What resiliency looks like for tech pros

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Resiliency is something you need in order to thrive in any field, but in tech, it can often feel like you need a little extra to just to survive. We wanted to learn more about how resiliency affects IT pros, so we got in touch with someone who knows all about it. Dr. Paul G. Stoltz, Founder and CEO of PEAK Learning, Inc. Dr. Stoltz writes and speaks about grit, which he defines as, "Your capacity to dig deep and do whatever it takes -- even sacrifice, struggle and suffer -- to achieve your most worthy goals in the best ways." Let's take a look at how resiliency can help you get there.

1. Responding positively makes a difference

Resiliency isn't just about your ability to bounce back from adversity, it's also about how you respond to it.

Here's Dr. Stoltz:
I define it [resiliency] as the capacity to make good use of—respond constructively to—adversity ... I think of resilience as defense, responding well to what comes at you, and GRIT as offense, digging deep to do whatever it takes to go after and realize your most important goals. Any good coach will tell you, you need both to win.

2. Struggling doesn't mean you're failing

Maybe you're overworked, sleep-deprived and ready to do just about anything for a real vacation. Before you throw in the towel, consider that struggling, suffering and sacrifice often lead to better things.

Here's Dr. Stoltz:

In my work with the entrepreneurship program at MIT, we define resiliency and GRIT as the "Entrepreneurial Mindset." There is compelling evidence that this is what separates the best from the rest among entrepreneurs. Anyone trying to make it happen in tech, and as a startup has to go in embracing struggle, suffering, and sacrifice. Those are essential elements in making anything noteworthy happen in life.

3. Accountability matters

While it may be tempting to pick the up the slack on a team project, holding your peers accountable is a better option in the long run.

Here's Dr. Stoltz:

The problem among so many tech teams is those with more resilience and GRIT step up and get the job done, allowing others to slack off, back off or "camp." No one wins when that happens. It's more effective to call people on their stuff, hold them accountable for their piece, set up resilient fallbacks if they fail to deliver, keeping the project whole along the way, and help them realize the benefits of showing some GRIT to get results.

4. You're allowed to change your direction

Ever have that stomach-churning feeling that you've been going at the same darn project for so long that all you're really doing now is just wasting your time? Take a deep breath and re-assess your situation.

Here's Dr. Stoltz:

Re-assess and, if needed, re-route. Is it still the right, most worthwhile goal/objective? What tweaks would make it even more compelling/worthwhile? What adjustments do I need to make in my path/strategy to accelerate and enhance my chances of success?

5. You can improve your own resiliency

Ever notice how some folks just seem to be naturally resilient, like it's so much easier for them to reach their goals? The irritating news is that it may actually be as breezy as it looks for these people. But the good news is that the rest of us can work to improve our own resiliency.

Here's Dr. Stoltz:

Yes, it appears genetic or inherent. But the research indicates resilience is hardwired in our youth. And our research and application with more than 1 million individuals across 63 countries over the past 28 years clearly proves resilience can be measurably, and permanently rewired and improved.

6. Failure can lead to success

You may have heard it 10,000 times by  now, but sometimes you really do have to fail in order to succeed.

Here's Dr. Stoltz:

Enter the storm. Fail fast. You can't optimize your efforts without some solid failures. A resilient model is to have failsafes in place that allow you to be okay (still survive and live another day) if and when whatever you're trying implodes. But that doesn't mean taking leaps of faith isn't essential to true entrepreneurial endeavor. But there are dumb and smart ways to do that, to minimize the potential downside, and maximize one's chances of success.

7. You may be more resilient than you think

Take a moment to reflect on where you are and what got you there. If you've already been reaching your mini goals, go ahead and give yourself some credit.

Here's Dr. Stoltz:

If you want to gauge the importance of anything, remove it. Imagine the gritless or completely non resilient entrepreneur or tech professional! Talk about tragic. He/she would get next to nothing done, experience immense misery, and likely take a real toll on others along the way. But with, and honestly only with, exceptional resilience/GRIT, you truly can craft your destiny.


So, it turns out maybe you really do need a little extra resiliency in tech. But we're willing to bet that you've already got what it takes if you've made it this far. And if you're still trying to get to that next level in your career, or if you just want to expand your skill set, we've got plenty of courses that'll help. You can also learn more about resiliency and grit in Dr. Stoltz's book, GRIT: The  New Science of What it Takes to Persevere, Flourish, Succeed or you can follow him on Twitter @DrGrit.

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Stacy Warden

Stacy Warden is a contributing editor of the Pluralsight blog and has worked in publishing since the dawn of the iPhone. Currently, Stacy deals in tech and education--a combination that she finds absolutely fascinating. You can find her on Twitter @sterrsi.