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Historical Lessons In Resilience

What are you watching and reading?

Over the holidays I read The Splendor and The Vile by Erik Larson. It’s a true account of the first year that Winston Churchill was Prime Minister at the start of World War II. As a lover of history and with a possible upcoming trip to Paris, I purchased Taking Paris: The Epic Battle for the City of Lights by Martin Dugard. When I discussed it with my dad, he suggested that The Splendor and the Vile might be a good thing to read beforehand to have a better understanding of what was happening at that point in the war. I’m so glad he had it handy for me to borrow and that he made the suggestion for several reasons.

I took his recommendation and what started off as a book that I was reading “just for fun” turned out to be way more than that. I didn’t expect to find such inspirational examples of resilience.

Thanks, Dad!

First off, it was an excellent book- I feel like with each chapter I learned something new about that time period in history. And, it was so well written that I easily read 100 pages a day. After finishing it, I reflected on the various lessons about resilience that was so well described in the book.

Sustained Resilience

When you’re going through hell, keep going. - Winston Churchill

The bombing of London during the Blitz was described in detail and definitely provided an example of great resilience. Wikipedia describes the Blitz this way:

The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against the United Kingdom in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War….From 7 September 1940, London was systematically bombed by the Luftwaffe for 56 of the following 57 days and nights.

The reality of the constant bombing and its impact on the citizens was very clearly explained.

As the reader, what I didn’t realize was how the population (and especially the leadership) had all of this happening while at the same time, expecting an invasion of the country at any moment at the same time.

It’s really difficult for me and most of us to imagine what it must have felt like to rush home to make sure the house was blacked out, hear the planes and buzzing bombs at night, while also waiting to see if you would survive and wondering whether a land invasion may have started.

This went on for months and months so although it’s an extreme scenario, it really serves as an example of sustained resilience.

A more recent example of resilience is how employees adapted quickly when they needed to move to work from home. In a matter of days, people had to set up a home office space, learn how to navigate Zoom or MS Teams, and juggle working with other family members at home

Sustaining Others

When everything feels hopeless

When everything feels like an uphill struggle

When it feels like nothing is going right…

Having a positive and determined role model, leader, or mentor may be exactly who you need…

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. - Winston Churchill

Our next example of resilience is not just coming from a moment in time but a person––Churchill himself. Not only did he have to show resilience in the face of military defeats, political disagreements, and issues with his own leadership team, but the book really described his role in keeping people resilient during this time period.

He spoke often and, although explaining hard realities, he was always optimistic. This was also true when he would visit the bombed-out areas of the country. His attitude and ability to maintain his own resilience actually helped others stay strong as well. Good leaders understand that their attitude can help or hurt the people watching them.

Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I feel down and got up again. - Nelson Mandela

Who can you help be resilient?

What difference would it make for your own resilience if you had a leader who always maintained a positive outlook? Can you think of an opportunity at work where you can help others be more resilient just by adjusting your attitude?

* Actionable Success Steps

Use these Actionable Success Steps and our complimentary Success Worksheet (here) to do the following:

(1) Consider books you’ve read or shows you’ve watched recently

(2) Consider the lessons you’ve learned from them regarding success skills such as resilience, communication, body language, influencing, negotiating, etc.

(3) Think about how you can apply those lessons learned to professional situations

Learn More

The Growth Group Academy currently provides a course on Sustaining Resilience. Learn more here and get tips for being more resilient in 2022!

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