Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed


Authors:Dr. George S. Everly Jr., Dr. Douglas A. Strouse, Dr. Dennis K. McCormack
Pub Date: August 2015
Print Edition: $24.95
Print ISBN: 9780814436042
Page Count: 240
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814436059

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Chapter 1: Active Optimism and the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

“In times of conflict or uncertainty there is a special person ready

to answer the call; a common person, with an uncommon desire

to succeed. I am that person. I stand ready to bring the full

spectrum of resources to bear in order to achieve my goals. . . . In

the worst of conditions . . . I will not fail.” These words, adapted

from the U.S. Navy SEAL Ethos, describe the type of person most

of us would like to be. They certainly describe the type of person

most businesses want to employ—and rapidly promote. But what

do these people have that others don’t?

What is the secret of experiencing extreme adversity and

bouncing back stronger than you were before? More than 40 years

ago, we set out to try to answer that question. Interestingly enough,

setbacks, even failure, are a common experience associated with

almost all human endeavors.

Everyone reading this book has faced adversity, and each has

failed at least once in life. The issue is neither adversity nor failure

per se, but what happens in the wake of adversity when you find

yourself in the dark abyss of despair. Successful people fail. Happy

people fail. The key doesn’t lie in the nature of the adversity. What

really matters is the degree of personal resilience you possess in the

wake of the adversity.

Personal Resilience Defined

Personal resilience, what we sometimes think of as psychological

body armor, is your ability to bounce back, to pick yourself up and

try again, and again and again, until you either succeed or decide

on a more productive direction. Resilience is your ability to see

yourself in the dark 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. Resil-

ience helps you withstand adversity. Think of it as a form of im-

munity that helps you make good decisions under pressure,

motivates you for the achievement of peak performance, and al-

lows you to bounce back quickly and effectively.

Science has shown that not only can you rebound from adversity

and trauma, but you can also grow to be better than you ever

were. As George Eliot once noted, “It is never too late to be what

you might have been.”

Five Factors of Personal Resilience

From our research we concluded that successful people share a set

of five core factors that equip them with personal resilience. Just as

a suit of physical body armor protects the wearer from physical

injury, it seems to us that a suit of psychological body armor can

protect you against psychological distress and emotional injury.

We believe that our five factors of personal resilience enable people,

organizations, and even entire communities to withstand or

rebound from adversity. They enable us to see opportunity in crisis.

In psychologically toxic environments, they enable us to grow


Our goal for this book is to share with you the five factors of

personal resilience and to show you ways you can develop this psy-

chological body armor for yourself and foster it in others. While

we have written about our preliminary findings on this topic in

scientific and more readily accessible formats, this book represents

our sometimes startling new conclusions, honed through more

than four decades of research and experiential refinement.

Our five factors of personal resilience are:

1. Active Optimism. Optimism is more than a belief, it’s a man-

date for change. It’s the inclination to move forward when

others are retreating. This mandate can be so strong that it

can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But to do so it must

lead to . . .

2. Decisive Action. Optimism is not enough. You must be decisive

and act in order to rebound. As Clare Boothe Luce observed,

“Courage is the ladder on which all the other virtues

mount.” You must acquire the courage to make difficult

decisions. Making hard decisions is easier when it is based

upon a . . .

3. Moral Compass. Use honor, integrity, fidelity, and ethical

behavior to guide your decisions under challenging circums-

tances.Once your decisions have been implemented, employ

. . .

4. Relentless Tenacity, Determination. Persistence can be om-

nipotent. As comedian Jonathan Winters once quipped, “If

your ship doesn’t come, swim out to meet it!” Be persistent,

while at the same time knowing when to quit. To find hidden

opportunities and aid in physical and psychological energy,

rely upon . . .

5. Interpersonal Support. Who has your back?

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