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Resilience - English Edition

Table of content

  1. Copyright Notices
  2. Imprint
  3. Foreword
  4. The phenomenon of resilience
    1. What it means to be resilient
    2. Why some people are more resilient than others
      1. The internal protective factors
        1. Character or personality traits
        2. Inner attitudes, opinions and convictions
        3. Talents, gifts and abilities
        4. Experience and competencies
      2. External protective factors
        1. Learning from positive role models
        2. A stimulating learning environment
        3. Phases with stable circumstances
        4. Support from at least one steady and reliable confidant
        5. Impulses for training and new perspectives
    3. The resilience factors
    4. Crisis as a teacher
      1. Crises are a matter of opinion
      2. Crises are a part of life
      3. Crises at work
        1. Career development crises
        2. Acute stress crises
        3. Chronic stress crises
    5. Resilience is a lifetime development
  5. Resilience as an economic factor
    1. Companies in a state of flux
    2. Surviving in the VUCA world
      1. Mental illness on the rise
      2. It pays to invest in resilience
    3. Robust in turbulent times
      1. Mindfulness fosters resilience
      2. A rethink is necessary
        1. Variety and redundancy instead of efficiency
        2. A corporate culture of trust and cooperation
        3. Situative and mediatory leadership
      3. Is everything VUCA?
      4. The both-and principle
    4. Strong employees – strong companies
  6. Becoming more resilient
    1. Flexibility and agility encourage resilience
    2. The latest research findings
      1. The brain needs a lifetime to develop
      2. Thoughts can alter the brain
      3. Our body influences our brain
      4. Greater resilience through effective communication
    3. Getting safely through a crisis
      1. The causes of insecurity
      2. The consequences of insecurity
        1. Everything is off balance
        2. How we put ourselves under pressure
      3. What gives us security?
        1. Self-confidence
        2. Rules, routines and rituals
        3. Feedback and exchanges
        4. Resources and favourable framework conditions
        5. Structures and areas of responsibility
        6. Contact and affiliation
        7. Values and vision
        8. Security from having a safe space
    4. Three pillars for more security
      1. Conveying security
      2. Bringing movement into play
        1. Resilience training: stimulate self-regulation
        2. Resilience training: interrupt routines
      3. Create a working climate that nurtures resilience
        1. From the negative to the positive
      4. From the general to the concrete
        1. From the rule to the exception
        2. From assessment to describing perception
        3. From the impossible to the possible
        4. From taking things for granted to clear feedback
        5. Give the simplest feedback in the world: just ask!
  7. Eight factors that build up resilience
    1. The resilience circle
      1. Mindset
      2. Embodiment
      3. Interaction
      4. Context
    2. Optimism and positive self-assessment
      1. Optimism can be learned
    3. Acceptance and realism
      1. Accept the chaos
    4. Solution-focused thoughts and actions and creativity
      1. When old solutions become new problems
    5. Self-regulation and self-care
      1. Self-regulation and power poses
    6. Personal responsibility and decisiveness
      1. Exercise: Really powerful leadership
    7. Relationships, networks and role models
      1. Unconscious copying of strong role models
    8. Shaping the future and developing a vision
      1. Planning for the here and now
    9. The ability to improvise
      1. Learning from mistakes
      2. Versatility and variance
  8. What about your resilience?
    1. How resilient is your company?
      1. Score
        1. Were your points mostly in the negative range?
        2. Were most of your points in the neutral range?
        3. Were most of your points in the positive range?
    2. How resilient are you personally?
      1. Score
        1. Were your points mostly in the negative range?
        2. Were most of your points in the neutral range?
        3. Were most of your points in the positive range?
    3. Exercises to build resilience
  9. Bibliography
  10. The author
    1. Ella Gabriele Amann
  11. Index


Copyright Notices


Haufe-Lexware GmbH & Co. KG, Freiburg


The new world of work: we perceive it as fast-moving, ambiguous, complex, precarious, unpredictable. Planning was yesterday; today, rapid reactions are what count. For more than a decade now we have been seeing a dramatic increase in stress-related illnesses. Burnout is the term on everybody’s lips.

We wish we had greater powers of resistance and more flexibility to be able to cope with the large and small crises that bring changes in their wake. But how are we to gain these skills?[2]

The answer is resilience. Research into resilience has uncovered ways to deal appropriately and successfully with stress and remain psychologically and physically healthy.

In this book, I invite you to explore the subject of resilience for yourself, your team or your company. Learn how to conquer difficult situations steadily and securely, and build your confidence for dealing with crises and turbulent times.

Ella Gabriele Amann

The phenomenon of resilience

Why do some people and companies manage to emerge even stronger than before from crises and periods of high stress, while others literally fall apart when faced with the same challenges?

In this chapter you will learn

  • what resilience means,

  • what factors influence our powers of resistance,

  • why a crisis does not always have to be a bad thing,

  • why resilience is something that we can acquire.

What it means to be resilient

Resilient people are able to deal with pressure or stress in such a way that they can return to their normal state once the period of tension is over:

  • Sick people become healthy again.

