The Power of Building Resilience

The ability to be resilient is a quality that is crucial for success. Resilience is your ability to bounce back from your setbacks, and turn them into successes. It is the ability to see failures as part of a steep learning curve and integrate them into the curve. Most of all, it is a quality that will build perseverance and tenacity, both of which are crucial stepping stones on the path to your goals.

Resilience is rare to come naturally, it must be developed. And the only way to develop resilience is through failure. Too often we see failure as an obstacle, something that stops us from achieving. However, once you learn to see failure as a positive thing, you will find that your learning ability increases, and you can learn faster and more efficiently.

Say you do badly in an exam. At this point you have two choices: to work at that subject so you can do better next time, or to give up on it because it will “never work”. Surprisingly, many students would choose the latter option, because it is uncomfortable to have to take responsibility for the failure and admit to it by doing something about it. In doing this, they have trapped themselves into a cycle of failure, where they stop working at the subject, continue to do badly, end up hating the subject because they are bad at it, and so the cycle continues. I urge you, however, to be aware of this and break the cycle before it can take hold. Learn to be “okay” with the discomfort that challenges pose. It is only through this discomfort that you can build resilience.

“Good timber does not grow with ease, the stronger wind, the stronger the trees” – (Good Timber, Douglas Malloch)

Doing badly in an exam is not a failure, it is part of a steep learning curve. Within that exam are so many mistakes that you can work to prevent next time.  You might find that 90% of your mistakes were exam technique errors. Immediately, in the next exam, you can eliminate at least 80% of your mistakes. Thats massive! Alternatively, you might find that you actually didn’t do that badly, it was just a bunch of silly mistakes that caught up to you. Maybe it was a particular area that you were weak at or didn’t pay much attention to, and unfortunately the exam ended up targeting your weak areas. Oftentimes, you will find that the initial “failure” wasn’t as bad as you thought.

Sometimes identifying where you went wrong is difficult and frustrating. This is when your teachers and tutors can help you. Especially if you are sitting on the grade boundary between a 6 and a 7, the mistakes that you are probably making are extremely subtle. These mistakes can take a lot of time and practice to resolve, but when you do, it could mean the difference between a 6 and a 7, or a 5 and a 6, and perhaps even mean the difference between the universities you get into!

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that everything will be smooth sailing. You’re doing the IB. It’s not. The bumpy road ahead is only preparing you for the final challenge. Don’t see it as an obstacle, embrace the challenge instead. When things get hard, you are allowed to acknowledge them, you are allowed to have your whine and mope, that is completely understandable. However, after a few days of recovery, the ship must sail once more. The faster you learn to move on, the sooner you’ll be able to start learning!

Choosing to learn from your mistakes and choosing to bounce back from failure requires resilience, perseverance and tenacity, but it can push you across grade boundaries, and push you closer to success.

As George S. Patton once said “I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he reaches the bottom.”

Keep going.

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