Resilience: A 2 Year Old Knows How


Miles had a rough morning.

This morning was like any other: my wife and I each getting ready for work while feeding and dressing the kids and gathering all the lunches and supplies necessary to get us all out the door on time and prepared for the day.  Then…a monkey-wrench:

My 2 year old son ralphed all over the living room floor.

If you have kids then you know we simultaneously experienced profound sympathy for our poor little guy, the “oh-crap-we-don’t-have-time-for-this” shifting of priorities, and of course the minor gross out that accompanies a milk-and-cereal upchuck.  

After getting the little man all cleaned up in the bathroom, and addressing his confusion about what just happened, he looked me in the eye and said “Daddy…all BETTER!” and was raring to go again.

We should all be so resilient.

I couldn’t help but admire how quickly he pushed through a rather unpleasant morning. And it got me thinking. Where does resilience come from? When faced with disruptive patients, frustrating co-workers, organizational politics, or the stress of a crushing workload, what makes some people throw up (no pun intended) their hands while others push through and rally in the moment?

While some people are certainly more hard-wired for resilience than others, I believe the culture of the team, as defined and massaged by its leaders, is the difference maker. When leaders help team members see the value and impact of their work, it gives them cause to push through hard times. When they experience recognition on a continual basis- from leaders, peers, and patients- it’s fuel for their psychological gas tank. And when leaders work in the trenches along side their direct reports, giving voice to encouragement, having fun at work, and role modeling the very resilience we desire in others, the culture is shaped and teams align their behavior accordingly.

So if your team struggles in the face of pressure, gives voice to negativity, or gets bogged down in the face of the daily challenges we face in healthcare, get out there and show them how to be resilient. Sharing a kind word, taking a moment to convey the difference they make, and tackling difficulties with a positive attitude all set the tone for resilience and performance. Show ’em how it’s done!

And of course we can all learn a lesson from little Miles. Sometimes you have to just clean yourself off, announce “all better!,” and get on with the day.

What do you think? What leads to resilience on healthcare teams? How do you keep people “up” and striving when faced with a rough patch? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments box below!

—  You can also feel free to acknowledge how unbelievably beautiful that little boy is! 🙂  —

1 thought on “Resilience: A 2 Year Old Knows How

  1. We all could learn a thing or two from Miles, Joe! and, he is super cute. We sure miss you at UPMC, Joe! Hope all is well!

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