Is 2023 the year for building resilience and shedding the victim mentality?

Is 2023 the year for building resilience and shedding the victim mentality?

Resilience definition: the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

I read with interest the McKinsey imperative for organisations to build resilience in these turbulent times.  Leaders need to not just weather the storm but lift their company to the next frontier of resilience.  Each crisis calls for ingenuity, grit, and determination. Businesses need new approaches: a perceptive response to current challenges; foresight to anticipate the next round of disruptions; and capability for adaptation. Leaders are now discussing resilience as the essential condition.

All of this is very important to business, but the article primarily caught my interest because I’m worried about the INDIVIDUAL loss of resilience and the growth of the victim mentality that I have witnessed over recent months/years.

One thing in life is for sure – there will be crises to deal with and shit will happen!  It’s part of the human condition and this Shakespeare quote from Hamlet illustrates it has been ever thus:

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,

The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay

The insolence of office and the spurns

That patient merit of the unworthy takes


When Giles and I researched the stories and conducted the interviews for our Wonder Women book resilience was also a big theme and emerged as a vitally important characteristic for success. 

Being a woman in marketing and business, you have to be enormously resilient and energetic

Edwina Dunn

As much as I am an activist for equality and inclusion – and for change (and I’ll keep on fighting for this) – the belief that the world will always treat us with fairness is noble but naïve.  We have to be prepared for the unfairness in business and in society – and take control of how we choose to respond to it.  When people take on a ‘victim mentality’,  the danger is that others are likely to perceive their arguments as whinging rather than take them seriously. 

I was privileged a few years ago to attend a leadership course where one of the modules focused on the choice we have of being an ‘Author’ or a ‘Victim’. 

We interpret every situation we come across and attach meaning to it. How we interpret the situation is determined by our values, convictions, beliefs etc. and has an immediate impact on our inner reaction. There is no right or wrong to an interpretation. The important thing is to realise that it is self-made. Being an Author or a Victim is 100% attitude. We have the freedom to choose the meaning we attach to events.

Authors take responsibility. An author uses proactive, solution-oriented language that puts him or her in charge. Authors are more likely to be proactive, have more energy, be more in control of actions and decisions, talk solutions, are creative and collaborative – they talk about ‘we’ rather than ‘I’. 

Victims on the other hand believe it’s someone else’s responsibility.  They’re reactive, resentful, justifying, they focus on the bad or the negative, they get stuck in the problem, and are surrounded by negative language – ‘poor you’, ‘it’s not my fault’, ‘it’s not fair.’  

I’m not a life coach, a business coach or an expert in building resilience, but I’ll end with some thoughts that were derived from the McKinsey report on building a resilient business – but I think could also be applied to individuals!

Some think of resilience as the ability to recover quickly, but it’s also about the ability to deal with adversity and shocks and to continuously adapt.  Truly resilient individuals bounce back better than before and go on to thrive in a hostile environment. They play defence well, and they also go on offense.

  • Don’t follow the old rules – be a change-maker
  • Prepare for difficult situations – they will happen!
  • Scenario planning – anticipate and visualise how you will deal with tricky people, difficult meetings, etc.
  • Focus on resilient growth – proactively seek out opportunities

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