The Resilience Breakthrough: 27 Tools for Turning Adversity into Action

The Resilience Breakthrough: 27 Tools for Turning Adversity into Action


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The Resilience Breakthrough: 27 Tools for Turning Adversity into Action by Christian Moore, Brad Anderson, Kristin McQuivey

A Guide to Resilience: The Second-Greatest Principle in the World

Christian Moore is convinced that each of us has a power hidden within, something that can get us through any kind of adversity. That power is resilience.

In The Resilience Breakthrough, Moore delivers a practical primer on how you can become more resilient in a world of instability and narrowing opportunity, whether you’re facing financial troubles, health setbacks, challenges on the job, or any other problem. We can all have our own resilience breakthrough, Moore argues, and can each learn how to use adverse circumstances as potent fuel for overcoming life’s hardships.

As he shares engaging real-life stories and brutally honest analysis of his own experiences, Moore equips you with twenty-seven resilience-building tools that you can start using today—in your personal life or in your organization.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626340930
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
Publication date: 07/22/2014
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 113,952
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Christian Moore, Author
Christian is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and founder of the WhyTry Program, a resilience education curriculum for youth.

Coming from a blended family of twelve children, Christian spent most of his childhood years on the streets. In a neighborhood just outside of Washington, DC, he was exposed to a wide array of social problems, which opened his eyes to the many injustices that exist in our world today. These experiences, combined with severe learning disabilities and an inner-city volunteer experience as a youth, all contributed to Christian’s eventual decision to become a social worker and help others who struggle with similar challenges. After fighting his way to receiving a master of social work (MSW) and working in education, corrections, and a homeless program, Christian recognized the need for a new approach and created WhyTry.

Thousands of school districts across the United States have had Christian consult on how to increase resilience, lower dropout, improve school climate, prevent bullying, lower the achievement gap, and improve academics through teaching social and emotional education to all students.

Christian lives in the Rocky Mountains with his wife, Wendy, and their two sons, Carson and Cooper.

Brad Anderson, Collaborator
Brad was a cofounder and vice president of the Covey Leadership Center (currently Franklin-Covey) and produced the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People product line, including the Seven Habits course and Seven Habits facilitator training used by millions. He is an award-winning producer of films on leadership and resiliency and was director of trainer development at VitalSmarts, creators of Crucial Conversations. Brad worked closely with Christian in producing The Resilience Edge and is the developer of The Resilience Edge curriculum for the workplace. Brad is a proud grandparent.

Kristin McQuivey, Writer
As the lead writer of The Resilience Edge, Kristin worked closely with Christian Moore to capture his unique voice and message. For over twenty years, she’s been a writer, teacher, and organizational trainer, conducting corporate training throughout the United States and internationally. Kristin is a freelance journalist and a certified trainer of Franklin Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. When she isn’t writing, she is teaching college writing courses and developing course curriculum. Kristin lives in the Rocky Mountains with her husband and three children.

Read an Excerpt

The Resilience Breakthrough

27 Tools for Turning Adversity into Action

By Christian Moore, Brad Anderson, Kristin McQuivey

Greenleaf Book Group Press

Copyright © 2014 Christian Moore and HCM Holdings Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62634-093-0






As someone who has experienced plenty of life's hardships and has worked with others who are dealing with intense challenges, I understand that most of us are experiencing pain from something in life. It's unavoidable. How we handle our pain is what makes the difference. The following examples show pairs of people facing comparable circumstances who handle their pain in different ways. As you read each example, think about how you would respond if placed in a similar situation:

• Two frontline workers in a retail store have to deal with a difficult manager who seems bent on breaking their spirits. One goes on to thrive and advances in the organization, while the other does the bare minimum required each day, going through the motions while hating his job.

• Two people are in a difficult marriage that requires a lot of work and attention. A combination of financial problems and the stress of raising children has taken a toll on their relationship. One wishes to seek solutions through marriage counseling, while the other is ready to give up and thinks divorce is the easy way out.

• Two managers in the same corporation are told they have to do more with less: fewer employees, less budget, all while increasing productivity. One finds ways to cut costs, acquire new customers, and increase quality, while the other manager fails to adjust and is fired.

