The Art of Strengths Coaching

B is for Being Battle-Hardened But Still Brave

Ride in Snow Storm

Who are the people you know who are battle-hardened but still brave? They may have experienced setbacks, illnesses or other difficulties.

Despite these factors – or maybe because of them – they are still determined to do their best. They are the kind of people you want on your side when facing challenges.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a person you have known or heard about who demonstrated the qualities of being battle-hardened but still brave.

Describe the specific things they did to show they were battle-hardened but still brave.

Slide B is for Battle-Hardened.001

Slide B is for Battle-Hardened.002

People who emerge stronger after tough times take different lessons from the experiences. Many choose to put their faces to the wind again, however, and demonstrate the following the characteristics.

Slide B is for Battle-Hardened.003

They are positive realists

Such people have a positive attitude, but they are also good at reading reality. They want to know the truth, because this enables them to make better quality decisions.

Carl Rogers, the psychologist, believed that: “The facts are friendly.” It is vital to get the heart of the matter and see what is really happening.

We should welcome information, he said, even if the new evidence shows that our previous views were mistaken. Positive realists are brave enough to face reality and see what can be done to improve situations.

Slide B is for Battle-Hardened.004

They set positive goals

Battle-hardened but brave people look for possibilities. Building on their assets and what they can control, they set positive goals. They take this approach whether dealing with a crisis, doing creative work or getting through the day.

Charles Garfield described how such people set goals in his book Peak Performers. Published in the early 1980s, this outlined the steps people took to do their best. Charles said he first heard the phrase peak performance from a cancer patient who said:

“Staying alive these days is my peak performance”.

Remembering the phrase, he went on to study great workers in many fields. These included people in medicine, sports, business and the NASA work in which he was participating.

Charles found that such people focused on their picture of success. He wrote:

“I’ve discovered that numerous peak performers use the skill of mental rehearsal and visualisation. They mentally run through important events before they happen.”

“Peak performers develop powerful mental images of the behaviour that will lead to the desired results. They see in their mind’s eye the result they want, and the actions leading to it.”

Peak Performers

Battle-hardened but brave people set specific goals. They then often move on to the next step.

They do positive work

Such people often channel their emotions into doing superb work. Different people do this in different ways.

Maria Montessori, for example, encountered many setbacks before creating a pioneering model for educating children. Here are some of the things she did when developing many concepts now associated with child-centered education.

She became one of the first women in Italy to qualify as a medical doctor. She then switched to education and spent years observing how children developed.

She found it difficult to find a role in formal education, but was given the chance to work in a mental asylum. She achieved outstanding results with children previously considered ‘idiots’.

She created pioneering schools. She developed unique learning materials that enabled children to learn by pursuing their interests and using all their senses.

She trained educators to provide an attractive prepared environment and enable the child to capitalise on their development at each stage.

She found that pursuing this approach produced excellent results. Children frequently became more self-managing and committed to lifelong learning.


Maria invited us to focus on the potential of children and humanity. She wrote:

“In serving the child, one serves life. Within the child lies the fate of the future.”

You can find out more about Maria by visiting the Association Montessori Internationale at:

Battle-hardened yet brave people develop skills that enable them to take the next step when meeting challenges.

They try to find positive solutions

Al Siebert’s work on survivors describes how resilient people aim to shape their future lives. His books such as The Survivor Personality and The Resiliency Advantage have enabled many people to develop their inner strength.

A paratrooper in the 1950s, Al remembered meeting the few remaining survivors from the 11th Airborne Division, a unit that had served in WWII and Korea.

Something about them made him sit up and take notice. They weren’t the ‘gung-ho’ types: they had unusual qualities. He wrote:

“During our training I noticed that combat survivors have a type of personal radar always on ‘scan.’ Anything that happens, or any noise draws a quick, brief look.

“They have a relaxed awareness. I began to realize it wasn’t just luck or fate that these were the few who came back alive. Something about them as people had tipped the scales in their favour.”

Returning to college after completing his military service, Al resolved to study psychology, but he grew frustrated by its emphasis on mental illness.

He decided to study life’s survivors – those who grew when overcoming tough challenges. The result was his book The Survivor Personality.


This book contains many stories about people who have overcome extreme challenges. The situations they faced included, for example, sexual assaults, life-threatening illnesses, being prisoners of war, addictions, physical attacks and crippling accidents.

Al outlined some of the strategies survivors adopt to overcome challenges successfully. These included some of the following.

They quickly read the new reality

They stay calm and maintain a sense of perspective

They have a life-competence that helps them in emergencies

They are open to doing anything

They take responsibility and totally commit to doing their best

Such people look for patterns when faced by a tough challenge. They ask questions such as:

What is happening? What are the patterns I can observe? How can I build on what I can control and manage what I can’t control?

What are the real results I want to achieve? What are the potential options for going forwards? What are the consequences of each option? What is the route I want to pursue?

What are the key things I can do to give myself the greatest chance of success? How can I translate these into a clear action plan? How can I do my best to achieve success?

Survivors make their decision and then throw themselves into pursuing their chosen strategy. They then do everything possible to reach the goal. As Al Siebert wrote:

“The survivor way of orientating to a crisis is to feel fully and totally responsible for making things work out well.”

You can learn more about his work via the following link.

They do their best
to get positive results

Charles Garfield said that many peak performers aimed to become the best they could be, rather than compare themselves with others. He wrote:

“Do not compete with anyone except yourself.”

Battle-hardened but brave people display a similar characteristic. They aim to do their best. At the same time, experience has taught them there are things they maybe cannot control.

Looking back on a day, for example, they recall the things for which they were grateful. They then focus on how they can do their best the next day.

Amanda Boxtel is somebody who has chosen to take this route. In February 1992 she had a skiing accident that broke her back in four places.

Accepting the reality of the situation, but still full of hope, she focused on shaping her future. She explains:

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you embrace the changes that take place, and who you become.”

In the TED talk below she describes how we can choose to grow from the pivotal moments in our lives. You can discover more via the following link

Looking ahead, can you think of specific situation when you may want to show the qualities of being battle-hardened but brave? You may want to do this when managing a transition, facing a specific challenge or taking some other step in your life.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Looking to the future, this invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to show the qualities of being battle-hardened but still brave.

Describe the specific things you can do then to demonstrate show these qualities.

Describe the specific benefits of being battle-hardened but brave in that situation.

Slide B is for Battle-Hardened.006

Slide B is for Battle-Hardened.007

Slide B is for Battle-Hardened.008


    Leave a Reply

    You can use these HTML tags

    <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>