What Resiliency at Work Looks Like: Tales of Overcoming Challenge

April 25, 2018

See what resilience at work really likes of these stories of professionals overcoming challenges.

We all face challenges at work.

Take Barbara Bruno. She started her career as a successful real estate agent. Yet, when she tried to get a corporate sales job, (male) hiring managers said sales wasn’t for her. Instead, they said she should be a secretary, because she could type 100 words-per-minute.

One male hiring manager even told her – if God wanted you to be a salesperson, why did he make you type so fast?

Well, Bruno ignored him and started her own company – Good as Gold Training. Thirty years later, her company has helped more than 10,000 people find jobs they love, and she teaches others about staffing and recruiting on LinkedIn Learning.

“I can’t even imagine how unhappy I would be if I had let other people’s opinions stop me,” Bruno said. “It was resilience that gave me the strength to proceed when everyone else told me I was ‘meant to be a secretary’!”

Or, take the story of Kip Boyle. Since he was 13-years-old, he wanted to be a pilot. But five months into his year-long Air Force training program, he found something out – he had trouble staying focused during flights. He just didn’t have the innate makeup to be a pilot.

His lifelong ambition wouldn’t come true.

So, after enduring the pain of losing his dream, he pivoted to the world of cyber security. Today he’s the president of Cyber Risk Opportunities and teaches the world about IT security on LinkedIn Learning.

“Today I'm more satisfied on the job than ever,” Boyle wrote. “Much better than being a pilot!”

What does this all have to do with you?

Recently, we at LinkedIn Learning teamed with Sheryl Sandberg, Adam Grant and OptionB.org to release a free course on resiliency. The course focuses on Sandberg’s personal struggle after her husband unexpectedly died and Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, provided research and practical advice on how to recover and rebound.

Sandberg’s story was tragic. But, the bigger point is this – you might not go through something as heartbreaking as the sudden death of a spouse. But we all have to go through struggles in our professional lives.

And, the more resilience we have, the easier it is to overcome those challenges, whether they be professional or personal. As Grant said in the course – you aren’t born with a set amount of resilience. You can build it over time.

To illustrate that point, we asked our LinkedIn Learning instructors to share the biggest work struggle they ever faced. And we got some incredibly moving and honest responses, from Bruno overcoming blatant sexism to Boyle giving up on a dream to Doug Winnie enduring a particularly difficult layoff to Laura Bergells getting fired twice to Ray Villalobos and a stream of nine bosses in five years.

You know what we realized reading through all of these?

All professionals have to overcome obstacles in their careers. The best ones don’t let the obstacle define them. Instead, they use it as a learning moment, to become stronger professionals themselves.

In the course, Sandberg said “everyone is living some form of Option B.” Well, this exercise proved that to be true – and proves that just because someone thinks you should be a secretary or your dreams of being a pilot are dashed doesn’t mean you can’t be a success.

You just need to learn how to bounce back.

*Image from Emily Mesner, Flickr

What’s the biggest work struggle you’ve overcome? Share your story on LinkedIn with the hashtag #ResiliencyAtWork.

Looking to become more resilient yourself? Check out Sandberg and Grant’s free LinkedIn Learning course today.