The Road Not Even Attempted

One of my favorite things to do on college tours is to ask students if the college they’re attending was their first choice. When that happens, I pause for a second and wait for the statement I hear almost 100% of the time:  “and I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else”.   Such was the case this week as I interviewed a lovely young woman whose first choice was UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television and is happily thriving in her first year at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.

If I was hiring for a company, and this was the only question I was allowed to ask, I would hire this young woman based solely on this one response, because I would know that she has the resilience to not only attempt challenging situations but to be able to recover from a difficult outcome and adapt her perspective to embrace the new opportunity.   

Over the last few years, resilience has become a corporate buzzword and is often described as one of the top qualities that companies should look for in hiring, as well as the quality responsible for creating a successful and happy work experience.  But resilience is much more than a corporate buzzword. Resilience is an important factor in how we handle any life situation, as well as the ones that we choose to tackle in the first place. It helps us to aim high and trust that what we learn from the process is just as valuable as the experience itself and provides information that will help us in future situations!

The first step in establishing resilience is the willingness to experience your emotions and being aware of how you’re feeling. Before we can “bounce back” from disappointment, sadness, or anger, we have to feel it first, a skill that is key in developing “Emotional Agility”, as described by Susan David in her book of the same name. 

David describes in this article, how experiencing emotions – not pushing them down, negating them or berating ourselves for having them - helps us to recognize that they are essential in providing feedback that strength the muscles of courage and adventure – which helps us to not only reach higher but dream BIGGER! 

The other part of resilience is adapting your perspective to embrace the new situation.  It is only when we are able to release the feelings around what was, that we are able to start to ask the questions that help change our perspective to be open to creating “what could be”

Which is exactly what this lovely young woman did.  You could hear her excitement as she talked about her experience at Syracuse– the sense of community, the beautiful snowy days, the neighborhood basement concerts and the bus on campus that took you into the city where there were amazing restaurants and open mike nights.

To borrow from Robert Frost’s famous quote, building that muscle of resilience is what helps us BEFORE we get to choosing “the road less traveled” so that we don’t miss or look back with regret on “the road we didn’t attempt at all”.