Spectrum of Resilience

  • Published
  • By MSgt Matthew Adelman, First Sergeant, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center

Hardiness, toughness, determination, resolve, tenacity and grit are just a few words synonymous with resilience. Resilience is not the ability to never have a bad day or to encounter struggles; instead, it is more akin to how you are able to recover when you encounter things. It is no secret that first sergeants serve as their unit’s crisis response focal point. Whether an Airman is having problems with their family dynamics, their career progression, promotions and job opportunities, or even dealing with misconduct, an experienced first sergeant has seen it. To that point, we have seen Airmen triumph all these situations and still others who have succumbed to them. On the positive side, Airmen have resounding track record of success in overcoming these issues so long as the right resource is leveraged.

I am no stranger to difficult times ranging from falling short of standards to family strife. I have used a whole range of resources to arm myself with coping skills so I can bounce back and be an effective Airman. I have relied on resources at the fitness center, Military OneSource for counseling services, my primary care provider for injury recovery therapy, and most importantly my mental heath provider to help me develop coping strategies for my mind. 

At times, we may need to rely on just one resource, and still others we may employ a myriad of resources at the same time. The most important message leaders can convey in building resilience within their organizations is to remind their personnel they are never alone. With a great deal of certainty, I know there are several people dealing with identical issues and may not even realize it … you are never alone.
So how can we build resilience within ourselves and across our spheres of influence? First, connect with your community. This can be the community within the workplace, your neighborhood, and your family. Know that relying on them in times of need is an important part of avoiding the isolation that tricks us into thinking we are alone. Nothing is more humbling than watching a unit come around a team member in need to do meal trains or to simply ask: How are things going? 

Next, foster wellness across as many pillars (if not all) as possible. Improve your physical fitness through exercise and diet management. Get seen by your provider when you are injured and talk to someone when you are feeling down, depressed, or anxious. These countermeasures can help reduce the negative effects that stress has on your bodies and minds when we encounter strife. 

Third, find purpose by taking part in activities important to you and help you set goals for the future. For example, consider intramural sports, religious activities, perhaps completing an educational or development goal. Having a range of goals and activities gives you something to focus on when your attention is set on temporary, negative feelings. 

Finally, embrace positive and healthy thoughts. See your mistakes as opportunities to grow and learn. If you miss the mark on a fitness goal, remember that next week can be better when you manage the obstacle that kept you from it this week. Perspective is crucial when maintaining healthy thoughts. Think through the short and long term in order to assure yourself that it will get better, and you will grow, whether facing adversity or celebrating a success. This can be accomplished also as you consider the positive roles you play in relationships and your organization and hold on to that when things get tough.