Business Bites: Bouncebackability

Nick Walsh FBDO
ABDO head of corporate development

“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient,” Steve Maraboli

What is bouncebackability? It is actually a phrase coined by a football pundit about a team coming back from defeat, but it is really resilience.

Is resilience the same as mental toughness?
• Mental toughness helps people avoid experiencing a setback
• Resilience helps people recover from a setback

Resilience is demonstrated by each of us in many ways. It is about going through the tough times, setbacks and failures, not becoming derailed from the task, and remaining optimistic.

The American Psychological Association (APA) highlights that: “Resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioural flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.”

In fact, resilience can only be developed by experiencing demanding situations, but is not always down to the individual alone.

In the Harvard Business Review article, The secret to building resilience, we hear that resilience is strongly enabled through relationships and networks. Interviews conducted by the authors with leaders illustrated how a “well-developed network of relationships can help us rebound from setbacks by:
• Helping us shift work or manage surges
• Helping us to make sense of people or politics in a given situation
• Helping us find the confidence to push back and self-advocate
• Helping us see a path forward
• Providing empathic support so we can release negative emotions
• Helping us to laugh at ourselves and the situation
• Reminding us of the purpose or meaning in our work
• Broadening us as individuals so that we maintain perspective when setbacks happen

These eight common relational sources of resilience are not a checklist that needs to be completed, and individuals will prefer some over others, for example, empathy over laughter. Once they have identified the sources that they will most benefit from, the question will then need to be asked as to whether they have relationships with others around them that can help deliver in those areas to promote resilience. The relationship group can be family, friends or team mates. Authentic connections that can provide depth and width to the relationship group to cover a variety of areas with you. Mutually beneficial relationships can be the most rewarding.

Improving resilience

As an employer, there are benefits to improving resilience in the team network. By having shared goals, your team can work together to enhance productivity and efficiency in the business and the team aspect will help to improve wellbeing and motivation through a team culture.

Collaboration will let the team face issues and find solutions to those issues together. It is useful to create an environment where mistakes are allowed to be made. None of us are infallible: we learn by making mistakes. Encouraging your employees to report a mistake without fear of blame or punishment, and helping/enabling them to fix it, will not only prevent a repeat situation but will also improve their resilience for when they next tackle that particular task.

Employees are able to help boost their own resilience by being able to ask for help when needed, be that from their line manager, or other more experienced team members. The sharing of expertise is a great way to improve efficiency and help individuals to learn new skills along the way. The message for team members is that asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a willingness to learn and improve.

Resilience is not just about surviving a situation but learning from it and thriving as a result of it by developing the skills and knowledge that will make you better prepared in future and more resilient or more mentally tough.

A notable example of resilience is well known and successful entrepreneur, James Dyson, inventor of the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner. It is far too easy to only see where he is today and want his successes. But was he always successful? In terms of his first bagless vacuum clear, it took 5,127 prototypes and 15 years to get it right.

Dyson states: “An inventor’s path is chorused with groans, riddled with fist-banging and punctuated by head scratches. Stumbling upon the next great invention in an “ah-ha!” moment is a myth. It is only by learning from mistakes that progress is made1.

Resilient people show certain traits that are worthy of noting:
Reframing: looking at a situation in a new way. Is this an opportunity?
Accepting: adversity does not discriminate
Acknowledging: do not just focus on the negatives, be grateful for the positives
Focusing: focus on what you can change rather than what you cannot
Evaluating: will this help or harm me?

Remember your resources: you’re not alone in the situation. You can have a number of resources to use – be they mentors, colleagues, family or friends – to go to for advice, guidance and support. They can aid your resilience.


1. James Dyson. Wired Guest Column, 8 April 2011. Accessed 30 June 2022.