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  • Writer's pictureAmy

Success = Resilience + EI

Updated: Jan 5, 2020

I think I've said this before but it needs to be said again. My mom was wicked smart. She didn't finish high school but she was the person who taught me how to control my emotions, read body language, and practice resilience. Her definition of success generated one of my favorite quotes. "No one died or went to prison." She firmly believed that we worry about too many things and most are inconsequential. I lovingly call it her 'belief in low standards' but it really has nothing to do with low standards. It is all about focusing on the most important things in your life.

What does success have to do with controlling emotions, reading body language, and resilience? Everything. Success is determined by many factors but these skills directly impact how we interact with others and respond to challenges. Success is hard to come by if you don't interact with customers and vendors or take calculated risks.

Emotional Intelligence (EI)

Research suggests emotional intelligence (EI) is key to success. It includes self-awareness, self-regulation (controlling emotions), motivation, empathy, and social skills like responding to body language. EI is exhibited more predominately within the following groups (Pooja, Kumar, 2016):

  • Women

  • Ages 51-60

  • 16-20 years of work experience

  • Educated adults with degrees in non-technical fields like Business Administration, Law, Humanities, Art, etc.

This doesn't mean people outside of this group are stuck. It means that experience positively contribute to EI, females may acquire EI quicker, and non-technical education may pushpeople to have higher EI scores. However, anyone can develop stronger emotional intelligence. Check out Lifehack's article 7 Practical Ways To Improve Your Emotional Intelligence.


Resilience seems mysterious. How can two people experience the same situation and respond so differently? Victims and families of the Boston Marathon bombing have vastly different outcomes with some taking on the persona of a survivor and others mired in victimization. Resilience is one of the factors that predicts outcomes like these. In the YouTube video of a mom telling her children that she is having another boy, these boysrespond completely differently. While expectation played the primary role in this video, it highlights how the same situation elicits different responses.

Resilience means to endure and recover and includes four subcomponents: Determination, Endurance, Adaptability, and Recuperability (Taormina, 2015). Resilience is not an end-state or a target we should strive to achieve. It is a process. We have to exert resilient behaviors to build up our 'resilience muscle' just like we exert ourselves on a trail or at the gym.

General tips for practicing resilience include:

  • Procrastinate less

  • Access your support network of family, friends, and community resources

  • Find purpose in the things you do

  • See change as an opportunity for growth

  • Love and appreciate yourself and your unique skill set

  • Learn from your experiences

Resilience is life's trampoline. The larger and more durable your trampoline, the quicker you can bounce back from the inevitable challenges that lie in front of you. Carol Dweck's Ted Talkabout your ability to improve is part of resilience and shows that growth mindsets drive your toward continued success.

Never hesitate to reach out to mentors, psychological professionals, and healthcare workers when you are overwhelmed by life and the challenges you face. These are part of your support network and they are there for these exact moments in time.

*As a side note, the featured image in this posts has Success and Failure moving in different directions which is not necessarily correct. First, failure is giving up or choosing not to learn from your mistakes but is not the same thing as not succeeding. Second, succeeding and not succeeding are like siblings; you cannot invite one without inviting the other. Success is the result of taking calculated risks which makes not succeeding inherent. Therefore, we need to become comfortable with not succeeding in order to succeed and be an expert.

Pooja, P., & Kumar, P. (2016). Demographic Variables and Its Effect on Emotional Intelligence: A Study on Indian Service Sector Employees. Annals Of Neurosciences, 23(1), 18-24. doi:10.1159/000443552

Taormina, R. J. (2015). Adult Personal Resilience: A New Theory, New Measure, and Practical Implications. Psychological Thought, 8(1), 35-46. doi:10.5964/psyct.v8i1.126

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