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“If you would only recognize that life is hard, things would be so much easier for you.” ~Louis D. Brandeis

I am currently co-writing a book about individual and organizational resiliency. Consequently, I’m examining in more detail why it is that some people bounce back even stronger after setbacks, and others don’t. Why are some people able to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones? Why are some organizations more agile and responsive in the face of market set-backs while others whither and fade away?

Each of us has a unique way of seeing the world, a filtration system that contains our biases, preferences, and beliefs. Our filters are our contextual framework for participation in our lives, a way of seeing and responding to the events that occur.

It appears there is a primary filter that builds resiliency readily, should you choose to adopt it.

Resilient people choose this one: “Life is hard.”

I suggest you consider adopting it as well.

Why? Not because it’s a fun thing to believe, or even true, but because it will help you. Period.

This has nothing to do with optimism or pessimism, or whining, or whether your glass is half empty of half full. It’s about ‘facing down reality’ and is actually a very down to earth point of view.

You can believe life is inherently good. You can believe anything you want. But if you believe life, or your company, or your spouse, etc., ‘owes’ you something, or that troubles and sorrow and pain are things you shouldn’t have to experience, then you are setting yourself up for a pretty hard fall.

‘In this life you will have troubles.’  Sounds like a song title, but it’s actually from the bible. I mention it because, regardless of your religious perspective, it doesn’t say you might have some troubles or that some people do. We all do. Anyone you know not have troubles?

It’s the manner in which we rise in the face of our individual troubles, or our organizational troubles, or our industry’s troubles, that determines our Resilience Factor.

Scott Peck states the same position in the first paragraph of his seminal book, The Road Less Traveled:

“Life is difficult,” Peck declares. He goes on to illuminate. “It is a great truth, one of the greatest truths [also one of Buddha’s Four Nobel Truths].  It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.  Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult.  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

This is why adopting the filter “Life is hard” works: it’s empowering. It promotes finding meaning in adversity. Everywhere. You chose the job you’re in, you chose the relationships you’ve had. Meaning is there for the making. It’s there for the finding. But it requires a choice to look. Instead of asking “Why me?”, this is about asking ‘Why NOT me?”

And, it’s about “If me, then how can I stare down reality while holding space for it to get better?”

Life may be hard. It can also be good.

The two beliefs are not mutually exclusive.

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