I have a post-it note on my desk that says, “Write about resilience.”
It’s there because a friend of mine was catching flack from her friends for having a side hustle. She’s running a business, trying to drum up leads by being a thought leader on social media, and it’s not going over well with the people who love her the most.
“It’s beneath you.”
“You’re embarrassing yourself.”
“Why are you always on Facebook?”
People have opinions, and they’re not afraid to share them.
My friend’s experience made me think about my blog and writing career. Not a day goes by when someone doesn’t offer an opinion about my work.
In the early days, the negative comments would bug me. Well, okay, they still bug me. Just recently, a friend told me that what I’m doing — trying to be an un-motivational speaker — is cringeworthy. And a former colleague said to me that my work stories are great but I better never write about him. Oh, and some of you know that my mom says I’m not allowed to write about her except to say that I have a mom and she’s alive.
Nobody loves you or has your best interests at heart like your family and friends, right?
But I’ve developed a thicker skin and some resilience.
Resilience is one of those words thrown around by self-help gurus and motivational speakers to push you when times are tough.
“Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and resilience helps you stay in the race and cross the finish line.”
I hate that analogy, and I speak from my experience as an entrepreneur and marathoner when I tell you that resilience isn’t a major muscle group. It’s not your glutes or your quads, pushing you up a hill when your body is exhausted. Resilience is the quality that gets you started in the first place.
You don’t sign up for life as an entrepreneur — or a speaker, writer, creative thinker, artist, small business owner, coach, consultant, parent, guardian, community leader, volunteer — without demonstrating resiliency. You’ve opted for something other than a comfortable, narrow, self-indulgent life. Congratulations, you’re resilient.
And resilience manifests in your work. Maybe you write, speak, perform, draw, sculpt, cross-stitch, build businesses, coach little league, or even work in HR. If you persist in the small moments when you could cut corners or avoid the work of doing the work, you’re resilient. No grunting required.
Finally, resilience is the ability to take incoming flack without compromising your values. Nobody does anything interesting without making a fool of themselves, first. Maybe your work is cringeworthy. Perhaps you’re embarrassing yourself and, possibly, others around you. Maybe you get it wrong more than you get it right.
But how about this — Maybe your friends are assholes? Maybe your family is jealous? Maybe your colleagues don’t have your best interests at heart?
If you can stand your ground and endure the judgments and jokes, you’re resilient.
It takes a backbone and resilience to say, “I’m sorry you feel that way about my work. What I’m doing is not for you. Don’t look.”
The good news is that it’s possible to be resilient even when it’s been difficult in the past. Everybody can demonstrate resilience on demand and without apology. And resilience is required if you ever want to do anything substantial with your life.
To be resilient in 2019, you must decide what you’re about to tackle is worth more than the collective opinions and ideas of those around you. Are you willing to stop caring about what others think? Willing to depend less on the advice of others and have the courage to redefine relationships, if necessary, to achieve your dreams? Give up the old to have something new and worthwhile?
I’m not sure if you are resilient, but I know my friend has a steel spine and can endure the petty comments and negative feedback from her family members. She’s resilient. And I believe you are, too.