Resilience redefines the terms for success and survival

Resilience redefines the terms for success and survival


In an uncertain time defined by rapid change, the word “resilience” has taken on new meaning. Resilience is no longer about simply fending off the occasional mishap; the ability to quickly adapt, recover and return reinvigorated is a constant requirement in the business world.

Resilient people tend to have what psychologists call an “internal locus of control”. They believe the actions they take will affect the outcome of an event. Another characteristic of resilience is the understanding that life is full of challenges. While business leaders cannot avoid many of these problems, they can remain open, flexible and willing to adapt to change.

Resilient people are also aware of the situation, their own emotional reactions and the behaviour of those around them. To manage feelings, it is essential to understand what is causing them and why.

Resilience can’t simply live in the boardroom, though. It needs to be instilled throughout every organization, from its culture and capabilities to its operational decisions and development. These skills can enable employers to take control of the present – and direct their futures.

Defining ‘whatever it takes’.

Many businesses extend themselves into areas that don’t complement the company mission. Then, they ignore signs that indicate that things aren’t going well — or even deny that a problem exists at all. When the problems can no longer be avoided, it’s often so late that they fail to recover. And this is my point: resilience is about adapting before a potential problem becomes a real problem. At its best, it’s proactive — it is about being a step ahead.

To avoid complacency, emotional decisions and ill-planned ventures, it’s important to always remember why the company is in business and what makes it different, and what are the main sources of revenue and sustainable growth. If leaders are prepared to do anything to get their businesses through a tough spot — including completely restructuring or realigning — they can turn a company around in almost any situation.

Building a more resilient business.

Strong corporate values matter. They provide a sense of shared purpose and keep people working together for the same goals. These values are especially important in uncertain times.

That is why it is essential as leaders to surround yourself with people who live by the same tenets you do — and the same strength, creativity and drive to succeed.

The following are some guidelines that resilient organizations use to grow a stronger, bolder group of employees for a stronger, bolder business.

Look after your people.

Minimizing stress is a key issue in the frantic, changing 21st century world. People under stress are not alert to what is happening around them, and they are prone to oversights and mistakes. Establish a network of mutual support in your company, so people do not feel isolated and know how to get help when they need it.

Encourage confidence.

People need the strength to remain calm, focused and confident when handling crises. To do this effectively, they’ll need energy, drive, determination and conviction. Being positive, having clear goals and being open to new ideas and possibilities are essential to innovation – and making the right move for your company’s future.

Provide support and challenges.

Spend some time reassessing the way things are done in your business. Is there a better way of approaching an issue or completing a certain task? Ensure that your people will be able to respond to changes, including sudden crises, quickly, efficiently and successfully.

Find strong, resilient leaders.

People in senior roles need the experience, skills and behaviours to steer the company through difficult times, while also commitment and enthusiasm. Leaders need to be challenging, forward-thinking, open to new ideas and innovative – and they should encourage these attributes in others.

Value learning and experience.

Expose people to experiences that will equip them for dealing with unexpected, difficult situations. Experience is a great teacher; if individuals are used to dealing with difficult situations, they will be more comfortable with, and confident in, their ability to think logically and creatively when they encounter them in the workplace.

Put the right people in the right roles.

Resilience needs to be part of all succession decisions – and there is no substitute for a person’s actual record of achievement: the challenges they’ve faced and what they’ve learned. Remember, you’re not just hiring for today. You’re hiring to prepare your company for tomorrow.

Foster teamwork.

Challenges require teamwork, all the way to the top. Trust, dependability and openness are essential, as are strong leadership and a realistic attitude. By working closely together, supporting each other, sharing ideas and spreading the workload, an overwhelming challenge will be less daunting, much easier to tackle and more successfully resolved.

People make the difference.

Turbulent markets bring opportunity and risk; companies need to call on all their resources to navigate such uncharted waters successfully. What matters, however, is that each individual believes that these issues — values, purpose, boldness, imagination and others — are important and interprets them in his or her own personal way. In fact, the most significant lesson for any business leader is to know that while structures, procedures, processes, and systems can all be improved, the true source of resilience is people. They are the reason companies succeed. Get that right, and you’ll weather any storm that comes your way.


Previously published in

The 10 Keys to Happier Living

The 10 Keys to Happier Living


The Ten Keys to Happier Living are based on a review of the latest research from psychology and related fields. Everyone’s path to happiness is different, but the evidence suggests these Ten Keys consistently tend to have a positive impact on people’s happiness and well-being.

The first five keys (GREAT) are about how we interact with the outside world in our daily activities. They are based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing developed by nef as part of the Foresight Project. The second five keys (DREAM) come from inside us and depend on our attitude to life.

