Resilience: The New Skill

The difference between winners and losers is how they handle losing.” Rosabeth Moss Kanter

The quote above is the opening line in a Harvard Business Review article by Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Her article, “Surprises Are the New Normal; Resilience Is the New Skill” was published in July 2013. It’s amazing how it rings true seven years on.

The theme for the month is resilience, which is the ability to recover from or adjust to misfortune or change. Kanter adds to that definition, noting that recovery and flexibility aren’t enough. We have to learn from our errors (my emphasis). 

Even the most successful of us experience disruptions, interruptions, and setbacks; especially in volatile situations. During the current convergence of crises (a pandemic, political and social upheavals, and economic and financial uncertainty), the ability to pivot our thinking is more critical than ever.

The point, Kanter says, isn’t to learn to fail; it’s to learn to bounce back.

Resiliency and Strength of Character

Kanter notes that a core set of values are crucial in motivating our efforts to overcome setbacks. She argues that accountability (taking responsibility and showing remorse), collaboration (supporting others in reaching a common goal), and initiative (focusing on positive steps and improvements) are the cornerstones of resilience. 

The most resilient of us tend not to focus on the negative, rather they look for opportunities, even in the most difficult times. They control their reactions to the disruptions they’re faced with, as opposed to controlling the disruption itself.

They tend to carefully accept what they can’t change and work on what they can change about their situations. They focus on the present — the immediate present, as in “what can I do right now that will make a difference?” — rather than contemplate the past or the future, which they can’t control. 

Kanter mentions that resilience involves self-control and the willingness to acknowledge our own role in setbacks. It also thrives on a sense of community, a sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves. Resilience manifests in action — new contributions, new goals, small wins, that create excitement about the future. 

And, As Always…

How are you doing during this current convergence of crises? 

Six months in, with no end in sight, are you overwhelmed by the enormity of it all?

Or are you able to focus on actions that can move you and your team forward? 

Are you part of a project, a partnership, a team, in which you provide a key contribution? What is that contribution? How can you leverage it to strengthen your resilience? 

Send me an email at and let me know. I’m genuinely interested in how you’re doing.

Image copyright : gajus