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Stepping Stones to Greater Resilience

Empowering you to create your own life experience …



M.A. Herald

Copyright © 2012 Marquita A. Herald

License Notes

Although this special edition preview is a free publication for your review and enjoyment, the contents remain the copyrighted property of the author and may not be sold or used for commercial purposes. Thank you.


In practical advice books, like anything else in life, readers are cautioned to reply on their own judgment about their individual circumstances and act accordingly.


Life doesn’t get any easier, we become stronger.

~Author Unknown

Have you ever wondered how it is that two people can be faced with the same crisis and while one becomes hopelessly mired in a web of negativity and feelings of helplessness, the other is able to overcome adversity and bounce back stronger than ever?

No matter how hard we try to deny, outrun or sidestep them, challenges and disappointments are inevitable in life. Most of us will encounter relationship problems, health issues, financial stresses, work worries, or bereavement. One need only follow news coverage of the rich and famous for proof that even great wealth cannot shield us from life’s challenges.

So rather than focusing your energy on how to avoid adversity in life, the question then becomes how to identify and develop the skills that will empower you to avoid getting sidetracked and how to use these experiences to your advantage, creating a stronger more fulfilling life in the process.

Resiliency is the Answer

Resilience, our ability to effectively triumph over problems and hardship, is the key to strengthening self-esteem and confidence in our abilities. It can help prevent depression and enhance relationships. It helps us deal with sudden and unexpected challenges as well as those we anticipate and cannot avoid.

Study after study has proven that the ability to thrive through adversity is not a trait that is reserved for the fortunate few. Resilience can be developed by strengthening characteristics such as a positive mindset, effective decision making and problem solving skills, as well as the ability to keep things in perspective.

According to the American Psychological Association research has shown that resilience is ordinary not extraordinary and that people commonly demonstrate various levels of resilience.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that resilience involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and mastered over time by anyone.

How to Use This Book …

To be successful with the self-directed approach to personal growth you have to be willing to take responsibility for yourself by understanding and strengthening positive personal characteristics, such as; intention, determination, and courage. Fortunately, those are the very features that pursuing self-directed activities cultivate.

Since we all come from different backgrounds and experiences, developing resilience is by necessity a very personal journey. You may be confident in your ability to make decisions, but feel hampered by feelings of negativity; while someone else recognizes their tendency to quickly give up when faced with a problem rather than persevering.

The best way to identify the areas you would like to further develop is to read through the entire book first to gain a feel for the various traits and skills research studies have proven cultivate greater resilience. Then go back and focus on the individual strategies you would like to work on; for example how to strengthen confidence in your abilities, becoming more flexible or creating a supportive network.

The Journey Begins by Redefining Your View of Adversity

How well you respond to life’s inevitable challenges and detours depends on how you approach and perceive adversity.

Do you see problems as catalysts for growth, or obstacles to success and happiness?

The hard truth is that from time to time we’re going to stumble; encounter unexpected detours, and fail. So then rather than wasting energy attempting to shield ourselves from life’s inevitable challenges a far better strategy is to learn how to use those experiences to our advantage.

Cultivating greater resilience is the key to making that happen.

Begin by Redefining Your View of Adversity

Begin by Redefining Your View of Adversity Adversity: A state of hardship, affliction, continued difficulty or

Adversity: A state of hardship, affliction, continued difficulty or misfortune.

Imagine for a moment what it could mean to the quality of your life if you were able to redefine your view of adversity.

Rather than viewing life’s inevitable challenges and unexpected detours from the perspective of an unfortunate victim, what if instead you were able to see the opportunities for growth from the perspective of one who has been empowered to create their own life experience?

To regard adversity as an opportunity for personal growth may seem like a stretch; especially in the midst of hectic schedules and the daily noise of life, let alone during a crisis … but bear in mind that the opportunity exists not in the challenges or obstacles we encounter; but in what we choose to do about them.

Is there a deeper meaning in the lesson? Can there possibly be something of value in this situation? Is there an opportunity for deeper self healing here?

When we begin to look at all experiences as stepping stones for growth and greater long-term resilience, we are able to approach life on a whole new level and embrace our experiences with much more enthusiasm. Adversity can present us with the opportunity to realign ourselves with what is really important in our lives and in the process strengthen confidence in ourselves and our abilities.

Resilience: A Test of Attitude, Motivation and Will

Resilience: A Test of Attitude, Motivation and Will Resilience is a response from the heart, a

Resilience is a response from the heart, a mindset or a belief system about handling disappointment. It is a test of attitude, motivation, effort and strength of will to prevail in spite of the obstacles in one's path.

~ Steve Solin, MD, Author of The Resilient Self

The biggest misconception about resilience is that it is primarily about recovering from a crisis. In reality resilience is fundamentally about empowering you to create your own life experience.

