Staying Resilient

Many thanks to Kristin Smedley for being a recent guest on my podcast, UnYielded: Thriving No Matter What, which is all about flourishing and putting our energy into a place of positive influence.  Kristin shared her experience of learning that her infant son was blind.  More than that, Kristin shared what she has learned about resilience during that journey.

One of the many great discussion points was that having the mindset of resilience is not a one-time event.  It is something that we have to choose over and over again.  I have conducted several interviews so far – and I’ve coached more than 3000 people in my career – and this is a major theme that runs through the stories of those who are successful, fulfilled and thriving.  Since it is such a dominant theme, it’s something that I want to explore a little more for myself. 

When I look at my own life and when I’ve had to be resilient the most, I think of two experiences: when I had severe speech problems as a kid and overcoming an almost fatal illness.  Here are things that helped me:

  • Recognizing the power of “Yet.”  As a kid when I struggled to say a word – and when didn’t I? – I would sometimes say to my mom, “I just can’t say it.”  And, she would say, “No.  You just can’t say it yet.”  To me, that meant that if I just keep trying, I would eventually be able to say it.  This helped me tremendously when I was recovering from my illness.  There were days when I was in bed and I was longing to go for a run again and I would say, “You just can’t go for a run, yet.  But you will.”
  • Knowing what’s important to you and holding on to it for dear life.  When the doctor told me that my days of being an athlete were over, I knew in my heart that I couldn’t accept that.  I have always been an athlete and I will always be an athlete.  When he said it, I didn’t know what it could look like, but there was no way I was letting go of something that was so important to who I am.  This relates to another interview I did recently with Tony Bond, who said that when you know who you are everything becomes clear.
  • Seeing yourself beyond your present performance.  When I was starting out as a professional speaker, I had my fair share of engagements that were in someone’s basement, or in a cramped meeting room, or where only 6 people showed up.  Whenever that would happen, I would just remind myself: “Hey, it’s just where you are today.  It in no way determines where you can be tomorrow or next year.”  That taught me to always do my best so that I could ready when I was out of the basement! 

I’m sure that as I reflect on this more, I will have more ideas, but I’ll call these my Big 3 for now.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you’ve chosen to be and stay resilient.