What’s the active ingredient of success?


I discovered a “new” word today—resilience. This morning before school, I read Rachelle Gardner’s blog post about resilience, and the word slammed my brain. I can’t stop it from resonating.

Resilience. Merriam-Webster tells me resilience refers to a strained body’s ability to recover after being compressed by stress.

A walk on the Wikipedia wild side says resilience refers, psychologically, to an individual’s ability to cope with stress, to “bounce back.”

Resilience isn’t just for writers, you know. I shared the word with my students as we discussed qualities that might make them stand out among the applicants competing for college admission or scholarship money.

Many students are hard workers, overachievers, and smart. But not everyone has suffered tremendous adversity. Those who do don’t always rise above it. Resilience is a quality that screams while other positive qualities nod and wave–at least on some scholarship applications.

But students can’t just say they’re resilient. They have to prove it, show it. The only way to provide evidence is to have lived it.

I challenged my student to take their readers into their heads and to show them the video of their obstacle so readers could feel their emotions. Hundreds of essays vie for limited money, The essay that makes the reader feel nothing usually ends  up in File C, as in C for can.

In real life, I need students to show me their resilience. Resilience is, as a matter of fact, the active ingredient in success.

Throughout the year, my students will battle obstacles—failure, broken relationships, financial trials, loss, fear of the unknown, fatigue, etc. Despite their problems, I need them to get out of bed, to get dressed, to arrive to school on time, to keep their heads up, to pay attention, to attempt the task, and to try again when they stumble–no matter how they FEEL.

As soon as I mouthed the word resilience, I knew I was talking to myself, more so than to my students.

They can’t succeed if they give up. Neither can I. Neither can you. Resilience is the ACTIVE ingredient in success because it requires us to DO something.

I’ve been talking about writing for a long time. In fact, one of my former students called me on it the other day. “This book, this book,” she said. “What is this book you keep talking about? Where is it?”

Yeah, where is “this book”?

It has been written, proofed, critiqued multiple times, been recognized in multiple competitions. What now?

I need to administer a dose of resilience. Two years ago I hit the pause button on life. It’s time for me to hit play and to finish the game.

Instead of looking at the time I lost, I can turn a negative into a positive. I plan on going back and looking at my manuscript with fresh eyes from a marketing standpoint, not a writing standpoint.

I can write. I don’t have much confidence in anything else about me, but one thing I know is that I can write. Now I need to find my selling point.

I believe I’m bouncing back. Is it weird that I woke up one morning with a new elevator pitch for the book?

Nope. I think the writer in me has finally found the resilience. I’ve always felt as though I have a good story, but I haven’t had a good marketing plan. I’m the first person who has to sell it, to an agent or editor, who then will rely on me to sell it to readers, so I need to I need to believe in it so others will believe in it too.

Now it’s your turn to examine yourself and your situation. What’s keeping you down? I challenge you to seek good medicine for what ails you, positive words and a good measure of resilience.

“No matter how much falls on us, we keep plowing ahead. That’s the only way to keep the roads clear.”  ~  Greg Kincaid

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord, your God, who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”  ~  Deut. 31:6

But the good news / Is there’s angels everywhere out on the street / Holding out a hand to pull you back up on your feet / The one’s that you’ve been dragging for so long / You’re on your knees / You might as well be praying  ~ Dave Berg, “If You’re Going Through Hell,” recorded by Rodney Atkins





I appreciate your help. Would you please copy and paste the URL on your Facebook page? I will be glad to help you promote your writing too. Feel free to leave a link to your blog in the comments section.
Stay positive. Don’t give up!

8 thoughts on “What’s the active ingredient of success?

  1. This spoke to me Teresa. They do need resilience to make it through. I am living proof! 2 weeks from now I will complete my bachelor’s degree, partly because you taught me to be resilient and to believe in myself!

    • Thank you. Last night Michael played in his first football game of the year. They won 46-0. Several of his teammates made touch downs. He did not, but he did well. He made a few errors, but he learned from them. He was disappointed that he didn’t make a touchdown. THAT emotion comes from jealousy. I couldn’t fuss at him because we all feel that way. We just have to work through it. I know how he feels. I have worked with several talented writers who, like me, have been waiting, waiting, waiting to get published. Well, it finally happened for some of them! It’s easy to mope around and think, “Why not me?” It’s also selfish and self centered. We may pass through these emotions. If we choose to stay there, we’ve got trouble. But just passing through is a normal part of life. I too have said, “Why not me?” The answer is to keep going toward the goal–for me and Michael. Thanks for reading, Terri! I hear you cheering on the sidelines!

  2. With most things in my life being sports related, this reminds me of Satchel Paige, when at an old age someone asked him how he kept going.
    His answer, “You’ve got to keep on, keeping on”.

    • This happens to be one of my favorite quotes. I have to remind myself daily because when I get stressed, I get consumed by stress. Truly, you’ve got to keep on, keeping on. Otherwise, there’s no hope. 🙂 (Thank you for taking time to read my post.)

  3. This is a wonderful post about never giving up. I used to drill this into the children who came to my author’s class on Career Day. But the word resilience is one I should have used more often, even in the context of my own grief after my husband’s death. Resilience is a wonderful, strong word. Thank you, Teresa.

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