Resilience and Renewal

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I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about two things. One is the concept of resilience, something most shop owners have too much experience with. The other is renewal, and that’s something I wish shop owners would consider more often.

Both are important constructs, albeit artificial and existential ones. Nevertheless, their role in helping us navigate life and living cannot be overstated. 

Renewal has to do with new beginnings and starting over. Resilience has to do with mental toughness and our ability to transcend adversity, overcoming the obstacles and challenges we are confronted with everyday in life and business. 

I have to believe I’m uniquely qualified to address both, having survived a lifetime striving to succeed in our industry and, most recently, Primary Myelofibrosis, a stem cell/bone marrow transplant, Graft versus Host Disease, a blood clot in my left leg and pulmonary embolisms in both lungs. 

All things considered, it has left me with a different and somewhat unique insight when it comes to resilience and renewal. Not to mention a fair amount of experience. 

Confronting your own mortality will do that to you.

The idea of starting over is a central component of virtually all spiritual belief systems. The need to leave the past behind and try again is universal. What becomes problematic is finding the will and the opportunity to rise up out of the ashes of the past in order to take flight toward a new and better future. 

We search for reasons to try again when all we really need is the desire. But, too often, all we’re left with are all the reasons —and, excuses—we can’t. Or, won’t.

In order to succeed, all we really need is the will and opportunity to stop and take inventory. All we really need is to press the reset button and recalibrate. That, and the strength to take that first step.

The problem for most of us is that we fail to take advantage of the opportunity to regroup and try again. We get stuck in the past. We find ourselves mired in today, yesterday and the tyranny of what we’re used to and comfortable with and we end up sacrificing a better tomorrow for a less than adequate yesterday and today.

My cancer diagnosis and stem cell/bone marrow transplant that followed gave me an entirely different perspective on renewal. Each new day is filled with a second opportunity to experience a new and different first. It also brought home the critical importance of being able to bend with the storm rather than contend against it with a blinding clarity. And, isn’t bending without breaking what resilience is all about?

What do you think of when you think of the notion of resilience? Do words like supple, soft, flexible and yielding come to mind? These are all traits that can and will allow you to deflect the daily onslaught of challenges you confront at the counter and in the bays every day, aren’t they? All traits that can and will help you to remain untangled: free, able to act and react to anything that comes your way.

When it comes to you, me, and resilience, the famous English writer and philosopher, Aldous Huxley, may have said it best when he suggested that “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”

It is all about how you act and react when confronted with whatever your current reality might be, either good or bad. And, since all of this exists more in our minds than in reality, it all comes down to understanding and interpreting that current reality in the context of the choices we make. 

Without realizing it, shop owners are masters of resiliency. We improvise, adapt, overcome and persevere every day just about all day. It’s a survival skill that has become second nature to just about every one of us. We bob and weave, extend and stretch, just to keep from getting tagged, and, for the most part we succeed.

The problem isn’t whether or not we are resilient. We are. Or, at least, some of us are. The problem is that more of us aren’t as resilient as we could or should be. I believe there is a direct correlation between resilience and success. 

I believe resiliency can be cultivated. Just as I believe we can master the ability to renew. It’s simply a matter of awareness and desire. An awareness of how, where and when to stop, renew, and re-engage, coupled with a deep, almost overwhelming desire for a better tomorrow.

How do you make that happen? You stop. Stop long enough to figure out where you are and what you’re doing. Long enough to resume a normal posture and recognize where the pressure is coming from. Then, you respond. In another direction, if necessary, with a different response, if called for.


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