8 Quotes About Resilience and Transformation

8 Quotes About Resilience and Transformation

Inspirational quotes provide quick doses of motivational psychology that can be referred to in times of need. Psychologist and motivation expert Jonathan Fader, PhD, said in an interview with Fast Company, “There’s a little bit of implicit coaching that’s happening when you’re reading it.”

Media Psychology expert, Scott Sobel, added, “Humans are aspirational. We want to look up to role models and leaders and follow what they ask. Leaders and their words – inspirational quotes – affect us on a primal level.”

We’ve compiled a list of 8 quotes that relate to the power of resilience and how it is integral to fulfilling human potential. These words of wisdom have been collected from a range of individuals including an ex-Navy SEAL, a Yogi, a beloved author and an ancient Greek Philosopher.

We hope they help you on your resilience journey and wish you all the best for the path ahead. Feel free to share the quote images with those you care about.

“Discipline equals freedom”

~ Jocko Willink (Author of Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win)

Quote by plotinus

“Never cease chiseling your own statue.”

~ Plotinus

Quote by Alain de Botton

“A good half of the art of living is resilience.”

~ Alain de Botton

Quote by Paulo Coelho

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

~ Paulo Coelho

Quote by Anders Ericsson

“Learning isn’t a way of reaching one’s potential but rather a way of developing it.”

~ Anders Ericsson


“Change leads to disappointment if it is not sustained.
Transformation is sustained change, and it is achieved through practice.”

~ B.K.S. Iyengar


“When body, heart and mind are trained and mastered, the lens of spirit is clear.”

~ Dr Sven Hansen


“Recognise suffering, Eliminate its source,
End it by practicing the path.”

~ Matthieu Ricard

How to Be a Successful Founder

How to Be a Successful Founder

In this article I provide a Founder’s Manifesto that outlines the 8 key intentions required for successful entrepreneurship. Correctly applied these will deliver awareness, wellbeing and sustainable performance.

Currently, 66% of adults intend to become founders. We long for the freedom to do something meaningful. To create; build; earn financial freedom; and find dignity. Most won’t make it. Out of every 10 inspired founders, 9 will fail. It can be messy.

In our age of jobless productivity growth, technology and artificial intelligence, many find themselves at home wondering how to create an income stream. So-called consultants are essentially founders of a business of one. A few will become true founders of businesses that grow, employ and prosper. Some put a dent in the universe.

As a founder of our business, a coach, and trainer of entrepreneurs for over 25 years, there are clear patterns in the path to success. There are also warning signs of failure and trauma. We have learned that a few specific disciplines can drive success, rejuvenate your business, and enrich your life.

Depression Amongst Entrepreneurs

The first lesson came from my executive health practice in the 1990’s. About 27% of clients fulfilled the criteria for diagnosis of depression. What shocked me, is that unlike most of the population, entrepreneurs are very reluctant to seek help. This is confirmed by the Harvard Business Review article “How founders can recognise and combat depression” where the conclusion was that 30% suffer depression.

In those days, evidence-based medicine encouraged me to treat them with anti-depressants. With the luxury of two hours per person, I worked hard to help them complement their recovery with physical wellbeing, relaxation, emotional mastery and thinking skills. By 2000, there was no doubt left that “alternative” approaches worked better for entrepreneurs.

The Resilience Institute was founded on that discovery.

Emotional Energy

The second lesson of the nineties was that founders experience high rates of hypomania and manic depression. Hypomania is technically the opposite of depression. Massive swings in mood are called manic depression. Minor swings are called cyclothymia.

Mental illness is far more common in creative people and founders are no different. Their emotional energy is the source of entrepreneurship. When dissatisfied they take action leaving jobs and starting a business. When manic, they drive with gob-smacking energy towards inspired visions. Think Elon Musk, Jim Clark, and Steve Jobs.

The founder’s journey is both blessed and cursed by this emotional energy. For some it brings stellar success and for others catastrophic failure. The pressure, uncertainty, and risk of entrepreneurship catalyses emotional storms. Those who learn to understand, shape and direct this “touch of madness”, can have wonderful lives and transform the world.

With thanks to thousands of founders who have shared their journey and struggle with me over the years here is what I call the “Founder’s Manifesto”.

Founder manifesto

The Founder’s Manifesto

8 intentions for every Entrepreneur.

1. Know yourself

If you run blind into your start-up, you risk a life of suffering for yourself, your loved ones and your business community. With many options in business, you can match what you do to who you are – but you have to know who you are. This is no simple feat. I am not a great fan of personality tests but two dimensions are key – risk tolerance and extroversion. Their opposites – fear and introversion – are rarely suited to start-ups.

