Resilience

Want to Succeed in Work and Life? You’re Gonna Have to get Gritty.

by Nancie McDonnell Ruder, Founding Partner, Noetic Consultants

JILL IS RESILIENT. BE LIKE JILL.

This year I have been exceptionally focused on the importance, and underpinnings, of resilience. Life is long and challenges come up for all of us. How do I best navigate these challenges, and help those I care deeply about—my children, family, friends, and, of course, clients and colleagues—cope?

Resilience, grit, courage, strength. These terms are close cousins and we employ them frequently to admire those who overcome much in chasing accomplishment. “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” the inventor Thomas Edison famously said. Dale Carnegie also valued “grit.” “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed no hope at all,” he said.

Grit and resilience in life are hard to come by, certainly, but in marketing a special breed has it in spades. These exceptional folks are the focus of a book I have been writing that will be published in the fall, “Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill: How Senior Marketers Scale the Heights through Art and Science—and You Can, Too!” I interviewed more than 50 successful senior marketers for this project, and saw that resilience is a key attribute all share.

By virtue of the field, they know standing still means stagnation. Instead, they move, try, fail, and then try again. Each time when they–or their ideas–get knocked down, they simply get back up. Through my investigation of this topic with these remarkable individuals, I have identified four critical factors that enable “Jacks” and “Jills” to keep on keepin’ on, no matter the conditions. (The Noetic team and I look forward to sharing more about these “Fierce Four” factors, and other insights from the upcoming book, with you in future posts!)

Savor the Climb. No matter what’s on the other side.

I recently had the privilege of traveling to Miami for a two-day event where I was honored among women business owners. During this time I had the opportunity to meet so many successful women, and was struck again and again by their amazing stories of resilience. One of these formidable women shared her story of emigrating from Somalia as a child and building her business from scratch after putting herself through school. Now that she is established and successful, she is pouring her efforts and resources into helping young girls in Somalia have the resources to do the same.

Another woman with a $100m business sat uncomfortably next to me at the pinnacle awards dinner. She was embarrassed to be called to the stage so late in the meal, because the awards were being given by company size–hers being among the largest. I turned to her and asked, what was most difficult as you built it? She shared that she has five children, and her husband died in a plane crash at 42, when her kids were two to 13 years old.

“What did you do?” I asked. “Well,” she said, “I didn’t want to get out of bed. But then I thought, am I going to let the kids stay in bed? No. So I got up. And I just kept getting up. And now I am here. It was a mountain that I climbed one step at a time. I am still climbing, slow and steady. And I enjoy it.”

Pace yourself. identify your stress release valves and use them to recharge.

The most resilient among us also understand that a continual 24/7 grind is not the way to sustain for the long haul. They find ways to recharge so they can show up and shine again. One senior marketer, whom I interviewed for the book, put it this way: “The pressure is particularly intense in the world today. I think some people get personally burnt out on the process. I am a huge believer in a mental AND physical competence, building your own stamina and your own stress release valves. Everyone does this a bit differently. For me it is getting up early and doing yoga and meditation, taking walks outside when traveling….ways of getting the physical energy. I also think you have to build a level of confidence.”

Be continuously passionate in areas that authentically interest you.

Angela Duckworth who authored Grit, offers that the grittiest among us are thoughtful about what they pursue. “Each was chasing something of unparalleled interest and importance…even if some of the things they had to do were boring, frustrating, or even painful, they wouldn’t dream of giving up. Their passion was enduring.”

Don’t hold on to failure, or even label it as such.

Innovative marketers understand that lack of success means valuable learning toward the next effort. Another talented marketer I interviewed explains it like this: “I believe what you do tomorrow is more important than what you did yesterday…just go forward and do something better. No one really knows the answers so iterate and go forward. I don’t hold onto the failures at all.”

Stepping forward when others might stand back and raising a hand when others might sit on theirs, are both important parts of resilience. This means seeing opportunities where others may not see them, or at least won’t have the courage to seek them out. Successful marketers see these avenues and determine that they can be a change maker by taking them on. They persevere with passion. I am grateful that my observation of them feeds my own passion and perseverance to accomplish more. I look forward to sharing again with you soon!

Nancie