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Meeting Adversity With Resilience

Jun 9, 2020
5 min Read
Adversity Resilience


Resilience is an important quality to possess because we will all face adversity at some point in our lives. The good news is that resilience can be cultivated. It’s not an innate, you-either-have-it-or-don’t characteristic. It’s a learned skill that can be intentionally nurtured and strengthened.

In the second installment of the Business Bites Webinar Series, sponsored by Creighton University’s Heider College of Business in partnership with the Greater Omaha Chamber, Laurie Baedke, FACHE, FACMPE, director of the Healthcare Leadership Programs as well as program director of the Executive MBA in Healthcare Management and Executive Fellowship programs at Creighton University, looks at the role habit plays in well-being and, in turn, how well-being contributes to resilience.


At its core, resilience is the ability to recover quickly from a difficult situation. Baedke likens resilience to a rubber band. An effective rubber band will recoil to its original shape after being stretched to its limit. However, a brittle rubber band that has lost its elasticity risks snapping when stretched. Individuals who develop resilience are able to spring back after experiencing hardship, much like a healthy rubber band; those who break under pressure resemble the worn rubber band.

Baedke adds to this fundamental definition of resilience – bouncing back into shape – by further defining resilience as not simply bouncing back but bouncing up, rising through adversity.

“Resilience is bouncing back, and then some. So, you're adding or layering on some new elements, some new skills or some new capacity. Now that's learned experience,” Baedke says.


Resilience isn’t only for the select few; we all need to strengthen our ability to recover and rise above difficulties.

“It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ we will face adversity of some sort,” Baedke says.

The pandemic is at the top of list now, but other stressors include the loss of a job, being passed over for a promotion, divorce, a failed project, loss of a loved one, or a poor job performance evaluation.


Habits are important. They make our behaviors more efficient by reducing decision-making fatigue and freeing up mental energy for more demanding tasks. And what we do – our behaviors, our habits – dictate what and who we become.

But how do habits develop resilience? Habits drive behaviors, behaviors are the foundation of well-being, and well-being helps us withstand adversity, to be resilient.

Well-being is essential Baedke says. It flourishes from the inside out. It cannot be bought or chased, but it can be cultivated. Gallup defines well-being as the intersection of purpose, social, financial, community, and physical elements of living.

  • Purpose is liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
  • Social is enjoying supportive relationships and having love in your life
  • Financial is managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  • Community is liking where you live, feeling safe in your environment, and having pride in your community
  • Physical is maintaining good health and having enough energy to perform daily tasks

Feelings of well-being are seriously lacking in society today. According to a Gallup poll, only 5% of individuals living in the U.S. experience all five elements of well-being. 12% experience four; 14%, three; 17%, two; 22%, one; and 28% experience none.

Why should employers care about their employees’ well-being? Some may dismiss it as “soft”, or a nice-to-have, but research confirms a compelling business case. Well-being greatly enhances job performance. Individuals who experience four of the five categories missed 70% fewer workdays per year, are 45% more adaptive to change, and are 59% less likely to look for new jobs.


The good news is we can take steps to improve our resilience. Resilient people make it a habit to:

  1. Invest in growth: In the words of Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett, lifelong learning builds like compound interest. Remain curious. Read edifying books, listen to podcasts, keep up on the latest best practices in your field by reading professional journals.
  2. Curate your circle: Carefully select your companions. Consider Jim Rome’s Rule of Five: Who we are will largely be shaped by the five people with whom we keep closest company. They will influence our habits, which establishes our well-being and influences our performance.
  3. Know your purpose: The more clarity you have about your purpose, the better you are able to sustain and avoid burnout. Why do you exist? What makes you thrive? Burnout results because we forget why we do what we do.
  4. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable: The more you condition yourself to embrace challenges – even on a micro level, such as a strenuous workout or having a hard conversation – the better you will withstand macro difficulties. Being uncomfortable primes the pump of resilience.

Albert Camus, the Nobel Prize winning French-Algerian philosopher, spoke of resilience when he wrote, “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer…no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

Ultimately, resilience leads to a more balanced, adaptive life because it helps insulate us from trials, such as today’s pandemic.

View the Resilient Leadership Whitepaper

This content was developed as part of our Business Bites series, a virtual education opportunity sponsored by the Heider College of Business in partnership with the Greater Omaha Chamber. Request the full interactive Business Bites session to learn more.

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This blog post was contributed by Laurie Baedke, MHA, FACHE, FACMPE. Laurie is a faculty member and Director of Healthcare Leadership Programs at Creighton University. She is also the Program Director for Creighton's Executive MBA in Healthcare Management degree  and Executive Fellowship programs. A sought-after speaker, author, and advisor, Laurie works with individuals and teams including early careerists, physician leaders, and senior executives. She has specific expertise in physician practice management, leadership development, organizational change, emotional intelligence, and strengths- based leadership.