When it comes to thriving, leaders need to forget the bounce-back and start role modelling the bounce forward.

Scientific research indicates that certain individuals possess not only the capacity to rebound from adversity but to thrive, learn, and flourish in its wake. This is known as the “bounce forward”.

Positive Resilience accounts for the science, mastery and practice of not merely coping with the strains and stresses of life, but thriving. Bouncing forward to reach our potential and happiness in all of life’s arenas.

Our academic research and studies in hundreds of private and public sector organisations across many industries have identified seven pillars that underpin Positive Resilience.

Arguably the most stressful 18 months of my personal and professional life,

says Chetan Ladwa, Managing Director of U.K. based rum importer.

A sentiment that would be undoubtedly echoed in boardrooms, living-rooms, physical and virtual workplaces across the globe. In fact, according to HR software firm Oracle, 2020 was the most stressful year in history. Their research of over 12,000 employees, managers, HR leaders, and C-level executives across 11 countries found that Covid-19 has increased workplace stress, anxiety and burnout for people all over the world.

Scientific research tells us that some individuals not only have the ability to bounce back from stressful or challenging events or periods but to learn, grow and flourish. This is known as the bounce forward.

At Peoplewise, our research over two decades describes this phenomenon as Positive Resilience — a state where individuals not only endure life’s trials but flourish in the face of them. The pivotal question arises: Can our leaders adeptly navigate unforeseen challenges, drawing from their past experiences? The answer to this depends on their levels of Positive Resilience.

Positively resilient individuals aren’t superhuman. Nor do they conform to a mythical faultless leader persona. Stress, challenge and adversity plague us all to varying degrees and at various points in our lives.

The difference between the severity of impact on individuals? Daily habits. The good news is that positive resilience is easily obtainable when we are intentional. Each pillar of Positive Resilience is constructed by practising and mastering straightforward actions. Table 1 below describes each of the pillars and their characteristics.

Pillar of Positive Resilience Characteristics
  • Have a strong vision for the future and a commitment to meet your goals
  • Maintain the determination, tenacity and self-belief to achieve those goals
  • Holding the self-belief and passion to strive for more
  • Maintaining an outlook that is positive
  • Ability to pinpoint the cause of your setbacks
  • Deploying your resources on the things you can control
  • Staying calm and focussed under pressure
  • Managing your impulses and emotions in the moment
  • Recovering quickly from setbacks
  • Building and maintaining positive relationships
  • Finding belonging and identity through different roles (e.g. Mother, colleague, volunteer, etc)
  • Giving and receiving support
  • Being excited by challenges and adversity as chances to learn
  • Reflecting and learning from experiences
  • Adapting based on past experiences
  • Feeling positively engaged and challenged by your work
  • Feeling confident in your ability to cope and push yourself outside of your comfort zone
  • Performing at your best most of the time
  • Engaging in daily habits to maintain your physical and mental health and well-being
  • Using effective strategies to cope with pressure and uncertainty
  • Maintaining a satisfying work-life balance

While selling the benefits of Positive Resilience is easy, changing behaviour permanently is harder. Much harder. The good news is that through small and practical actions that target each of the 7 pillars, anyone can bolster their mastery over the twists and turns that life throws at us no matter how challenging they may seem:


Two ways to increase it:

  1. Create meaningful and challenging goals for yourself both in your personal and professional lives.
  2. Build your confidence by using techniques such as ‘self-talk’. Repeat positive affirmations.

Just some of its benefits: sustained effort, meaning for themselves and others, higher self-belief.


Two ways to increase it:

  1. Challenge your negative thinking by focusing on more realistic alternatives.
  2. When facing problems don’t default to your usual way of thinking without weighing up alternatives and even making a plan.

Just some of its benefits: Believing success will be the outcome during challenging times, quicker recovery from setbacks, focusing more on things under your control.


Two ways to increase it:

  1. Stop and take a breath when something elicits negative emotions; the time you buy will help you regain your equilibrium so you’re able to respond rather than react.
  2. Use visualisation and focus on positive emotions that you want to display, which increases your chances of demonstrating them.

Just some of its benefits: Staying calm under pressure, rational thinking, and optimised performance.


Two ways to increase it:

  1. Analyse your existing networks and strengthen them where needed.
  2. Diversify your social groups to enrich the support you give and receive.

 Just some of its benefits: Achieve more of your goals through collaboration, a richer sense of belonging and identity, give and receive more meaningful support 


Two ways to increase it:

  1. Work on a winning mindset. Mindsets are just beliefs so think about one that will serve you and invest in creating it.
  2. See challenges as opportunities to learn from, reflect upon the situation then test out your reflections by putting your learning into practice.

Just some of its benefits: A stronger desire to improve, a superior ability to grow from mistakes, and the ability to see opportunity when the going gets tough.


Two ways to increase it:

  1. Persevere with problem-solving; rest, reflect and respond even if the issue seems insurmountable at first.
  2. Reach out to others for support even if it means swallowing your pride.

Just some of its benefits: Ensuring engagement and productivity, the ability to use stress as energy to rise to challenges, added motivation to connect with others.


Two ways to increase it:

  1. Think about how you typically respond to stressful situations. Identify the triggers of certain behaviours and those behaviours using a journal. Using your increased awareness, begin to differentiate between unhelpful and helpful responses to minimise the former.
  2. Build relaxation or meditation techniques into your daily routine.

Just some of its benefits: More energy and psychological strength, enhanced stress management and coping.

In a modern world, nobody can accurately predict the future. However, Peoplewise’s decades of reliable research and practice in the real world can help us predict how leaders can build their positive resilience and create workplaces that are thriving, healthy and high-performing.

For further details or to explore how we can support your organisation, please reach out to us at letushelp@peoplewise.co.uk.