Don’t lie on the couch or hire a coach, get out there and do different things. Work in different industries and roles, test some commercial ideas, travel, do short and practical skill-based courses. Meditate, journal and read widely. Take your time before you commit to THE ONE. Match your skills, passions and sense of meaning to the opportunity and challenges of the industry.

Don’t wait too long. The founder role triggers amazing opportunities for learning. Stay awake, notice how you change and match what you do in the business to who you are and where your skills evolve.

2. Close in on the flow-zone

Flow is the state in which you are super-productive and fully absorbed. The challenge fully matches your skills. The more flow you create, the more likely your success. Over the past decade flow has become mainstream. Study it and practice it. Remember that you will grow and change over time.

Keep reshaping your role to match your current skill and passion. Certain tasks – particularly people and accounting – are better done by others. We frequently meet founders who loved the passion of the core business and growth but who become stale and disillusioned with the growing management role. Finding the right support team to allow you to add value in your flow-zone, is good for everyone. You won’t get it right first time.

Flow is only sustainable with regular relaxation and skilful recovery practices.

3. Track your personal performance

A growing business presents endless measures that you must measure – sales, revenue, profit, market dynamics and people. Few founders give adequate attention to their personal measures of success. Remember, as founder you are the source of all things. The business needs you to be in good shape.

Learn how to track your health, fitness, sleep, emotions and mental state. Far too many founders forget this critical discipline and end up losing health, suffering mental illness or losing important relationships. Resilience Questionnaire.

4. Define and execute your non-negotiables

Founders must impose their basic disciplines of self-care and optimisation into every day. The rhythm of sleeping consistently, exercising, meditating, eating well, and practicing positivity provides both nourishment and stability in a life that can easily be the opposite.

5. Master emotion

Being attuned and skilful with emotions will help you negotiate the inevitable emotional swings that come with success and failure. Under pressure, we tend to be less emotionally aware. We slip into irritability, anger, fear and despondency when things don’t go our way. When they do, we can become irrationally exuberant.

Attuned to these emotional storms you know when to take a break, counter dangerous emotion, or get help. In my experience, this is the most neglected aspect of today’s founder. While it can be a bit awkward, every little bit of growth has huge payback. This is particularly true when the founder learns how to pay attention to and read the emotions of others

6. Train your mind

Being alert to the environment and clear in your decisions underpins a strong founder. Activity and information overload can leave the mind spinning through the day. Attention can jump between distractions, rather than being focused on what matters. Learn to calm, focus and direct your attention.

7. Build team flow and performance

Once through the start-up, this must be the founders long term commitment. Real breakthroughs follow good teams working well together. When a team ups flow, productivity doubles.

8. Be a force for good

The successful founder wields significant influence. Business is an engine for constructive change in society and nature. It can also be destructive. Never forget now deep our moral sense of right and wrong is. Be explicit about doing good through your business, in your behaviour, and with your financial success.

How to Stay Focused in a Digital World

How to Stay Focused in a Digital World

Human attention is one of the most sought after commodities in the world today. Advertisers, gadget manufacturers, app developers and employers are scrambling for a share of this scarce and transient resource.


The Attention Economy has resulted in what is called “hyper-fragmention”, with digital distractions increasingly finding their way onto our desks and into our pockets. Consider all of the sensory inputs that compete for our attention every day (app notifications, social media alerts, email, text messages, instant messenger, chat apps, calendar reminders, phone calls).

Behavioural designers have mastered the art of “attention-harvesting”, which means they know how to get us hooked. Unless we develop the skills required to navigate modern information density, we can quickly start to feel overwhelmed. This leads to confusion, inactivity and lowered resilience.

Being aware that digital distractions are impacting productivity is the first step towards countering their influence and progressing toward our dreams.

Be Wary of Digital Rabbit Holes

Author of The Attention Merchants, Tim Wu, warns that we should avoid falling prey to the seduction of endless digital rabbit holes. An example of a rabbit hole is the trend towards “infinite scrolling”, as seen in Instagram and Facebook, where you seldom reach the bottom of the timeline.

Equally distracting are apps that boost dopamine levels by creating a sense of expectation and reward. Mauricio Delgado, Associate Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University, observed that social media stimuli have a similar neurological effect on consumers as securing the staples of life. This means that if you’re getting positive feedback in social media—likes, shares and retweets— you will be likely to seek out more social reinforcement.

Professor Delgado said, “Often, if you have the earliest predictor of a reward—a sign of a social media alert, like your phone buzzing—you get a rush of dopamine from that condition stimulus. That might trigger you to go check out the outcome, to see what it is. That type of reinforcement is something that you now seek out.”

