Resilience. Powerful As a Child

Key Issues / December 2016. No. 94

Resilience, the ability to successfully cope with extreme situations, is not inborn. It is something we can learn and that we must develop. The answer lies in returning to childhood, a time in our lives when we are more creative, agile and innovative, and when there is little room for fears and distrust in ourselves. Incorporating these skills once again is key to successfully handling changing environments.

The world breaks everyone and, afterward, many are strong at the broken places.

Ernest Hemingway

A responsible warrior is not someone who takes the weight of the world on his shoulders, but someone who has learned to deal with the challenges of the moment.

Paulo Coelho

In the middle of winter, I discovered within myself an invincible summer.

Albert Camus

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TEXT Ana Gutierrez

The boiled frog syndrome

Marty Rubin outlined this notion for the first time in his book The Boiled Frog Syndrome, published in 1987, in which he asked his readers to imagine a frog swimming peacefully around a container in which the water is at a comfortable temperature for the amphibian. Suddenly, he added, the temperature begins to slowly rise and the frog just keeps swimming, as it feels at ease. Finally, it ends up fully boiled, without having made the slightest effort to get out of the container. Rubin argues that, if we try to put the frog in the container when the water is boiling, it will leap to safety. And the moral? If we undergo a gradual deterioration, most of the time it will go unnoticed, we will not react, nor try to reverse it.

Let's talk about resilience

It is defined as the human capacity to successfully adapt in the face of extremely adverse situations, overcome them and, more important, come out stronger. Buddhism, a very important philosophy of life for many people, with more than 200 million followers worldwide, preaches that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. This is a theory that should definitely make us reflect on how we should deal with changes, on what attitude to adopt.

How can we be more resilient?

Resilience is not inborn, it is something that we can all develop throughout our lives. José Miguel Sánchez, who currently teaches the course “Transformational Leadership” to MAPFRE employees, is clear about this. His book Powerful As a Child tells the story of Jorge, an executive who is going through a complicated phase in the organization he runs and decides to put himself in the hands of Elena, his mentor. She is the one who reminds him of the power we can manage to wield when we are children and which, unfortunately, we lose as we grow older. She also shows him the way. “Learn to reset yourself in order to grow” is her motto. Let's once again develop certain skills we possessed when we were little and which we have lost over the years as we have assumed personal and professional responsibilities.

In a few words

  • Take a chance, try doing things differently.
  • Stimulate your brain, find out what motivates you (sport, painting, traveling…) and dispel those thoughts that keep you stuck in a rut.
  • Be aware of the emotions you generate in others. If your attitude is positive, you will generate positive responses.
  • Your state of mind is contagious. Strive to be passionate about everything you do and mix with people who transmit passion.
  • If you want to, you can. Reject toxic phrases such as “I can't”.

Recommended reading

  • Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence.
  • Wayne Dyer, Your Erroneous Zones.
  • Álex Rovira, Good Luck.
  • José Miguel Sánchez, Powerful As a Child.

The skills we must learn from the little ones


Children are committed to every single thing they do, because, otherwise, they fall into a routine and give up. We adults turn things into a routine, as we believe that this gives us the orderly life we need. This is prejudicial for us, as we lose the passion.


As kids, we incorporate this emotion into most of the situations we face. Children are vehement about everything they do, because they are excited about it. We adults limit this passion, because it shows our personality and we often confuse this with weakness.


From the moment we are born, we are practically designed to communicate and exercise influence over others; but communication is a very broad concept, covering not just the language we use, but also the tone we employ and the gestures we choose. Thus, we should be coherent with the words we use, how we say them and the image of ourselves we project, as the emotions we generate in others will depend on these factors.


This is one of the most respected words in the business world, the one that leads to us working better, to our teams operating at peak performance and which allows us to engage fully and express solidarity. This is another childhood characteristic, facilitating teamwork and enabling common goals to be achieved. Moreover, solidarity allows us to feel satisfied with a job well done and be capable of tackling the most difficult challenges.


This is an innate quality. When we are kids, we play with others without any prior knowledge of them. We arrive at the park and look for others with whom to share a game, talk and have fun. That is the method, nothing more. Nevertheless, when we grow up we become shy, introverted, limited to our inner circle, something that is incompatible with our professional life, given the need for networking. For this reason, it is vital that we recover that capacity, learn to interact with others and how to listen to them, key to enriching our personal and professional relationships.

Victim language

Children barely use it, except when we provoke them to do so. It is common practice for adults to complain, make excuses and use expressions such as “I can't”, “it’s Monday”, “I'm not up to it”, “this isn’t for me”, among others. It is definitely such victim language which discourages us, incapacitates us, limits us and prevents us from being everything we are capable of being.


Children do not see danger, they boldly take on almost everything and are able to enjoy doing so. Once we face a new challenge, we must be able to assume the risks. Doing things the same way is no longer enough. We must be capable of leaving our comfort zone, facing new challenges and getting on. It does not matter if we leave that comfort zone. If we are able to assume new risks, we will undoubtedly open up new possibilities, we will progress and, what is more important, we will reap enormous satisfaction.

Error management

We all make mistakes and, thanks to this, we learn. Errors form part of our life and it is necessary to see them as something positive, as an experience that gives us the chance to learn something new and improve, to avoid falling into the same trap the next time. Experts say that those who know the most, the most excellent, are those that have made mistakes in their life. So, embrace your errors.


Another quality innate in children, which resides in the right hemisphere and which we must enhance as we grow older. According to the experts, 97 percent of ideas arise outside the work environment. The reason? We have created environments that are not very creative. Let's look at things from a different perspective, ask yourself why? This will help us find original solutions to any challenge.


Children have a party for everything, they enjoy celebrating their successes and those of others. We adults find it somewhat more difficult and this is not exactly positive. We are not aware that, every day, we have many reasons to be grateful and applaud. They do not have to be major achievements. Let’s make lists of the positive things that happen during the day, stick to the good things, celebrate and praise the successes of our peers, our family, our friends.