The floor is lava now – Why resilience isn’t about ‘putting up’ with it

The floor is lava now – Why resilience isn’t about ‘putting up’ with itI sometimes think we can learn more from the way children deal with the world than we will ever learn from any amount of training or experience. One thing we can certainly learn from them is resilience.

We see a lot of job seekers here at Jobwise, and that means we also see the highs and the lows of people’s search for work. Some people are looking to test the water and see if there is a potential opportunity, others are looking to move on through a genuine grievance with their current role, some have had redundancy or a life-changing event force them into the move, and others are looking to better themselves and enhance their career. Whatever the reason though, what most job seekers will need is resilience. Either in the short term while you are looking for the new position, or in the long term, while you forge your career, you will need resilience because occasionally things will not go the way you want.

What does it really mean?

Sometimes though I think we make a mistake when we think about being resilient because we see it as a process where we can just shrug off something that went wrong and carry on. Some people see being resilient as a sort of armour, made up of the ability to just accept that things didn’t quite go how you like and then try again.

That is not what resilience is. Having an ‘oh well, let’s keep going’ attitude is very useful, but resilience is more than that; it is about recovery and returning to the right shape. In truth, resilience is not effective unless it is linked to adaptability. When presented with a problem we can accept it, roll with the punch and carry on. Or we can accept it, figure out why it happened, adapt and improve then bounce back on the right path. The first choice is good, but the second is real resilience and will not only keep you moving, but it will help you improve. Each improvement reduces the chance of the same problem occurring.


When candidates are looking for the right job, it is the ones who are adaptable that tend to succeed the most. This can be difficult, particularly when you have had the change forced upon you by something like redundancy, but it is part of finding the right career.

This is where children know more than adults. I remembered, as I started to write this article, playing in the park as a child. We would chase each other around the place playing catch or tag, or whatever you local name for the game was, and on a regular basis the rules would suddenly change. One common one was the person being chased would suddenly shout ‘the floor is lava’ and all the children would now need to jump from object to object instead, because touching the floor meant you burned up and had to leave the game.

As adults, the floor metaphorically turns to lava now and again when we get an unexpected rejection from a job we were sure we had in the bag, or we can’t find the right job when we want it. A truly resilient person does what we all did as kids; they adapt their practice and methods to deal with the problem. They bounce back from the problem, accept the new situation, and continue to seek their goal regardless, using the new situation positively.


Resilience is not about not caring, it is not about being able to shrug and move on, and it is not about rolling with the punches. If it was unfair you didn’t get the job you wanted, then a resilient candidate would make the choice to learn, adapt and make sure they find out why they didn’t get the role. Next time they can use this feedback to stand a better chance of getting the job.

If you have been struggling to get your career on track, we are happy to help put your goals in perspective and look at how, with a little resilience, you can avoid the lava and get the job satisfaction you want.


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