Rise Above Reactivity

To gain presence of mind and distraction-free focus requires preparation, practice and persistence.

The first step is to rise above reactivity. When you feel distracted or overwhelmed by sensory inputs: pause, exhale, relax the body, and soften the face. Simply drop your mind into the feeling of breathing. Watch the rise and fall of your belly. Complete the exhalation fully and seek quietness in the moment.

Dr Sven Hansen, Founder of The Resilience Institute, said, “The mind tends to dart about, scanning the environment for stimulus. Thoughts, sounds, chores and feelings intrude. Attention training is learning to direct your attention. Imagine this attention like a sharp, focused and steady beam of torchlight. Now be the force that controls the torch.”

Developing presence is manifested as a wide-angle awareness. You are the holder of the torch, alert and aware of all sensory stimulus, feelings and thoughts. The skilled practitioner of attention control knows how to resist attachment to objects beyond the beam of focus. A mind that becomes distracted by unimportant details will quickly drift into the past or future.


Energy Flows Where Attention Goes

In David Rock’s book, Your Brain At Work, he reports that employees spend an average of 11 minutes on a project before being distracted. After an interruption it takes them 25 minutes to return to the original task, if they do at all.

Every time you focus your attention you expend a measurable amount of glucose and other metabolic resources. The more you are distracted, the less energy you have for subsequent tasks. In a highly-distracted environment this can quickly result in exhaustion, with slim resources available to effectively tackle energy-intensive tasks like self-control and decision-making.

If we look to the world’s top performers – individuals who regularly reach flow state awareness – a common characteristic is that they are calm, well-prepared, and distraction-free. This is our objective.

7 Practical Tips for Achieving Focus

So how do we learn how to focus, accomplish more and, ultimately, experience flow?

1. Sleep well, stay fit and eat breakfast

To be resilient requires fine-tuning several skills and habits. Sleep, fitness and nutrition provide the foundations for optimal performance, including attention control.

2. Practice Focus

Take time each day to direct 100% of your attention to something. Start with bursts of five minutes and work up to 30 minutes. Pick a meaningful focus to work on (e.g. a single task).

Multitasking is unproductive, so even if you are under pressure, focus on one thing while keeping the list of other things “out of mind” until complete.

3. Disconnect devices and disable notifications

This includes Email, Phone, Skype and Facebook. Productivity master Tim Ferriss recommends checking email once or twice per day, and setting a time limit for this task. By committing to a low-information diet you allow yourself space to focus on output instead of input.

Experiment and find a balance between connection to the outside world, and time allocated for deliberate productivity.

4. Take regular recovery breaks

Taking time to rest and rejuvenate between tasks is essential. Give yourself permission to switch off the beam of focus and to relax completely. Like a muscle, your attention control will keep growing stronger.

5. Make your work meaningful

Whether you use reframing techniques to change how you view your work, or make significant life changes, it helps if you can find meaning in the tasks at hand. As Steve Jobs said, “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

6. Use technology to help

Technology is not all bad. Some devices, like those created by Heart Math, are designed to track heart rate variability (HRV) and vagal tone. You receive visual heart rhythm feedback and training in real time, to help you shift into more focused and positive emotional states.

Apps like Offtime for Android, Forest for iPhone and Hey Focus for Mac help you disconnect, blocking your devices, so that you are able to work distraction-free for predetermined periods of time.

7. Learn techniques from an expert

Distractibility causes you to lose focus on your key goals and results in productivity loss. Relaxed effectiveness is the goal. Dr Sven Hansen teaches how impulse control, emotional intelligence, positivity and attention control are deeply linked. Mastery of what he terms “Performance Mindset” is a vital step towards achieving flow, which will transform your life and place you in the realms of expert performers.


Experience the High Performance Toolkit, which is a video program delivered by Dr Sven Hansen, covering all of the techniques mentioned in #7 above.

Bradley Hook is a writer with over 18 years of experience working within the digital landscape.


Women Suffering at Work

Women Suffering at Work

Resilience Delivers Part Two

Read Part 1 here.

Forget the Glass Ceiling: Fix Resilience

Are women more resilient than men or are women suffering?  We see evidence of resilience in longevity, pregnancy, and capacity to change societal outcomes through education. Yet, our data, drawn from organisational life, shows women suffering at work. They are struggling with resilience issues much more than men.

We explore the differences, reflect on causes, and recommend action.

