7 Pillars of Resilience to Master Any Challenge

See also: Developing Resilience

Many people wonder how to become stronger in terms of professional and private success. What are the best tools to help you leave your comfort zone and stay out of it for more than just a tiny moment? What are the strategies that prepare us to handle stress, long hours and peak performance without unhealthy symptoms like burnout?

I experienced these challenges myself when I started self-imposed adventure challenges like ‘How to Travel the World for Free’, aiming to make a living by producing video shows and books about these adventures. Luckily, one day I was invited onto The Tonight Show to talk about these challenges. The question arose as to how I trained my resilience to cope with such intense travel without a penny in my pocket. My answer was pretty clear ‘I just don’t know’.

I reflected on this question and realized that I must have challenged my resilience a lot during prior adventure to have become a resilient person.

And by looking back I realized that I hadn’t been highly resilient 10 or 15 years earlier. So, what happened? And how can you make sure you become as resilient as possible to handle stress and challenges with confidence and strength?

I love this Huffington Post article on resilience.

Resilience. Making chicken salad out of chicken shit. Painting the town red despite feeling burn-out blue’ and ‘There's beauty in resilience... There's courage in resilience... There's comfort in resilience...’

Resilient people are pretty much happy people who master the art of life with ease and solutions. I can state this because I used to be a person who tended to look for problems and not solutions. I can even describe the young adolescent me as pessimistic at some stages. And I’m glad I have realized that these mental stages hold you back from achieving success and happiness.

Let’s look at the so-called seven pillars of resilience

  1. Realistic Optimism
  2. Acceptance
  3. Solution Orientation
  4. Self-Regulation
  5. Assuming Responsibility
  6. Network Orientation
  7. Future Planning

I ask anyone reading this article to scale each of the seven pillars of resilience from 0 to 10. Zero means ‘not good in’ and ten means ‘got it all’. Then please add all your numbers together.

I would consider anyone achieving over 45 points as a pretty resilient person, but anyone below 55 points can really benefit from working on their resilience.  Just to let you know, my score was around just 35 about 15 years ago. Nowadays I consider my score to be 50 or above. And it feels really good to go through life with these seven pillars!

1. Realistic optimism

Realistic optimism helps us to avoid unnecessary fears and self-imposed obstacles that hold us back from our achieving goals. If we look at challenges with the attitude of ‘that won’t work’, we tend to fear the results and might not even try to start achieving them.

On the other side, an unrealistic optimism can potentially lead us to risky behavior and unwanted consequences. That’s why realistic optimism seems to be the best path to become an achiever.

There are several paths to turn from a pessimist to an optimist.

Working on your core beliefs is a successful coaching tool to help us changing our mindset.

I would like to advise everyone to keep a diary recording the nature of their thoughts through the day. This helps to identify negative thoughts and projections and enables you to turn them into positive ones. Meditation can support this process, too.

2. Acceptance of the unchangeable

There are situations that might bother us, but we have to accept that we don’t have any realistic chance of changing them. Going on about them, such as ‘Why is the weather so bad again’, just keeps us in an unsatisfied state. The lack of sunshine, the lack of friendly drivers in cities or the unwanted reactions of some individuals?

We can help ourselves by accepting these circumstances as unchangeable!

3. Solution-Orientation

As mentioned earlier, solution orientation is a choice. Do I want to go on about the problem and waste my time, or do I want to look at solutions and move on?

Feel free to read this four-step advice on how to become a solution-oriented person.

4. Self-Regulation

This pillar contains the abilities of self-motivation, managing stress, self-discipline and self-control.

We have the choice to strengthen this pillar in terms of goal setting, boundary setting and accountability to ourselves. I improved my self-motivation through devising a set of short term and long term goals, and it has changed my life. A life without goals easily tends to become dull. Feel free to check out more motivational inspiration on my motivational seminars site.

5. Assuming Responsibility

We may all have already fallen into the ‘it’s-his-fault trap’.

Basically, this is often a symptom of lacking the fourth pillar of resilience. Self-responsibility is an important aspect of getting out of a crisis quickly, because self-responsibility enables us to accept wrong doings and find quick actions for solutions. The it’s-his-fault trap keeps us in an irresponsible state without much action.

Feel free to add this exercise to your diary and note when the trap hits you. No worries, we’re all not perfect. Just note the situations in your daily protocol and learn to embrace change.

6. Network Orientation

Network orientation is highly important in enabling you to get help in a crisis. It’s worth asking oneself ‘How good is my social support network’?

If you need more friends or colleagues, it’s absolutely fine. Loneliness is one of the main causes of depression. There’s always time to improve your network. Another important aspect of the fifth pillar is the ability to reach out to others and ask for help by admitting that there might be a crisis. Personality traits like pride (common in men) can be obstacles that are useful to overcome. Network orientation strongly helps you, both privately and professionally, to find solutions that cannot be found on your own.

7.Future Planning

As mentioned before, goal setting can be the antidote to a lack of motivation and even depression. I use goal setting and future planning as a major tool with my clients to overcome depression. A clear vision of the future helps us wanting to live life, overcome obstacles and look forward and not backwards.

The Skills You Need Guide to Life: Living Well, Living Ethically

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Life: Living Well, Living Ethically

Looking after your physical and mental health is important. It is, however, not enough. Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs suggests that most of us need more than that. We need to know that we are living our ‘best life’: that we are doing all we can to lead a ‘good life’ that we will not regret later on.

Based on some of our most popular content, this eBook will help you to live that life. It explains about the concepts of living well and ‘goodness’, together with how to develop your own ‘moral compass’.


Resilience is more than just a mixture of aspects to live a happier life. Resilience is the power of ‘Making chicken salad out of chicken shit’.

Resilience work hasn’t just enabled me to face adventure challenges, it has also helped me to migrate to the US and start a fulfilling motivational business by never looking back or letting fear and negativity gain control over the changes I made. If you work on resilience, the outcome will be much greater than you expect right now. Enjoy this incredible path of positivity and power!

About the Author

Award-winning travel show host Michael Wigge specializes in documenting incredible challenge stories. How to Travel the World for Free, How to Barter for Paradise (where he turned an apple into a Hawaiian dream home by bartering for bigger, better things) and How to Travel Europe Blindfolded are just three of his seven travel shows.

Michael recently shared his amazing success stories on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Katy Perry, and also on The Today Show. His TV programs and books have been broadcast and published internationally. Based on his incredible challenge experiences, Wigge began performing humorous motivational speaking engagements Germany in 2013 and started CMW speaking and coaching in Denver, Colorado.