Can Being Too Resilient Keep You from Realizing Opportunity?

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Life and business can be difficult at times. When disappointment and bad news strike, we hear those little voices in our heads, telling us to, “Roll with the punches,” and “go with the flow,” and even to, “buck up, buttercup!” These are learned defense mechanisms that help us cope with the slings and arrows of life and work. In many cases – most cases, perhaps – these little internalized pep talks help us keep things in perspective and find the proverbial silver lining when life storms strike. But…

Is it possible to be too resilient? Is it bad – for our mental health and our professional futures – to roll with too many punches and never fight the current? Increasingly, it is being learned that constantly giving into a hardy sense of resilience can keep us from tapping into our true strengths and actualizing important opportunities. Here’s what I mean:

Just What IS This Resilience Thing, Anyway?

Again, resilience is a coping mechanism, more specifically, it is the mental capacity to cope with stress and rebound from adversity. This ability to take setbacks in stride is highly valued in the corporate world, perhaps especially in the world of sales management and executive sales leadership. In many ways, a strong sense of resilience can help you regain your footing and push disappointment into the shadows so you can adapt and move on productively.

This is a good thing, right? After all, the philosopher and cultural critic Friedrich Nietzsche stated, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

Resilience graphic

The Dangers of Being Over-Resilient

So, if resilience can help us cope and rebound and adapt, can it be (or become) a bad thing? In some cases, yes. An article published by the Harvard Business Review made the case for potential dangers from over-resilience. Writers Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Derek Lusk noted that “even adaptive competencies become maladaptive if taken to the extreme,” citing “large-scale scientific studies” which can be boiled down to the so-called too-much-of-a-good-thing effect (TMGT Effect). In this case, the TMGT Effect could lead to the conclusion that too much resilience, while typically seen as a good thing, can, in fact, yield bad outcomes – including being “overly tolerant of adversity …” which, “at work … can translate into putting up with boring or demoralizing jobs — and particularly bad bosses — for longer than needed.”

How many corporate sales executives have rolled their eyes (and rolled with the punches) year after year knowing in their guts that upper-level decisions are short-sighted or just plain wrong? How many budget cuts have been ill-advised but inevitable? How many corporate reorganizations have left them “high and dry”? Over and over. Time after time.

Can There Be Opportunity in Resilience?

There is a kind of resilience, however, that can channel itself into strength and self-confidence. It can instill in the sales leader the reality that he or she is valuable and worthy of respect and capable of taking on new challenges. It can remind the leader that “turning the other cheek” doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to better opportunities outside the corporate fences.

The Bottom Line:

Resilience has its advantages and can, indeed, help us navigate the rough currents of life. But too much resilience – always going with the flow – ultimately leads nowhere and can keep you from recognizing and taking advantage of important opportunities.

At Sales Xceleration, our licensed Advisors faced points in their corporate careers when they had had enough. After being loyal team players again and again in the face of one setback after another – feeling undervalued and under-respected – they allowed themselves to be open to other career choices and opportunities. Again and again, they tell us how grateful they are to be able to use their skills and experience in the small to mid-sized business arena serving grateful and respectful clients as fractional sales leadership consultants, usually as Outsourced VPs of Sales. Their willingness to turn resilience into openness and openness into opportunity rejuvenated them and gave them a chance to work with passion and purpose while making a difference – again.

To learn more about the sales leadership consulting opportunity from Sales Xceleration (available in all markets), click here or contact us at 844.874.7253.