Resistance or Resilience?

I had the pleasure of giving the keynote speaker from this weekend's District 42 Toastmasters Conference a tour of MacDonald Island yesterday.  Anne Barab, from Texas, was gobsmacked the moment she walked in the door and saw the Syncrude Aquatics Centre.  Right away, the iPhone came out, and images of our incredible facility began streaming to points far south of the border.

Anne is a remarkable presenter.  She captivated the room of almost 200 delegates from the moment she opened her mouth to her closing thought.  Articulate, authentic, larger-than-life - though incredibly petite - the 66-year-old motivational speaker (who looks much younger than her years) is a former COO of a $1.5 billion mortgage bank, a "recovering politician", a breast cancer "thriver", and an author.

Her primary focus as a speaker is in the area of resilience, teaching people "how to adapt in the face of adversity to create more love, joy, peace and contentment" in their lives.

As I looked back on my notes from her keynote address on Saturday morning, it was the resistance-resilience continuum that immediately caught my eye.  As she described, people on the resistance end tend to be negative, have more stress in their lives, more health problems and certainly are less happy.  Those on the resilience side tend toward the positive, have less stress, good health and are much more contented.

When I wake up in the morning and look at Facebook, I can immediately surmise where people are in the resistance-resilience spectrum.  Some people are stuck in resistance.  Others go there for a little bit, spew some venom, and then calmly go back to the other side.  Still others are generally consistent, taking a positive view of the circumstances, opportunities, challenges and people in their lives.

I know a number of people who are so entrenched in resistance, so stuck in their stuff, that I can't even imagine them having a conversation about what it might be like ceasing the resistance and discovering the unexplainable lightness of being that occurs when you move into acceptance.

In the land of resilience, almost anything can come your way and you can quickly re-frame it to be a positive.  That ability to adapt, respond, and re-frame creates amazing opportunities, connections, relationships and life moments that are often unexpected, brilliant and unforgettable.

If I remember correctly, Anne offered up a scenario that many of us are familiar with: you're on the way to work, you're running late, and all of a sudden you blow a tire.  The person on the resistance end will proceed to blow a gasket, use a lot of choice words and will experience blood pressure levels that are off the charts.  The resilient person will calmly pull over, shake their heads, have a little giggle, roll up their sleeves and embrace the challenge of trying to change their tire.  Or, they'll call for a tow truck and relish in the chance to listen to some music and write an email to their mother.

Where are you on the resistance-resilience spectrum?  Can you even see yourself?  Where would you like to be?

During the panel discussion at the Toastmasters conference, I asked the room how many people used Twitter.  About a quarter of the people raised their hands.  "Those of you not using Twitter will never do so until you find the personal value in doing so."  I think the same goes to moving to a different place on the resistance-resilience continuum.  If you are not willing to explore the personal benefit of being more positive, more adaptable, more forgiving, you will never be able to change.  First, you have to give it a try.  Once you taste the water, feel the warm wind on your face, experience the lifting of tension in your body, you will have significant motivation to take a hard look at your life and figure out ways to  become more resilient on a permanent basis.

To learn more about Anne Barab, visit her website at  She's hoping to be back in Fort McMurray for some future events.  If you get the chance to see her, don't pass it up.

At the end of your life, you're not liable to say "I wish I would have spent more time at the office".  In the same way you probably won't be saying "I wish I would have been more negative, more angry, or more stressed."  Take a walk on the resilience side and see what it feels like.  My hope would be that you never look back.


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