You aren’t born with the trait of resiliency. It is learned. It takes time to develop and unfortunately it usually doesn’t develop until absolutely necessary. Being resilient is the learned process of training to adapt to adversity, trauma, tragedy or significant sources of stress.
Being resilient is not an extraordinary thing. It is the simple trait of the ordinary man. It doesn’t mean that you don’t experience difficulty or stress. It means that you have the ability to deal with high levels of physical or mental stress and still progress or accomplish the task at hand. It is a trait that both can and needs to be trained, and unfortunately we usually don’t realize that we need it until it is tested.
Our training has always focused on making our athletes physically and mentally fit. The not so curious by product of a high level of mental and physical fitness is resilience. We didn’t totally stumble upon this by accident. We’ve seen our athletes perform at incredibly high levels in the face of adversity over and over again. We’ve taught them how to thrive under pressure and consistently perform no matter what situation they are in.
Over the years, we have learned that training our athletes to be resilient is a road that involves escalating levels of mental and physical distress. The ability to accommodate to these stressors and grow because of them are the cornerstones of increasing our athletes’ resiliency.
At Atomic Athlete, we have always taken pride in our ability to mentally prepare our athletes for the unknown future. In the past we have called this Mental Toughness or Mental Fitness, and while this is a key element it goes far beyond that. Anyone can be tough or fit, it doesn’t take special skills or abilities. If anything it is more or less the ability to turn off the brain and just do work. And while this can be great in physically stressful situations it lacks conveyance into situations that have higher levels of mental stress.
We have realized this and in time we have grown to demand even more out of our athletes. It’s simply not enough for them to mentally check out in an effort to hide from discomfort. We want them to learn to be resilient and work towards the pain. To be physically and mentally present in the situation, no matter how uncomfortable it is. To accommodate for varying levels of stress and react accordingly. To not only accept hardship, but to also learn from it.
This is our focus of being Resilient.
“Resilience is the virtue that enables people to move through hardship and become better. No one escapes pain, fear, and suffering. Yet from pain can come wisdom, from fear can come courage, from suffering can come strength – if we have the virtue of resilience.” – Eric Greitens
There are several main traits that we focus on to increase our athletes resiliency:
-Realistic goals and the ability to accomplish these goals – This is the foundation of our programming. Our athletes are constantly tested and their training is based on their ability to perform. By training in a periodized manner our athletes are always improving, always working towards a set goal. As the goal changes the focus of the training changes. This keeps them in a constant evolution of increasing physical and mental fitness.
-Positive mental outlook – Negativity breeds weakness. Athletes that hold onto negative outlooks not only allow their own training to suffer, but also drag those down around them. By keeping athletes goals realistic and achievable they in turn maintain a positive mental state. This in turn keeps the athletes around them performing at a high level.
-Confidence in your strengths and abilities – By periodizing our training our athletes constantly test their strengths and abilities. This lets them understand the true functionality, of not only their strength, but also their abilities to accommodate for challenging situations. As the athlete is able to progress through these increasingly challenging situations they build confidence not only what they have accomplished, but also what they are able to accomplish. It is not only the test, but also the achievement that keeps the athlete in the moment and always performing.
-Ability to communicate and problem solve – There is no such thing as fair and unfair, only what you can do and what you don’t want to do. As our athletes learn to communicate and problem solve under stress they are able to do more. As they train they are forced into situations that they can’t control or do an activity they dislike. This forces them to adapt, to learn new ways to cope with stress. These are almost always learned from other athletes and coaches. Their ability to work through and resolve these situations change their perspective on what they are truly capable of and give them the ability to help communicate this to others.
-Workmanlike attitude – Ability to manage feelings and control impulses – It’s important to learn that just because an athlete doesn’t excel at something, that doesn’t mean that they are limited by it. The simple fact of being able to mentally digest the task at hand and understand where you are going to struggle, also lets you know where you will succeed. Willingness to do work in a thoughtful manner can supersede natural ability as the stress of the situation increases.
While we know that mental toughness is specific to the stress involved, being resilient is more versatile. It is not just the ability to get through a hard training session or suffer a loss. It’s also the ability to understand where you struggle and where you succeed. It’s the ability to understand and embrace your weakness. It’s the ability to comprehend that just because you might not be exceptional in a certain area, that you can still train and develop that skill.
Resiliency adds meaning to suffering. With resiliency, the suffering created by difficult situations leads to success.