Charles Good on Resilience

Many people believe that resilience is successfully enduring more challenging trials and setbacks without giving up. This definition, although true, fails to account for an essential element in becoming more resilient, which getting enough rest. Even though you may not be keeping track of how much you are burning the candle at both ends, you can be assured that your body is still keeping score. To keep going, you need to look at building real-time resilience which is what I will be discussing in this week’s blog.


Many workaholics don’t realize the toll that long hours and sleepless nights are costing them. According to 2021 study in the Journal of Sleep, insomnia is costing the average U.S. worker 11.3 days, or $2,280 in lost productivity every year. However, what can be done when more is expected of you and life seems to keep getting busier. One solution is to have a work shutdown ritual every night. Cal Newport, author of Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, states that you need to have a deliberate process at the end of every day to let yourself know that you can rest. Otherwise, it is hard to get yourself out of continual work mode. He suggests that you institute the following process at the end of your day, preferably to allow yourself some time to relax before going to bed.

  1. Identify a  process where you go through your task list, emails, calendar and wrap up everything for the day while also planning for the next day and beyond.
  2. Upon completion of this process, say the phrase ‘shut down complete’.

If a work-related concern comes to mind after you have gone through this process, then you need to tell yourself that you will deal with it tomorrow – this is not easy and will initially cause feelings of anxiety. However, over time it will become easier and will pay large returns for your health and well-being, while enabling greater resilience.


In building real-time resilience, you will need to believe that you can effectively handle problems when they arise. However, there is a wrong and right way of doing this. The wrong way is to spout trite platitudes. Unfortunately, you can’t fool yourself into thinking you can do something just by chanting motivational phrases and telling yourself you can do whatever you set your mind to. The right way of building your self-efficacy is through small, daily successes where you make progress in solving those problems.  

Dr. Andrew Shatte, co-author of The Resilience Factor: Seven Essential Skills For Overcoming Life’s Inevitable Obstacles, recommends that you can also become more resilient by changing the script you tell yourself when counterproductive beliefs and negative emotions arise.

Remind yourself that all beliefs are future focused. One effective strategy is to develop a more accurate picture of future threat. Many of us fall into the catastrophizing trap where we overestimate the likelihood of an extremely negative future event. If you take just a few minutes to estimate the real probability of a future threat, you will likely realize its probability is much lower. For example, let’s assume you just missed a deadline on a big project. Your mind starts racings and playing out the worst-case scenario such as possible disciplinary action that may led to termination and even relationship struggles as a result.  

Instead, try to identify the most likely implications and focus on solving them. First acknowledge the problem, you missed the deadline. Therefore you will probably need to manage your supervisor’s anger. And you may want to call the client and let them know there has been a delay so you can smooth over the relationship. Or perhaps you feel like you need to tell your boss preemptively and let him the steps you are proactively taking to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Now instead of feeling hopeless and taking little to no action, you are making progress on the problems that are most likely. This is a great method to start building real-time resilience


This approach works well in most situations, but what if your emotions are so strong that you are not able to think straight. In this case, you may need to employ calming and focusing techniques before you can begin, such as controlled breathing or meditation.

Once you are calmed down enough to think clearly, you can combat a counterproductive belief or thought by asking yourself the following questions.

Is there a more accurate way of looking at this situation?

  • By generating a more diverse set of alternate beliefs, you break free from looking at problem in the same way.

In what ways may that not be true?

  • You need to search for counterevidence to combat the confirmation bias, which directs you to only look for evidence that supports your initial beliefs.

What are the most likely outcomes… and can I deal with it?

  • By identifying the most likely occurrences, it gets you out of the catastrophizing mode.

Remember, intrusive thoughts are often negative and catastrophic. Don’t waste mental energy on playing out all the negative ‘what-if’ scenarios. By doing so, you become less effective at dealing with the real problem. Plus, no one solves their problems by just obsessing over them. No pity parties! You solve them by following a proven process, like the one described in this article. And don’t forget that resilience is not only about how you overcome these counterproductive beliefs and setbacks but also how you are recharging and getting enough quality rest.

For more information on building real-time resilience check out my previous article on the topic:  DEVELOPING PERSONAL RESILIENCE. You can also view our interview on building resilience with Dr. Shatte on our YouTube page.


Charles Good is the president of The Institute for Management Studies, which provides transformational learning experiences that drive behavioral change and develop exceptional leaders. Charles is an innovative and resourceful leader who specializes in bringing people together to develop creative organizational and talent strategies that enable business results. His areas of expertise include assessing organizational skill gaps and leading the design, creation and delivery of high impact, innovative learning solutions that achieve business goals.

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