Giving icon Do things for others

Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good! Read more…

Relating icon Connect with people

Relationships are the most important overall contributor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and create new connections is essential for happiness. Read more…

Exercising icon
Take care of your body

Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression. We don’t all need to run marathons – there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. We can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sleep! Read more…

Appreciating icon Notice the world around

Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life – like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – so we get more out of the day-to-day. Read more…

Trying Out icon
Keep learning new things

Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things – not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more. Read more…


Direction icon
Have goals to look forward to

Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible this brings unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them. Read more…

Resilience icon
Find ways to bounce back

All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it’s not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned. Read more…

Emotion icon
Take a positive approach

Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride – are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping to build our resources. So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty. Read more…

Acceptance icon
Be comfortable with who you are

No-one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are. Read more…

Meaning icon
Be part of something bigger

People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find ‘meaning and purpose’? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves. Read more…

About the Ten Keys

The Ten Keys to Happier Living framework was jointly developed by Vanessa King and the Action for Happiness team in 2010, based on an extensive review of the latest research evidence relating to psychological/mental wellbeing.

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being

Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being


“This book will help you flourish.”

With this unprecedented promise, internationally esteemed psychologist Martin Seligman beginsFlourish, his first book in ten years—and the first to present his dynamic new concept of what well-being really is. Traditionally, the goal of psychology has been to relieve human suffering, but the goal of the Positive Psychology movement, which Dr. Seligman has led for fifteen years, is different—it’s about actually raising the bar for the human condition.

Flourish builds on Dr. Seligman’s game-changing work on optimism, motivation, and character to show how to get the most out of life, unveiling an electrifying new theory of what makes a good life—for individuals, for communities, and for nations. In a fascinating evolution of thought and practice, Flourish refines what Positive Psychology is all about.

While certainly a part of well-being, happiness alone doesn’t give life meaning. Seligman now asks, What is it that enables you to cultivate your talents, to build deep, lasting relationships with others, to feel pleasure, and to contribute meaningfully to the world? In a word, what is it that allows you toflourish? “Well-being” takes the stage front and center, and Happiness (or Positive Emotion) becomes one of the five pillars of Positive Psychology, along with Engagement, Relationships,Meaning, and Accomplishment—or PERMA, the permanent building blocks for a life of profound fulfillment.

Thought-provoking in its implications for education, economics, therapy, medicine, and public policy—the very fabric of society—Flourish tells inspiring stories of Positive Psychology in action, including how the entire U.S. Army is now trained in emotional resilience; how innovative schools can educate for fulfillment in life and not just for workplace success; and how corporations can improve performance at the same time as they raise employee well-being.

With interactive exercises to help readers explore their own attitudes and aims, Flourish is a watershed in the understanding of happiness as well as a tool for getting the most out of life. On the cutting edge of a science that has changed millions of lives, Dr. Seligman now creates the ultimate extension and capstone of his bestselling classics, Authentic Happiness and Learned Optimism.


Dream Big and Achieve More: Lessons From a Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Dream Big and Achieve More: Lessons From a Nobel Peace Prize Winner


I’ve known a lot of visionaries in my life, but none have understood how big dreams lead to unbridled achievement like Kailash Satyarthi, co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

A Nobel Prize seems like a big accomplishment, but the soft-spoken laureate didn’t let the award go to his head. The tireless advocate returned immediately to his mission to end child slavery. To date, the 61-year-old Indian’s Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) has rescued more than 80,000 children from bonded labor.

Never have I encountered someone who is so committed to his cause. Even after repeated attacks on his life and multiple murdered colleagues, Satyarthi refuses to back down from his stand against child slavery. It’s a level of dedication that reminds me of Olympic athletes training for decades to perfect their craft.

Satyarthi might not be a businessman by trade, but we business leaders have much to learn from his compassion, dedication and imagination.

From Peace Prize to professionals: Here is what Satyarthi has taught me about working hard and reaching higher:


Although Satyarthi has rescued more than 80,000 children from slavery since the 1980s, he still isn’t satisfied. He outlined an ambitious plan when speaking to the United States Institute of Peace this past June — Satyarthi now wants to mobilize 100 million people to become champions for the 168 million children worldwide who are enslaved in child labor.

How does this apply to business? Look at Google. Google became famous for its search engine — and its leaders probably could have stopped there if they simply sought fame and fortune. But the tech giant has debuted Google Earth, is testing Google Glass, and has created the first self-driving car. How’s that for dreaming bigger?


