Attitude + Persistence = Resiliency

“It is not what you have that counts, it is what you do with what you have.” — Anonymous

I believe it is fair to say that most of us, by the time we have been out in the real world of life and work, have encountered bumps in the road — many small ones and often some pretty darn big ones. The question is how to handle the bumps. Do you react (blame-deny-justify) or do you respond with positive effort? I am convinced that the three qualities in the headline above are mission critical ingredients in the recipe to respond to life’s zingers. Let’s look at them one by one.


Most of us probably recall the story of The Little Engine That Could from our childhood days. In the story, a little train was pulling toys over the mountain for kids on the other side. Finally, the engine pulling the train came to a stop and just could not go anymore. Then, a little blue engine appeared and all the dolls and toys asked the little blue engine to pull the train over the mountain. There was some pretty serious self-doubt on the part of the little engine and she admitted that she had never gone over the mountain. However, she said she would try. Once she started to gather momentum, her refrain was, “I think I can. I think I can.” However, when that momentum started to build she went to a new refrain: “I thought I could. I thought I could.” The dolls and toys did make it over the mountain, thanks to her incredible effort.

A while back, I was training a new trainer for our organization. He had a solid knowledge of our methodologies and was well on his way to being a fully certified trainer. He did hit a bump in the road before one class that was going to require him to take his coaching to an even higher level. In fact, about an hour before the class was to start, he flat out said he wasn’t ready. Rather than accept this, I praised him for all his hard work so far and asked him to think about it, knowing that he had the ability to pull it off. Finally, he came back and said he would do it. Not only did he do it, he came across as the master he was becoming. Somewhat like the little blue engine, he went from, “I think I can’t” to “I know I can.”

Message: Self-doubt can be positively addressed by a change of attitude. It’s called self-confidence. The way to do it is by getting into action.

Persistence — Never stop moving

In Dr. Seuss’ book, Green Eggs and Ham, Sam-I-Am asks the question, “Do you like green eggs and ham?” 15 times before he gets a positive response. And if he had not gotten a positive response after 15 trys, my guess is that he would have kept asking.

How many times do we give up or just go back to “blame-deny-justify,” rather than sticking with a project through till the end? The easy way out is not the right way.

Every morning on the Serengeti plain in Africa, a lion wakes up hungry and starts moving as it looks for the gazelle. That same morning the gazelle wakes up, knowing full well that the lion is hungry.

Message: Whether you are Sam-I-Am, the lion, or the gazelle, never stop moving and never stop trying.




A number of years ago, I was about two weeks away from starting a major training initiative with a Fortune 100 company. I had interviewed over 40 people in the organization in order to deliver a tailor-made solution for the client. Manuals were printed and books were already in our office. I was ready!

Then came the “call.” The vice president of human resources called to tell me that the corporate budget had just been slashed and they had to stop our project in its tracks. By the way, this was a six-figure training project with a signed contract.

What to do?!

There was no way I was going to go back to this company and demand payment. The legal department in an organization this size is more than substantial. I could try to recover the up-front costs that I had already incurred. This did happen. I could lay the groundwork for reigniting the relationship when the budget loosened up. This also happened, albeit a few years later. In fact, this company became one of our top clients.

What I did not do is blame-deny-justify. I took one on the chin and tried to make the best of it that I could. The bottom line here is that life and work throw a lot of lemons our way. You have a choice. Why not make the best lemonade you can, in spite of all the obstacles?

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