1. The Data Demonstrates

Based on Version 3.0 questions (even sample size), we see:

  • Male resilience ratios (2.31:1) are higher than female ratios (2.11:1)
  • Post training ratios improve more in men (0.61) than women (0.49)
  • Females have high liability scores – more distressed, withdrawn and vulnerable
  • Pre-training resilient women: correlated with vitality, sleep and nutrition
  • Pre-training resilient men: correlated with flow, situation agility and nutrition
  • Post training, female distress and depression scores improve markedly
  • Post training, female wellbeing and train mind scores improve markedly
  • Post-training resilient women: correlated with relaxation and focus
  • Post-training resilient men: correlated with focus, decisiveness and assertiveness

At a factor level, there are marked differences between male and female answers:

Liability factors by gender

Asset factors by gender

The lower resilience scores (and suffering) are driven by distress symptoms (headaches, gut, skin, muscles), self doubt and indecisiveness. Women also score lower on the key factors that underpin resiliency (bounce, fitness, impulse control and tactical calm).

On the positive side women are more engaged and positive, eat better and as expected score better on EQ factors (positivity, connection, empathy, insight).

When looking at age bands, younger and older women secure better ratio improvements (dominating men). Between 31 and 50 women secure less gains relative to men.

2. How Might we Explain this?

Whilst a sensitive subject, a relative deficit in female resilience must be understood and addressed.

Perhaps we can lay the blame squarely on men? First, they have little insight and second, they make the workplace hard for women. This explanation is naïve and unhelpful.

We could explain these differences by saying that women are prone to self doubt. Thus, women experience more anxiety and distress symptoms. Consequently, they fail to express themselves with adequate confidence and impact. Anxiety undermines action.

Yet, the tables above show that women believe they express EQ better, eat better, stay positive and are more engaged (less anhedonia, self absorption, attention loss and boredom). Actions counter anxiety.

We have examples of organisations where women have significantly higher resilience scores than the men. In these cases, the overall resilience ratio is generally higher (>2.25:1). Perhaps some organisational cultures support women better and let them thrive.

Woman speaking in group situation at work

3. Our Recommendations

First, please reflect on this data and ask the question: “Are our women suffering?” The key themes above have been consistent since 2011 over 26,099 assessments. If your women need resilience, you have a duty of care to pay attention and take action.

Second, begin the conversation and please measure the resilience of your people. If you know what is going on you can act with intelligence and precision. Support bounce, wellbeing and resilience and watch your productivity improve.

Third, consider whether safety, health and resilience training should be gender specific. Knowing the resilience factor scores of your male and female population can inform, direct and target your training.

Finally, resilience in women is strongly correlated with vitality, relaxation, sleep quality, nutrition and focus. We must support our women to secure these factors. However, it appears that women must address the distress and depression categories first. When they do, the improvement is marked. What women need is different to what men need!

Perhaps resilience will shatter that glass ceiling?

Resilience Delivers: How and Why? Part One.

Resilience Delivers: How and Why? Part One.

The Resilience Diagnostic assess 60 factors that we have determined to be linked to our ability to demonstrate bounce, courage, connection and creativity. We have invested in three rounds of psychometrics and can show high reliability and construct validity. This is our second data mining exercise.  We will be launching an annual Resilience Diagnostic Report to analyse how resilience is changing, how different organisations and nations perform.

There are six key findings which you can review by downloading the free 2016 report:


  • Resilience-DiagnosticResilience Delivers: we have demonstrated that resilience assessment and training drives positive change on every category and factor of resilience.
  • The CEO must lead: leadership must shape, promote and model resilience
  • Global Diversity: resilience is globally relevant and locally distinct
  • Gender Counts: men and women have different needs and solutions
  • Age Matters: needs and opportunities much match age profiles
  • We are Changing; over time key resilience factors are changing

The key message for us to share is that the concept of resilience is valid, meaningful and an investment delivers important returns to the participant and the sponsoring organisation.

First, we have demonstrated by doing pre and post assessments that every category of resilience improves with training – workshops, programmes and online.

We measure 5 asset categories (resilience strengths) and 6 liability categories (resilience vulnerabilities).  Each category is built from an average of 5 questions exploring people’s actions and experiences.

  • Every asset category improves post training
  • Every liability category reduces post training

We have a particularly strong effect on:

  • Reducing depression
  • Improving physical wellbeing
  • Improving cognitive functioning
  • Reducing the effects of stress

One standout is that the time for relaxation has reduced by 30% over the past 6 years. Relaxation (master stress) is the foundation for physical, emotional and cognitive resilience.

Confusion and overload is the key risk factor for resilience failure.

Next week we will explore which of the key factors are changing and how they differ between men and women.