Importance of resilience in business & life


written by Sarah Colgate

Business Tips for 2024 | Self Awareness

June 18, 2021

Identifying Resilience and building it. 

Have you ever really thought about the word resilience?  And what does it mean to be resilient?

Since COVID hit, I have heard this word endlessly. To begin with I really wasn’t sure whether I was resilient or not.

What is it supposed to mean? That I don’t cry, I don’t stress, I don’t grieve or does that just mean I only go down the slippery slope to a depressed state 50% of the way? As opposed to the entire way to rock bottom? It’s a weird word and I didn’t know that I had ever really understood what it meant until recently.


“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.” 

― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free  


 A bit of business background for you

In January 2020, my company was up 30%, we were smashing it out of the park. I was on track for a massive profit. I dreamed of buying new businesses and paying off debts. This is what I was working 70 hours a week for. The time had come, my time had come. I felt strong,  powerful and confident. I had finally started believing I was actually capable of what I was achieving.

Then in mid January we were arranging for our sales manager to take a trip to China in March. Everyone we reached out to spoke of this coronavirus. Something we really hadn’t heard about. We had been busy in Australia dealing with bushfires all summer. The problems of the rest of the world didn’t seem quite as important as our own backyard burning out of control.

In late January, things took a little turn. The Chinese government said groups were no longer allowed to leave China. I remember I was standing in Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise when I read the news article. I was so disappointed as we had geared up for a massive Chinese New Year following several trips to China to build that business. At this stage Coronavirus was still a China problem.

Then within 6 weeks of the first little turn our business was closed. During that six week period I stood down staff, let good staff go and cut every cost imaginable in the business. My biggest fear was becoming a reality, we would have no customers and no money coming in. Our business had significant debt, maybe not more than most businesses but definitely a lot for my head to deal with.

Stage 1

Initially I didn’t melt down, I cried a lot but I stayed positive, something inside me believed we would be ok and we would get through it. I was telling myself this is a gift, I have time and I can rework my business the way I want it. I can make it more lean and more profitable, cut all the unnecessary spending.

This was an opportunity of a lifetime to get through my never ending list of tasks on the to do list. In my head I was saying “It’s going to be great!” I told everyone who would listen this is an opportunity of a lifetime to have a break and redesign our businesses. And for the first 8 weeks it was exactly as I had thought.  I worked tirelessly while in lockdown to churn through the tasks, look at new ways to do everything. Come up with new business ideas and potential acquisitions. I didn’t stop and I was stressed but I was productive. I knew I could come out of this on top of the pile! I was going to come out of this an absolute winner. 


Mindset – Opening your mind

Stage 2

Then, in early May, I fell apart on my birthday weekend. I had way too much wine and was having a sneaky girls weekend away with friends during lockdown. One of the girls made a comment about debt and money –  that was it, I was broken. I couldn’t stop crying. It was like I just realised my life was in the shit and I had no way to get it out. I cried for hours and hours. The dam wall broke and there was no way to keep it in.


“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.”  

― Gever Tulley 


I stayed that way on and off for 3 months until mid July when I began to have anxiety attacks. My body started to crush me every time the stress and sadness became too much, I couldn’t breathe, I took painkillers, had acupuncture, massages, anything to stop the pain.  My body was clearly telling me enough is enough. But I didn’t really know how to move forward or how to move for that matter. The fear of my future being destroyed was way too much for me to handle. It had me pinned down. So I made some minor changes in my life but nothing substantial. Just enough to survive the attacks.

Stage 3

Then, I started to get migraines. I couldn’t get out of bed. I was stuck and felt like I had been hit by a truck. This was something I have never experienced before, it was me hitting rock bottom. My body and mind colluded to prevent me from going anywhere and doing anything at all. I was at rock bottom.  I knew I wouldn’t survive if I couldn’t find a way out of this – mentally.

One day I woke up and a word hit me. Resilience. What the fuck is resilence ? I thought, aren’t I being resilient by just trying to get one with everything? Based on the fact I couldn’t get out of bed, I guess not.

 Stage 4

So I started reading about resilience and watching youtube clips and Ted Talks. Anything I can find. I wanted to start building my resilience.

 A couple of helpful TED Talks on resilience

 The three secrets of resilient people  – Lucy Hone

 How Failure cultivates resilience – Raphael Rose 

 Success, Failure and the drive to keep creating  – Elizabeth Gilbert 


For me I learnt the following;

  • Shit happens, suffering does happen in life. It’s part of every human’s existence.
  • A sense of resilience gives you hope that tomorrow will be better.
  • Resilience installs a sense of self belief and determination that you can get through it
  • It creates a solid foundation that whatever life throws at you, you will be ok.
  • Understanding that things don’t always work out but I won’t die, I will carry on and move forward maybe in another direction.
  • It’s ok if life isn’t exactly as you planned – nobody’s life is, but you can wake up everyday and feel good about who you are and what you are doing.
  • Learn from and rebound when you fail. Be ok with failure, it’s gonna happen.
  • Resilient people understand what they can and can’t change in life. They focus on what they can change.


 “Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” 

― Nelson Mandela 



Resilience is not about falling down, what pushed you down or what’s holding you down. It’s about how you get up, how you build strength and belief in yourself. A great way to take away the fear of being at rock bottom is to look at what’s good, create gratitude in your life. Appreciate what you do, what you  have and what you are capable of.

 We now have a saying at work “We are not saving babies!” It’s our way of bringing back to reality that no one will die if we lose money or  are not able to operate our business every day. We have the best of intentions for our business to be successful but the most important part is that everyone is ok and we are doing what we can.

 Since I first started to work my way up from rock bottom to now we have had our key domestic customer markets locked out 11 times and we are still here, we are still surviving and we will be here long after the world has moved on from COVID 19.


Key Takeaways for building resilience;

Face the fear and failure head on. Take on the challenges in your life.

Find passion in meaningful things in your life and your family.

Be grateful for the things you have.

Connect with nature and appreciate the world around you.

Pursue more meaning in life and do the things you want and love.

Take small steps to create gradual change that will stick for longer.

Be compassionate and kind with yourself.


Key Takeaways for building resilience



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