• Two individuals struggle with addiction, and despite numerous attempts to turn from this lifestyle, each has failed many times to attain long-term sobriety. In spite of seemingly overwhelming compulsions, one individual continues her efforts to overcome her daily desire to use, while the other decides recovery isn't possible and continues to spiral.

• Two kids grow up in the same neighborhood with poverty, abuse, and discrimination. One child works hard to overcome his circumstances and eventually makes it out to live a productive life. The other succumbs to a difficult existence and continues the same cycle of violence he has always known.

• Two college graduates attempt to enter the workforce in a time of diminished opportunity. One seeks to find problems and solve them, looking for ways to add value when given the chance; the other possesses an attitude of entitlement, believing that employment should be guaranteed to a college graduate. As a result, the latter goes jobless.

What made the difference for those who overcame their circumstances in all of these examples? Answering this question became my life's work, and I believe I've done it: The answer is resilience, the ability to use adversity as fuel.

Because of the vastness of the human experience, we all process pain differently and with varying levels of ability, and we must have great compassion for others and not judge someone who appears less resilient. However, resilience is what makes the difference between those who succumb to problems and those who fight through them. In each of those scenarios, one person got caught in self-pity and blaming, becoming avictim and shutting down. The other person, however, was resilient. They were able to say to themselves, I'm going to use this difficult situation as fuel to try harder.

I call this "Flipping the Switch." When you Flip the Switch, you stop for a moment, realize that you can turn your pain into power, and move forward, committed to being resilient. Let's look closer at the powerful edge that Flipping the Switch can give you.


I've taught the concept of Flipping the Switch in some interesting places. After speaking to a group of students in an inner-city school, I was approached by an administrator immediately after my speech and asked if I had time to speak to a group of juvenile offenders in a local detention center that very afternoon. I had time before my flight, so I agreed, and they rushed me over to a lockdown facility full of boys ages twelve to eighteen who had committed terrible crimes, including rape and murder. This was definitely a rough crowd.

Since the decision to have me speak was made last minute, the director of the facility didn't have much warning that I was coming. She didn't know anything about me, or what I was going to be speaking about. These juvenile offenders are on a highly regimented schedule, and usually I need twenty or thirty minutes to set up my equipment. The director was obviously agitated, and as I started to get ready she angrily said, "They're coming in right now! You don't have time to get set up. Do you know who these kids are? What are you going to say to these boys?" In her defense, she was caught off guard, but it wasn't hard to hear what she was really saying. I imagined her looking at me, a short, fat, white guy from upper-middle-class suburbia, and thinking I was way out of my league. What could I possibly have to say of value to these young men? The offenders—mostly African-Americans and a few Latinos—started slouching into the room. "Put your computer away," she said. "Go." I walked to the front of the room, and she left the room as I began to speak.

The boys leaned back in their chairs, not making eye contact with me. Their body language said, What you got? and there was a ton of attitude in the room. They weren't into it at all. I walked over to the wall and started flipping the light switch on and off. The room—with only one small window by the door—went very dark each time I turned off the light. And every time light once again flooded the room, I saw the boys looking at me like, Are you crazy?

With my finger still on the switch, I said, "I'm about to teach you something, and if you are able to really understand it, every one of you in this room could have an advantage over a student at Harvard." That got the room quiet; the scraping of chair legs and shuffling of feet stopped. Now I had their attention.

I explained to them what it means to Flip the Switch—that they had the power to see their challenges differently and convert their anger into the fuel to be better. "The only thing that really gives someone in jail an advantage over someone at Harvard," I said, "is how quickly they realize that the switch is there. That Harvard guy, he might not realize it's there until he is sixty years old. Or never. You guys right now are fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years old. Can you imagine the power of knowing that switch is there when you're fifteen or sixteen? The switch equals the awareness that you can use pain, disappointment, and tragedy as fuel to overcome life's challenges. That you can see your problems as your best friend. I'm telling you, there are a lot of adults who never knew they had this capacity. I have family members who have lived on this Earth eighty years and they never knew they could Flip the Switch. They only saw their problems as a reason to be angry, upset, feel disrespected, and turn to depression, anxiety, or hopelessness. These are educated people! And they only saw their pain as a reason to give up.

