Learning resilience to stay successful

3 min read

Resilience is more important than ever as we confront the COVID-19 tidal wave which has crashed down upon our businesses and our lives.

Is this something you can learn? Is resilience a teachable trait? Or is resilience an ingrained and unteachable phenomenon?

We wanted to know about small business leaders, resilience and how other businesses could learn from them.


A study of resilience in our business community

We recently commissioned a wide-ranging study of Australian small business leaders to investigate resilience in our business community and what we can learn from it. We conducted this research in partnership with Australian research agency Lonergan.

The aim?

“This study aimed to explore Australian Small Business Leaders’ attitudes, behaviours and perceptions regarding resilience,” Lonergan.

Using the Brief Resilience Scale for measurement, the study comprised of 514 Small Business Leaders and 505 Australians over the age of 18.


What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to persevere and overcome in the face of adversity. It should be no surprise that resilience is key to business success and longevity. Hurdles will be thrown at you at a great rate of knots.

To find out what was really happening at the coal face, we spoke with small business leaders in Australia to see what they thought about resilience.

“I think resilience is being able to bounce back from a bad situation and not just bounce back, but bounce back stronger than you were before,” Morgan Handcock, freelance photographer.

“For me, resilience is about sticking it out no matter what happens. It’s never letting go and not giving up on your dream. My dream has always been to run the family business, and I’m not going to give up on that no matter what happens,” Phillip Spackman, owner of Pyree Civil Contracting.


Why is resilience important for small business leaders?

Why are we talking about learning resilience? Because it actually has a high level of influence your job satisfaction, not just your ability to deal with situations like COVID-19 or the recent bushfires.

In fact, we found that:

“Nine in ten (93%) SBLs with high resilience are satisfied with their job, compared to half (53%) of SBLs with low resilience.”

As well as the inescapable fact that nearly all small business leaders (96%) and Australians (96%) think resilience is vital to a successful business.


So where do we learn resilience from?

It seems that while many business leaders have used resilience to face adversity, there are still ways to learn and improve.

From our study we found that 94% of Gen-Pop and 96% of SBLs believe resilience can be learned.

There may yet be a silver lining to all of this pandemic induced disruption: increased resilience.

“For me, resilience is the ability to adapt in a nimble and efficient way to respond to adversity and work towards a positive outcome,” Tony Bundock, founder of Genesis Horticultural Solutions.


Challenging times

In fact, a challenging experience is often the best tutor. As we found:

“Two thirds (68%) of SBLs have learnt from challenging experiences.”

Indicating a high level of resilience in business leaders in particular, we also found that “slightly less, 65%, of Gen-Pop have learnt from similar experiences.”

This is good news (large pinch of salt) for many business leaders out there doing it tough during the pandemic. Resilience is key to success and resilience is mostly learnt by business leaders going through a challenging experience.

Can we learn resilience online?

It doesn’t seem particularly feasible, yet there are definitely success stories there.

We found that a mere 7% of small business leaders learned resilience from peers in online forums. Although successful small business leaders in fact were more capable of absorbing resilience strategies online at a much higher 17%.


The role of mentors in learning resilience

Many out there believe that a mentor will help them learn business resilience to deal with pressure and pain. Only a third of participants, however, actually learned from a mentor.

That’s still a high percentage to work with and it represents a lot of business owners who have picked up resilience tactics through personal mentorships and thought leaders.

At the end of the day it seems that a mixture of mentorship and living through prevailing hardships are the two main keys to learning resilience. If you’re already feeling hardship, finding a thought leader or mentor learn from could help you learn resilience.

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