According to Webster, resiliency is:

1. the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2. an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

I think that the word has more depth to it which can best be seen by looking at some examples that history provides us with.

To me, resiliency is defined as General Washington and his exhausted men, many of which didn’t even have shoes, dealing with brutal winters and endless setbacks and still managing to defeat the British in the decisive battle at Yorktown to win the Revolutionary War. Washington and his men’s’ resiliency won that war.

Resiliency is the US getting surprised at Pearl Harbor, losing countless lives and much of our naval force and then entering the war and enduring the battles throughout the Pacific (like we witnessed in the recent movie Hacksaw Ridge, which portrayed Desmond Doss’ unthinkable heroism in another display of resiliency). Resiliency can be seen in battles like D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, which featured intense and committed leaders like General Patton and General MacArthur, who famously said “I will return” and did so. From leaders to POWs to frontline soldiers, our military heroes are those who showed and continue to show the world what the word resiliency truly means.

Hopefully, none of us are forced to display resiliency in one of those situations, but many of us hear it often regarding our businesses. How resilient are you and your organization? How grounded and committed are you to staying steadfast and how prepared are you to keep yourself and the organization that employs you operational amid an unplanned event or interruption?

Most people and organizations set themselves up to be reactive instead of resilient, which can be a recipe for disaster. Reaction is what you do after the fact. Resiliency is your already established ability to adjust and recover. We become resilient by implementing changes to move ourselves and our organizations from being reactive to being resilient.

If you take a minute to ponder what actions you can personally take to be more resilient in your life, your family, or your business, then I believe that my blog was worth reading. If you don’t, then you just received a history refresher.

If you think resiliency in all you do and make it part of who you are, your accomplishments can be as endless as the heroes mentioned above. Those people didn’t wait until disaster hit them to react, they were prepared to adjust to the changes they faced and recovered.