Satyarthi realized that ending child labor would take strategic planning — not just dangerous forays into illicit factories that employ child slaves. His 360-degree perspective led him to found GoodWeave, which aims to pull the rug out from underneath child labor by offering consumers certified child labor-free carpets while employing skilled adult artisans.

Don’t focus solely on your own business — create an entirely new future in which you want it to operate. Take Muhammad Yunus, another Nobel Peace Prize laureate turned social entrepreneur. Muhammad rethought banking by pioneering microfinance with the social startup Grameen Bank, which offers credit to entrepreneurs in developing countries who are too poor for traditional bank loans.


When I listen to Satyarthi speak to leaders, children, or just about anyone interested in his cause, I always notice something — he might be soft-spoken, but he could not be more personally invested in his mission. I’ve heard him tell children, “You’re not the leaders of the future; you’re the leaders of the present.”

Satyarthi’s teachings have showed me that you don’t need to be a CEO to lead in business. It’s easy to feel powerless at a large company of thousands of people or to make excuses for why you can’t do something. But here’s a secret: You have more power than you think you do. It’s about making change where you are now, no matter what role you play at your company.


Satyarthi doesn’t ask anyone to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. He has led raids himself, and he’s had his shoulders and back broken while trying to rescue children. As an organizer and participant in the Global March Against Child Labor, millions of marchers have followed in Satyarthi’s literal footsteps. The 80,000-kilometer march, which began in 1998, has spanned 103 countries and has drawn praise from leaders around the globe.

Satyarthi never would have attained the following he did if he weren’t willing to get his hands dirty. In business, this is the best way to breed trust with your team. If you show people you’re willing to do any task — no matter how menial or basic — you’ll attract a following of believers.


Even though Satyarthi’s heart lies with humanitarian work, he taught me one more business secret: Every successful journey must include rest and reflection. Here’s how you can look back on your achievements and enable them to boost you even higher.

When your team has worked hard to reach a goal, it’s time to celebrate. It doesn’t have to be a boisterous, loud celebration — Satyarthi was happy to win the Nobel Prize, but there was no shouting or crying when he learned about it in his unremarkable South Delhi office. No matter how your team celebrates, everyone needs the headspace to reflect, rethink, and look toward bigger goals.

Another good way to gauge your success involves teaching. Before Satyarthi decided to devote his life to ending child labor, he taught eager-eyed students as a professor of engineering in Bhopal. Kailash knows sharing what you’ve learned doesn’t just help others; it allows you to understand your own experiences and goals much more thoroughly.

The flip side of this involves learning. When I travel with Satyarthi, I’m always struck by his boundless curiosity. It’s this spirit that enables him to never be satisfied with his current knowledge or his current success.

In the end, Satyarthi hasn’t just taught me to dream — he’s taught me to always factor others into my dreams. From there, it’s a matter of having the courage and determination to make those dreams happen — Satyarthi had his limbs broken and didn’t quit on his dreams. Take a cue from Satyarthi to shrug off adversity, reach higher, and never forget about the welfare of others.



Historic Climate Change Agreement Adopted In Paris

Historic Climate Change Agreement Adopted In Paris


After two weeks of tense talks, word-wrangling and marathon overnight meetings, diplomats in Paris agreed to a global climate change accord on Saturday evening — a day after the summit’s scheduled conclusion.

Leaders and experts cheered the historic agreement that emerged from the 21st Conference of the Parties, or COP21, calling it ambitious and realistic, and a crucial step in protecting the Earth for future generations.

“The decisive deal for the planet is here,” French President François Hollande told delegates Saturday morning, shortly before releasing the final draft. Outside, thousands of protesters had begun filling Paris streets in an appeal for a strong climate pact.

Some advocates, however, lamented that the deal falls short. They pointed to a lack of a specific timescale for phasing out fossil fuels, for example, as well as weak language on monitoring and verifying countries’ greenhouse gas emission reductions.

This agreement won’t save the planet, not even close,” Bill McKibben, co-founder of, a climate advocacy group, told The Huffington Post in an email. “But it’s possible that it saves the chance of saving the planet — if movements push even harder from here on out.”

Activists demonstrate with a banner near the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, Saturday, Dec.12, 2015 during the COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference. As organizers of the Paris climate talks presented what they hope is a final draft of the accord, protesters from environmental and human rights groups gather to call attention to populations threatened by rising seas and increasing droughts and floods. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Activists demonstrate with a banner near the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, Saturday, Dec.12, 2015 during the COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference. As organizers of the Paris climate talks presented what they hope is a final draft of the accord, protesters from environmental and human rights groups gather to call attention to populations threatened by rising seas and increasing droughts and floods. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)


Still, no one seems to be denying that the accord represents a major milestone, especially after more than two decades of United Nations climate talks that broadly failed in their chief objective to stabilize the warming of the atmosphere.

