Resiliency is a Skill. Here’s How to Develop Theirs

Have you ever known that guy, maybe in college where they had no fear asking someone out on a date, hearing “No” and then moving onto the next person? Or how about that gal you used to work with in Sales. She could literally go door to door and hear “No” 100 times a day and keep showing up the next day. We may think they are crazy, but why is that a trait we feel uncomfortable around sometimes?

By far and large, the average person does not enjoy being told “No”. Why is that? I mean, statistically we are more likely to hear “No” in our lifetime than we are to hear “Yes”. Otherwise we would all be millionaires travelling the world with no worries, no debts, no problems. But yet we are completely devastated when “it” happens. Rejection

As you can probably guess, there are a few reasons why.

One reason is that it means you can’t have something that you want. A toy, permission to go somewhere, ice cream, a sleepover. Even though these “things” are not pivotal, it can still hurt feeling this rejection. But what about when we get older? What about when we finally work up the nerve to ask for something that could change our lives?

Maybe a raise? Or your dream job? A first date? Approval on a Mortgage? “No” can feel like a threat to our dreams and futures.

Another reason we tend to dislike rejection is that it could mean you might not be good enough to get that “thing” according to the person telling you “NO”.

  • No ice cream for you, you don’t deserve it today
  • No promotion for you, we don’t think you are ready for it
  • No, we have decided to “go another way” with the role in this movie
  • No, your income isn’t high enough to buy that house
  • No, I will not go on a date with you, because I am not attracted to you

Now, perhaps these are or are not the actual reasons for the rejection. Maybe they he wont go on a date with you because he has a crush on someone else. Maybe they decided to place a man in the role instead of a woman. Maybe you already had ice cream that day and it would be unhealthy to have more. But either way, our perception is our reality and with rejection, often our minds betray us, our insecurities come out and we “fill in the blanks” as to why we were rejected “again”.

These rejections can really hurt and, like everything, it truly is perspective. If we are taught that the boy at the dance didn’t dance with you because they don’t like you then we start to attach our worth to other peoples opinions and reactions; whether the reasons we make up are true or not. Perhaps they really don’t want to dance with you? What does that mean? What can it mean? And why do your answers to both of those questions have to be negative ones?

This is dangerous for so many reasons for youth. I’m sure you have seen all kinds of scary stories attached to a persons worth based on a lack of resiliency and proper perspective. Scary stories such as developing anorexia, experiencing bullying, self harm and so much more. (just a quick disclaimer, those scary stories can be due to many reasons associated with mental health, but a lack of proper tools and coping mechanisms early on in life can be a strong factor as well)

But let’s say they make it through youth and into adulthood. How does a lack of resiliency and perspective manifest in an adult?

Road rage, abuse, suicide. Yes, that escalated quickly and are very real effects.

But what about this? What if they do not manifest in these serious ways? What if instead, they simply fear asking for what they want and settle for complacency? What if they fear rejection so much that they decide that it isn’t worth asking for a raise? Or applying for their dream job or auditioning for a headliner role? Maybe they just stick with what is safe and feel unfulfilled for the rest of their life, never really seeing their full potential….

No one wants that for their child, when they are any age. But how can you build resiliency without causing harm? Won’t that be a risk for their young, fragile egos? What if they get hurt?

They can, yes. Absolutely. But much like building a house is tough without the right tools and knowledge, so is building resiliency. The reality is that they absolutely WILL hear “NO” in their life (or even every day) from you, their friends, their coaches and teachers, so we better prepare them now.

Placing your child in a dangerous or hurtful situation unprepared would be harmful. So let’s talk about how you can safely prepare them and have them actually feeling good about it. Yes, that’s right, good.

  1. Talk to them about what is important.
    It seems like every “How to Parent” list starts with communication but truly, kids are sponges and they look to you for guidance. So, it goes without saying, if you can’t talk to them, how will they be able to learn? If you see a great Teaching Moment, take it. Stop everything and talk about it. Maybe a little girl yelled at them and called them names at school today. Ask, “Why do you think she might have done that?” and then explore possible reasons.
    Maybe the child was sad from something that happened at home and decided to take it out on them. Maybe the child wanted attention or was jealous of something you had? Maybe you did something that made her angry? Can you think of something she may have taken the wrong way?
    Explore as many ideas as you can. Help them to gain introspection of their own actions while building empathy for others. It also teaches them that, unless you know, you don’t really know and it is best not to assume or take it personally.
  2. Talk about Failure as a Fun Thing! 
    Yes, failure can be fun. Don’t believe me? Ask any kid who has jumped a ramp on their bike and taken a dive but got up to do it again. Failure can be exciting! It means something NEW is being explored and possibilities are opening up.
    Dave Asprey from BulletProof Radio asks his daughters every night, what is something you failed at today and what is something you are proud of that you achieved? The goal behind this is to get them to link that failure one day can be an achievement the next. It also takes ALL stigma out of failure and turns it into a thing to be proud of. Anything that any incredible person has ever done, started with a failure attempt or two, or three, or 1000 times! But if you are having fun while doing it, who cares!?
  3. Set Them Up for Failure as Information 
    In our KidPreneur Programs with Build a Biz Kids, we purposely set them up for failure early, but they don’t even know it’s happening. In business, every product starts as a prototype. There isn’t a company out there who would spend millions of dollars on their first attempt of a product until they tested the market with it first.
    Our students are told to make more than 1 version of their prototypes and then ask as many people in the general public, what they think. If faced with the question, do you like the Red Widget or Blue Widget better, you ultimately have to “dislike” one of them more. But in this context, students are taking this rejection as critical information to improve their products. Improving their products will increase their sales and grow their businesses. In that context, rejection is GREAT!
    Set them up for “failure” in controlled settings where the context is given BEFORE the experiment.
  4. Develop Your Own Introspection
    Yup, sorry parents, but if you want your child to learn a new language, it’s easiest if they can speak it at home as well. Babies are not born with a rule book on how to react or feel. That’s why if you get angry when in traffic, they will assume that is how they should feel when they are stuck in traffic as they get older.
    That’s not to say that we want you to turn off old habits, on a dime, that you have had for years, but noticing them when they happen, especially in front of your kids, and then talking about it would go a HUGE way for them, and you.
    The next time you feel fear to ask someone for something you want, talk about it with them. It might just give you the encouragement to do it.
    The next time you get angry, tell them you’re sorry and let them know why you reacted that way and explore other reactions and outcomes. ie, getting mad at traffic doesn’t get you there faster, the other people in front of you want to get somewhere as well, and so on.

Resiliency is a skill. It can be easy to look at others who seem to have it all and “always get what they want”, but chances are, that person has heard “NO” 100x more than you. If Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, then EVERYONE will need to experience rejection to get what they want.

Help your kids learn this skill and then practice it weekly, daily even, to build that muscle and help them to lead a fulfilling, accomplished life.