Resilience amid challenges

Having clear goals and priorities helps us recover quickly from difficulties
Doug Teschner New Crop72

Douglas Teschner

I am always on the lookout for inspiration, and it sometimes appears in unexpected places — such as insights on life goals and resilience discovered in a physical therapist’s newsletter.

PT is fundamental to a healthy lifestyle, and my appreciation soared after successive knee replacements in late 2019 and early 2020. I spent a lot of time at Cioffredi & Associates in Lebanon, coupled with daily exercises at home, and it paid off. I don’t have 20-year-old knees (an unrealistic expectation!), but am back hiking and skied Mt. Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine three times last spring.

I receive the Cioffredi newsletters (and contributed a plug with photos of my mountain adventures) and have been impressed with the wisdom of owner Bill Cioffredi who wrote, “While we strive for success, the satisfaction is tied more to the effort than the outcome.”

That is refreshingly honest from someone selling better health outcomes. For sure, process is almost always more important than product and, anyway, you won’t get the latter without the former.

In a similar spirit, I once read that having goals is more important than achieving them. The first time we met, my son’s high school friend exclaimed that she was sure to climb Mt. Everest someday. Now in her late 30s, she has not achieved that goal and likely never will. But she had a meaningful career as an educator and is raising two beautiful children. If she had never had that Everest goal (or something else equally ambitious), I wonder if she would be as successful today.

In a Cioffredi newsletter, PT Marsha Wykes laid out a framework to realize dreams, including clarifying what you want to achieve, what is your why, what is holding you back and what habits you could practice to get where you want to go. This is simple, yet practical and profound. How many of us set aside time to get under the surface of our busy lives by writing down what is really important and how we might get there?

My own version (titled “Life Plan Forward”) starts with a line from Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Summer Day”: “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Next is my why: to inspire myself and others to achieve a higher level of personal and professional performance. Then I list key focal points, vision and values. I periodically review and edit the list, pondering how daily life decisions and activities live up to this plan. (I am happy to share this document with anyone interested.)

Aside from the benefits of making sound decisions, having clear goals and priorities fosters resilience, defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.

A Cioffredi PT newsletter included a testimonial by Cindy Loring who cited recovery from hip pain, adding resilience wisdom under four key themes:

• Commitment to seeing the process through

• Determination to follow a plan

• Positive thinking and overcoming inevitable discouragement

• Reframing, including altering one’s perspective for a better result

That last one sounds a bit like my realization of not getting youthful new knees or maybe the thought that, while you won’t climb Everest, having the idea can move your life forward.

According to the Harvard Medical School, resilience and positively coping with stress have many health benefits including longevity, lower rates of depression and greater life satisfaction. In a recent Blue Cross Blue Shield webinar, Doug Hudgins, a registered nurse, described the power of resilience including having purpose, a strong belief system, supportive people in your life, a change mindset and a sense of humor.

Author Scott Mautz writes that underestimating the importance of resilience is a common mistake and suggests applying one of four lenses when facing setbacks: a learning lens to reflect on what you can discover from the situation; a gratitude lens on what you have as opposed to what you lost; a timing lens that things could work out later; and a challenge lens on what is gained by facing obstacles.

How do you manage when facing unexpected setbacks in life or work? Are you clear about the goals and principles that guide your life and will help overcome adversity? Consider what steps you can take to clarify life goals and up your resiliency game.

We each have an extraordinary opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, including our own. Don’t underestimate your impact!

Douglass P. Teschner, founder of Growing Leadership LLC, can be reached at

Categories: Business Advice