7 Ways to Build Resilience

Rick Capozzi | 04/4/20

Merriam-Webster defines “resilient” as person who is “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.” The current coronavirus pandemic is a global health crisis impacting everyone around the world, although some of us are more vulnerable than others. It is changing the way we live our daily lives. And it is requiring us to be resilient. When I was a young financial advisor in my twenties, I worked with several clients that had survived the Holocaust as well as clients who were World War II veterans. Getting to know these clients and hearing their stories shaped my character and perspective on life. I built deep trusting relationships with many of them, talking for hours at a time. Our conversations primarily involved me asking questions because I was so curious about their lives. I wanted to know how they survived and how they dealt with fear, loss, uncertainty, and disappointment. As I look back now after 36 years in the wealth management business, I find those conversations so valuable, because they provided such sound advice. The following seven suggestions have worked for me and many of my friends and have helped us become more resilient people.

1. Life is hard. I believe the maxim that life is not about the cards you’re dealt but how you play your hand. That is certainly one test of a person’s resilience. Start by managing your expectations about your life, career, and your relationships with your spouse and children. If you expect life to always be easy, you are most likely setting yourself up to experience disappointments at every turn. Life is a marathon not a sprint; it requires us to accept that many unknowns lie ahead and some of those unknowns will be difficult. Rather than resisting change, I find it easier to embrace change whenever it appears and at whatever speed it arrives. Along with this, accept the idea that no one owes you anything; take personal responsibility for whatever you need to do in life, even if means being accountable for your own survival.

2. Live healthy. Living a healthy lifestyle will give you more energy to recover from setbacks, make better decisions, and have a positive outlook and overall attitude about doing whatever it takes to successfully achieve your objectives. A shining example of this type of resilience was Harry, an advisor in my office when I was a manager at UBS. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front during World War II.

Not only was Harry a fantastic storyteller but he also knew how to live well. He ate healthy, exercised, stayed away from negative people, and cultivated a loving relationship with his wife Fran. I admired his commitment to living healthy despite some of the adversity he had faced.

3. Build confidence in yourself. By my estimation everything starts and ends with confidence. Therefore, it is vital to continually evolve yourself. Work on learning new skills and celebrate all of your victories, regardless of how small they might be. Keep your negative voice at bay. The person that is often the most unkind, abusive, and manipulative to you — is you. If you find that you have a sneaky little voice that says you’re not good enough, not smart enough, or not attractive enough, etc., you need to silence that voice. Replace it with positive affirmations like: “I can do it,” “I am smart,” “I am a hard worker,” “I will live a healthier lifestyle,” or “I will get through this nightmare crisis.” Be kinder to yourself and you will be kinder to others as well.

4. Set goals for yourself. I don’t care if you’re age 20 or 95, set goals. Goals are inspiration. Keep in mind that these goals must be meaningful to you in order for them to inspire you. Meaningful goals help us get out of bed with more enthusiasm, lead to more focused energy, and keep us on track even in the middle of a storm. Do something every day that challenges you. Once we stop being curious, we tend to become stagnant. 

5. Surround yourself with the right people. I believe it’s impossible to be successful without the right team. Having a network of people that genuinely care about you will make a big difference to what you are trying to achieve. This network doesn’t just happen, you need to create it and nurture it. You can do that by showing up for the people in your life and being there for them. Having two to three people that you can call a real friend is truly a gift. Recognize them and share your gratitude for them. The next time you see them, say, “I’m grateful to have you as a friend. Thank you.” Or, I challenge you right now to stop what you’re doing and send them a text letting them know just how grateful you are for their friendship. 

6. Live with gratitude. I have traveled to over 40 countries and presented to thousands of financial professionals. I’ve met my share of people in the business who are selfish and seem to take everything for granted. However, the happiest people I have met in this world are those who are not solely focused on themselves. They are focused on helping others regardless of their own circumstances. I’m not suggesting that you become a monk. But it’s good to have perspective. There are over 2 billion people on planet Earth living on $2 a day and half the world’s population does not have access to safe drinking water. So, yes, the coronavirus is a big hassle to our everyday lives, but let’s be grateful for what we do have versus what’s missing.

7. Don’t be a victim. It can be exhausting to try and control people or things we cannot control. Instead, let’s focus on the one thing we can control: our attitude. We must never become victims of circumstance, because we have more power than we think to get through challenging times. It was such a privilege to build relationships with my World War II friends as I started out in my career — those relationships taught me so much about having the right attitude. Today our heroes on the front line are our doctors, nurses, first responders, and all of the people that are playing a role to fight this pandemic. Let’s do our part to support them.


“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”