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The CORE SKILL of Resilience and How to Learn It Today

Face it, you’re already a leader in some capacity in several aspects of your life.  You are now, you have been or you will be a leader at some point in your home, your workplace or in organizations you belong to.  

Leadership, and more specifically “Self-Leadership”, is the key to attaining true Personal Resilience and all the benefits that flow from it: vibrant health, clear focus, great relationships, a sense of extraordinary well-being and fulfillment and all the rest.  So what is “Self-Leadership” anyway?  

Simply put, Self-Leadership is the CORE SKILL of Resilience itself and of any kind of leadership.  It’s the ability to be the leader of your own life – to establish a clear direction in every area of your life, to establish the actions you’re going to take to move in that direction and to execute those actions on a consistent basis.  

You’ve probably heard the expression “a born leader” so often you assume leadership is an innate quality – you’ve got it or you don’t.  Wrong!  Ninety percent of leadership and therefore of Self-Leadership is learned.   And you can learn it, irrespective of your age, sex or temperament.

The following exercise is designed to set you firmly on the path towards acquiring genuine Self-Leadership.  You can start right now and make a phenomenal difference in the quality of your life over the next week using it.  Here’s a hint for you… If you find yourself vacillating about what to write down or what to do, just force yourself to make a decision and to follow up on it over the next week.  You can always change your mind after that.  Force yourself to be decisive.

Also, you must do this exercise in writing.  So get out pen and paper or open a new document on your computer.


1.   Write one paragraph describing who you are, what values you stand for and what you want to be remembered for (time limit: 15 minutes)

2.  Describe your most important immediate goal in each area of your life – Health / Relationships / Career / Spiritual life (Time limit: 15 minutes)

3. In the coming week, what ONE action will you undertake in each of those areas to get you closer to your immediate goal for that area? (Time limit: 10 minutes)

4. In the coming week, what ONE challenge will you set for yourself to take you out of your comfort zone and build your resilience?  (Time limit: 10 minutes)

5. In the coming week, what will you read, watch and listen to in order to inspire you to adhere to your values, preserve your personal integrity, build your confidence, challenge yourself and benefit others? (Time limit: 15 minutes)

Go through this exercise, follow up consistently on what you promised yourself you would do and I guarantee your quality of life in the coming week will surprise and delight you.  And how will you know you’ve done it right?

Well, if you sit down and take stock of the coming week next Friday afternoon at, say, 5pm, and you find yourself thinking “Damn, this week was a great ride!”, then you did it right.  

And the funny thing is, you’ll be able to say that whether you were “successful” or not, whether you experienced victory or defeat or a bit of both.  As Robert Kiyosaki once put it, “Only losers think losing is bad.”  If you take action, you can be defeated, but you can’t “lose”. 

Life is a Game of Inches – Inspiring Video Clip

There’s a disease that’s running rampant these days.  Seems like 90% of the population is already infected and it’s on the rise.   

…yet it goes unrecognized and unopposed.  Why?  Because it’s a subtle disease of mind and attitude and stance toward life itself.

As with any disease, you need to know the symptoms.  When you see somebody who’s desperately trying to avoid getting “bruised” by life, getting hurt in any way, you found an infected person.  If you ask a friend how they’re doing and their answer is, “I’m coping,” you’ve got another one.  When you see somebody who doesn’t have the “self-discipline” to stick to a good diet or exercise program, there’s a third one for you.  So just what is this disease of the mind?

It’s a timid and defensive attitude toward life itself. 

Now turn up your speakers as Al Pacino gives you the diagnosis and the cure in his famous monologue.  Yeah, it’s about football on the surface, but in fact it’s a very profound message…

You see it in their faces… As Pacino says to his team, “We’re in hell, gentlemen.”  When we adopt a defensive attitude and “hope” things won’t go badly, we’re setting ourselves up for failure.  Deep down we’re attracting that very failure to ourselves by our own weak and hesitant actions.  There’s a reason the SAS adopted the motto “Who dares, wins” – it’s a proven fact of life.  You’ll see for yourself.  Once you DECIDE to become brave and dauntless in your pursuit of excellence, most of your obstacles will crumble before you.

