The Rare Trait The Strongest, Most Successful People Have Mastered

Plus, five ways to teach this powerful skill to our kids.

Woman blooming despite growing in desert Hatice Baran | Pexels, Teona Swift, AlessandroZocc | Canva 

When challenges and obstacles occur, we often admire those who seem to act with ease to do or say the right things. After all, the individual has earned it. The good news is, these people aren't any different from anyone else, and they earn this admiration by doing things the rest of us can do.

We all experience trying and difficult times throughout life. What sets some people apart is the hardship they've endured and the responsible way they have chosen to manage their feelings and emotions about it. More importantly, their view of themselves has little, if any, ring of victimhood in it.


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The trait that strong and successful people have mastered? Resilience.

Three benefits of resilience, which is so much more than being able to "bounce back" from hard times:

  • Effectively communicating when challenged
  • Maintain a positive and outgoing view of ourselves
  • Managing stress and emotions in a responsive manner

The area of our lives where we learn to expand our ability to "stay the course" is our beliefs. Thus, if you are seeking resilience, you may want to start by questioning some of your beliefs.

Consider Thomas Edison's philosophy about his many attempts to improve the light bulb filament invented by others, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Another example would be Nelson Mandela's heroic battle to defeat apartheid in South Africa. Both individuals believed their mission would be successful regardless of obstacles and challenges. Viktor Frankl, author of Man's Search for Meaning, tells his story of perseverance in the face of seemingly certain death every single day when he was imprisoned in a World War II concentration camp.


How do we become more like these examples? Start by practicing. For instance, when we review the past, we tend to focus on the negatives and rarely look for opportunities to grow in such events. Now is the chance to reframed and flex those emotional muscles. Most of us have at least a few instances of success in our past, and we can reflect on these times as good evidence of how we acted upon supportive beliefs.

Learning isn't just about repeating failures, with only the pain as the byproduct. We must ardently seek the lesson in each moment.



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Five questions that will help you build your resilience 'muscle'

1. Have you experienced success in your past, and what behaviors made the difference?

2. Have you experienced failure in your past, and what did you learn?

3. Are the lessons from failures and the results from successes present today?

4. Are you in regular communication with a support team to keep you on track?

5. Are you taking full responsibility for your life?

If these questions are difficult to answer, ask a friend, a coach, a mentor, or a therapist to help you separate your supportive beliefs from those that keep you small. The key is to stay in the solution, not the problem.

Can some of life's challenges be problematic and even traumatic? Of course! Again, it's a matter of choosing response versus reaction to bring desired results. Most failure occurs because people either fail to effectively plan, don't effectively communicate their plan, or give up in the face of adversity.

Do you want to add your dreams to the junk pile or the mountain of jewels? It is truly your choice.

parents lift child by each arm


Photo: anatoliy_gleb via Shutterstock

Of greater concern is what we are teaching our children when we lack resilience.

Studies have shown resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. Most of what we need to make our dreams come true lies within. It is in learning how to harness our strengths that success is made. Can we allow our kids to see us give up or quit because life is too tough to handle?

The model children most likely follow (and want to follow) is that of the parent or guardian. We are responsible for setting the course for our success and for generations to come. This can be accomplished by continued commitment and love for our dreams and making them happen.


The best way to model resilience is when we are challenged, in how we manage such obstacles. Our kids are watching our every move. They look for model behavior to help them succeed in a world with greater demands every day. We are tasked with demonstrating the commitment necessary to fulfill our desires through our resilience. The results show in the choices our children make, and we must accept responsibility for those choices before they are made.



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Five opportunities to help your child build their resilience 'muscle'

1. Is your child expressing a desire to improve their grades?

Don't just hire a tutor, though that can be helpful. Instead, model for them how you might work through a desire to improve a skill or your output at work. Ask them the tough questions (kindly) and explain that getting honest with themselves will help them do better because they'll know where to improve.


Remind them that the past is the past, and that grades can start improving today. If it's the beginning of a new grading period, explain that they are starting with an 100% and that today is a new day to do something different. 

2. Does your child ask for your help in their projects?

As is stated above, don't just help! Engage them in knowing where they need help. Help them ideate the project, but let them follow their own motivation. When something becomes challenging, acknowledge their feelings and frustration, but remind them of how good it will feel to complete the project rather than giving up on it. 

3. Are your child's accomplishments being acknowledged by them? By you?

Do they see what makes them special and unique? Not just the curly hair or strong passing arm, but the little things that are more meaningful than they realize — the things that show resilience. 

Look for opportunities to acknowledge moments of resilience, like when something went wrong when they were doing a piece of art and they found a work-around or when a friend was rude and they set a healthy boundary and the friendship overcame the challenge. As on a report card and a trophy for first place are great — but the moments when things were hard and they persevered are even more valuable.


4. Can your child tell a story about how they have overcome a challenge in life?

Examples of what this may look like are above, in list item number three, as well as more grown-up things like a conflict at work, an injury, a car breakdown or any other time when you didn't give up. They may seem simple to you now, but you probably have many examples of times when you pushed through tough times or learned from mistakes. 



5. Are you identifying completion in your child's activities?

These are simple ways to see if it is happening or not. If not, you may want to emphasize some of these areas with your child, after having taken responsibility for your part. Since each child is as unique, it is important to discover what motivates them and then support them accordingly. How it worked for us may not be how it works for them.


Remember, children get most of their input from parents and guardians but not all. In the digital age, influences abound, and we must be conscious of what our children’s interests are and support them as long as they are nurturing and beneficial. Sometimes, seeing the benefits is the hard part for us adults. Give children the room they need to express themselves.

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Joe Palmer has been a business and life coach since 2002 and is the author of Help Wanted, Inquire Within: Your Guide To Life Coaching, available via Amazon. He also facilitates teen leadership trainings throughout the United States.