“Resilience” Quotes

I recently read “Resilience: Hard-won Wisdom For Living A Better Life” by Eric Greitens, Navy SEAL. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, buy the book here.

“Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools.” (10)

“We all need something to struggle against and to struggle for. The aim in life is not to avoid struggles, but to have the right ones; not to avoid worry, but to care about the right things; not to live without fear, but to confront worthy fears with force and passion.” (17)

“What happens to us becomes part of us. Resilient people do not bounce back from hard experiences; they find healthy ways to integrate them into their lives.” (23)

“Don’t expect a time in your life when you’ll be free from change, free from struggle, free from worry. To be resilient, you must understand that your objective is not to come to rest, because there is no rest. Your objective is to use what hits you to change your trajectory in a positive direction.” (23)

“The Stockdale paradox: You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” (30)

“Recognition of the tragic character of life is part of what spurs art, energy, comedy, courage. Would you love people the same if they could never die?” (35)

“Anyone who does anything worthy will attract critics. Begin anyway.” (43)

“Let’s not glorify irrationality, but let’s recognize that if you look rationally at the odds of succeeding at anything worthwhile, you’ll often end up with a rational decision to surrender. To go on anyway, you have to be a little crazy.” (45)

“Those who are excellent at their work have learned to comfortably coexist with failure. The excellent fail more often than the mediocre. They being more. They attempt more. They attack more. Mastery lives quiety atop a mountain of mistakes.” (46)

“If every risk you take pays off, then you probably aren’t actually take risks.” (46)

“Pushing ourselves to grow, to get better, to dive deeper is at the heart of happiness.” (58)

“The most common mistake people make in thinking about the happiness of excellence is to focus on moments of achievement. They imagine the mountain climber on the summit. That’s part of the happiness of excellence, and a very real part. What counts more, though, is not the happiness of being there, but the happiness of getting there. A mountain climber heads for the summit, and joy meets her along the way.” (58)

“The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” (59)

“A focus on happiness will not lead to excellence. A focus on excellence will, over time, lead to happiness.” (59)

“That combination – outer service and inner growth – is one of the most beautiful things we can create in a good life.” (59)

“The happiness of pleasure can’t provide purpose; it can’t substitute for the happiness of excellence.” (62)

“Not everyone is, can be, or should be a model for you – even if they are great.” (72)

“If we believe that our heroes are flawless, we being to believe that we, being flawed, are incapable of heroism. In this way, a belief in the perfection of others can inhibit our own growth.” (77)

“Our sense of ourselves shapes what we do. When you claim that identity – whether it’s a logger, a scholar, a SEAL, or a father – you’re also claiming the commitments and expectations and values that go with it, and you’re making a promise to live up to them.” (90)

“Millions of people, in all walks of life and in every endeavor, create distractions and excuses for themselves by focusing on tools rather than on character. They’d rather, as Socrates warned, focus on what they have than on what they are.” (93)

“People like to imagine that they will “rise to the occasion.” They taught us in the Teams that people rarely do. What happens, in fact, is that when things get really hard and people are afraid, they sink to the level of their training.” (99)

“Adults can come to stake their identity on the success they have attained, while losing the very spirit and character that made success possible in the first place.” (101)

“Protecting children from all suffering is, in fact, one of the only ways to ensure that they will be overwhelmed and badly hurt one day.” (102)

“Self-respect grows through self-created success: not because we’ve been told we’re good, but when we know we’re good.” (103)

“Challenging children works best when children are loved – and when they are challenged because they are loved.” (104)

“We often venture most boldly when we understand that our ventures are not all or nothing – when we are confident that we have a safe and welcoming home to return to.” (104)

“Resilience – the willingness and ability to endure hardship and become better by it – is a habit that sinks its roots in the soil of security.” (104)

“The more responsibility people take, the more resilient they are likely to be. The less responsibility people take – for their actions, for their lives, for their happiness – the more likely it is that life will crush them. At the root of resilience is the willingness to take responsibility for results.” (106)

