Resilient skills

When my friend Petra was diagnosed with cancer, not once, but twice, life gave her no choice but to be strong.

When she went into remission for the second time, she decided she was going to wake people up to the precious gift of time. Through that conscious decision, she has inspired thousands of people to build inspired lives full of joy and gratitude. One way she does this is through her resilient mindset. 

As I witnessed her positivity and determination, I wondered how I would handle that situation. Would I hide in bed and never speak of cancer again, or would my resilience shine through?

Petra turned her tragedy into triumph.

High-performing leaders and doers, like my friend Petra have had to overcome challenges, which taught them how to develop resilience in the workspace and in their personal life.

Why Is Resilience Necessary for a Leader?

Leaders don’t become leaders by following. They blaze trails, put in hard work, think-outside-the-box and fail. 

Failure leads to resilience, which is a crucial characteristic of high-performing leaders. It is a trait you must cultivate in order to advance, survive and thrive. Successful leaders also carry the responsibility of protecting the energy of their team, which leads to resilience in the workplace. 

Throughout this article, I will share strategies for building resilience, like how to sustain your energy level under pressure, cope with disruptive changes and adapt.

The Most Important Skills for a Resilient Leader

High-performing leaders make it look effortless as if they were born with magical leadership qualities. I don’t know anyone born with this blessing because every successful leader I know worked hard to acquire knowledge and hone their resilient skills. They learn that success is built on failure. 

Many high-performing leaders have skills in common, skills that can be learned. I will share strategies for building resilience so you can develop these skills and become a resilient leader who inspires others to follow.

Self Awareness

Self-awareness is the foundation of resilience and emotional intelligence skills. Every high-performing leader starts by acknowledging their strengths and recognizing their weaknesses. 

They use this self-awareness to improve every day.

Self-awareness is a prerequisite for choice and control. If your thoughts operate outside of your awareness, they will control you. Pressure and stress are external factors that high-performing leaders deal with daily. Learning to manage stress is a critical step in developing resilience

Start by paying attention to your body’s response to stress. What triggers the feeling and what are your physiological responses? Notice how your body responds to your thoughts, and how that increases stress.

Once you recognize how your body and mind handle stress, you can learn how to manage it.

Embracing Change

There is one word that pops up often with most resilience speakers. 


It is inevitable, so instead of trying to control or manage it, work on your reaction to it.

We live in times where unpredictability is the only predictability. There is no business or career in the world that can go the distance without adapting to change.

That doesn’t mean change is bad. I strongly believe that our reality is based on perception. Using change as a way to learn and grow eases the fear behind it. By reframing a situation (changing how you view it), you can learn and move forward. When you are willing to look at change this way, your entire reality shifts. YES. You are that powerful!

Change is a wonderful thing if you use it to create new possibilities. For more ways to view change in a positive way and build resilience at work, check out my article on Building a Change Proof Company Culture.

Have a Mindful Life

Petra used her trauma to begin living a mindful life, which is a key resilience strategy

In her own words, “I live by Central Park for so long and I find these little new sitting places and I get quiet. I listen to all that’s going on around me. It reminds me of two things. That nothing stops. Nature doesn’t stop and also another side of it helps me remember how insignificant in some way I am in this big global picture. From that place, what has helped me in resilience is serving. Be a servant leader. How can I help? Through that, it reminds me of my sense of purpose moving forward. It’s being mindful at the moment in the park, being a servant leader at the moment, and then helping hopefully move us all forward in the small way that I can contribute.”

You can learn more about her by listening to my podcast The Mindset of Resilience With Petra Kolber.

Attention, or focus, is like a muscle that can be trained and developed. Being focused means being present in the moment. When you’re not focused, your mind tends to worry about the future or regret the past. Generally, those feelings trigger stress. 

Maintaining Positivity

It’s easy to start something with a positive outlook, but staying positive when things are not going well can be challenging. Petra talks about the difficulty, and importance, of maintaining positivity without becoming bitter.

“The longest distance any of us will ever travel is from our head to our heart. That’s the work of resilience. The hard thing is resilience is not something you get to train for. You learn it and you live it by living the hard moments and seeing the possibility. It’s seeing how can I come out of this better, not bitter, and victorious, not a victim? Look to grow from this, not just survive.”

