Resiliency Matters: Our Version of the Bend and Snap!

We spoke about the importance of resilience in an earlier chapter, but we would like to expand a bit more on this crucial skill and attribute.

Resilience, or the ability to bounce back after failure, is a key attribute of successful reinventors. Being resilient is the ability to overcome speed bumps or colossal setbacks.   

This is true for both individuals and organizations. Resiliency can be seen in action through the experiences of the following three leaders.

  • J.K. Rowling: The author of the Harry Potter series didn’t magically become wealthier than the Queen of England. Impoverished and divorced, she wrote the first book on an old typewriter. It met complete rejection by more than ten publishers. A year later, Barry Cunningham agreed to publish her book but suggested she get another job, because children’s books typically produced meager profits. Rowling has just become a billionaire.
  • Steve Jobs: Although your iPhone, Mac, or iPad seem indispensable today, two decades ago you probably would have dismissed Apple products altogether. Jobs’s Apple III computer, the early model of the Mac, was so poorly designed that the computer earned a reputation as an unreliable machine that invariably crashed. After Jobs was fired from Apple, he designed the NeXT hardware, which sold poorly at first but later became the foundation for future Apple products. He also created Pixar. And the rest is history.
  • Walt Disney: The man who gave us Disneyland navigated a very rocky road before becoming a legend. His first cartoon series in Kansas City left him bankrupt. An editor fired Disney because he believed he was unimaginative. Disney even lost rights to his first commercially successful character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Then Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck happened, and it was time to create Disney magic.

In order to claim eventual fame, these people were faced with obstacles that required them to embrace their mistakes and continue forward with steadfast determination. Sometimes failure, or even many failures, precedes success.

It seems that, in the 21st-century business jungle, only the resilient survive.

Becky Schrumm

Boston, MA