3 Ways to Exponentially Grow Your Resilience

This week, I'm delivering a workshop to 100+ coaches and leaders titled "How to Lead When the Stakes Are High and the Risks Could Cost You Everything." 

Naturally, one of the first principles of leading others through high-stakes situations is taking risks yourself. 

How do we set ourselves up for taking more risks in a quality way? To put it in corporate-speak, we put our time and energy into mitigating the risks, especially when the stakes are high.

There are two ways of mitigating risk. 

One way is mitigating through skill and knowledge. On the whole, we're putting more and more energy, time, and money into skill-based activities than ever.

There's a side-effect to that, though: as we develop more skill and knowledge, our tolerance for risk decreases. 

Makes sense, right? The more we can control, the more we want control, the more we need control, and the places where we don't have control feel more risky - even when they're not.

Resilience: Secret Sauce for Risk-Takers

The other way we mitigate risk - as you probably guessed - is through our own resilience.

We usually overlook it, though, because we're not exactly looking for opportunities to tap into it. If we're using resilience, it means we went through something, and the more we tap into it, the more we've been through.

And going through it can mean lots of different experiences for us. Failure. Pain. Disappointment. Sadness. Even self-loathing.

It's not DisneyWorld.

And it doesn't have to be THAT hard.

It can be graceful. Even rejuvenative in some cases.

The more you develop your resilience before you go through something difficult, the easier it will be to tap into when you need it the most, and the more graceful and restorative it can be when you rise back up.

Here are 3 great ways to exponentially grow your resilience:

1. Create a powerful support system.

If you're going to take chances, you'll need a good support system.

Most people don't create this with intention, so they go to the default - family and friends. That doesn't usually work the way we hope it will.

Our family and friends love us and want to support us. However, in their world, that usually means safety, not picking yourself up off the mat and taking another shot. They want us to be safe, even at the cost of living a smaller life and not creating what we desire most.

And that's okay. They're not villains. It can be restorative to lick your wounds, go see mom and have that grilled cheese sandwich that always gives you that home-comfort feeling, have a drink with your old friends while they commiserate with you. 

When you're ready to pick back up and take that shot again, though, you need YOUR PEOPLE. Whether that's a coach, mentor, mastermind, peer group, or something else - you need people holding the very best and highest for you when it's time for that journey. 

If you don't have that, start searching today. Start with one person who holds the best and highest for you. Dig your well before you're thirsty. 

2. Know how to navigate the past, present, and future of pain.

Most people have had this experience.

You're 4 or 5 or 6 years old. And you're running down the sidewalk, not looking at anything but open field in front of you, and next thing you know, you're on the ground. The old trip and fall. A cardinal error. 

THE PAIN! It's in your knee. You wail. It hurts so bad. Will it ever end?

Help's on the way, though. Your mom or dad or brother or sister or some good samaritan neighbor scrambles over, scoops you up, and brings you inside. You're starting to feel a little better. Comforted. Consoled. Loved.

They plop you down in a chair. And that's when you see it. The blood on your knee.

WHAT IS THAT? NOOOOOOO!!! Ohmygod, what happened to me? This is awful! Will it ever be the same? Will it ever stop hurting?

That's not the end, though. The best time to start healing is now. So we better get that knee cleaned up. 

Mom or Dad or Bro or Sis steps away for a sec. In their hand when they return is The Can.

You know the can. That spray stuff that burns like a MF. 

You see it. The tears are back. You know what's coming.

This is the present, past, and future of pain (in that order in this one-act play). 

We all jump back in time to remember we've had some wounds. Sometimes the scars and residual pain last a little longer than we want them to. Or a lot longer.

And we all create an anticipated future where the pain is coming again.

It's human nature. And it's worthy of questioning in the moment.

Does it hurt right now? Or am I remembering how it hurt? Or am I imagining how it might hurt down the road?

One of those is pain. The other two are suffering.

Suffering is optional. Opt out.

For support on this, seek out your people from #1.

3. Use the cycle of immersion and integration to grow your capacity for pressure.

People who identify as high-performers or high-achievers tend to have a natural capacity for immersion - throwing themselves fully into a project, learning a new skill, or developing current skills to become world-class.

I get it. Here are a few instances of me doing that:

In college, while my classmates would merely study the textbooks for exams, I'd take practice LSATs in addition to studying the class materials. 

As a pool player, I jumped several rating levels in 4 months by practicing 12-16 hours a day.

When I became a coach, I threw myself into a challenge to have 100 coaching conversations with new people in 90 days - three times in the same year.

When people hear about these things, they say, "That sounds exhausting."

Fact: It is.

That's the point. It's supposed to be exhausting. That's how you grow.

And I learned the hard way, during my pool playing days, that it's important to take time away from immersing yourself in the growth to integrate what you've learned, to rest, to recover, and to allow your body, mind, and spirit to catch up to one another and operate in harmony.

As my friend Matt Chavlovich says, "Rest day is a training day."

I'll take it one step further for this principle - if you've been immersed, your rest days are the most important training days.

If you've been immersed in your training, the time you spend integrating is directly proportional to the time and intensity of your training.

I spent 6 months integrating after my big leap in pool. Didn't pick up my cue once. (This was not intentional, by the way. I was burned out.) Thought about it frequently. Talked about it. But no training.

When I came back to playing, I felt restored AND I had another big leap.

From that point on, I have intentionally created time and space for integration when I know I'm going deep into training mode.

In conclusion...

These are the three ways I use to build my resilience. You might discover others in your journey, and you might even find one or all three of these to not work for you. And that's okay. The most important thing is that you find what works for you.

I also want to invite you to explore one more thing.

Where are you ALREADY resilient?

Most of my clients (and colleagues, for that matter) dramatically underestimate their resilience.

If you feel like it's in service of you, write some journal entries about this. Write a little, ruminate a little. Give your mind a little space to catch up with the truth.

And give your resilience the benefit of the doubt. There's more in there than you may think.

To your resilience,


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