Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg gave a powerful and emotional commencement speech on building resilience to the University of California, Berkeley’s class of 2016.

Sandberg said, “You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience, but like a muscle, you can build it up and draw on it when you need it. In that process, you will figure out who you really are — and you just might become the very best version of yourself.”

The pioneer of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, believes that resilience is a quality that managers can foster in their organisations, if they have it first.


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In his book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being he writes that  people who interpret setbacks as temporary, local and changeable may be more immune to helplessness, depression and anxiety than those who see catastrophe everywhere.

​He goes onto say resilient individuals can create a narrative in which trauma they experience is viewed as a fork in the road and enhances the appreciation of paradox – loss and gain, grief and gratitude, vulnerability and strength.

A great friend and mentor in my life the late Charles “Tremendous” Jones was fond of saying, “if you plan on being miserable, make sure you are happy miserable, not miserable miserable”.

Charlie’s point was that if you can think of a past event in your life when you were in a state of happiness, it changes your thoughts to a positive mode. This reflection enhances your ability to be resilient, even at a time when you are totally out of it and feeling miserable. Happiness has much higher level of vibratory energy and can turn ‘bad’ stress into ‘good’ stress.

In early 1986 in Brisbane some six months after we had adopted our three beautiful older children from Chile,the legendary Dr Norman Vincent Peale was speaking with his great mate Charlie “Tremendous” at a sold-out event at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

Norman Vincent Peale’s, The Power of Positive Thinking had sold over 15 million copies  and the man was a legend who understood the immense power of developing resilience in your life. At that time 31 years ago, it was called ‘grit’. Funny thing is that current researchers are now calling resilience mental toughness or ‘grit’.

We were invited by Charlie to breakfast with Dr & Mrs Peale who wanted to meet our family. Dr Peale was sitting opposite me at the end of the large table and during the meal he asked me a simple and searching question. His loud and penetrating New York voice brought a hush in the packed restaurant of the Mayfair Crest Hotel as he asked… “John, do you have any problems my boy?”

In the moments following, while I was thinking about my answer, this spritely eighty plus year old sprung out of his seat and was kneeling on the floor beside me at the end of the table saying very loudly for the diners to hear, “Lord, give John problems, give him lots of problems, as a man without problems aint growin”.

WOW!!… what an amazing gift Norman Vincent Peale gave me that day. I’ll always be grateful for his love and caring.

The Stress Management Institute® conducts training for those individuals who wish to become a qualified Stress Management Practitioner or Stress Management Facilitator and embark on either a full time or part time exciting career caring for and supporting people who are struggling to cope with stress who want to develop Emotional Resilience. If you are looking for a career change, or you wish to add a Stress Management specialty to your current career, please call +61 1 300 663 979 or email info@stressmanagementinstitute.org
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