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The Coaching Corner with Michael Riegel: Resilience: Bouncing Back from Setbacks

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“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This Thomas Edison quote could be the operating philosophy for many construction professionals and the embodiment of resilience, flexibility and adaptability. How can we define resilience? Why is flexibility and adaptability central to personal and organizational success? After 2020 and most of 2021, many of us probably feel like we have a good sense of what this is all about.

For me, resilience is the ability to handle challenges or bounce back from a difficult situation. The difficulties in the workplace could be a disappointing performance review, a missed promotion, or even a layoff. Resilience is that skill to help manage disappointment. Chip Conley, author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Equations stated it as: disappointment equals expectations minus reality. Which terms in the equation do you have control over?

Consider the following ways to maintain or enhance your resiliency:

There is no right way to deal with disappointment. Whether personally or with a colleague, the reaction will be unique. You may shrug it off and look for the bright side while someone else may need time to sit and brood. Also, don’t assume someone wants to hear your “perspective” on the situation. Your colleague may just need you to listen.

When one door closes, look for a window. The ability to redirect and rethink a situation after a setback is a skill we use in construction all the time. When a project encounters a problem, we figure out solutions, workarounds, and fixes. Personal resilience is utilizing those skills on the challenges that arise in your career and life.

Mentors are important to boost resilience. A mentor can be an essential part of dealing with disappointment. Mentors – true mentors – will help you think through a challenge, examine your own contribution, and help you devise a recovery strategy because they are invested in your success. If you do not have a mentor, today would be a good day to think about who can fill that role.

You may already have some demonstrated evidence of resiliency. Enhancing and applying the work-related resilience to personal and organizational challenges can lead to greater job satisfaction, longer tenure, and a healthier perspective.

I look forward to continuing the conversation and, if there are any topics you’d like to see covered, you can reach me at

Michael Riegel


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