“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell and got back up again.”

– Nelson Mandela

Let’s face it. We are all going to fail. We’ll fall short of the lofty goals we set for ourselves and zig when we should zag. We’ll flat out miss things and fall on our faces. Failure is one of life’s great certainties.

But, have you ever wondered why it is that some people seem to glide through adversity with grace and ease, while others of us get bogged down? Why do some of us dwell on a setback while others are on to the next challenge without ever looking back? The secret is resiliency.

Resiliency determines how you bounce back from a failure, and like any skill it requires practice. (Tweet that!)

How can you improve your own ability to bounce back?

Frame setbacks as a challenge instead of an insurmountable problem.

How you respond to a setback has a lot to do with how you think about it. If you allow yourself to see every bump in the road as an obstacle that can’t be overcome, you’re likely to feel frustrated and defeated. Making small failures into catastrophes only serves to rob you of your energy and keep you from moving forward.

On the other hand, if you frame a difficulty as a new puzzle to be solved, your brain will get to work on solving the puzzle. New and creative possibilities will present themselves and you’ll be able to operate outside the box in the way that wasn’t possible before. Adopting the attitude of an investigator, being curious as to what happened and how it could have gone differently can also help keep your mindset flexible and open to new solutions.

Commit to your vision of success.

I’ve talked before about designing your own vision of success, and that vision is especially important when you’re faced with failures. If you don’t have a clear vision of where you’re going and what it will take to get you there, a misstep can be devastating. You can end up feeling lost and rudderless, just casting about for the next opportunity.

But, if you’re clear on your vision of success, you will be able to keep going in the face of adversity. You’ll know the next step you need to take, despite your setbacks. If the difficulty you’re facing leads you to decide that step needs to be modified, you’ll be in a better position to fine tune your approach.

Take action toward your goals.

One of the best ways to strengthen resiliency is to take action toward your goals, even in the face of failures. (Tweet that!)

Imagine an athlete who, after losing a game, decided to give up on practice and training. We would be shocked. And yet, too often, this is exactly what we do in our own lives. We suffer a loss, and decide to give up on everything we previously believed would lead to our success.

The best athletes, and most successful people, take the opposite approach in the face of failure. They double down and go back to what they know works, and they focus and recommit. They consistently work on the basics they believe will help them achieve their goal.

The next time you stumble, don’t give up. Redouble your efforts. Focus on the few things you know will help you achieve your goals and take action.

Focus on what you can control.

When we’re dealt a losing hand, it can be tempting to wallow in self-pity or anger. But, resilient people know that this is a waste of time and energy. We will never be able to control the circumstances around us, no matter how hard we may try.

But, we can change how those circumstances impact us by focusing on what we can control – our responses. We can spend our time figuring out how we could have approached the situation differently.  Or, we can improve our understanding of the people we are interacting with. We can redouble our efforts or change our approach to a particular project.

All of these things are within our control, and focusing on them in the midst of adversity can help us regain our confidence and get back on track.

Resiliency is a key skill for managing stress and overcoming the many obstacles we will encounter in life. Practicing resiliency can leave us feeling more in control of our lives, and help us move beyond our failures with grace. The next time you face difficulty, try to see it as an opportunity to improve your ability to bounce back.

I’d love to hear from you. How do you deal with adversity? Do you consider yourself to be resilient? If not, which of these tips do you think would improve your bounce back?