Home » Resilience as a Key to Success: Elke Geraerts (Transcript)

Resilience as a Key to Success: Elke Geraerts (Transcript)

And the people, the courageous people, the resilient people, who know how to handle misfortune have an advantage in life.

Resilience, apart from a high IQ and a strong emotional intelligence, is a quality that will make your life successful. Resilience is one’s stamina, one’s determination to cope with setbacks, one’s ability to stand up again after falling.

Resilience is an essential and common factor among successful people. You may be smart, you may be social with people, but a certain kind of determination and persistence is crucial on the road to success.

In-depth interviews with successful people make that very clear. All of them, at some point in their lives, succeeded through fighting back from exceptionally difficult personal and professional circumstances.


The good news is that resilience is not just genetically determined. In fact, major events in our teens and twenties have a huge impact on our resilience. In-depth interviews show that the majority of the successful people have experienced a troubled childhood. Many came from broken homes or had to deal with childhood trauma, such as death or alcoholism of a parent.

And it’s important to realize that I’m not just talking soft psychology here. Resilience is a concept that has been studied in many natural sciences and technology, and it describes the way a system can cope with shocks.

Let’s take the example of ecosystems.

For decades we have been speaking about sustainability, about restoring equilibrium, about a conservation of species, but now we’re becoming aware that ecosystems are seldom in equilibrium, and are beating from one extreme to another by ever-changing circumstances.

There’s now a whole new branch of mathematics that shows which species are important for resilience.

Now, back to our own resilience. Anticipation is crucial for our resilience. Anticipation is the active ingredient that keeps us on track, and for anticipation you need initiative, initiative to anticipate and to be resilient, initiative to intervene when something has gone wrong, or something threatens to go wrong.

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Without your own initiative, you will be engrossed by the issues of the day, the tasks of the week, the delusion of month, or the illusion of even years. Therefore, you need to be active and plan your way ahead, and take into the fact the consequences that your actions may have.

Often, you need to make your own choices, sometimes even bold choices, with your eyes wide open. That will contribute to real resilience.

Ladies and gentlemen, think back about the sad day you reminisced about at the beginning of my talk. Even on such a day, you can be the captain of your own life. As long as you anticipate and cherish your resilience, and take setbacks as a fact of life, they will strengthen you.

For sometimes in our lives, you need to dig in your heels and hold on when life gets hard. That is resilience and that may be your greatest success.

Thank you.

For Further Reading:

The Gift & Power of Emotional Courage: Susan David (Full Transcript)

How to Manage Your Mental Health: Leon Taylor (Full Transcript)

Beyond Wit and Grit: Rethinking the Keys to Success by Howard Gardner at TEDxBeaconStreet (Transcript)

Angela Duckworth: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance @ Talks at Google (Transcript)

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