The Resilience Factor: 7 Essential Skills for Overcoming Life’s Inevitable Obstacles
Reivich, K. & Shatte, A.
ISBN: 978-0767911917
Broadway Books

BOOK REVIEW (Davidson Institute) - The Resilience Factor: Seven Essential Skills for Overcoming Life’s Inevitable Obstacles by authors Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte is not a traditional motivational book, but does offer ways to overcome adversity to become a happy, well-adjusted person.

Reviewed by The Davidson Institute for Talent Development.

“Resilience transforms. It transforms hardship into challenge, failure into success, helplessness into power” (4). The Resilience Factor by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte is not a traditional motivational book, but does offer ways to overcome adversity to become a happy, well-adjusted person.

Using years of research to help people help themselves and change their negative thought patterns, The Resilience Factor is a must read. Strategies such as cognitive therapy and reaching out to others provide people with the skills needed to cope with life circumstances effectively. The authors connect our reactions to certain adversities with our instincts, showing that the brain is programmed to respond in certain ways. These evolutionary responses help us to solve problems by understanding their cause, challenge how we think about future adversities, and build our resilience to adversity.

The authors also offer seven steps or strategies to build one’s resilience, showing that resilience is something that can be built and learned; it’s not just an innate ability. “The foundation of the seven skills of resilience is built on the simple realization that our emotions and behaviors are triggered not by events themselves but by how we interpret those events” (66). These seven steps for building resilience include:

  • Learning Your ABCs: When confronted with adversity, listen to your thoughts, identify what you say to yourself when faced with a challenge, and understand how your thoughts affect your feelings and behavior.
  • Avoiding Thinking Traps: Don’t make mistakes that undermine resilience.
  • Detecting Icebergs: Identify your deep, maybe hidden beliefs and determine when they help and hurt you.
  • Challenging Beliefs: Find new problem solving/thinking strategies so as to not pursue the wrong solutions.
  • Putting It in Perspective: Stop thinking about “what if” and perceiving every failure as a catastrophe.
  • Calming and Focusing: Stay calm and focused when overwhelmed by stress or emotion.
  • Real-time Resilience: Change your counterproductive thoughts into more resilient ones.

Complete with an RQ (resilience quotient) test, which helps the readers gauge their strengths and weaknesses in the seven factors of resilience, and other activities and charts that help you to understand, record, and resolve any iceberg or casual belief, this text offers ways to improve on multiple areas of your life. They suggest the ‘ABC’ system where ‘A’ stands for adversity, ‘B’ represents your beliefs, and ‘C,’ your consequences—“...the way you feel and what you do in the moment of an adversity or challenge” (74). By understanding and strengthening your beliefs and reactions (B’s and C’s) you are better able to overcome adversity (A’s).

The authors also show that by applying key factors such as accurate and positive thinking, realistic optimism (possessing a positive perspective without rejecting reality) and self-efficacy, and a proper perspective, a person can build his/her resilience. In addition, they offer advice such as avoiding thinking traps, i.e., tunnel vision and jumping to conclusions; understanding iceberg or underlying beliefs on how the world should be; and challenging those beliefs to help one become more resilient at work, at home, and in life. Using practical methods and understandable depictions, this book gives readers an honest approach on how to not only recognize and change their way of thinking for the better, but also on how to build upon their successes and make what is good in their life great. If you are ready to take a hard look at yourself and want to strive for a stronger resolve in your life, take the time to read through this book and absorb the information it offers—it will be a change for the better.


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