You don’t need to be facing a major change or obstacle in your life to decide to you want to become stronger and more confident … in fact, the reality is it’s too late to do much of anything other than learn from the experience once you’re in the middle of a crisis.

Of course change is always a gamble, but the truth of life is we change with every breath, whether we want to or not. Change can go right and it can go wrong. But you won’t know until you commit to begin making the choices that will lead you creating a stronger, more resilient life experience.

Cultivating the skills that allow you to see the opportunities in demanding situations will enable you to learn from your experiences; to thrive and grow stronger as a result of the challenges. This is that bounce-back-ability we all long for!

It means having the willingness to pursue stretch goals, the courage to get up when you’ve been knocked down, and the tenacity of spirit to embrace all that makes life worth living, even if that means turning around and going the other way when you realize you’ve been going in the wrong direction.

Make no mistake about it, this is powerful stuff!

According to Dr. Douglas C. Johnson, one of the co-authors of the Resilience Scale (used to measures a person’s capacity to live a full and rewarding life),

“Mental flexibility is one of the common denominators of psychologically resilient people. To see the benefits of flexibility, just look at the difference between an oak tree and a blade of grass. The oak tree is large and massive, with a strong but rigid trunk and a system of roots and branches. The blade of grass is slight and has a very shallow root system. Yet, in the face of hurricane-force winds, it’s the oak that’s destroyed because the blade of grass is able to bend, deflect and return to form.”

Research indicates that while it is true that some individuals seem to come by the ability to weather adversity naturally, with personality traits that help them remain unflappable in the face of challenge; we are all born with innate resilience and the capacity to cultivate traits found in resilient survivors.

Resilience and Recovery: Kauai Study

Much of the research on resilience today is based on the foundation created by a 40- year study of native Hawaiians on the Island of Kauai that began in 1954. Researchers Emmy E. Werner, from the University of California at Davis, and Ruth S. Smith, a clinical psychologist followed nearly 700 individuals from birth through middle age.

Many of them grew up in families driven by poverty, alcoholism, domestic violence, disease, and mental illness. While some of the children in the study did grow up to lead troubled lives, about one in 10 managed to develop into what the researchers described in their 1982 book Vulnerable But Invincible: A Study of Resilient Children as “competent and autonomous young adults who ‘worked well, played well, loved well, and expected well.’

What helped these kids rise above their circumstances? Werner and Smith identified four basic qualities that many of the successful survivors shared: an active approach to problem solving; a tendency to perceive their experiences, even traumatic ones, in a

positive light; an ability to gain positive attention from others; and a positive outlook and a strong social support system … if not a parent then a neighbor, friend, or a relative.

A Study of Extreme Resilience

Author Laurence Gonzales (Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies) spent more than three decades researching cases of people who experienced survival on an extreme level … who lived, who died, and why. He concluded that character, emotion, personality, styles of thinking, and ways of viewing the world had more to do with how well people cope with adversity than any equipment or formal training.

It’s important to reiterate that while studies and research indicate that it is possible for anyone to cultivate resilience, it takes time and practice.

Following is a list of the resiliency traits Gonzales identified as a result of his study:

Accept the situation. Extreme survivors rapidly grasp the reality of their situation and acknowledge that everything good or bad comes from within. They move through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance very quickly.

Remain calm. Survivors turn fear into anger, and use it to motivate themselves. They understand at a deep level about remaining flexible and are ever on guard against the peril of too much emotion. They keep their sense of humor and remain calm.

Organize and plan for success. Survivors quickly organize, set up routines, and institute discipline. They intentionally push away thoughts that their situation is hopeless. They act with the expectation of success.

Take correct, decisive action. Survivors are able to transform thought into action: take risks to save themselves and others and break down large jobs into small, manageable tasks.

Celebrate even small successes. Key to sustaining motivation, survivors take great joy completing steps in the process. This attitude also helps to prevent feelings of vulnerability and hopelessness.

Believe that they will survive. Survivors strengthen their resolve and fix their purpose; they are determined to avoid repeating mistakes, and strive to do their very best whatever the task. They know their abilities and do not over or underestimate them.

Focus on a purpose and never give up. Survivors have a clear reason for going on. They manage pain well and are not discouraged by setbacks. They come to embrace the world in which they find themselves and see opportunity in adversity.

A Shocking Story of Survival

In November, 1986, 20 year old construction worker Cliff Meidl was in a pit at a work site trying to break up a concrete slab with a jackhammer. He did not know that the concrete housed an unmarked power line carrying thousands of volts of electricity. When the tip of Cliff's jackhammer punctured the power line, 30,000 volts of electricity exploded through him with a charge that was three times more powerful than that used for capital punishment in an electric chair.

