The Brilliance Of Resilience

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Diane Coutu wrote in the Harvard Business Review that resilient people shared three traits – a resolute acceptance of reality, a sense that life is meaningful, and an exceptional ability to improvise.

One of the most resilient people I know is my wife Shelley. The very first year I dated her she lost her dad. And then throughout the years her mum and other much loved relatives, and then last year her brother – to that insidious invader called death. And yet she pushes on resolutely – feeling the loss – but then adding and contributing so much into the lives of those of us who are still alive.

So let’s have a closer look at these traits.

1. A Resolute Acceptance Of Reality

I’m an optimist, but I’m also a realist. When I had to pack shelves at a supermarket in between careers, some years ago, I did it with a smile on my face. And as I rode my pushbike to work at four a.m. in the morning, or worked late into the night, I would always look for something good about what I was doing. I knew that it was only for a season, and I never let those arrogant managers wear me down. I’d made the choice to do this job, to allow me to have my days free to create new projects that I was working on like books and musicals. And what made it special was that in the evenings I would come home laden with bags of bread, bread rolls and sweet buns that had had their prices slashed to clear. Other employees would laugh at me with my load, particularly as they watched me lug all those bags home on the bike, but my children thought I was Father Christmas. The fact was, that no matter what turn of career I took – which represented my present reality, I always kept a tight hold on my life’s vision which was to be my future reality.

2. A Sense That Life Is Meaningful

I have always lived with a sense that I was born for significance. For life to be meaningful, one needs to know that they have been born for a greater purpose than just themselves. I have tried many things throughout my life, but I have always known that I must pursue my passion. There have been times when I have done things that weren’t fully aligned to my passion, but I never stayed there. I’ve quickly moved back into the passion arena, because it is there that true meaning is found.

3. Ability To Improvise

When I escaped the world of classical piano tuition for a six month period at the age of fourteen, I entered the world of improvisation. It was a liberating experience to create something new, and it is that same creativity that I have taken into my speaking, my coaching, my writing, my composing, and my business development. It is a place where there is no restriction. You can actually make it up as you go along. I found this true in sales. By simply asking lots of questions the customer actually provided me with the ammunition to find out their real concerns and then meet their real needs. All I had to do was to improvise.

So apply these principles to your own life and win.

You were born to be brilliant. So be resilient.

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