Building Personal Trust and Resilience for the Journey Ahead

I was reminded of this story a few days ago, when two friends, independent of each other, asked for career advice. Both were exhausted from the relentless job search, tired and frustrated from their meagre earnings, and at the edge of giving up.

Considering their realities and, most importantly, their background and family peculiarities, I couldn’t rely on Sara’s story to inspire them.

One of my two friends had lost her dad just before her birth. She was the last and only girl in a family of seven children and relied on her brothers for support in the same way she was being passed around from one brother’s home to another for shelter and care. As for my other friend, her mother left her father for another man, leaving her to care for her younger brother at seven years old. Her father subsequently suffered a stroke and passed away. 

These stories mirrored my own struggles in pursuing career success, but unlike the stories of famous figures, these narratives were raw and real. So, I knew I couldn’t rely on the typical stories of success like Thomas Edison’s, which, while inspiring, felt too cliché. Nor could I turn to the story of people whose middle-class upbringing wouldn’t quite connect with the bare realities of my friends’ struggles or my intent to provide them with resilience and empathy. Instead, I was intrigued by Temitope Omotolani, Co-founder and Managing Director of Crowdyvest. Her story of resilience, doggedness and self-belief, and the numerous businesses that she had started, repositioned, shut down, and established. She had lost her father when she was five years old and experienced her mother’s fabric and jewellery store gutted by fire, just shortly after. In a manner that reflects how African tradition provides agency to familial superiority, her extended family members swooped in and sold her father’s property, leaving her and her mother with nothing in an environment where young girls often become pregnant for cultists and drug addicts.  

As I reflect on Temitope’s journey, I’ve come to realise that there are three distinct types of resilience. First, there’s the resilience that comes from surrounding yourself with successful people. Being in that environment instils a sense of conviction and determination. Then there’s the kind of resilience that stems from personality and internal drive—qualities that you’ve always possessed but have learned to nurture and cultivate over time. And finally, there’s the resilience born from a difficult upbringing, the kind that pushes you to think and act in ways contrary to your circumstances, much like a magnetic force repelling away from the despair of your past.

Regardless of the source, building resilience and self-trust is an ongoing process—a drug you must swallow time and time again.

I might have argued that resilience is crucial now more than ever, given the challenges we face: layoffs, venture capitalists pulling out of the African tech sector, currency devaluation and dollarization of the economy, and the toughening business landscape. However, this necessity isn’t unique to our time. It echoes the timeless principle of “survival of the fittest,” seen throughout history. From the tumultuous Rothschild era to the global recessions of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, those who endure and adapt are the ones who thrive.

Here are seven things to enable us cultivate this resilience:

Blend confidence with humility

Speak like this: “Imay not have all the answers, but I’m confident that I’ll figure it out. It also acknowledges mistakes, admitting, “I may have exaggerated in my decision-making, but I’ll adjust and learn from it.” But if you wouldn’t, that chip on your shoulder can be leveraged to prove your resilience to yourself and those around you.

Gain strength from adversity

Many successful entrepreneurs who have navigated challenging circumstances emphasise that resilience involves recognizing that although you can’t turn back the clock to how things were before adversity struck, you can emerge from difficult experiences stronger and more insightful than before.

Adapt with razor-focused commitment

If you don’t roll with the punches, you’ll likely end up beaten and weakened. Consider why companies like Microsoft, Meta, and Samsung are fiercely competing for AI dominance. Meanwhile, remember Blackberry and Kodak, which failed to adapt and fell behind in the ever-evolving market landscape.

Learn with curiosity

I approached this in two ways. First, it involves accepting support from others and recognizing the importance of having a support system, especially during challenging times. Secondly, it entails trusting that my openness and eagerness to learn will lead me to discover solutions and answers.

Remember that you can learn resilience

Just like confidence, resilience can be learned. Unfortunately, we can only do this by going through hard times. When we are challenged, we move into flight or fight mode and this amplifies our anxiety, stress and emotions. Decide to be brave and resilient. Beyond the motivation, is a choice.

Never lose sight of your vision

It’s easy to become distracted and swayed by the noise, distractions, and negativity around us, causing us to lose sight of why we started in the first place. Even if circumstances force us to adjust our course, our why should be at our core. 

Don’t overthink and move on fast

Here is an easy trick-  expect problems. Expect unforeseen obstacles. Expect setbacks. They’re inevitable. When we accept them as part of the journey, as natural elements of both work and life, it becomes easier to bounce back and keep progressing.

And as Sara said, “Define failure as trying, not just as an outcome.” So, keep pushing.  I’m rooting for your