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What Resilience Really Means

Hint; It doesn't have a lot to do with patience

I am seeing a lot of life and career coaches telling job hunters and those changing careers to have patience and be resilient. “It's a tough market. Have patience. Be resilient.”

Many coaches do not offer solid programs to do so, but the tarnished platitude of being patient and resilient is there, front and center. I understand coaches may not know what else to say and are trying to be motivating and encouraging. To me this particular message is the wrong one. The coach who tells me to “just have patience” and keep doing the thing may not realize how the message is landing or even what they are really saying.

“Keep writing.” “Go through the workout.” “Stay the course.”


When I think about this message, it is a kind of hyper-masculinized bullshit version of “Buck up little camper. You’ll be okay. Just hit the trail.” That message is infantilizing and implies that the person being coached needs to be reminded that it’s all worth it. “Just go get in the fight.

You’re here anyway.”

I know what the goal is. I know what the desired outcome is. Hitting the target is why I decided to do the thing in the first place.

I am not sure I need to “buck up.” Idon’t need reminding that I won’t be sorry or regret doing the thing. I have never come back from the gym and said to myself “Gosh, I am sorry I did that.” I have never done the thing and then been sorry I took a baby step toward my goal. The day I do, I will change the goal. So knowing the goal is not the problem.

Telling someone to have patience implies many things. First, they don’t understand if they just kee

p putting one foot in front of the other, they will get to the destination. Second, they don’t fully grasp or understand what the destination is. Third, the coach thinks they think they are not strong enough to reach their goal, but if they just try a little harder…

To tell me that I have to be resilient to meet the goal is an implication that I can’t meet my goal unle

ss I am resilient. Further, patience is required to be a resilient person. Perhaps. Perhaps not. However, we may disagree on what this may mean in everyday life.

The American Psychological Association defines resilience this way:

“Resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.”

Resilience isn’t hitting the trail every morning at 6:00 a.m., writing every day for an hour, never eating sugar, or not taking the time to cry when your dog dies. Doing either thing isn’t a lack of commitment. It is instead a commitment to the moment of being alive and being human. To be so regimented that you must get up and fight as part of a schedule misses the larger goal: being human.


etimes, not doing the thing once in a while is the more important baby step. Making a conscious choice not to do it because there is some self-care needed, or something else is a priority THAT DAY, and not having to justify it to someone else, or be told that it is a lack of commitment is resilience. It is having patience because it is one day less forward, and one day more that I have to push. NOT powering through the thing is the more flexible and healthy thing sometimes. It is the more resilient thing.

The next day you start again. Because the goal is still the goal, and you have to fall to get back up again. And sometimes, you cry when you fall.

I don’t know what I going to happen in the job market for tech (or anyone else) but I do know that continuing to hone my skills and being thoughtful in my choices even if that means taking a waitress job to make bills is being resilient. It’s getting up again. Maybe I am not running towards my goal, but I am up.

Being resilient means

you know you are going to fall, you know you are going to get back up again, and you know that it is all okay.


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