Is ‘bouncing back’ an essential part of resilience?

Resilience comes up frequently both in coaching conversations and conversations I have with friends and family. It’s a much desired quality in the workplace and a very useful quality in life too.

I’ve written about resilience on this blog before and in one post – How high will you bounce? – I twice use the phrase ‘bounce back’. I have always seen ‘bouncing back’ to be a key part of resilience: after a difficult event, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get back to where we were before it occurred.

Now I’m not so sure about the phrase ‘bounce back.’

I am currently doing a course with FutureLearn and Deakin University on professional resilience.  As with all FutureLearn courses, a high level of participant interaction is encouraged. As part of this week’s session, we were asked to comment on how we defined resilience and many people wrote about ‘bouncing back.’

Then one learner wrote this:

Personally, I’m not a fan of ‘bounce-back’. That suggests to me that the ‘resilience ball’ brings you back to where you were – but I don’t think it does. Hopefully you face the future more able, and wiser by building up your resilience muscle.

‘Interesting’, I thought and then read on – another learner had replied:

maybe we should be using the term to bounce forward: as you experience set backs and sometimes failures, it’s the ability to see these circumstances not as failures but as stepping stones to move or bounce forward, stronger and wiser. 

That was a lightbulb moment for me: using all we learn in the difficult times to not just return to where we were before but to move forward with a deeper knowledge and experience. Like the Japanese art of kintsukoroi, the concept of bouncing forward values the lessons we learn from our struggles.

I don’t suppose that I will never use the phrase ‘bounce back’ again in the context of resilience but I hope that when I do, I will correct myself and look at the opportunities to bounce forward.

Today’s pebble for your consideration: can the phrase ‘bounce forward’ help you be more resilient and make the most of opportunities to make progress?


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.

If you’d like someone to help you bounce forward so you can achieve the transformation you’re looking for, why not email me to see how we can work together?

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One Response to Is ‘bouncing back’ an essential part of resilience?

  1. Pingback: Finding the silver lining – how to overcome obstacles | Turning over pebbles

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