Resilience, Courage and Performance

Resilience, Courage and Performance.

One of the One of the strongest tools in positive psychology is to have a gratitude visit where you think of someone you grateful for, write a letter of gratitude, then arrange to see them where you read the letter. So this is my gratitude visit to you. My life was saved by nurses at Manly Hospital in 2010 when I suffered severe epiglottitis and placed in an induced coma. This presentation is a small act of gratitude to the nursing profession. If you’d like more please let me know. I’m just keen for you to care as much about yourselves as you do for others.

I’m here as practitioner and coach, I use the tools I am recommending to you and I run workshops in positive psychology at Australian Catholic University Executive Education. We are fortunate to have a world class positive psychology research institute – The Institute of Positive Psychology and Education, have a look here:

The founding father of Positive Psychology and my personal hero is Martin Seligman, you can visit his website here or read his book Flourish. Even though its written by an academic it’s easy to get into and full of great ideas, all evidence based.

According to Seligman we can seek three types of lives to make us happy – the pleasant life, the engaged life and the meaningful life. Clearly pleasure is very short lived, while you can be completly engaged in a card game or even a crime. So the pursuit of happiness centres on the pursuit of a meaningful life where we make a contribution based on our strengths.

But then the more we take on the more stress we experience, so what can we do to take on more, achieve more and feel better as a result?

Now these prescriptions are personal, your individual mix of positive psychology interventions will need to be blended to suit you and your character. However the following five tools have worked for me and many others and I recommend you give them a try.

  1. Relationships. The one thing happy effective people have in common is high quality relationships with themselves and others.

Reconnect with you. Now this talk is about how to do things and let’s start with asking you to journal. How? Just start writing letters to yourself. There are two letters to you that you need to write.

    1. A letter about now. An honest, raw letter about your life right now, as if you are writing to a close friend. As Shakespeare advised ‘this above all else – to thy own self be true.’
    2. A letter from the future you. Think about the next stage of your life and you are living it. This is likely 5 years into the future. Write a letter from your future self to the present you about how life is different, and what you did to get there. When I coach people this is one of the hardest and most effective things to do. You can recreate your life this way.

Reconnect with others. There will be relationships you need to maintain and ones you need to grow. Whether this is personal or business the work needs to be done. That’s number one.


2. Health.

It makes sense that the healthier you are the more resilient you will be. The trouble is, when you are stressed you will make more bad food and lifestyle decisions. So decide today that you will start that health program you have been thinking about. When you do what is hard your life will become easy. I don’t like recommending diets because food choices are so personal. However the Low GI approach is recognised and evidence based and developed by Jennie Brand-Miller, have a look at it here:

 3. Mindfulness.


T is one of the most researched topics in positive psychology and also one of the most effective. It can range from yoga and tai chi to full meditation practice. An interesting study of nurses found mindfulness generated more self-compassion and empathy among nurses who took the mindfulness intervention as compared to the control group of nurses.

One simple tool that works well for busy people is the 3×2. Every morning find a quiet place and use 6 minutes as follows:

  • Mindfulness for 2 minutes (just focus on the breath)
  • Gratitude for 2 minutes (Count things you are grateful for)
  • Future me for 2 minutes (Recall your letter from the future)

The Relaxation Response was developed by Herb Benson at Harvard and is a tool I teach regularly. If you would like to hear me explaining the Relaxation Response, and sample it, have a look at me doing that here:

 4. Optimism


This is not positive thinking but a powerful tool to address stress. In this sense optimism refers to your explanatory style – way you have learned of explaining things to yourself and others. There are a few key distinctions here:

        1. There are good and bad events that happen to us and that’s OK
        2. We can choose what the events mean
        3. Three questions to focus on when the events happen are:
          1. How long will it last
          2. What else gets effected
          3. Can I control this?
        4. We are encouraged to find answers when bad events strike that make question a. temporary and question b. isolated impacts. As for question c. we have more control than we can imagine.

Optimism gives us great outcomes from resilience and persistence to wellbeing and leadership. For more on optimism have a look at my post here:

 5. Distraction


Distraction is a group of tools we can use to distract us from negative or un-resourceful thinking. Here’s five I like

  • Arrange a meeting with the though
  • Journal another story
  • Make it a cartoon like Coyote & Roundrunner
  • Do something Physical like a Grimaldi
  • Sing it our (like Lola)

I trust there are some useful bits here. If you’d like more on any of the above you can leave me a comment, email me at or call me on 0491220387.


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