Resilience - the ability to anticipate and bounce back from
setbacks quickly - is among the most valuable competencies. Like
the ability to easily learn new skills, it catalyzes a person's
ability to respond intentionally, intelligently and with an
effective strategy to any surprising and significant change that
the person faces.
Resilience is what helps a person adapt to adversity, manage
stress and even find hidden resources to meet goals that at first
glance appear difficult to attain. It is never more important than
when you are trying to discern and adjust your personal
You have a personal brand. Everyone does. It is the image you
project and is a consequence of every single aspect of your
identity and behavior. This part of your identity is expressed
whenever you are communicating, i.e., whenever you are in the same
physical or virtual space as another person.
You can't really identify your brand with accuracy without
information from other people about how they perceive you. You may
have a few ideas, and your ideas may even be correct. However,
personal brand is what other people notice about you.
It's a particularly difficult challenge to discover that your
personal brand isn't what you thought it was and perhaps not
aligned with your goals. This twinge to one's self image is what
has been called an "identity abrasion."1 It is easy for
someone who is accustomed to excelling academically to have a
self-image as a high performer, and interpret the information about
his or her brand that doesn't match the person's self-images as a
fatal mistake or failure. In truth, it is nothing more than data to
evaluate and an opportunity to learn something about how other
people, who have experienced you in a particular context, perceive
An identity abrasion to someone with low resilience can cause
shock and a sense of loss. When this happens, it takes time to
psychologically process the feelings associated with shock and
loss. Some people are so fearful of an identity abrasion that they
will protect themselves by refusing to collect data about their
brand from other people. Unfortunately all this strategy achieves
is to keep those vulnerable and low resilient people blind to the
most valuable gift - feedback about what others believe is
People with higher levels of resilience approach challenges with
optimism that they will succeed. They have more confidence, are
more motivated to tenaciously plow through difficulties, and view
themselves as problem-solvers, rather than victims of unfortunate
circumstances. Having this attitude, which can be cultivated with
training, coaching, and practice, is what directs them to want data
on their brand and make sense of it through an analytical lens
crafted by curiosity. For this reason alone, developing your brand
with the help of a coach is invaluable.
Tips for developing resilience
Identify competencies associated with emotional intelligence and
develop them. Learning to manage your strong emotions, such as the
anxiety associated with an identity abrasion, is one element of
emotional intelligence. Another aspect of emotional intelligence,
the ability to affect the emotions of others, will help you develop
a brand that will help you expand your network. After all, people
like helping people that they like, and people like people who
affect their feelings in a positive manner.
Learn to reduce your anxiety with controlled breathing, relaxing
your tensed muscles, and using positive imagery.
Learn more about your anxiety through close attention to the
circumstances surrounding your anxiety and reflecting on the
Take three deep Breaths. Notice
what is happening around you according to your five senses, and to
you - physiologically, emotionally and what you are thinking and
saying to yourself.
Tips for identifying and developing your personal brand
First ask yourself about yourself: What matters most to you? Who
are you? What do you do? How do you do it? How are you different
from everyone else? What do you want people to remember about you
after you leave?
Second, ask your colleagues, friends, clients, supervisors and
anyone else that knows you, what they notice and remember most
about you. Not everyone will perceive you in the same way. Your
personal brand may vary from one person and context to the
Third, given your vision for success, goals and the people with
decision-making power that matter to you, how, if at all, do you
want to change your brand?
Fourth, what will you do first to change your brand from what it
is today to what you want it to be?
The overlap between brand and resilience is the last step for
developing your personal brand. That step is when you identity the
action steps you will take to notice and manage any identity twinge
that might arise.
Susan Letterman White, JD, MS, is a principal in Letterman White
Consulting, a consulting practice devoted to improving organization
and team performance and training people to think like business
leaders. She works with organizations to change their structures
and processes to improve business performance. She also runs
Lawyers Leaders & Teams, a company devoted to marketing and
leadership development training for lawyers.
- Martin Davidson, "The End of Diversity as We Know it: Why
Diversity Efforts Fail and Why Leveraging Differences Can Succeed"