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Resilience makes all the difference

I believe that the difference between successful people and their counterparts is the way they stand up after a fall.

I believe that the difference between successful people and their counterparts is the way they stand up after a fall.

No matter how successful a chief executive or a manager is, no one can avoid problems and pitfalls forever. In fact the most successful entrepreneurs, such as the late Steve Jobs of Apple, credit their success to failure because through it they learnt how to determine their weaknesses and further developed themselves and their brands.

The key difference between those like Jobs and less successful others - referring to the ones that failed to pick themselves up when they hit rock bottom - is resilience.

Financial market crashes and political upheavals bring along setbacks and work disruptions to the most successful corporations. When the world financial crisis hit the UAE market in 2008, even the largest corporations were affected. Numerous projects in Dubai and Abu Dhabi were suspended.

Failures and setbacks exist everywhere. Take football, for instance. Brazil won the Fifa World Cup five times, but was not always lucky. Spain's team won the cup for the first time in 2010.

On a personal level, when I first launched my fashion line three years ago, I received several rejections from major department stores before I signed an agreement with others who put me on the map. I failed in many approaches but also won and achieved my goals when I started to analyse what I did wrong.

I credit it all to resilience. It is what keeps successful people going. Resilience is also what helped pick me up and motivated me to not stop trying until I achieved my goals, when I could have stepped back and given up as others might have done.

Being resilient, and the ability to bounce back on our feet after a failure on its own is not enough. We also have to learn from our errors - learn how to identify our weaknesses and the cause of our failures and how to work on them to develop our abilities and products and services.

But some obstacles, such as natural disasters and wars, are beyond our control. However we can control our reactions towards them.

Will we take a proactive or a passive approach to the situation? Will we give up? Or will we take it as a challenge to find new ways of doing things?

Consider the Second World War as an example. In its aftermath, Japan's economy was in ruins. Poverty struck everywhere and the broken empire had lost its colonies in the Pacific region.

In addition, most of its industrial zones and railways were completely destroyed. Nevertheless, Japan worked on restructuring its economy and invested in manufacturing and technology. The country became the proud home of numerous leading car and technology brands.

There are also admirable women who have demonstrated resilience and determination. Take Hillary Clinton. True, she was defeated in her 2008 presidential bid, but she did not give up completely and agreed to be appointed as the US secretary of state.

Mrs Clinton shed light on an interesting characteristic that resilient individuals hold - being humble and willing to settle for a lesser role, which they can use to their advantage to reach a desired goal.

This reminds me of Avis, an American car rental company's corporate motto: "We try harder". Instead of wallowing in its position as the world's second -biggest car rental company behind Hertz, Avis used this to its competitive advantage.

The company publicly acknowledged that it was the second largest, advertised it, and won the respect of its customers.

Nonetheless, being resilient requires considerable self-control and motivation to resume seeking success. It also involves acknowledging weaknesses and looking for ways to overcome them.

Problems and challenges will always emerge. The important thing is to train oneself to be resilient, and when things are out of control, to control one's reaction towards them.


Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning fashion designer and writer based in Abu Dhabi

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