The explosion was so strong it exploded out through the back of his head, his shoulder, his knee caps, and his foot and blew him out of the hole. He laid dead on the ground, his heart stopped, his clothes smoldering, and his entire body singed and burned.

Amazingly, a firefighter quick to arrive at the scene was able to revive him using CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Cliff's heart stopped twice more in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, but the paramedics resuscitated him each time.

Cliff spent the next several months in the hospital while his body healed from the terrible burns. "One-third of both my knee joints were burned away and two toes were burned off," says Cliff. "I had such extensive injuries that the doctors said they would have to amputate my legs." Fortunately, one surgeon was able to save his legs with a special operation.

Cliff left the hospital in a wheelchair and began the long process of rehabilitation, which included ten more surgeries. Before his accident, Cliff had been a runner. "I was heartbroken because they said I would never walk again." Cliff finally had to accept that he couldn't be a runner, but he didn't give up. He worked hard to build his strength and was eventually able to walk with braces on his legs. "It was pretty tough," he says.

As part of his rehabilitation, he began to canoe and kayak. He explains that he took up kayaking after being inspired by seeing Greg Barton, a man born with two club feet, win two kayak gold medals in 1988.

Cliff's hard work and determination led him to become one of the best kayakers in the world. He competed at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, and qualified to represent the United States at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Cliff's courage and spirit and led to him being chosen to be the United States flag bearer at Olympic Opening Ceremonies, an honor that normally goes to multiple Olympians or gold medalists. In fact Meidl was chosen ahead of two-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, known for his remarkable recovery from cancer.

Meidl led the U.S. athletes into the Olympic stadium in Sydney carrying the American flag. He walked proudly showing almost no sign of a limp from his damaged knees.

"This is an incredible honor," the 34-year-old Meidl said. "I was so proud and honored to be able to represent the USA and to lead the entire delegation into the stadium."

Meidl did not win a medal at the Olympics in Sydney, but he is a winner in other ways. "I have enormous physical limitations in my legs," he says. "The damage is done, and there's no coming back from that. But the accident changed the person I am. It made me a stronger person mentally and physically. I don't think I would have had the will and determination to make it to the Olympics without going through an experience like this."

Today Chris Meidl lives in Southern California and is an asset manager and successful motivational speaker. His speaking presentations focus on the universal topics of courage, hope, and achievement through adversity.


According to the American Psychological Association resilience can be strengthened over time. Research finds that people who intentionally develop the ability to successfully manage day to day upsets, challenges and obstacles are also far better at handling crisis on a larger scale.

In other words, it’s not that people who are resilient experience fewer of life’s hard knocks; they simply choose not to be defined by adversity. They find resilience by having a purpose and moving towards a goal beyond themselves; transcending pain and grief by perceiving bad times as temporary.

In fact the same attributes that lead to building resiliency are the keys to developing greater self-confidence, mastering change, achieving greater success in work and personal relationships and living a bolder, more inspired life!

From Guillaume Apollinaire …

“Come to the edge,” he said.

They said, “We are afraid.”

“Come to the edge,” he said.

They came.

He pushed them …

And they flew

he said. They said, “We are afraid.” “Come to the edge,” he said. They came. He

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt of Stepping Stones to Greater Resilience.

Among the areas covered in the book include …

Mastering the Skills of Resilience

The Imperative of Purpose

Strengthen Confidence in Your Abilities

Adaptability: The Key to Adjusting to New Situations

Leverage the Power of Realism and Optimism

Ready or Not, Change is Inevitable

Boost Self-Nurturing Skills

Laughter Really is the Best Medicine

Create a Personal Support Network

Commit to Persevere

Stories of Ordinary People on Amazing Journeys

and more …

of Ordinary People on Amazing Journeys • and more … “ Stepping Stones to Greater Resilience

Stepping Stones to Greater Resilience delivers. There are many texts which approach the idea of resilience but most only grasp the concept and dance around the practice. Most people who pick up a self help book understand the concept of an idea completely. What we all really want is a guide to tell us what we have to do to improve our lives. Stepping Stones actually does this and ”


Stepping Stones to Greater Resilience

Empowering you to create your own life experience.

About the Author

About the Author Inspiring you to become the person you were always meant be … Marquita

Inspiring you to become the person you were always meant be …

Marquita Herald is a transformational guide, the creator of the life design blog IGG - Tips, Tools & Tantalizing Ideas and the author of Stepping Stones to Greater Resilience, Inspirational Words of Wisdom for Challenging Times, and coming in September, It’s Your Time Now - A Guide to Living Your Life by Design.

Her mission is to inspiring readers to embrace that we are each as powerful as we allow ourselves to be … that we can choose our own thoughts, reactions and emotions to every event in our lives.

To connect with Marquita online: