The One Person You Need in Your Life to Boost Resilience

As the big sister, I’m supposed to teach my little siblings things. And believe me, I have, whether they wanted to learn them or not. (Hey, there’s a reason “bossy big sister is a stereotype, okay!”) But when I started thinking about where I learned lessons of resilience, I learned that my siblings are actually great resilience role models.


Both my little brother and my little sister are great Resilience Role Models. Both have had great success in the big, wide world, and I’m incredibly proud of the way they handle themselves when things don’t go their way.


My little sister is the baby of the family – she’s 10 years younger than I am. She lives in New York and is making her way as an actress. Now, I lived in New York as a teenager and young adult, trying to work in theatre, too. But I found after a few years that I just couldn’t handle the rejection. Little Sis, on the other hand, never seems to take it personally. Oh, sure, she gets annoyed when she is passed over for a part she thought she was perfect for. But she doesn’t question her talent, or lapse into a funk. In fact, it seems to propel her to work harder at the numbers game that is auditions. When I was in her shoes, I was full of self-doubt from always feeling unwanted. Little Sis takes every rejection in stride, and she absolutely has the attitude that it takes to be successful in the difficult business of performing.


Little Bro is only a few years younger than I am, and he had his shining resilient moment when he was coming out of college. He had read a book about microfinance and micro-lending, where citizens of developing countries (often women) are given small loans to start a business. The women are taught how to manage money, grow their business, and ultimately pay the loan back. Giving women stable careers benefits families and entire communities. Little Bro was on fire for this kind of work! He couldn’t wait to go to South America and volunteer. But it turned out that all of the nonprofit organizations in the field only wanted volunteers who already had their MBA. Email after email, Little Bro got turned down. And Little Bro isn’t the kind of guy who usually gets turned down in life! What he did next shocked and impressed me. He picked up the phone and started calling. He sold himself harder than I’ve ever seen him sell. And finally one of the organizations agreed that he could come to South America with them as a microfinance volunteer. (The rest of the story, by the way, is that not only did Little Bro prove he was as good as the MBA volunteers, but he did such an amazing job his first few weeks that they sent him back to the home office to help the staff rewrite the business plan!)


We need Resilience Role Models in our lives for two reasons – to show us great resilient behavior, AND to remind us that we’re not the only ones struggling with brick walls. Do you know who your Resilience Role Models are? Who can you look to in your life that handles challenge with grace? Keep your eye on them, so when life gets you down you can follow in their footsteps.