Meeting Adversity with Resilience


Laurie K. Baedke, MHA, FACHE, FACMPE

Creighton University



Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, failed merger, divorce, or other major life stressor, everyone experiences some form of adversity some time in their lives. It’s not a matter of if but when. How you manage adversity impacts not only your well-being and personal relationships, it affects your professional work, and may even have organizational implications if you have advanced leadership accountability. 


Even when you’re not in a season of adversity, others around you might be. It’s important to promote resilience, lead by example, and influence infrastructure and organizational design so employees can thrive and perform at their highest possible level.


The State of Well-Being

Your resilience is heavily dependent on your well-being, which can be broken down into five elements: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. According to Gallup and Healthways, only 7 percent of adults are thriving in all five areas. These individuals, however, miss 70 percent fewer workdays per year, are 45 percent more adaptable to change, and are 59 percent less likely to job hunt. We’d all be better leaders— better people—if we thrived in these five areas. To improve resilience, it’s prudent to assess your state of well-being. 


First, consider your emotional intelligence—the sum of your self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. As a leader, you likely have a high degree of emotional intelligence; however, it’s important to continue strengthening these skills to help yourself and others through adversity. Not unlike muscle strength, emotional intelligence increases with work and atrophies when neglected.


Next, consider growth opportunities. Whether personal or professional in nature, growth helps you stay nimble and adapt during change. This means making time to reflect, assess your goals, and invest in educational opportunities and meaningful relationships whenever possible.


Now, assess your self-care habits. Being healthy in mind, body and spirit is essential for leaders, particularly amid adversity. This means: eating right, exercising, getting adequate sleep, and taking care of yourself—advice you already know, but might not be practicing.


Also, think about mindfulness, which involves turning off outside stimuli to clear your mind. Meditation, yoga, prayer and other forms of mindfulness are known to calm, heal and provide other neurological benefits. 


Next, take a look at your community. Social connections are key to your well-being and vital for navigating adversity. Community includes peers, mentors and sponsors; friends; mentees; A-players within your organization; national thought leaders; and individuals outside your profession.


Finally, embrace adversity. These times can be tremendous opportunities for growth, if you’re able to see it as such. By embracing adversity— intentionally and intelligently—you will become a better leader.


Major life stressors can knock you off your feet, sometimes literally, and affect you for weeks, months—even years. By intentionally establishing a foundation of strength and well-being within and around you, you’ll be a more resilient leader when adversity strikes.




Laurie K. Baedke, MHA, FACHE, FACMPE

Director of Healthcare Leadership Programs

Program Director, Executive MBA 

Creighton University