By Jake Courage, co-founder of the edtech company 42courses.com.
As human beings, we like to feel in control of our lives. The reality is so much of life is dictated by chance. Sometimes good luck comes our way and sometimes it’s the opposite. Resilience is the ability to cope and recover from difficult situations. It’s a skill well worth developing, especially in this world of increasing speed and complexity that we live in. The below books will teach you the key strategies for how to overcome any hardship – whether professional or personal.
- Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant
On May 1st 2015, Sheryl Sandberg lost her husband unexpectedly. In a high-powered job as the Chief Operating Officer for Facebook and the mother of two young boys she found her world turned upside down. In this book, she shares a deeply personal account of the journey she went on and how she emerged a stronger and more resilient person. Her story is accompanied by Professor Grant’s eye-opening research about how people deal with the toughest challenges life throws at them. Some of the strategies shared include remembering that you do have control over some elements of you life and finding these can help to create a sense of stability. Sandberg also stresses the importance of surrounding yourself with supportive people and allowing them to help you. Lastly, she also encourages her readers to find the things they’re good at and do more of them so that they gain their confidence back.
- Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness by Forrest Hanson and Rick Hanson
The message of this book is that resilience is not just about enduring terrible conditions, it’s a useful tool for everyday life. Dr. Rick Hanson is a New York Times bestselling author who blends his knowledge of neuroscience, mindfulness, and positive psychology to show you how to develop your inner resolve. It’s full of interesting insights into how the brain works and offers a practical guide of how to feel less stressed and stay calm in the face of adversity. Dr. Hanson explains how to overcome the brain’s inbuilt negativity bias by harnessing the power of positive neuroplasticity. This is the idea that it’s possible to rewire our thought patterns for greater self-compassion, inner peace and a more balanced outlook.
- Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back by Andrew Zolli & Anne Marie Healy
For business people, this book is perhaps the most valuable as it looks not just at human resilience but the resilience of systems in general. It examines the ways different systems can become fragile and break and strategies for preventing this from happening. This covers everything from the structural characteristics of resilient systems to the tools required for strategic resilience. For example, modular systems which operate a bit like Lego bricks (in the sense that they can unplug from one another when needed) are less likely to fail than linearly constructed ones. The book goes into some detail about feedback loops, decoupling, diversity, simplicity and interoperability which are vital to understand to prevent failures cascading through systems. Part complexity theory, part psychology it’s a valuable resource for how to navigate the increasingly fast rate of change that characterises our world today.
- 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Avoid and How You Can Become Your Strongest and Best Self by Amy Morin
How do you strengthen your mind to stay strong in tough times? In answering this question, Amy Morin draws on her many years of experience counselling patients as a psychotherapist as well as her own experiences of personal loss. The book expands on her viral blog post that reached millions worldwide and is a helpful and easy-to-read guide to mastering your mental strength. She explains how resilient people ‘don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves’, ‘don’t shy away from change’ and ‘don’t fear taking calculated risks’ as well as ten other important characteristics. It’s probably the quickest and easiest read of the five books.
- Seven Ways To Build Resilience: Strengthening Your Ability to Deal with Difficult Times by Chris Johnstone
Dr. Chris Johnstone is one of the UK’s leading resilience trainers with over 30 years of experience. His book is like a toolkit of resources for emotional first aid. Amongst the seven techniques he shares is ‘storyboarding’ which is a way of viewing the present moment as part of a larger sequence of events to put things into perspective. He also encourages the reader to ‘think flexibly’ by trying to look at things from different perspectives as well as being proactive about ‘overload management’. The earlier we can identify we’re taking on too much pressure, the more we can avoid things going too far. He also has an online course ‘Personal Resilience in an Hour’ for those who prefer to learn by watching videos.
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