Resilience: Five Proven Ways To Develop It and Be Successful

Don’t you just love a story of triumph when the hero rises from great challenges to win the prize…or find true love…or amass great wealth? I know I do! Classic underdog narratives are inspiring.

Tales like these share an element that we celebrate and sometimes, idolize, as many of us are uncertain of our own ability to overcome, if ever faced with similar trails.

That component is resilience.

Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. It’s a critical “soft” skill to develop living in the 21st century. It's not the big issues of life, like those outlined above, that plague us today. It is the daily grind, the hustle, riddled with micro-aggressions from colleagues and even friends that wear us down.

Y’all know what I mean, right?

That's the focus of the book I’ve been reading: Micro-Resilience: Minor Shifts for Major Boosts in Focus, Drive, and Energy by Bonnie St. John and Allen P. Haines.

Pause for Clarification: For those of you who are new to this “communal journey,” I made a commitment back in January to read more. And to establish some accountability around this goal, I committed to reviewing the books that I read for your benefit as well.

Back in the spring, I was led to adjust some things in how I was showing up in my business and personal life. (You can read about that here.) The pace of my reading and review schedule was one of items that I chose to reset.

Here I am, back again with a book review! 🎉

Before I even get into the meat of this book, I must first introduce the authors, Bonnie St. John and Allen P. Haines. This married couple have had their share of individual life challenges…the kind of stuff Hollywood movies would portray.

St. John endured a childhood tainted by abuse and poverty as well as the loss of a leg at the age of five. She rose to become the first African-American to medal in the Winter Olympics in 1984. She credits her mental, physical, and spiritual resilience of those years for laying the groundwork of the work shared in this, her latest book.

Haines, her husband's journey included successfully navigating the merciless atmosphere of Hollywood as a producer. Also, he rebuilt his life after the anguish of a difficult divorce.

The two explain that their big life challenges represent the “macro” definition of resilience. While this sort of bounce-back is needed, they recognize that “the hundreds of miniature bruises we experience each day determine the overall quality of our lives far more dramatically than the giant traumas that punctuate the decades.” Hence the need for “micro” strategies to stimulate mini-recoveries or micro-resilience.

Learning resilience on the micro level is pivotal to meet the demands of our lifestyles today. There has been correlation one’s ability to be resilient and success levels. St. John and Haines synthesized neuroscience, psychology, and physiology research to develop a set of frameworks to aid us in understanding how to cultivate micro-resilience daily.


The increasing demand on our time entices many of us to multitask, a proven ineffective approach. I know I am still guilty of it, at times. Instead, you should work to create space in your day with time blocks, or zones as the authors call them. Also, try retreating for a few minutes midday for some quiet time, off-load things on your mind with notes or drawing, and silence your notifications on your phone and other devices.


Each of us has a set of emotional reactions that have been programmed by past life experiences. When faced with unrealistic demands, condescension and disrespect, or feeling unheard or unseen, those reactions are triggered. Learning to respond rather than react is attainable. Some strategies the authors share include conscious relaxation (deep breathing & deliberate muscle slackening), identifying the feelings, and sensory resets using scents or music.


It is the mindset and beliefs around any adversity that determines how difficult the challenge will be to overcome. Keeping the right attitude is essential. Do this by consciously surrounding yourself with things that inspire joy in you, such as photos, mementos, or souvenirs. Keep a flexible perspective. Things are not always as grave as they appear. Strive to maintain a positive attitude. Think: Glass half-full.


Our capacity for negotiating complex work and personal life dynamics is dependent on a consistent supply of high-performance fuel and fluids, according to the authors. Focus on nourishing foods, proper hydration, adequate rest, and regular exercise to increase your resilience storehouse. This is necessary self-care.


Based upon Viktor Frankel’s claim that each of us is responsible for finding, defining, and claiming meaning in life, the authors admonish the reader to live life on purpose. They encourage you to write a mini-manifesto or tagline for your life. One that would harness the power of purpose and serve as a unique guide.

St. John and Haines offer more suggestions for each of these frameworks within the text and outline the connections with performance trajectory. Engaged in concert, these strategies can create a culture of authentic, successful living. Which of these “hacks” will you employ today?

Until next time…