For the first time, rich and poor countries across the world have agreed to take steps to limit and adapt to climate change — from reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to helping one another adapt to rising seas, devastating droughts, food shortages and other impacts of global warming.

As the Paris text states, climate change “represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet,” and “requires the widest possible cooperation by all countries.”

The final agreement, which spans 31 pages, sets a cap on global warming at “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Any greater rise, scientists have warned, could trigger catastrophic climate change.The text also adds an aspirational commitment to aim for even greater reductions, enough to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and thereby help protect low-lying nations most threatened by sea level rise.

“The scientific evidence coming in, particularly since the release of the last IPCC report, really does point in the direction that 2 degrees Celsius of warming presents more risks than had been widely appreciated,” said Guido Schmidt-Traub, executive director of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network, referencing the most recent findings from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose assessments form the scientific backbone for climate negotiations.

But perhaps the greater debate these past weeks in Paris is just how to achieve either goal. The current set of emissions-reduction pledges submitted by participating countries would only limit global warming to roughly 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 degrees Fahrenheit), leaving a substantial gap — regardless of which warming limit is considered. And the Paris text doesn’t hide that fact, stating that “much greater emission reduction efforts will be required.”

We’re at a moment in time where the issue of climate change has registered so centrally in the consciousness of people around the world.Rachel Cleetus of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Climate and Energy Program

Michael Mann, director of Penn State University’s Earth System Science Center, emphasized that COP21 is just “the beginning of a process.” The global commitments “get us roughly half way” to where the world needs to be, Mann told HuffPost in an email. “The most important thing to come out of the conference is an agreement to improve on these commitments substantially in the years ahead.”

Robert Stavins, director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, agreed. He highlighted the accord’s call for countries to review their annual emissions and ramp up their pledges accordingly every five years, beginning in 2023. Also key, he noted, is the fact that nearly 190 countries, representing 96 percent of global emissions, have submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions — a significant improvement compared to the Kyoto Protocol’s coverage of 14 percent of global emissions. That climate accord only obliged developed countries to pitch in. What’s more, major carbon contributors such as the U.S. and China refused to sign on.

The shift from previous summits may be at least partially attributed to mounting scientific evidence and global awareness concerning the pace of and problems posed by climate change. And this change in tone is not just evident in the actions of the public and politicians, suggested Schmidt-Traub, but also of major corporations. Monsanto, for example, is among companies pledging to go carbon neutral within the next decade. “That’s making a huge difference,” he said.

We’re at a moment in time where the issue of climate change has registered so centrally in the consciousness of people around the world,” added Rachel Cleetus, the lead economist and climate policy manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Climate and Energy Program. “These climate impacts we are seeing are exacting a toll on people everywhere. We’re seeing the western U.S. in a multiyear drought. We’re seeing sea level rise cause worsening flooding.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks with China's Special Representative on Climate Change Xie Zhenhua prior to the opening of the COP21 conference in Le Bourget, Saturday, Dec.12, 2015. French President Francois Hollande will join the Paris climate talks as delegates debate what organizers hope is the final draft of an unprecedented agreement among all countries to fight global warming together. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks with China’s Special Representative on Climate Change Xie Zhenhua prior to the opening of the COP21 conference in Le Bourget, Saturday, Dec.12, 2015. French President Francois Hollande will join the Paris climate talks as delegates debate what organizers hope is the final draft of an unprecedented agreement among all countries to fight global warming together. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

While every country may be confronted by climate change consequences, some developing nations represent the most vulnerable to and least able to cope with the impacts. These countries are also generally the least prepared to invest in renewable energy to help fend off further warming. Compared to fossil fuels, clean energy products remain more capital intensive — a particular challenge for poor nations that face high interest rates. (A loan to India, for example, is far more risky than one to Germany.)

To help, rich countries have been called to provide $100 billion a year to support poor countries in their transitions to clean energy and their measures to adapt to climate change. By 2025, according to the agreement, these nations will revisit that figure, with the option of ratcheting up their financing.

The accord also includes a mechanism to address the losses and damages caused by climate change, although the parties agreed that this “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability of compensation.” Such liability would have been a deal-breaker for the U.S. and other large emitters, according to Stavins, who suggested that the new climate accord “hit everything” he had been watching for ahead of the meetings.

“This is a broad foundation for meaningful progress,” he said. “Anyone who suggests this is a success or a failure is only speaking based on ideology, not reality. Only 10 to 20 years from now, when we look at the implementation of all this, will we really know.”

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