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Are you resilient?

Senior Master Sgt. Erik Robbins, U.S. Air Force, official photo

Senior Master Sgt. Erik Robbins, U.S. Air Force, official photo

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – There are a couple of definitions of resiliency: The ability to return to the original form or position after being bent or the ability to recover from illness, depression or adversity.

We don’t always walk around asking ourselves how resilient we are. The importance of being resilient and how valuable it is in my own life was put to the test one evening. When getting ready for bed, my life took a drastic turn as I witnessed the love of my life collapse to the floor. My wife had suffered a severe pulmonary embolism. For a time, I lost my wife as the doctor worked hard to bring her back to life. Thankfully, they were able to revive her, get her on life support and airlift her to Stanford Medical Center for specialized care.

This rocked my world, but as my wife lay there hooked up to machines, fighting for her life, the world kept on moving. My personal resiliency was going to be put to the hardest test of my life.

I had to find a way to get as close to my original position after my life was bent out of shape not just for me, but also for my kids and mission. Even though my wife’s future was unknown, I had to find the things that I had put in place long before the event to be resilient. Some of the things that help make me resilient are faith, family, friends, exercise and leadership direction for my work section. I relied on every one of these during my tough time.

Thankfully, after some major surgeries and a lot of time in the hospital, I was able to bring my wife home. We were still bent out of shape, but were on the road to getting back to our original position again.

I learned a lot about my own personal resiliency during this time and realized that it does not just happen. Resiliency starts with how you set yourself up to handle the tough times that life may throw your way.

My recommendation to others after my own difficult experience is to find the things that give you strength. Work on building the strengths in your life to increase your resiliency. If I had not worked on my faith, relationships with family and friends and provided the direction and tools for my troops to continue the mission in my absence, I would not have been able to get through this experience.

As military leaders, being resilient is crucially important not just for yourself, but for the people you lead and the mission. So, ask yourself are you resilient? What do you need to work on in your life to build a strong foundation so you can rebound after getting bent out of shape? Remember to invest in your resiliency.