The People You Admire

January 24, 2024

Dear friend ,

I often ask colleagues, students, and friends to share a story of their personal role model of resilience. 

“My Mom,” a colleague said. “She lost my Dad at age 42. But I never saw her complain. She raised four of us, survived two cancers, contributed to charity through her meager earnings, and at age 83, never forgets any of her grandkid’s birthdays.” 

“My grandfather,” a therapist shared. “He was a sheriff in rural Wisconsin. Everyone knew him as the kind sheriff. Every time he had to arrest someone, he would give them a snicker bar for the ride. He was so popular that people preferred to be arrested by him.” 

I have collected hundreds of such stories. As I sieve through them, three themes emerge that correlate with resilience.

1. Other-centric living – Every single resilient role model I have heard of lived to serve and love others. They found great joy in helping others, despite personal struggles. 

2. Challenge as opportunities – They saw opportunities within a challenge, didn’t lose their sense of humor through difficulties. A friend’s grandma, when she developed tremors, said, “Good. My regular toothbrush has now become electric!” Instead of saying, why me, they would often tell, try me. I can handle it, and this will make me better.

3. Hope and faith – Resilience role models nurtured a positive, uplifting view of life and the world, often anchored in faith. 

Here is an idea. Before you sleep tonight, close your eyes for a moment and think of someone you personally know who is strong. Someone, who despite all the rough and tumble, keeps going. No one can beat this person’s spirit or love of life. When a face comes to you, then open your eyes.

Ask yourself – 

Is my resilience role model other-centric?

Does my role model see an opportunity within a challenge?

Do they hold an optimistic view of life and the world? 

Your answer will be Yes to at least one of the questions, if not all three.

Perhaps, it might give you an idea of the values you wish to embody, so tomorrow when your child, sibling, nephew or niece is asked about a resilience role model, they pick you. Won’t that be a beautiful legacy? 

In kindness,


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