Resilience Is Always the Best Course
Throughout life, we face challenges that can discourage us and threaten to derail us. Sometimes they temporarily achieve this. However, the difference between those who are successful in life and those who aren’t is simply whether they got up and tried again. Were they resilient?
When I reflect back on my life there are many times I could have quit or soothed self-pity in the bottom of a bottle, but instead, something wouldn’t let me fall prey to the victimhood I’d seen so many times in my life. I took a shower, played a round of golf, and did what I had done my entire life—got back to work.
Resilience can manifest itself differently depending on the circumstances and season of life. For example, sometimes resilience is knowing when to step away, to find another path. Rather than beat your head against a stone wall, find a way around, over, or under that wall, and continue on the path of your choosing.
What matters is that you don’t give up. When we get knocked down, we always have the option to withdraw and declare never again. But triumph comes from getting up and trying again and again and again. I’m not a masochist, but endurance and the ability to take punishments, make sacrifices, and survive are important traits of resilience. This is why those who are resilient succeed; enduring difficulty time and time again in order to stay the course is not the popular choice – many quit along the way.
I have a quote from President Calvin Coolidge on the wall of my office:
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
Coolidge will probably never make the list of the country’s greatest leaders. No one is fighting to add his face to Mount Rushmore, but there is a lot of wisdom in those six little words—wisdom born from experience. Persistence and determination are the fundamental building blocks of resilience, a word that has always resonated with me. Some people have mottos; other people have codes and crests and core beliefs. For me, the word resilience has been a touchstone, a source of strength, and the lens through which I view my life.
Coolidge was wrong about a lot of things, but he really nailed the idea that, no matter what, you have to move forward. And when the day comes when it’s time to take stock, when you reach a moment of confluence and great change and take the time to look back, the best thing you did—the best thing you could ever do—was to persist, to have been determined, to have been resilient.
We don’t look back at our lives and see the moments when we failed. We look back and see the moments when we overcame, no matter the odds. It’s not our failures or our successes that get us to where we are. Nor is it the lucky breaks, the big wins, or the random moments. We get to the present moment in our lives—any moment in our lives—by getting up in the morning and getting to work. Resilience is always the best course. Persistence is always the way. Determination is always omnipotent. Maybe not in the moment, maybe not in the immediate aftermath, but always in the end.