I recently read an article about Nick Woodman, creator of GoPro, in Bloomberg and Forbes magazine. I am a intrigued by Nick and other entrepreneurs just like him. Around 2002, Nick's first two companies went belly up. Today, he is a billionaire (estimated to be 1.3 billon to be exact). If you haven't heard about it, GoPro is an incredibly cool, tiny camera that you mount on a helmet or vehicle to get action shots.
I'm thrilled for Nick's success (congrats!). But what intrigues me even more than the dollars and cents is his emotional resilience. I'm fascinated by the way Mr. Woodman decided to give it another go after his first two ventures were completely unsuccessful. He did not let that deter him from getting up the next day and starting another business.
He's not alone. Many successful people have a string of unsuccessful ventures (Walt Disney is a prime example). The strategy Nick and others use to "try again" is deeply interwoven into the concept of resilience. Resilience, a key component of emotional intelligence, is essentially the ability to "bounce back" from stressful experiences.
I've learned a powerful secret in working with clients the past 10 years. Many people are much more resilient than they even realize or give themselves credit for. My clients find amazing and inventive ways to cope with the unexpected and sometimes devastating curve balls life throws at them.
I talk about the concept of resilience in my new book, EatQ: Unlock the Weight-Loss Power of Emotional Intelligence. It's not just something we see in business or relationships. I witness it a lot in my patients who are working on trying to lose weight and improve their eating habits. Some people get off track with their eating and get stuck in a rut -- sometimes for long periods of time. While other people can have a huge mindless eating episode and then get right back on track the very next day. My patients have taught me many incredible tips for harnessing the power of resilience while improving their diet.
The good news is that resilience is something that you can build and strengthen whether it is in the classroom, boardroom or kitchen.
Four Resilience Tips
1) Find the silver lining. More often than not there is a lesson to be learned (even if it is a painful one!). A giant misstep can teach you how to avoid the same pitfalls. For example, a recent client went shopping late one night after an exhausting day at work. She didn't even make it home. She sat in the parking lot and ate through her groceries and then felt paralyzed with guilty. Lesson learned. Shopping at 7 p.m. is too risky! She vowed not to put herself in that emotional-eating trap again.
2) See it as a challenge and not as a threat. While it's a complex skill, according to research, part of resilience is how you appraise the situation. Do you see the dilemma as a challenge or a threat? When perceived as a threat, the body shifts into a fight-or-flight mode -- the stress response. People who see a situation as a challenge, on the other hand, become energized which pumps helpful chemicals into the body like endorphins and adrenaline. This helps you to move forward instead of being paralyzed (see Daniel Goleman's book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, to read more!). When your mind tells you "this is awful" and focuses on the worst-case scenario, reframe the situation as a challenge. This will help your mind and body to get energized rather than drained of its resources in a fight-or-flight mode. Imagine the difference between threatening yourself to lose weight "or else," vs. making a healthy new you your challenge.
3) Perspective. Although it can be scary, focus on the here and now instead of the "what ifs." Instead of trying to conquer and battle all the potential future problems, people who are resilience focus on the tangible here-and-now issues, rather than the elusive ones that may potentially happen down the road. For example, "What if I can't handle all the holiday food this winter?" vs. "I'll focus on what I can change in my next meal."
4) Support. Finding someone who can share their tales of resilience can give you an emotional boost. Wise words of advice and comfort can go a long way in helping you pick up the pieces and give it another try.
Remember, you too can tap into your own resilience today whether it is in the kitchen, at work or in a relationship.
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Dr. Susan Albers is a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and the author of six books on mindful eating including Eat.Q: Unlock the Weight Loss Power of Emotional Intelligence. She has been quoted in the New York Times, Self, O Magazine, Shape, Fitness and on the Dr. Oz show. www.eatq.com
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