Keeping a positive attitude means withdrawing your attention from negativity (stop feeding it energy). You can start with a simple ritual. Close your eyes whenever things go bad and say, “thank you for my health, my strength, and those who support me.” This simple gratitude will gradually displace negative thoughts. 

Instead of being overwhelmed with despair or fear, resilient leaders incorporate rest and relaxation into their lives. This revitalizes them so they are ready to tackle any challenge.

Mind and Body Are Foundational

Your mind and body are related, and stress impacts both. You may notice headaches, stomachaches or restless sleep. Take care of both with healthy sleep and eating habits, or by getting fresh air and exercise after working on the computer. 

If you forget to charge your cell phone, it powers down whether you want it to or not. Your mind and body will too if they aren’t recharged. Recovery is a key resilience strategy. Just like remembering to plug in your phone, mind and body recovery is a choice. By prioritizing your recovery ritual, you are giving yourself permission for greater self-care and self-love. This builds resilience skills and the energy to create opportunities for improvement.

Athletes don’t play back-to-back games without some form of recovery, and you are no different. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional athlete, a mom or a corporate leader. You need time to relax, recover and recharge! 

How many times have you thought, “I don’t have time for a break”?  Before you know it, you’ve worked all day and your brain is on autopilot. Taking a break won’t impact your work; in fact, it can boost productivity. Building resilience at work is critical to your success.

Focus and Discipline

Sometimes I get what I call, “stuck in traffic” when starting a project. Nine times out of ten, not knowing where to start is causing the traffic jam on my road to creativity (the tenth time is usually hunger). 

I’ve learned to look at the bigger picture to organize my work. Once I have created a schedule and effective strategies, including clear roles and expectations, I quickly go from zero to sixty. 

Have an Executable Plan

When you are a leader, it is important to incorporate insights and feedback from your team. You won’t have a fully executable plan without including your employee’s perspectives. 

Showing your team you value their input creates a strong bond. Trust and understanding lead to better performance and loyal employees. This naturally creates resilience in the workplace.

High-performing leaders know their success is only as strong as their team. Nobody can do it alone.

More Delegation, Less Multitasking

Resilience is not about endurance (i.e., handle EVERYTHING), it is about how you recharge or recover energy. The important key to building resilience at work is performing to the best of your ability and then recovering. 

Part of being able to find time to recover is by sharing the load. Successful leaders recognize skillsets within their team and assign work that matches those abilities. Letting go of unimportant tasks and delegating others creates time for you to recharge. 

Use that time to do something that inspires you. You will feel rejuvenated and have vibrant, positive energy! Those around you will notice and be inspired to follow your lead.

Redefine Your Work-Life Harmony

Finding work-life harmony is critical for happiness and resilience, but most people struggle with competing priorities. When the pandemic began, the lines blurred even more, and dividing time between work and life became increasingly complicated. 

By taking time to recognize what’s important to you and what your goals are, you will learn where to focus your energy. To begin implementing resilience strategies in the workplace, it is beneficial to engage a keynote speaker. One of my most requested sessions is Harmony vs. Balance.

Learning From Past Failure

As I mentioned earlier, every high-performing leader has failed. Tough times build mental strength, and resilience speakers everywhere will tell you to use it to blaze new trails. 

It is possible to mitigate your level of failure. When an idea or strategy starts to fail, stand back and analyze what went wrong. Once you find an answer, you can accept it and move on to a new approach.

With each failure or challenge, there is something to learn if you dive deep under the surface. These lessons can be cultivated into creative opportunities and used to recalculate your path to success.

A Resilient Leader Is a Continuous Learner

Many leaders resist learning new approaches and hold onto old behaviors that no longer serve them. The most resilient leaders are continuous learners.

Petra’s cancer journey helped develop a resilience she will have forever, but you don’t have to survive trauma to become a continuous learner. Reading books and listening to podcasts can create new skills, and you can use the world around you to gain a different perspective. These skills and perspectives can be applied during times of stress and change. 

Read my new book Change-Proof: Leveraging the Power of Uncertainty to Build Long-Term Resilience or listen to my podcasts to become a continuous learner.

How Leadership Keynote Sessions Can Help

Engaging a leadership resilience speaker can help build resilience in the workplace and help you implement resilience strategies in your own life and career. 

If you’d like to learn more about how a Leadership Keynote Speaking session can help you become stronger and more resilient, contact us by calling 877.697.4868 or sending an email to You can expect a response within 24 hours.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius