20 definitions of resilience

Posted on November 13, 2012 by Rob Petersen





None of us ever ask to be put into situations that try our character, spirit, values and resources. But we all know they do come along.

I live in an area hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. I also made the decision to start a business in the worst economy since the Great Depression (although I didn’t know how bad the economy would get until after I made the decision to start).

It taught me a lot about resilience; what it accomplishes, how it overcomes obstacles and why there are benefits to trials. Now seems like a good time to reflect on resilience.

Here are 20 definitions of resilience.

  1. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly. – Richard Bach
  2. Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open. – Alexander Graham Bell
  3. Resilience – if you think of it in terms of the Gold Rush, then you’d be pretty depressed right now because the last nugget of gold would be gone. But the good thing is, with innovation, there isn’t a last nugget. Every new thing creates two new questions and two new opportunities. – Jeff Bezos
  4. Passion, not pedigree, will win in the end.-  Jon Bon Jovi
  5. If you are going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill
  6. Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. – Confucius
  7. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education is not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. – Calvin Coolidge
  8. It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. – Darwin
  9. Out of difficulties grow miracles. – Jean De La Bruyere
  10. You may not realize it when it happens, but at kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. – Walt Disney
  11. Life is like riding a bicycle, in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. – Albert Einstein
  12. Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  13. The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places – Ernest Hemingway
  14. The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun. – Napoleon Hill
  15. It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it. – Lena Horn
  16. The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.” – Japanese Proverb
  17. We can either watch life from the sidelines, or actively participate … Either we let self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy prevent us from realizing our potential, or embrace the fact that when we turn our attention away from ourselves, our potential is limitless. – Christopher Reeve
  18. Seeds of faith are always within us; sometimes it takes a crisis to nourish and encourage their growth. – Susan Taylor
  19. There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. – Edith Wharton
  20. Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit. – Ben Williams

How has resilience made a difference in the way you live? Are any of these definitions of particular help to you?


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