Accelerating the Advancement of Women Leaders 


March 27, 2019

Resilience transforms setbacks into opportunity
From serious adversity to knotty work challenges, some face failure and loss with perspective and determination to move on and thrive. Others get stuck, give up and even sabotage their future. The difference often lies in resilience. Resilient people can call upon foundational beliefs in their own strength and ability to overcome. Fortunately, those skills can be learned.
President & CEO of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers & Brews and WFF Chair, Denny Post, opened the 2019 Annual Leadership Development Conference by sharing her personal story and urging the audience to build their capacity for resilience. “A willingness to take purposeful risks, embrace mistakes and failures as key learning experiences and believe in your ability to persevere is a prerequisite for courageous leadership and significant career growth,” Post said.
Develop a growth mindset
One of the foremost researchers on motivation and resilience, Stanford University Professor Carol Dweck, Ph.D., developed the concept of two mindsets and the powerful difference they make in the outcomes we achieve when challenged.
If you hold a fixed mindset regarding your qualities and abilities, you tend to have a strong desire to prove yourself right rather than learn from mistakes. You will tend to avoid challenges, give up easily in the face of obstacles, see little point in exerting greater effort, ignore constructive feedback and feel threatened by others’ success.
In contrast, those with a growth mindset see their basic traits as a starting point for development and look for ways to stretch toward their potential. Individuals with a growth mindset are anxious to learn, embrace new challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the way to improve, learn from criticism and are inspired by the success of others.
Making the switch
By focusing first on developing a growth mindset, you create opportunities to take in helpful information that can lead to your growth and success. Dweck says, as we understand these concepts we can see, “. . . how a belief that your qualities are carved in stone leads to a host of thoughts and actions, and how a belief that your qualities can be cultivated leads to a host of different thoughts and actions . . .”
Post’s focus on a growth mindset has enabled her to move well beyond early setbacks to grow a highly successful career in the Food Industry and mentor countless other women to develop their potential. “For me, resilience is about first facing facts and fully understanding the nature of your challenge, staying strong with support from key people who lift you up, and then fully embracing a growth mindset that allows you to see every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow.”
She worries that women often feel so pressured to do everything perfectly, that they aim too low and miss out on critical opportunities to grow.
Characteristics of resilience
In a Solutions 360 – Holistic Life session at Conference about mental and physical well-being, CEO & Co-founder of Mequilibrium, Jan Bruce, shared numerous traits you can cultivate to develop resilience. They include emotion and impulse control (so you can think clearly and make sound choices), realistic optimism, problem-solving skills, and both empathy and an ability to ask for help.
Commit to developing a growth mindset at work and at home and you will open the door to new possibilities. That’s something Dweck refers to as the land of “not yet.” As in, “Have I figured out the right solve to this problem? Not yet – but I’m working on it.”

Back to News