and anxious, nervous and hopeful -- I guess you can say I was all over the place because this event was at the top of my dream list.
There it was, in my inbox, a message from firstname.lastname@example.org. I opened it up:
There were hundreds of applicants. Unfortunately, you weren’t selected.
Or as my mind processed it: REJECTED.
(Of course, the email wasn’t that curt but I’m saving space here.)
When I read the message I was crushed, the wind was taken out of my sail, and my shoulders slumped over while my head hung in disappointment.
Then I thought to myself, “Welp, there must be something else happening that day that I need to be available for. Moving on.”
And with that, I sat up straight, raised my head, clicked delete on that email, and moved on to the next task at hand. By shifting my mindset I reclaimed my energy and focus to finish the day strong. I was bummed, no doubt, but I was also determined to keep pressing forward.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back - especially when things don’t go your way, or you get not-so-great news, or when something unexpected happens.
It helps you grow and flow with life, and ultimately, live an undefeated life. I’m not saying you won’t get knocked down, but resilience helps you get back up. And good news, you can boost your bounce-back game with practice! That’s right. And I’ve got you covered, friend.
Here are some exercises to help fill up your resilience tank:
Practice overcoming daily hurdles
When you bounce back with little things, it helps strengthen your mind to handle the big stuff. Traffic, a parenting challenge, contract/job that you didn’t get, missing a deadline, things not working out on the perfect schedule - on a day to day basis you have ample opportunities to roll with the flow and keep your mind flexible. Practice improvising and reframing when things get sticky. Or when plans change, instead of venting about how last-minute changes annoy you, suck it buttercup and don’t let frustration win.
Accept reality with a positive attitude (as often as possible)
The key phrase here, positive attitude. And I know this can’t happen all of the time, but more often than not we fly off the cuff about things that are out of our control and that’s wasted energy. There are ALWAYS going to be things that are outside of your control: other people’s behavior, weather, a financial crisis, or just plain bad timing. Acceptance helps you move through the unexpected hiccups and having a positive attitude preserves your energy so you’re not dwelling in a negative space for too long.
Highlight the wins
How is this tied to resiliency? Well, Self-esteem plays a significant role in your quality of life. It helps you feel more positive overall and more confident in all areas of your life like career, socially, etc… When life gets hard, it is easy to give up and succumb to the negativity. But, as you’ve been celebrating your wins you’re also building your self-esteem which will help you be able to view any difficult situation more positively and feel confident that you can overcome it. Believe in your abilities. Your worth. Believe that you are stronger than anything that’s coming at you trying to knock you off course.
Resilience creates instant and long term benefits when you practice healthy mental & emotional habits like the ones I just mentioned above. It’s vital to your mental performance because it
helps you see difficult moments as challenges to help you grow and become a better person, not as a paralyzing event.
helps you look at “failures” and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, not a negative reflection on your abilities or self-worth.
I think resilience is most important because it helps you stay committed to your life goals. When things get stressful, resilience helps you stay the course and commit to the journey.
Oh, really quick, back to that rejection email I mentioned earlier. I could’ve let that disappointment take me off track and hold me back from pursuing my passion, but I’m so glad I didn’t because want to hear something amazing? Just a few weeks later I was invited to do a TEDx talk!! And to make it even more memorable, it just so happened to be on the same date as BlogHer.
So yes, there WAS somewhere else I needed to be on that date. And if not for my conscious effort to bounce back from rejection, I would’ve missed it.
Stay the course, my friend, and never-ever give up.
P.S. Here's the TEDx talk that came after being rejected by BlogHer.