Hard-won Wisdom: Resilience Isn’t What You Have, It’s The Mindset You Choose

Hard-won Wisdom: Resilience Isn’t What You Have, It’s The Mindset You Choose

Last Friday my eleven-year-old son Matthew had a spill off his bike, broke his arm and needed surgery to realign the bend in his arm! He’s now in a full arm cast for the next six weeks and then has to wait another six weeks before he can get back to his beloved ice hockey, soccer (he’s a goalie) and basketball.

Needless to say, it wasn’t how he (we!) planned to start our weekend!

As disappointing, inconvenient and painful as his injury has been, I’m very aware that it’s also a rite of passage for many active kids, particularly boisterous boys! The fact that it’s Matt’s 4th (or 5th?) time in a cast probably reflects just how boisterous my fourth child is!

I’m sure you’ve had your own experiences of life not going to plan. And the way I see it, when life throws us a curve ball, we basically have two core choices:

A) To be a victim of our circumstances – wallowing in self-pity or blame and dwelling on all that we cannot do,


B) To be bigger than our circumstances – accepting our new reality and focusing on whatever we can do to improve it.

While the former surrenders our personal power, the latter opens up access to a vast reservoir of grit, courage and ingenuity that may otherwise lay dormant. It’s a lesson I’ve learned myself many times over the years, probably most profoundly when, at age 28 I found myself in an armed robbery and then, ten days later lost the baby, my first, I was carrying at the time.

I spoke about this experience and five ways to bolster resilience in this video…


Since then I’ve studied a lot about the psychology of resilience and our ability to build it throughout our lives. Interestingly, research shows that how well we bounce back from our adversity lies in direct proportion to our willingness to accept hardship and heartache as part of life, and our commitment to finding something positive in it. A positive mindset doesn’t make you immune to adversity, but it helps you to handle it better and emerge from it better off.

As I said to Matthew yesterday, it’s how we respond when life isn’t the way we want it to be that ultimately defines who we are. Likewise, whatever the circumstances of your life right now that aren’t as you’d like them to be, I encourage you to re-frame how you see them, to look for the opportunity they hold, and to trust in your ability to meet the challenges you face – one day, sometimes one hour, at a time. By doing so you will discover that you are stronger and more capable than you thought yourself to be.

I’m sure Matt will discover that in the weeks (and years) to come. I hope you will also.