By Dr. Karyn

Hello DK Leadership Community! 

The topic of resilience is everywhere. I was recently asked to speak at a conference that wanted to help build resilience in younger employees. That same week I was asked by 4 different parents how to build more resilience, or toughness in their kids.  As a Leadership Coach (for companies & families), I get asked about resilience a lot, and for good reason – difficulties in life and work are guaranteed! In our complex modern world, change is constant, rapid, disruptive and often unpredictable. Resilience, the capacity to recover quickly when something doesn’t go the way we want it to, is an essential tool for navigating these uncertain times, and it begins with having an optimistic mindset.

Harvard researchers have identified an optimistic mindset as the top factor for overcoming difficulty. They discovered people who never gave up interpreted their setbacks as temporary (“It’ll go away soon”), local (“It’s just one situation”) and changeable (“I can do something about it”).

Source: Harvard University

Researchers also suggest that learning optimism can prevent “learned helplessness” and even help manage depression and anxiety. Optimism is actually a core component of Emotional Intelligence – which research tells us is one of the greatest predictors of whether someone will be “successful” in their life and career.

The great news about this topic is that resilience is a muscle we can all develop and personally, it’s a skill I am passionate about teaching! Resilience empowers us to face life’s challenges head on so we can foster progress from our pain.  It helps us deal with unexpected challenges and changes in our lives, whether it’s a poor test score or the loss of a job or loved one. Below are 4 takeaways to build resilience; I hope these tips will inspire you, your team and your family.

Tip #1:            Expect Roadblocks & Failure

In one of my favorite books (it’s a classic), The Road Less Traveled, Dr. Scott Peck challenges readers to learn to manage their failure by expecting it to happen. It sounds crazy, I know, but expecting life to be difficult is exactly what helps us move beyond disappointment, blaming and victim-hood.

Tip #2:             Focus On The Big Picture

Failure can feel discouraging, and it’s easy to get worked up over temporary setbacks. Don’t let small roadblocks make you lose sight of how they affect the larger picture. One sure way to keep a long-term perspective is to remember why you failed in the first place: you were trying to achieve something you care deeply about.

Tip #3:             Keep A Gratitude Journal

One of the superpowers of Great Leaders (at work & home) – is to tap into the secret weapon of gratitude. I’ve kept a gratitude journal for years, but last year after reading more research on this topic, I increased my gratitude & meditation time to 30 minutes – 1 hour each day. It’s been a game-changer for me (just ask my family & team, since they noticed an immediate difference!) Why? Because focusing on things we are grateful for fuels optimism and mental toughness, it reduces stress and overall increases our emotional energy. Gratitude, simply put, helps us be the best version of ourselves. And the best news – its free and we can do it anywhere / anytime!

Tip #4:             Surround Yourself With “Realistic Optimists”
Staying objective can be tough to pull off on our own. That’s why it’s so critical to be around colleagues, team members, friends and family who will not only provide a hopeful perspective but also a healthy dose of realism. Personally, I have my inner “core group” of friends and family. They intimately know me, my strengths and weaknesses and have a powerful way to encourage me (optimistic) while still being honest (realistic) – an incredible combination!

Do you have other tips for helping a person build their resilience muscle? I’d love to hear them! Email me at

Your Leadership & Relationship Coach
Dr. Karyn

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