“Life is a game of inches,” he tells the team.  Yes.  And as he says, those inches you need are EVERYWHERE around you.  You really do have the time, energy and capability to make phenomenal progress.  We all do.  So why isn’t that happening?  Well, it goes back to basing our life on not wanting to get hurt, on defensiveness, on love of comfort and ease.  Once we do that, we don’t see these inches.  We find excuses not to eat well, exercise, meditate, pray, read, show affection to others, work for a cause greater than ourselves…  “I’m too tired.”  “Maybe later”…

Unless we start using those “inches” of time and opportunity that life is constantly showering us with, we will indeed wake up one day and realize we’re in hell – a hell of our own making.  In the words of a great spiritual master of the 20th century, unless we become determined to take action, the excuses coming from our love of comfort and ease will lull us into compromising our integrity until finally we’re asleep on our feet.   

“You have to be willing to die for that inch… because that’s what living is!”  If you’re still concerned with your own fate, if you’re still afraid of pain, then you’ll never feel the real pulse of life within you.  That’s why every ancient spiritual tradition taught its disciples to expect hardship, to toughen their bodies and minds, to be utterly fearless, to persevere… because….

…you can’t actually SURRENDER to the wonder of life until you do.  That’s right – if your stance toward life is untrusting and defensive, you can’t possibly “surrender” and “bliss out”.  First, you need to become that brave and dauntless person who seizes life by the throat.  You can’t live unless you’re willing to die at any moment – that’s the unadulterated truth discovered and joyfully lived by countless people over dozens of centuries.  Base your life on this truth and you won’t go wrong.  

So watch this a few times over the next few days, especially when you’re feeling defeated or lethargic.  Snap yourself out of it and take action!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Summer: the Key to Building Your Personal Resilience (Part 1)

Well, I don’t know what your weather is like today, but here in Ottawa, Canada (officially the planet’s second coldest national capital), it’s 28 C / 82 F and with the humidity if feels like 39 C or 102 degrees F. 

So summer is definitely here!  And despite the heat and humidity, summer is very important to building your personal resilience.  The key is knowing how and why. 


On the most elementary level, summer is great for fitness.  You’re likely to spend more time outdoors, even if that’s just walking, gardening or soaking up rays at the beach.  One area where it’s easy to make huge fitness gains in the summer is the flexibility of your connective tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments, fasciae) and your joints.  You see, the higher ambient temperatures make your body more pliable, so it’s easier to stretch and there’s less likelihood of injury when you do.  So if you’ve ever thought about improving the range of motion of any part of your body, summer is the time!

One person I know plans to increase his flexibility enough over the summer to be able to sit comfortably in the full lotus posture by September.  I’ve known others, especially martial artists and other athletes, who wanted to work up to the splits (or at least closer to it ;-).  All this brings up the key question – why should you care about improving your flexibility?

For starters, flexibility training will help protect your soft tissues and especially your joints from injury – in other words, minor mishaps that would previously have injured your knee, twisted your ankle or thrown your back out are no longer such a threat.  Flexibility training will also improve your blood circulation, as well as your energy (qi) circulation, giving you better health and more vitality.  And finally, stretching is a natural detox, something we’ll talk about more in a later post. 

Here’s a great resource for you on flexibility:

Needless to say, it’s also a great time to start a Hatha Yoga program, since the yogic stretching and postures (asanas) will be easier.  The same applies to certain types of Qi Gong.  Whatever kind of stretching you use, though, just be sure to warm up first and build slowly.  Increased flexibility can make a big difference in how you feel phyically and emotionally, so you’ll be glad you did.

Fitness in General over the Summer:

Summer is also a great time for strength training, simply because there’s less chance of injury to the joints and soft tissues, given the higher temparatures.  Is it a better time for cardio than other seasons, though?  Well, the jury is out on that.  Some point out how much easier and safer it is to go running in the summer than with snow and ice under foot.  Granted, but on the other hand, high heat and humitiy can be a serious hazard for runners in the summer.

One great thing to do in the summer is to change your fitness routine to make it season-specific, to take advantage of what’s more easily available in the summer, such as cycling, swimming and more. 

So I’d encourage you to use the summer to build up your resilience in ways the season itself can help you with.  Next time, we’ll go on to look at some other resilience-building activities best done in the summer. 

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Want to Feel Fantastic? Use Your Body…

Today I promised you I’d talk about the second great resilience activity I undertook last week. 

From the start, I knew last week would be tough – there was lots of work to do in the office, most of it intellectual and a significant drain on my time and creative juices.  So when I realized how preoccupied I was with the workload, and especially with one particular upcoming project, I knew it was time for the distraction strategy.

“Distraction” in this case meant finding some other challenge to take me out of my head, give me more energy and “steal” some of my focus and attention, all with the aim of making me more effective at the intellectual work.