“Fear is a core emotion. A life without fear is an unhealthy life.” (109)

“Focus not on wiping out your anxiety, but on directing your anxiety to worthy ends.” (109)

“Eric Hoffer said this: “There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life.”” (110)

“People who think you weak will offer you an excuse. People who respect you will offer you a challenge.” (112)

“Peter Gomes said that your vocation is “the place where your great joy meets the world’s great need.” (119)

“A spectacle can capture our attention, but it takes meaning to sustain our attention. If we forget this, we are liable to hop from spectacle to spectacle, entertainment to entertainment, diversion to diversion.” (122)

“In the long run, the only cure for boredom is meaning.” (122)

“Some words, to some people, are so uncomfortable that they have to be silenced by any means necessary. What if I’m living my life wrong? What if my faith isn’t true? What if we aren’t the center of the universe. The deepest questions can also provoke the deepest discomfort, the deepest fear, the deepest rage. That often means they’re working.” (130)

“The philosopher shouldn’t offer a way of thinking, but a way of living.” (131)

“If we also reflect on how minuscule our drop of experience is in the vast ocean of human experience – we should stand open to the wisdom that others have to offer.” (136)

“In our security and comfort, we slip quietly into the false expectation that life will afford us complete happiness. We believe that we will move only from pleasure to pleasure, from joy to joy. When tragedy strikes or hardship hits, too many of us feel ambushed by pain, betrayed by the present, despairing of the future.” (137)

“Today, sheltered from the hardships of hunger, disease, heat, and cold that stalked human life for centuries, some people have lost their capacity to deal with real difficulty. Growing up in a protected palace of comfort, they have lost their ability to walk through pain.” (138)

“Readiness is a form of humility, spurred by a recognition of how little we can know or control. Hardship is unavoidable. Resilient people recognize this reality. Then they prepare themselves for it, seeking to meet it as best they can, on their own terms.” (140)

“Think about how hard it is to change your own behavior: to pull yourself out of a rut, to root out a bad habit. And all this difficulty comes when you try to change the single person over whom you have the most power – yourself. Reflect, then, on how much harder it is to change someone else.” (140)

“One of the greatest gulfs in life is between sounding good and doing good.” (142)

“We are ultimately measure by our results, by the way our actions shape the world around us. Without results, all the kind intentions in the world are just a way of entertaining ourselves.” (142)

“To be excellent is to be someone who produces excellence. There is no such thing as an excellent shoemaker who regularly turns out flimsy shoes.” (143)

“If your best is not good enough, make your best better. If you tried hard and failed, then try harder, or find a new way to try until you succeed. Trying hard is trying hard. Success is success. There is a difference.” (145)

“Trying hard builds character, but it is only the achievement that follows the effort that builds true confidence.” (145)

“While the valiant might lose many, many times, the object of the valiant is to persevere until victory.” (146)

“We do two things here. We work hard. And we win. The reason we win is that we work hard. So really, we only do one thing here. If you don’t want to work hard, don’t waste my time.” (150)

“You know the gap between good performers and exceptional performers is not between those who know a lot and those who know a little, but between those who give some of themselves to their practice and those who give all of themselves.” (150)

“The will to win is cheap and common, while the will to train is rare and noble.” (150)

“The magnitude of the challenge x the intensity of your attack = your rate of growth” (152)

“What usually matters in your life is not the magical moment, but the quality of your daily practice.” (154)

“Deliberate attention to pain helps us separate the physical sensation from the suffering we mentally attach to that sensation.” (172)

“Effective self-talk is usually simple. It’s usually brief, even dull. A phrase is often better than a sentence, and a word will sometimes do just fine. Here are some examples researchers have collected from successful athletes: Great job, do it again. Concentrate. Breathe. Stay tough.” (177)

“I can count on one hand the number of people who quit when they were actually doing something. People quit when they started to think about how hard something was going to be.” (179)

