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Three Types of Resilience: Which One Characterizes You?

resilience has three types
Which type of resilience characterizes you? There are three types. Find out which one you display at work!

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When we think about resilience, we often think about one, classic definition. That is, people often define resilience as a way of bouncing back from setbacks or hardships. This definition is correct, and we have used it before in our own courses. But, in this post, we take these ideas to the next level. There are actually three types of resilience. We break them down below. Find out which forms best characterize you and which you might be able to develop further.

Type 1: Developmental Resilience

Developmental resilience has to do with your ability to overcome challenges in the long-term. It was first studied in populations of children who had overcome adversity to enter adulthood on a more positive path forward. Individuals who build developmental resiliency tackle challenges early on in life. These stressors could be challenges with losing a loved one, experiencing poverty, or watching a parent struggle with addiction. They learn from these experiences and then are able to apply these skills to problems they have to overcome in the future.

At work, this form of resiliency might be built when your early educational or career goals prove difficult to achieve. Maybe you didn’t get into the college you dreamed of, or perhaps you were fired from your first job. Entrepreneurs also build this form of resiliency when their start-ups fail or struggle to survive. If you feel that it took a while to find success in your career path, you may have higher amounts of it. The good news is that developmental resilience can support learning and problem-solving skills. So, if you have built this up, it may serve you well!

If your career feels like it was an uphill climb, you might have formed developmental resilience.
If your career feels like it was an uphill climb, you might have formed developmental resilience.

Type 2: Proactive Resilience

Proactive resilience reflects a process of attempting to build resources to buffer from the impact of future challenges. While most people think that your resilience can not be grown over time, it can. It’s not a fixed personality trait or characteristic. People can build resilience proactively by anticipating challenges and acquiring resources to tackles those challenges ahead of time. For example, if a loved one is sick, you might start connecting with friends who care about you before things take a turn for the worst. That way, you are building the resources you need to get through that hard time, before you actually encounter it.

At work, proactive resilience requires anticipating challenges. If you brainstorm about barriers you might face in achieving your goals, you can then plan around them. It’s all about finding and acquiring resources that will help you to continue on your path when the time comes. If you often plan for barriers in your way, and try to make sure you have what it takes to tackle them ahead of time, you have developed proactive resilience. This can also come in the form of keeping track of a changing market, and adapting plans to stay ahead of the trends.

You don't need to go it alone! Proactive resilience helps you build resources along the way.
You don’t need to go it alone! Proactive resilience helps you build resources along the way.

Type 3: Reactive Resilience

Finally, reactive resilience occurs in the wake of unexpected events or crises. It’s all about how people respond in the short-term, when they experience a disruption to their goals. It gets triggered when people are caught off guard by a severe stressor. When such an event happens, it kicks into gear as individuals deploy their resources to solve the problem. The better they can do that, the higher amounts of it they have.

At work, reactive resilience comes into play when teams are overwhelmed by a significant challenge. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic posed an unexpected challenge to businesses everywhere. Employees with more reactive resilience likely tapped into their resources more quickly. This doesn’t mean they solved their problems alone, however. Asking for help may also be a key part of this process. Overall, reactive resilience requires employees to stop and take stock of their resources. Then, they are able to deploy those resources effectively to solve the problem. If you easily do this, you likely have higher amounts of it.

Which form of resilience best reflects you? It’s possible that two, or all, of these forms resonate with your experience. Which can you grow, so that you’re better able to face challenges in the future?

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