"Anybody here ever messed up?" I asked them, scanning the room. "Anybody here have any great pain in your life?" All of those boys raised their hands, and most were now making full eye contact with me. "You've got the fuel! You've got the fuel already in you! You've got to use that fuel to become greater. I don't care where the fuel came from, whether it's poverty, abuse, you hurting someone else, your dad dying, or your mom in prison.... I don't know where your fuel comes from. But you got the fuel. Anybody here frustrated?" Again all hands went up. "Use the fuel, I'm telling you! If you use the fuel you have an advantage over somebody at Harvard who doesn't know how to use the fuel. There are people who run multimillion-dollar corporations or have PhDs that don't get this. If you understand how to Flip the Switch, you will have the advantage."

I paced the room and tried to look into each of the boys' faces. They were looking up now, leaning forward eagerly. I shouted out a challenge: "Every night I want you to ask yourself, 'Am I Flipping the Switch?' When you mess up, are you giving up or trying to become greater? Because the reality is, everyone messes up. The most resilient people use the mess as the reason to become greater. Everyone has nights when they go to bed with fear, frustration, anxiety, and anger. You've got to Flip the Switch, and consciously decide to wake up tomorrow and work as hard as you can to do the best that you can. You consciously decide to not get hung up in all the crap. That's what resilient people do. When you walk out of here, you can use your pain as fuel to be a better employee, a better son, a better father. Because of this difficult situation, you're going to become greater."

I explained to them that the reality is, they're in jail. They're going to sit there for five, ten years—however long their sentence is. Time is constantly moving, no matter where they are, and they could spend their time there being angry and rebellious, or they could work on Flipping the Switch. I told them that the minute they Flip the Switch, their emotions flip as well, and that if they do this, previously unforeseenoptions will eventually open up to them. Things they might never have dreamed of will come together. Once they were committed to this course of action, I said, doors would open for them, doors they didn't even know existed.

By the end of my speech, those young men were fully engaged. You could've heard a pin drop in that room. Afterward, they stood in line to talk to me. They were emotional and sincerely thanked me, saying things like "I see the world different" and asking me questions, hungry for more. They were extremely respectful, former attitudes and wariness forgotten. It was an intense and amazing experience for me as I felt their emotional eagerness. They'd come in rolling their eyes, and they left shaking my hand.

When the director returned, two supervisors who had remained in the back of the room pulled her over and talked to her. She then came to me, thanked me for coming, and apologized for being upset earlier. "I misjudged you," she said. "My staff told me this was one of the best speeches they've ever heard."

(As a side note, it's interesting that I had to Flip the Switch during my interactions with this director. I agreed to volunteer my time and speak to this group last minute. When she was condescending and rude to me, not allowing me to set up, my initial reaction was to get angry and defend myself. However, I knew that the most important thing was for me to have the chance to help these kids, not to get even with her. With that thought in mind, I was able to Flip the Switch—to draw upon my anger and convert it into energy for my talk.)


I really do believe that Flipping the Switch can give a convicted murderer an advantage over a Harvard student. I've seen firsthand that academic and business success don't equate to an ability to thrive, but author Shawn Achor proved it—from the heart of Harvard itself.

I stumbled upon Achor's ideas just over a year after speaking in the detention center. Achor was a Harvard student himself, and describes in his book, The Happiness Advantage, how excited and honored he felt to be at such a prestigious university as an incoming freshman. He quickly fell in love with Harvard—so much, in fact, that he stayed on as a lecturer and proctor following graduation. After twelve years of observing thousands of Harvard students, Achor discovered something fascinating: Despite the obvious advantage many of the students had—parents' money, perfect SAT scores—they were supremely unhappy, they did not feel the privilege of their position in life, and they were certainly not resilient. "They fretted incessantly about their future, despite the fact that they were earning a degree that would open so many doors," Achor writes. "They felt overwhelmed by every small setback instead of energized by the possibilities in front of them. And after watching enough of those students struggle to make their way through, something dawned on me. Not only were these students the ones who seemed most susceptible to stress and depression, they were the ones whose grades and academic performance were suffering the most." Based on the opportunities surrounding them, these students should have been thriving. Instead, they were unhappy and tense. They were brilliant students, but they had never been taught resilience: the second-greatest principle in the world.

Achor explains, "It's the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time." In other words, your ability to thrive and be happy has little to do with IQ, employment status, or anything external whatsoever. It has a lot more to do with your ability to "change the lens."

