Learning Resilience From Hillary Clinton

Last year Hillary Clinton said one of the best pieces of advice she has ever heard from anyone is by Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1920s, who said that women in politics or in public roles should grow skin like a rhinoceros. Hillary thinks there is some truth to that and in addition she advises, "Learn how to take criticism seriously but not personally."

Hillary's wisdom on the need to grow thick skin is no understatement. In 1998 she would discover an alleged relational scandal between her husband and a White House intern. In her memoir, Living History she wrote, "this was the most devastating, shocking and hurtful experience of my life." With the eyes of the nation and even the world peering at her, she developed an unvarying capability to remain optimistic with an open heart and open mind after experiencing a most testing challenge.

For instance, in 2008 she would run for U.S. president, but later painfully conceded to Barack Obama. Yet she triumphed as his subordinate in the position of United States Secretary of State. Her track record for enduring arduous bouts of adversity with poise and self-assurance is in itself empowering. By this she has proven her sense of purpose and intention.

She is a leader who won't back down. At the pinnacle of her global recognition, now Hillary is seeking to make history with seeking again the highest job in the land. She is a resilient female leader.

Resilience can be defined in several ways. My experiences suggest it extends beyond the notion of only bouncing back from a difficulty merely to return to the same position. Resilient leaders excel in spite of trouble. They own an ability to recover from misfortunes and respond effectively during a stressful situation. They weather the inevitable volatile conditions and recognize there's a greater opportunity behind the obstacle.

When establishing a more resilient culture in your life, business or organization, take on these lessons from Hillary Clinton:

1. Maintain Clarity

Clarity simply involves embracing and affirming core values consistent with who you are. An essential key to resilience is aligning your actions with what is most important to you.

In the words of author Douglas Lurton:

When you determine what you want, you have made the most important decision of your life. You have to know what you want in order to attain it.

Knowing yourself empowers you to make better decisions and enables you to take the risks required to achieve your desires. By refusing to believe the adverse experiences are what determine your identity and define your potential will enable your authentic self to emerge. Then, like Hillary, leaders with a clear knowledge of themselves and where they are headed are dogged at foregoing a victim-consciousness, dealings of insecurity and confronting issues that are not aligned with the values they live by.

2. Stay Committed

To stay the course during tough times in our professional culture, resilient leaders need to be committed to her vision. In addition to being dedicated, devoted and dependable, she should see the obvious although her reality may be somewhat distorted. Her humility and selflessness is essential in standing the test of maintaining a good work ethic. To do this, the lessons from Hillary demonstrate the need to be loyal to her purpose, to circumvent distractions and to refuse to complain so she can flex their strength muscles during those stressful moments.

3. Have Control

I believe a resilient leader's best asset is self-control. It is the key component to her emotional intelligence. To possess an uncanny bravery to push past the urge to react, she needs exceptional skills at governing her own life. Like Hillary, having the virtue of courage guides in preparing for unexpected obstacles and daunting challenges. When in control, you understand yourself and possess the internal drive necessary to continuously be developed for completing your full potential.

4. Build Community

I consider building community and securing strategic alliances most vital to positive leadership. Resilient leaders recognize the lone ranger approach is hard. In unawareness, I have regrettably burned some bridges by not understanding this fact. During a recent speech in Atlantic City, N.J., Hillary said, "If you don't build relationships with people and all you do is show up to argue, or show up to point fingers, you can't get anything done. I don't think there's any substitute to building relationships, I just don't."

By building community with the right people, you can significantly extend your reach. It's in the company of a friendly network where you may discover the help you need when facing challenges and set-backs.

My interest in Hillary is not political but is solely on how she works her strength and influence. How has resilience performed for you? Do you have lessons of your own to share?