“It’s better to tell people, “Worry productively.” … instead of wallowing in your worries, imagine how you’ll respond to them. Practice. Mentally rehearse what you’ll do. Imagine and envision yourself making it through hardship.” (182)

“The naive mind imagine effortless success. The cowardly mind imagines hardship and freezes. The resilient mind imagines hardship and prepares.” (183)

“Of all the personality traits psychologists studied, nothing did more than a sense of gratitude to promote happiness.” (190)

“You don’t have to know what perfect looks like, but you do have to know what better looks like.” (198)

“More often, a closed mind is a product of fear. Certain beliefs are as central to our thinking as the pillars that support a cathedral. We use these beliefs to hold up our own conception of ourselves and to justify our place in the world. We’re afraid that if we question their strength, the world around us might collapse.” (200)

“Everyone call back a memory. Not everyone can reflect on it. If our reflection is thorough, we move from having had an experience to having an understanding of what we’ve experienced.” (201)

“The difference between a life that is happening ot you and a life that you shape is often reflection.” (201)

“Think about a situation. Answer the four questions. Why am I here? What’s going on around me? What am I going to do about it? How will my actions affect others? It’s amazing to see the kind of clarity that this exercise can bring you.” (204)

“Be with people who are the way you want to be. If you want to be excellent, be around people who pursue excellence. If you want to be happy, be around people who are happy. If you are around resilient people, you’re far more likely to be resilient yourself.” (208)

“For veterans, the loss of a sense of camaraderie is often the most painful casualty in the transition from soldier to civilian.” (211)

“Most truly elite performers are accessible, friendly, and humble. He found that these elite performers found ways to make connections between themselves and others, in part because they wanted to learn from other people and to lessen their own blindness as much as possible.” (215)

“When all I thought about was my own pain and how the world had dealt me an unfair hand, I became weaker. When I thought of the needs of my team, my friends, i became stronger.” (218)

“Part of respecting a way of life is passing it on, doing what you can to make sure it doesn’t die with you.” (222)

“The more vital people consider a mission, the more they’ll learn to deal with people who rub them the wrong way. The less the mission matters, the more people are about being around those they like.” (240)

“Don’t do this for me – do this with me. A leader earns devotion by showing devotion.” (246)

“Leaders lead from the front. Never ask someone to endure more than you are willing to endure yourself.” (247)

“Leadership’s responsibility is to work intelligently with what is given and not waste time fantasizing about a world of flawless people and perfect choices.” (250)

“Wise people look for a history of success and failure in a leader.” (250)

“Beware the person who weeks to lead and has not suffered, who claims responsibility on the grounds of a spotless record.” (250)

“Many people try to find balance in their lives first, and then run. Sometimes that works. But a lot of times it’s in the running itself that you find your balance.” (256)

“Life and work are not two enemies battling for our limited attention. In fact, the opposite tends to be the case. When we have meaningful, fulfilling, purposeful work, it radiates through our lives. And when we have happy, secure, loving relationships, they, too, radiate through our lives.
The balance we seek is not that of a seesaw, but of a symphony. Every element of a symphony has a role to play: sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, sometimes silent, sometimes solo. The balance we seek is not for every instrument not be played in moderation at every moment – that’s just a long, boring honk – but for a complementary relationship where each instrument is played at the right pitch and the right intensity, with the right phrasing and the right tempo.” (257)

“You need intensity tempered by intensity. Work hard. Pray powerfully. Exercise intensely. Laugh raucously. Love completely. And then.. Sleep deeply.” (258)

“For teams, for communities, and for countries – people with a strong sense of the past are often better able to deal with the hardships of the present. Why? Because as long as we’re part of a story, we’re not alone.” (262)

“When you tell a story, you give an event meaning.” (264)

“Death is like the sun. It infuses every part of our lives, but it doesn’t make sense to stare at it.” (270)

Liked the quotes? Buy the book here.

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