I was watching Barbara Corcoran’s TED Talk on Rethinking Failure. One of the key messages that popped out for me was the ability to handle failure. Her message was that her successes always came on the heels of failure.

One of the qualities that helps a person recover from failure is resilience. It is the ability to recover from adversity. Like when you are told to have positive mental attitude and you tell yourself that each ‘no’ received brings you one stop closer to a ‘yes’.

Receiving a ‘no’ message is tough, though, for people who are tied up in ego. The ego getting the ‘no’ takes it all personally. It can confuse refusal with rejection. Refusal can mean all kinds of things:

  • It is not for me right now
  • I am not interested in what you have to offer
  • I already have a solution to this problem, so I don’t need yours
  • I am stuck in fear myself and am not ready to move forward

It does not mean “I don’t like you”, although it could.

Anyway, I was listening to Barbara talk about how someone on her team didn’t even have a failure bone in her body. She said her best sales people took less time to feel sorry for themselves when they failed. They failed well.

The only way I could think of checking to see if a potential team member would be able to fail well is to check for resilience. I immediately added the resilience competency to all of the job descriptions in my company. I added a resilience component to my interview questionnaires.

I believe it is OK to make mistakes and to fail. I just want my people to be able to recover from it and be able to move on to the next success.

Here are some questions you can ask in your interview process to check for resilience:

  • Tell me about your biggest failure. How did you recover and what have you learnt from that incident?
  • Under what conditions do you work best and worst?
  • What makes you frustrated or impatient at work?

If you want to build up your own resilience, read this article.