Why Take On Another Challenge?  Isn’t One Enough??

You might think so, and this is where we often delude ourselves.  If I had allowed myself to think, “Oh, so much work… I’d better make sure I have lots of veg time with my favorite TV shows,” the week would have been so much harder!! 

That’s right… I would have found myself with even less energy and working less efficiently.  So here’s what I did instead…

I set the ambitious physical goal of doing 1500 push-ups and 500 squats within 5 days – about triple my usual number.  And here’s what I found:

  • Some joint pain in my hips, one knee and one shoulder went way down and virtually disappeared!
  • My energy level went through the roof (interesting since, as you know, I was on a cleanse at the same time and therefore operating on less and lighter food)
  • Mentally and emotionally I felt fantastic in every way.  Only experience will really convince you what this kind of challenge does for how you feel about yourself and your body.

My daughter found out I was doing this about half way through the week.  She was totally gobsmacked, as they say, and asked, “Aren’t your legs and butt killing you??”  Truth was, I was in no pain at all, which surprised even me 😉 

Some of the lessons that come out of this are:

  1. If you’ve swallowed all the propaganda about the dangers of over-training (which people often interpret as “you shouldn’t do the same exercise two days in a row”), be assured it’s just that – propaganda.  The vast majority of people who exercise are nowhere near their limit and are no more in danger of “over-training” than I am of winning the Boston Marathon 😉
  2. It was the best “distraction” possible – For whatever reason, focusing on the physical goal left me feeling a lot more in control of the mountain of work and supplied a ton of motivation on all fronts.
  3. Those 1500 push-ups and 500 squats took almost NO extra time!  Since I did them in sets of 50 for the push-ups and 25 for the squats, it was easy to squeeze them in whenever I had a few minutes here or there throughout the day.
  4. Do something like this and you’ll feel physically like solid steel, mentally you’ll experience crystal clarity and emotionally you’ll be on top of the world

A Word of Caution:

Yes, as always I have to tell you not to try something like this without the approval of your physician.  In addition, though, you need to pick targets that are doable for you.  I picked these particular exercises only because my body is very familiar with them and because I do them regularly to a certain level.  If you’ve never done these exercises before, they’ll damn near kill you, even if you’re a decent athlete.  

On the other hand, you might pick, say, 25 laps of the front crawl in the pool daily.  I sure wouldn’t do that for myself, only because I haven’t swum laps in years.  If you have, then that might be a target for you.  So it all depends on how in-shape you are and what your body is used to doing.  And the possibilities are endless: walking, running, cycling, weight training, body weight exercises (the ones I used are “body-weight” exercises),  calesthenics, Pilates, Yoga, circuit training, swimming…

Remember, you don’t need to imitate a tri-athlete to get amazing results.  You just have to pick an exercise appropriate for you and a target that’s doable, but a bit of a stretch.  

Try this some time and I’ll pretty much guarantee you’ll never look back!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger 

Resilience Tip: Cultivate Flexibility

Many years ago I was out taking a walk with a friend of mine, a woman, when we suddenly found ourselves face to face with a fence.  Without a second thought, I hopped over the fence and said, “Well, are you coming?”  Her jaw was almost on the ground and she said, with an awe that quite surprised me, “You’re SO at home in your skin!”

For me it was the first time I realized that not everyone is “at home in their own skin.”  And today, some 25 years later, I could hop that fence every bit as easily as I did it that day.  

Flexibility is one of the great keys to becoming a resilient person.  Physical flexibility is the foundation of mental and spiritual flexibility, of your ability to adapt harmoniously to any situation, even the most extreme kind.  Trust me; if you aren’t physically flexible, you’re not mentally flexible either.  

Of course, there are some other really compelling reasons for building your physical flexibility:

– It improves the circulation of your blood, lymph fluid, spinal fluid and qi
– It protects yours soft tissue from injury
– It greatly relieves psychological stress
– It boosts your overall health, immunity and longevity

So how do you go about getting more flexible?  There are lots of ways, of course; everything from calisthenics to certain types of dancing, to Yoga to Qi Gong and many more.

Here’s a great video I came across that can give you some ideas.  It contains some innovative warm-up exercise used in the pioneering Russian martial art known as “Systema” (meaning “the system”, as if you hadn’t guessed ;-), as it’s taught to members of “SpetsNaz”, the Russian special forces.

(Note: as with any program of physical exercise, you should only engage in this with your physician’s approval, particularly if you have any existing health concerns.  Use common sense.)

Learn, apply, feel great!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

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