Great Leaders Bounce Back

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

– American inventor, Thomas Edison

Edison, despite struggling with failure throughout his work life, never let it get the best of him. He kept experimenting and learning. His resilience gave the world the light bulb as well as these amazing inventions phonograph, the telegraph, and the motion picture.

Do you have Edison’s resilience to overcome your challenges? Or do you let your failures or missteps derail your leadership?

Resilience is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as planned. Resilient leaders don’t dwell on failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward. According to the research of leading psychologist, Susan Kobasa, there are:

Three Essential Elements of Resiliency:

1. Challenge
Resilient people view a difficulty as a challenge, not as a paralyzing event. They look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from, and as opportunities for growth. They don’t view them as a negative reflection on their abilities or self-worth.

2. Commitment
Resilient people are committed to their lives and their goals.. Commitment isn’t just restricted to their work – they commit to their relationships, their friendships, the causes they care about, and their religious or spiritual beliefs.

3. Personal Control
Resilient people spend their time and energy focusing on situations and events that they have control over. Because they put their efforts where they can have the most impact, they feel empowered and confident. Those who spend time worrying about uncontrollable events can often feel lost, helpless, and powerless to take action.

It’s inevitable that at times we’re going to fail, make mistakes, have setbacks and occasionally fall flat on our faces. The only way to avoid this is to live a very sheltered life never trying anything new or taking a risk. Few of us want a life or career like that!

What Great Leaders Do to Bounce Back

1. Maintain the right perspective.
We all experience bad days and we all go through our share of crises. But we have a choice in how we respond; we can choose to react negatively and panic; or we can choose to remain calm and logical to find a solution. Avoid blowing events out of proportion. It probably is not as fatal as you think!

2. Identify who’s in control
Your own role in the setback will vary from situation to situation. Defunding of your pet project because of a company-wide budget cut may be beyond your control; whereas getting a poor performance review is something for which is within your control to change.

3. Re-calibrate to get back on track.
After making a thorough assessment of the situation, determine what you need to do to make sure that you learn from your mistakes and not repeat them. What behaviors or decisions contributed to the setback you’re experiencing? What would you do differently next time?

4. Nurture your self-confidence.
Continue to set goals, make plans, get out of your comfort zone and keep moving forward. Resilient people are confident that they’re going to succeed eventually, despite the setbacks or stresses that they might be facing. A setback only sets you back if you allow it to do so.

Smart Moves Tip:

Resilient leaders understand that things change and that carefully made plans may need to change. To maintain your leadership growth and satisfaction, resilience is essential. How have you been resilient and in what types of situations? What kept you moving forward? Share your experience with the readers



Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!

SOLD OUT! JOIN OUR WAITING LIST! It's not a virtual event. It's not a conference. It's not a seminar, a meeting, or a symposium. It's not about attracting a big crowd. It's not about making a profit, but rather about making a real difference. LEARN MORE HERE



  1. Interesting article, Marcia. Thanks for sharing.

    There are issues with the term “bouncing back” as it implies going back to or returning to a previous state. This is not possible particularly when looking at resilience in the face of extreme trauma. Resilience is all about learning from life’s experiences and moving forward as your article implies.

    Bouncing forward is a much better expression – indeed, your picture of a bouncing ball illustrates this perfectly.