The Importance of Resiliency

By Rich Killen, LAC, Licensed Associate Counselor

Confucius once said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”.

What Confucius is talking about here is a concept used in psychology circles called, “resiliency”.

To put it simply, resiliency is an ability to recover from adversity. You can find this word used in several different areas ranging from a person’s resiliency as it relates to experiencing trauma or an athlete’s ability to be resilient during a game or a competition.  For the sake of this article, I will be referring to the latter. Super Bowl LI turned out to be a great demonstration of this particularly on the part of the New England Patriots and more specifically, Tom Brady. This game featured the underdog Atlanta Falcons and the favored New England Patriots. However, despite the predictions, we saw these Patriots losing by 25 points in the third quarter. To put this in context, no team has ever overcome more than a 10 point deficit in any Super Bowl. This Falcons team that was considered by many to have one of the best offenses in the league which consisted of the league MVP at quarterback. For a team that has been as proficient on offense as the Falcons were this year and considering the lead that they had, they should not have lost the Super Bowl.

Much of the current research on “resiliency” has suggested that it is a skill that can be improved upon when practiced. Some of this same research also suggests that “resilient” people are those that believe they can have some control over what is going on in their life as opposed to an individual that believes there is nothing they can do to change their situation. This is where Tom Brady and the Patriots excelled. They believed that they still had control over the game, or to put it another way, they believed that they could still win the game. The reality is that Tom Brady has had 49 game winning drives in his career including 5 in the Super Bowl. So even though no team has ever overcome a 10 point deficit in the Super Bowl this win was not without precedent. As long as there was still time on the clock the Patriots still believed they could win.

This is what great athletes do. They have an unshakable confidence in themselves knowing that despite the score and despite the circumstances, they have the potential to overcome. Another example of this is Tiger Woods (the Old version not the current version). Nineteen times he was won despite trailing going into the final round. Often times he would hit his tee shot in the rough leaving him with difficult approach shots. However, he had this same unshakable confidence that despite his circumstances that he would be able to overcome the undesirable situation that he put himself in. Building “resiliency” is a skill and it takes lots of practice, and often with anything that is being practiced, there is a lot of failure that is endured. However, when an athlete is able to utilize this skill it often leads to a performance of epic proportions.

Rich Killen LAC, Licensed Associate CounselorRich has  Masters degrees in Mental Health Counseling and Sport and Exercise Psychology from Argosy University-Phoenix. He has worked with families and at-risk youth and has also worked within a Partial Hospitalization Program for individuals struggling with addiction. In addition to this experience, he has also worked with athletes and other individuals interested in improving their performance and success in life, school, and their careers. Rich has a passion for people and helping them achieve their goals.


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