How Well Do You Bounce Back?

Sometimes we have days that don’t go as planned. Sometimes we’re a little worse for the wear by the time evening arrives. I’m learning that the secret to getting to the next day with my spirit in tact involves a little resilience and a lot of grace.

This quote hangs on my fridge:

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.   – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Amen. That Emerson was one smart guy.

I had one of those days recently – one with a series of several difficult interactions that left my nerves rattled and my soul bruised. As I dealt with the issues, involving my team where necessary, people kept praising me for sounding so calm and collected. At first I brushed that off…but then I gave myself a little time to reflect upon the praise that was coming my way.

It was true, actually. I did sound calm. In fact, I was calm. It was a little surprising. Here’s why.

The toughest criticism I ever received in a performance review was that I lacked resilience. The person said that when something didn’t go well, I took it personally and struggled to recover. Let me tell you, I HATED getting that feedback. I wrestled with it for MONTHS, trying to decide if it was true.

Guess what. It was.

My angst wasn’t driven by an untrue accusation. Instead, it was a result of the dissonance between how I was showing up and how I wanted to show up. I committed myself to paying extra attention to how I handled bad days –  the ones that came with tangled messes, or big setbacks, or angry people, or harsh feedback. I wanted to lessen the impact these events had on my reaction, on my disposition, on my heart. I adopted the mantra grace under pressure* and posted the Emerson quote on my fridge. I softened my edges.

I’ve been paying attention to this practice of resilience for a number of years now, and based on the comments I heard this week, it feels like it’s starting to pay off. I’m delighted.

I’ve learned a few things along the way.

What I’ve learned from the amazing Tara Mohr is that feedback doesn’t really tell me much about me. It tells me more about the person giving it. The kind of day they are having, what they value, what they think. It doesn’t say much about who I am and it certainly doesn’t dictate what kind of day I need to have as a result. Feedback gives me a chance to demonstrate grace.

Beyond that, I’ve learned that setbacks and challenges are rarely personal. They’re blessings in disguise, more often than not. They activate my problem solving capability and allow me to rise to the challenge. They give me a chance to tap my network and my team and for us to have a shared experience that builds our culture. They also remind me that I am separate from the situation at hand. Setbacks cultivate faith.

So the next time a big problem gets thrust in your hands or you’re on the receiving end of harsh feedback, how will you respond? Consider this a reminder that the choice is entirely yours. Grace under pressure, my friends. Always grace.

*unbelievably, I just learned that the phrase “grace under pressure” was also first attributed to Emerson!  Coincidence?

2 thoughts on “How Well Do You Bounce Back?

  1. Linda Hudish

    I enjoyed reading your article titled, “How Do You Bounce Back?” One thing you should know is, it is a different process as you get older. I will tell you now I am closer to your mother’s age than yours. I no longer have to worry about the rush and hubbub of getting small children off to dance class, soccer, and school. Thankfully, my grown children do that. The unfortunate part of getting older is the health issue. There are days when I get out of bed and am not sure I can make it into the kitchen for my cup of tea. I feel like I need my “mommy” to dress me, fix breakfast for me, give me a hug and a kiss, and send me on my way. But, since that isn’t possible, I try to find something to look forward to during the day. Sometimes it’s something as simple as noticing the sunshine outside and looking forward to a little warmth on my face as I gather in my 15 min. of rays. Sometimes it’s looking forward to taking a car ride up into the mountains to see the color of the leaves as the change in the fall. I am presently the only driver in the family so my husband is the navigator and we make a bit of an adventure out of such a trip. Oh, and it usually ends with ice cream too. We call them “Mimi vacations”. You’ve all heard the expression, “Stop and Smell the Roses”, well, that is exactly what you can do when you are older. Sure there is the fun and excitement of seeing your grandchildren grow and include you in their activities, (if you are fortunate enough to have grandchildren) but I think it’s the “not so grand moments” which keep me on an even keel.

    I have certainly become more adapt at enjoying the new rhythm my life has taken on. It’s a slower pace. I can simply not worry about the dust on the mantle or the two or three dishes I didn’t get put into the dishwasher. Sometimes I have to look a little harder for the old me who ” had her finger in every pie”, and was always thinking I had to do things better than anyone else. Maybe that was my mother’s idea of how I should do things, and God knows I wanted to please my mother by following what she expected of me. I wanted to make her proud of me. Now, I am content with the fact that I am able to do things the way I need to and not feel guilty. That was, thankfully, when I finally grew up. I guess you would call that “Grace”.

    I can accept my life the way it has turned out, and though it is not at all what I envisioned it would be but it isn’t bad. I had to learn to accept the things which came along in my life and roll with the punches. I’ve stopped worrying so much. God knows best!

    Gracefully Yours,

    1. Cherylanne Skolnicki Post author

      Linda, That’s a beautiful perspective on how the necessary grace changes from one stage of life to another. Thanks for sharing – I love that you are finding joy in the countless little blessings throughout the day – we’d all be well served to do the same!


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