Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed

Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed

Getting Stronger

What happens when you get a stress management expert, a successful entrepreneur, and a Navy SEAL together to write a book? You end up with Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed, a powerful new resource that will help you better thrive under pressure. The three authors have such varied experience that, when combined, works magnificently. The result is a powerful book that will help you not only understand resilience but learn how to build it for yourself.

Two of the authors, George Everly and Dennis McCormack, collaborated to answer some of my questions and to give you a glimpse into the power of resilience. Dr. Everly is one of the founding fathers of modern stress management. He teaches at Johns Hopkins and Loyola University of Maryland. Dennis McCormack is one of the original Navy SEALS. He pioneered SEAL combat doctrine and tactics in Vietnam.


“Resilience is the ability to personally rebound from adversity.”


The Single Most Powerful Factor to Your Potential 

You call personal resilience the single most powerful factor to realize your potential. Is resilience something you are born with or can develop?

While for some, resilience may be a trait they are born with, for most of us resilience is learned…and that’s the great news! Recent research suggests that it is NOT age dependent either. So we can learn to be resilient at ANY age.


“Optimism is more than a belief, it’s a mandate for change.”


5 Factors of Personal Resilience

You reference 5 factors of personal resilience. The first is active optimism. What’s the difference between active and passive optimism? How do you increase it?

Great question. People who are passively optimistic believe things will turn out well, but they wait for such things to occur. Actively optimistic people believe things will turn out well because they are decisive and action-oriented. In short, they MAKE things turn out well. They take advantage of the self-fulfilling prophecy effect. When they fail, they see that failure as a temporary setback. Regarding the issue of leadership, whom would you rather follow, someone who waits for good things to happen, or someone who makes good things happen?

As for increasing active optimism, both in yourself and others, follow this principle: Active optimism is fostered in an environment which is supportive, instructive, and forgiving; one that sees failure as a stepping stone to success.

Avoid toxic devaluing environments. When failure does occur, and it will, understand failure is what you did, not who you are. Learn from it. You will be stronger next time!


“The optimist always has the capacity to look forward to another day.”


5 Core Factors of Personal Resilience

  1. Help people withstand adversity.
  2. Help people make good decisions under pressure.
  3. Motivate people to achieve peak performance.
  4. Allow people to bounce back quickly and effectively even when they are temporarily knocked down.
  5. Serve as important features in determining satisfaction in life and overall happiness.


3 Steps to Manage Impulsive Urges 

You have a whole section on ethics and the moral compass. Self-leadership precedes the ability to lead others. How do you help someone deal with impulsive urges? How do you determine someone’s moral compass when you are hiring a team?

Impulsive urges can be managed but never eliminated. That’s an important point. The key is not acting on impulsive urges unless absolutely necessary.

So to better manage these urges:

  • First slow down.
  • Second, try to understand the consequences of your decision, especially the unitended consequences (ripple effect).
  • Third, when in doubt, ask someone else for an opinion. Leaders are paid to lead, but they are foolish if they fail to utilize the resources around them, including the opinions of others.

As for assessing the “moral compass,” be careful hiring someone who fails to understand the consequences of one’s actions, as noted above. Those who betray others will eventually betray you. Ask a simple question during the interview: “Tell me about a time in business when you ‘got one over’ on someone else.”


“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” –George Eliot


What’s your definition of tenacity? What are your prescriptions for building personal tenacity?

Tenacity is perseverance, persistence, but it is driven by rational decision-making, not stubborn desire. Tenacity becomes toxic when one fails to recognize when it’s time to “advance in another direction.” To build personal tenacity, understand the importance of control. Control what you can; cope with what you cannot control. Tenacity, the amount of effort you put forth is under your control. Say to yourself, “There may be smarter people out there, they may be more lucky, they may be more gifted, but no one is willing to work harder than I!”


“Resilience is your ability to see yourself in the darkness of the abyss of failure, humiliation, or depression—and bounce back, not only to where you were before, but to even greater heights of success, happiness, and inner strength.”


StrongerThrough the process of writing this book, what was most surprising to you about the research or stories you uncovered of those with extraordinary personal resilience?

Several things surprised us. First, we were surprised by the fact that resilience can be learned at any age. Second, we were surprised by the power of resilience and by how disabling the lack of resilience can be. Third, we were surprised by the fact that the factors that predicted resilience in “average” people doing extraordinary things were the same factors that predicted resilience in Navy SEALs.





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Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed
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