When I heard this idea, I was awed by its similarity to Flipping the Switch. I realized that I was hearing from an actual Harvard graduate the very thing I had explained to that roomful of youth: If you wake up every morning with a willingness to change the way you look at your problems, it makes little difference whether you attended a prestigious university or were serving time for a serious mistake—you could make your situation better.


When I came across a New York Times article titled "What If the Secret to Success Is Failure?" I was further pleased to see that research backs up the concept of Flipping the Switch. In the piece, Paul Tough shows that drawing on failure and pain can indeed give less privileged kids an edge against their more elite peers.

Tough describes two New York City school principals, Dominic Randolph and David Levin. Randolph works at a prestigious private school, and Levin in a low-income-area charter school. They both had been thinking that traditional education was missing a critical piece; Randolph thought that his students had lost the idea that started long ago in America: "That if you worked hard and showed real grit, you could be successful," he said. "Strangely, we've now forgotten that. People who have an easy time of things, who get eight hundreds on their SATs, I worry that those people get feedback that everything they're doing is great. And I think as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, then I think they're screwed, to be honest. I don't think they've grown the capacities to be able to handle that."

Levin, principal of the less-advantaged school, kept tabs on his graduated students, and he noticed something interesting: "The students who persisted in college were not necessarily the ones who had excelled academically at the charter school; they were the ones with exceptional character strengths," he said. He goes on to describe these "character strengths" as things like optimism, persistence, ability to recover from a bad grade and resolve to do better, and to persuade a teacher to give them extra help after class. All these things—Randolph's "grit" and Levin's "character strengths"—sound a whole lot like resilience to me.


Excerpted from The Resilience Breakthrough by Christian Moore, Brad Anderson, Kristin McQuivey. Copyright © 2014 Christian Moore and HCM Holdings Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction: The Resilience Breakthrough 1

Part I Core Principles of Resilience

Flipping the Switch 25

Finally! Where Resilience Comes From! 46

Part II Relational Resilience

What Is Relational Resilience? 53

Relational Resilience Booster #1 Surrender the One-Up Relationship 63

Relational Resilience Booster #2 Engage Emotionally 68

Relational Resilience Booster #3 Friendship-Don't Tike It for Granted 73

Relational Resilience Booster #4 Turn Outward 76

Relational Resilience Booster #5 Put Down That Device! 81

Relational Resilience Booster #6 Drop the Facade 89

Relational Resilience Booster #7 Connect with Something Bigger Than You 92

Relational Resilience Fuel 96

Part III Street Resilience

What is Street Resilience? 99

Street Resilience Booster #1 Get the Whole Picture 115

Street Resilience Booster #2 Channel Pain into a Cause 123

Street Resilience Booster #3 Reframe Your Limitations as Potential Strengths 120

Street Resilience Booster #4 Focus on What You Did Right Today 131

Street Resilience Booster #5 Look Fear in the Eye 133

Street Resilience Fuel 148

Part IV Resource Resilience

What Is Resource Resilience? 151

Resource Resilience Booster #1 Cultivate a Worthy Mindset 161

Resource Resilience Booster #2 Tap into the Power of People 167

Resource Resilience Booster #3 Action, Action, Action! 171

Resource Resilience Booster #4 Fight Resignation with Spontaneity 177

Resource Resilience Booster #5 Wrestle Complacency to the Ground 180

Resource Resilience Booster #6 Get Some Production Therapy 188

Resource Resilience Booster #7 Don't Accept No 191

Resource Resilience Fuel 200

Part V Rock Bottom Resilience

What Is Rock Bottom Resilience? 203

Rock Bottom Resilience Booster #1 Radically Accept Your Circumstance 216

Rock Bottom Resilience Booster #2 Don't Make Things Worse 220

Rock Bottom Resilience Booster #3 Go for a Small Win 225

Rock Bottom Resilience Booster #4 Fix a Broken Window 230

Rock Bottom Resilience Booster #5 Tear Off Labels 233

Rock Bottom Resilience Booster #6 Discover the Power of a Future Promise 239

Rock Bottom Resilience Booster #7 Be Illogical 241

Rock Bottom Resilience Booster #8 Forgive-It's the Only Option 244

Rock Bottom Resilience Fuel 257

Conclusion: Self-Grace: The Final Key to Resilience 259

What's Your Source? 275

About the Author 289

Notes 291

Index 299

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