In past columns, I have spoken with a variety of professionals about their views on resilience: a wealth psychology expert, a career coach, and an exercise trainer. Each person, in their specialties, has worked with individuals to help them meet challenges with confidence to transform obstacles into success.
Most recently, I am thrilled to have spoken with Manisha Thakor. As the founder of Money Zen Financial Education and a Harvard Business School MBA, she graduated with a BA from Wellesley College, spent a year at Oxford University (studying Politics, Philosophy and Economics) and is a CFP™ and CFA. She also sits on the faculty at The Omega Institute working closely with the Women’s Leadership Center.
Her experience and knowledge is both profound and important. Our conversation:
What is resilience?
Resilience is the ability to sway in the winds of life without becoming unrooted. There is a magic that comes when one is strong enough to identify a goal and move steadily towards it while also being flexible enough to pick oneself off the ground if life spits in your eyeball while on that journey. To me, resilience is the recognition that the only thing in life that you can expect with certainty is the unexpected, and developing the life skill of being comfortable with that.
Where does resiliency come from?
I think some of it comes from your family of origin — if you had parents or siblings that had a naturally resilient mindset, you likely had the benefit of subconsciously mirroring them as you were growing up. But for those who did not have this luxury — it’s never too late! Through a combination of reading books on the subject, identifying your authentic feelings about the road bumps of life you may have encountered, sharing them with trusted friends, family, or a therapist, and developing a plan to move though them, and dedication to self-awareness… this is a skill that can be developed.
Why is resilience important?
Resilience is vital because life always hands us lemons at some point and thus learning to make the proverbial lemonade is vital. On top of that, in our modern world, life (professionally and personally) moves so fast that opportunities to both fall down and get back up again are near constant. As Lao Tse said, “when two forces collide, victory goes to the one who yields,” — and resilience is a form of proactive, healthy yielding in the “battles” of life.
How do we build resilience?
We build resilience daily, one small step and action at a time. It’s not a light switch that you can flip on but rather a dimmer that you can proactively dial up with practice.
How can we increase our awareness and ability?
By identifying and observing people in your orbit who already possess this trait — either modeling after them or, even better, asking them to share their stories and mindset with you. This can be incredibly powerful to increasing awareness and ability.
In your experience, do women tend to be more resilient than men?
I’ve noticed that often women are more resilient than men. Pondering why this is the case, I’ve come up with a couple of hypotheses. The first is that for all the progress we’ve made as a society, in many ways women are still second-class citizens (in terms of being paid less on the dollar, having less representation in C-suite jobs, on Corporate Boards, etc). As a result, women have had to be more innovative, creative, and resilient in moving themselves forward professionally.
On a personal note, the duties that come with being a mother are multi-faceted — and last a lifetime. In this capacity — and in the capacity often as primary caregiver to elderly parents, many women find themselves juggling multiple balls, a task which in and of itself builds resiliency muscles.
Last but not least, I think that society gives women more leeway to be resilient in the sense that admitting “weakness” or “mistakes” are often the engine behind resilience, and society often grants women more space and support for this kind of honest introspection.
There are so many important points to consider in examining your own resilience and the part it plays in navigating through financial and any life challenges. We need to be aware and tuned in to the tools we need to successfully get through the inevitable bumps. Thanks, Manisha!