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Introduction to resilience

More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person's level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That's true in the cancer ward, it's true in the Olympics, and it's true in the boardroom.

Dean Becker, Harvard Business Review, May 2002
Why is it that some people bounce back after being hit by life's problems, while others find it hard to pick themselves up off the floor?

Whether faced with small scale set-backs, like your favourite football team having a bad season, or extremely threatening situations like growing up in a dysfunctional family, living in poverty, or being hit by natural disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, or flooding, some people pick themselves up and get on with life. Others don't; they become stuck, many opt for 'victim' status, others decline into depression or more serious mental illness.

Over the last 30 or 40 years psychologists have realised that if we can find and identify the elements of natural resilience, then ways of helping those with low resilience could be developed. In a stressful, fast-changing world, boosting resilience in individuals and communities could help inoculate against depression and other mental illness, while boosting self-confidence, achievement levels and productivity.

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