  • Sad people become happy again.

  • Stressed people find peace and tranquillity.

  • Overworked people are able to relax.

  • Life crises are overcome and economic problems are conquered.

Similar to our immune system, which protects our body from illness, resilience refers to the immune system of our psyche or soul: it helps us to deal with stress, pressure and crises.

A person’s or an organization’s resilience is, however, not regarded as a permanent state that has always existed and is retained forever, but rather as a lifelong learning process. Our resilience and thus our powers of resistance can vary from situation to situation and be stronger or weaker depending on the stage of life we happen to be in.[3]


Walter Strong is the director of a mid-sized company. He can well remember the year 2008. The economic crisis hit his company quite suddenly. Within just a few weeks he had to make several people redundant and negotiate severance packages. It was mainly the older employees who were affected. Walter could hardly bear having to discharge so many competent, loyal colleagues into an uncertain future.

At the same time, Walter’s wife was diagnosed with a serious illness. She had to spend three months in hospital, followed by a long stay at a rehabilitation facility. Practically overnight, Walter was left alone to look after their two small children. He had to be there full time not only for his company but also for his wife and children – a balancing act that took him to the brink. Yet he succeeded. Now his wife has regained her health and the company has recovered.

When Walter reflects on this time of crisis, he sometimes does not know how he coped with it and survived. He only knows that the events have brought his family closer together. Without his company’s understanding and the active support of his parents, he would not have been able to master the situation. And he knows that, despite all the fears and worries, he never lost his optimistic attitude, his sense of humour or his confidence.[4]

Through long-term studies, researchers have discovered that around a third of us possess the resilience needed to face crises and difficult situations and emerge from them even stronger than before. Many people display this talent in their very early years; others develop it later, over the course of time.

A serious illness, a separation or an unexpected job change, for example, might act as a trigger, causing us to question our patterns of behaviour and develop a new, positive attitude to life.


A former senior manager: ”Now, after my burnout, I set totally different priorities. I no longer try to satisfy everyone. I’ve learned to pay attention to my own needs.”


Getting back on one’s feet

The term ”resilience” (meaning ”elasticity” or ”vigour”; from the Latin resilire, meaning ”rebound”) originates from physics and describes the ability of a material to change shape, then afterwards regain its original form. In general, resilience stands for a system’s tolerance to disruption.

The term was embraced by psychologists to describe the human ability to recover from adverse circumstances, failures, grievances and illnesses and to start afresh. Resilience stands for psychological robustness – or in other words, psychological elasticity.

Why some people are more resilient than others

Within the framework of long-term studies, foundational research into resilience identified a number of protective factors that can increase a person’s powers of resistance when dealing with crises. These are divided into internal and external protective factors.[5]

The internal protective factors

Internal protective factors exist within each individual. They may be genetically anchored within us, or they may evolve from childhood to old age through our education, learning experiences, and experiences of crises. They include, for example,

  • character or personality traits,

  • inner attitudes, opinions and convictions,

  • talents, gifts and abilities,

  • experience and competencies.

Character or personality traits

Resilience depends, among other things, on traits that are ascribed to a person’s character or personality. Research has established, for example, that highly resilient children exhibit a certain readiness to help at an early age. They also enjoy solving problems and are in the position to develop a realistic view of the world. In addition, resilient people are credited with a sense of humour and a willingness to communicate.


In his role of manager, Walter Strong had to learn how to deal with his employees’ different ways of thinking and their various coping strategies. One particular colleague, the company’s business controller, felt a very strong sense of responsibility for everything during the restructuring process. He focused his entire attention on everything that was going wrong, for example where problems existed and what disadvantages the new computer system entailed. It was extremely important for this colleague to regularly express his worries and fears. He needed the assurance that his observations were being acknowledged. Walter noticed that the weekly team meetings were not sufficient for this. Only when he met his controller for a brief personal conversation every week was the latter able to voice his concerns – and also his suggestions for improvement – which then enabled him to relax and become more productive again.[6]

Walter also realized that there were a few employees who were not stressed by the changes. They welcomed the new computer system from the outset, recognizing the advantages and new possibilities that it brought. Walter decided to facilitate a positive atmosphere by inviting these employees to meetings where they could report in more detail on their experiences and share their thoughts and ideas with colleagues. This stimulated the learning process and led to an overall improvement in team morale.

Inner attitudes, opinions and convictions

Besides character traits, the attitudes and opinions people form throughout life also play a decisive role in their resilience. Resilient people can, for example, more easily accept that crises, illnesses and debilitating incidents are part of life. They see the glass not as half-empty but as half-full; they fixate less on the mistakes they make, since they are able to recognize what they can do well and what they are successful at. Resilient employees are not thunderstruck when they hear that their company is soon to be taken over by another. They might at first react by being just as surprised at the news as others, but they are then likely to be more interested in the new situation than shocked by it.[7]

Whether we perceive an event to be a crisis or not depends to a great extent on how we evaluate the situation and ...

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