True Resilience Is Understanding Nothing Lasts Forever

05/27/2015 03:53 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2016

Who doesn't want safety and security? It's built into our genetics to strive for it. You want a job you can count on forever. You want relationships that will never fade. When you invest your time, your money, and your heart into something, it's only natural you want that investment to pay off for a long time.

Yet, what really last forever? Lots of things, actually, but not in the way we're accustomed to think about.

Nature persists, but nature is big. Not every tree lasts forever. Not every stream flows until the end of time. But, as the world changes, nature changes with it. In the course of my life, I've had many businesses come and go, but my entrepreneurial spirit remains. You've probably had many relationships through the years. Not all of them remain, but you're still happy to connect, meet new people, and make new friends.

If you're not careful, you can spend all your energy trying to build something that lasts forever, but never even get started because "forever" is insurmountable.

I think a better approach is to build something that's adaptable and can change -- even grow stronger -- by accepting the challenges that come its way.

Take your body and exercise, for instance. Why do people work out? It's stressful to the body to push it to its limit. When you're done, you're weak and out of energy. But then, a few days later, you're stronger. Your body turns its challenges into strengths, little bits at a time, by adapting to the ways you choose to use it.

  • If you want to build a resilient business, don't waste your time trying to create a business model so solid nothing could undermine it. The world will always change and, eventually, make it useless. Instead, be okay knowing that what works now will eventually not work and that you'll have to evolve and change to stay afloat.
  • For stronger relationships, don't cling to how strong they are now. Don't allow yourself to believe your relationships now will be what they are in years to come. Instead, appreciate the people around you for who they are now, and be open to appreciating them for who they'll become, too.
  • To create a resilient identity and to know exactly who you are, don't define yourself by who you are today. Instead define yourself by your ideals and your commitment to always improve yourself. The more you change, the more you understand yourself.

That's the thing about resilience -- you can only build it by accepting that everything will, one day, fail. The more ready you are to pivot when it does, the sooner you'll see big changes coming, the better you'll react to them when they arrive, and the faster you'll get back to business-as-usual once they hit.

Tyler Tervooren founded, where he shares research and insights about mastering your psychology by taking smarter risks. For more, join his Smart Riskologist Newsletter.

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