How We Bounce Back

Michael Jordan

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take

the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.

And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan


In 2004, then Crystal Palace FC manager, Ian Dowie coined the phrase bouncebackability, later entered into the Oxford English Dictionary as the “ability to recover after a setback, especially in sport”. Bouncebackability really described what we refer to now as resilience. Resilience is the process of adapting well when faced with stressful situations. In other words,  bouncing back. Many people adapt well over time to adversity but others react to difficult events such as the loss of a job, financial difficulties, or relationship problems with strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty. But resilience is not a permanent trait that people either have or do not have. Resilience can be developed in anyone. So how can you do that?

Research suggests that the main factor in resilience is having supportive relationships within and outside of the family. Successful athletes have a supportive team that can include their families, coaches, physiotherapists, physiologists, sport scientists, and psychologists. Developing good relationships with family and friends who care about you is important and accepting help from them can strengthen resilience. But what other strategies can you adopt to build resilience? Here are four suggestions:

Avoid Seeing Crises as Insurmountable Problems: You cannot change the fact that stressful things happen in life. What you are in control of is how you see and respond to those events. That is your ultimate power as a human being. To quote Viktor Frankl, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Create Goals: Create some realistic goals, achieving something regularly that enables you to move forward toward your goal, even if it seems like a small accomplishment. Ask yourself, “What can I achieve today that moves me towards my goal?”

Maintain a Positive Outlook: Being optimistic enables you to expect good things happening in your life. Athletes often use visualization techniques, creating mental images of repaired ligaments or optimal performance to recover quickly from injury or performance slumps. Try visualizing what you want.

Take Decisive ActionWhen faced with adverse situations, avoid procrastinating as much as you can. Take decisive actions, even if they are small ones, rather than hoping your problems will go away.

Life is a journey. On any journey you may encounter potholes, hairpin bends, hills, mountains, and dead ends. How you plan for a long journey and your attitude during it will determine its success. Stopping along the way to take in the view can give you respite, give you pause for thought and contemplation but its success is determined by reaching your destination.