Resilience and Your Career Success

Over the weekend Cathy and I went to see the latest Disney animated movie, “Inside Out.” Like most Disney/Pixar films lately, it’s a very clever movie with a message. The main characters are five emotions that live inside and run the brain of the main character, Riley a young girl: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust.

Riley is a pretty happy girl, until her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. Up until then, Joy has been in charge of her brain most of the time. Riley has a difficult time with the move. She misses her old friends and doesn’t like San Francisco. Sadness, Fear, Disgust (at things like broccoli pizza) and Anger take over her life. She tries to run away.

Joy sets out to save her, but finds that she can’t do it alone. She enlists Sadness to shock Riley back into realizing what she will be losing if she runs away. Kind of sappy I know, but there is an important life and career success message here. We can’t be, and should not expect to be, happy all the time. Life can be difficult. A little sadness – or fear, or anger or disgust — aren’t bad things. But we just can’t let these negative emotions come to define us. We have to be resilient.

JT O’Donnell, my friend and found of Career HMO advises her clients to avoid NST, Negative Self Talk. I advise members of my career mentoring site to focus on being resilient, to bounce back from setbacks and failures.

I send a daily motivational quote to my members. Yesterday’s quote is from General George Patton, Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.”

This quote gets at the idea of resilience — or grit, determination, perseverance, toughness, ability to recover quickly and roll with the punches – or whatever you want to call it. We all will stumble. We all will fail. We all will be fearful. We will get angry over real and perceived injustices. We all will be sad when thing don’t go our way. But successful people learn what they can from life’s disappointments and move on. They are resilient. They bounce back.

Tweet 37 in my book, Success Tweets: 140 Bits of Common Sense Career Success Advice, All in 140 Characters or Less, says, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it. Don’t dwell on the negative, use it as a springboard to action and creativity.”

Stuff happens as you go through life: positive stuff, negative stuff, happy stuff, sad stuff, frustrating stuff. The important thing is not what happens, but how you react to it. In other words, smash your negative thoughts; replace them with positive ones. Don’t dwell on the negatives, use them as a springboard to action and creativity.

Commit to taking personal responsibility for your life and career. Be resilient. Take the time to mourn your losses – to be sad – but move on. Don’t let a slow day get you down. If you come back empty handed in your quest for success, get up the next day and keep working. Set high goals. React positively to the setbacks, problems and negative people and events in your life. Keep at it. Get up every day with optimism in your heart and keep working.

Your career mentor,


PS: I write this blog to help people create the life and career success they want and deserve. Now I’m going one step further. I’ve created a membership site in which I’ve pulled together my best thoughts on success. And, as a reader of this blog, you can become a member for free. Just go to to claim your free membership. You’ll be joining a vibrant and growing community of success minded professionals. I hope to see you there.


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