R is for Being Resourceful Rather Than Resentful  


People love to feel in charge of shaping their futures. There are many situations, however, where some of the quotes attributed to Epictetus remain true. 

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters … Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.  

You become what you give your attention to … First say to yourself what you would be, and then do what you have to do. 

The greater the difficulty the more glory in surmounting it … Skilful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests. 

Today there are many books written about resilience and recovering from setbacks. Many provide excellent models and tools that people can use in their own ways.

Every person is different, however, and chooses their own ways to respond to disappointments. This can be complicated by feelings of injustice, hurt or rejection.

A person may need time to rest, reflect and heal. They can then, at some point, choose how they want to shape their future. Some people choose to be resourceful rather than resentful.

Al Siebert helped many people to take this step. Here are excerpts from a piece he wrote to help people who had lost their jobs. Adapted from his book The Survivor Personality, published in 1993, many of these ideas are still relevant today. 

Losing your job through no fault of your own can wipe you out emotionally.

How do you find the energy to search for work? How do you deal with your anger? How can you be pleasant, relaxed, and self-confident in an interview when you don’t feel that way?  

Here are some guidelines for handling the emotional challenge of dealing with job loss and searching for new employment.

Resourcefulness – Learning
From Your Own Experiences

Looking back, can you recall a situation when you chose to be resourceful rather than resentful? You may have made this choice after suffering a loss, experiencing a disappointment or feeling a sense of injustice.

What was your first reaction to the event? You may have felt angry, hurt or rejected. How did you to take time to heal, reflect and begin to resurface?

How did you employ your resourcefulness to explore the possible ways forward? How did you use your strengths and creativity to think of possible solutions?

Looking ahead, how did you clarify the real results you wanted to achieve? How did you clarify the things you could control in the future? How did you clarify your picture of success?

How did you explore your possible options for achieving these results? How did you consider the pluses and minuses of each option? How did you decide on your chosen route forwards?

How did you plan your chosen route? What was the structure you aimed to follow? If appropriate, what did you do to pause and reflect before starting out on the journey?

How did you then move into action? What did you do to get an early success? How did you maintain the momentum? How did you follow your chosen rhythm? How did you encourage yourself on the journey?

Did you experience any setbacks? If so, how did you take time: a) To consider your achievements so far; b) To consider your options going forwards; c) To rejuvenate yourself and pursue your chosen route?

How did you keep doing reality checks? How did you build on what was working? How did you improve the other areas? How did you keep delivering high standards?

How did you energise yourself before entering the final lap? How did pursue your chosen strategy? How did you do your best to finish properly and achieve the desired results?

Resourcefulness – Learning
From Other People’s Experiences

You have your own approach to being resourceful, but it can also be useful to learn from other people’s experiences. The following section describes some of the characteristics demonstrated by people who manage difficult challenges.

Such people aim to manage their emotions rather than let their emotions manage them. Bearing in mind what they can control, they clarify the real results to achieve. They then channel their emotions in the following way.


They employ their creativity to find ways to achieve the results.

Route Forward

They clarify the route they want to follow towards achieving the results. 


They follow their chosen route, keep reading reality and do their best to achieve the desired results.

There are now many books that provide tools you can use to take these steps. It can also be good to learn from books on creative thinking. These can add to your repertoire of tools for tackling challenges.

Keith Sawyer’s book ZIG ZAG is an excellent starting point. He has also produced cards that people can use to generate ideas. These explore the following themes. You can discover more via the following link.


Let’s return to the work Al Siebert. His books laid the foundations for much of the later work on resilience, thriving and delivering results. Here is some background regarding the principles he shared.

Al spent over 40 years studying life’s survivors – those who grew when overcoming tough challenges. He initially focused on people that met four criteria:

They had survived a major crisis.

They had surmounted the crisis through personal effort. 

They had emerged from the experience with previously unknown strengths and abilities.

They had, in retrospect, found value in the experience.

The situations they faced included sexual assaults, life-threatening illnesses, being prisoners of war, addictions, physical attacks and crippling accidents.

How do people cope with such adversity? Some don’t, says Al. They feel victimised, blame other people, become helpless or lash out at others.

Some people do deal with adversity. They stay calm, clarify the situation and chart their strategy. Committing to their course of action, they concentrate fully until they reach their chosen goal. Al wrote:

They thrive by gaining strength from adversity and often convert misfortune into a gift. Are life’s best survivors different from other people?

No. They survive, cope, and thrive better because they are better at using the inborn abilities possessed by all humans.

They quickly read the new reality

Survivors have experience of overcoming difficulties in life. They read situations quickly and start considering the consequences. Other people ignore what is happening or bury their heads in the sand. Survivors click into awareness mode and take snapshots of what is actually happening.

They stay calm

Why? They realise it is vital to establish clarity. They must clarify what is happening and then make decisions about the way forward. The best way to do this is to get in the helicopter and take an overall view.

They maintain a
sense of perspective

People who are diagnosed with a serious illness, for example, may reframe it as a project. Looking at it from this perspective, they are able to remove themselves and plan the path ahead.

They clarify the assets. They focus on their relationships, knowledge, talents and the healthy parts of their body. Mobilising these assets, they then tackle the challenge.

They are resourceful and
open to doing anything

Al found that survivors chose their strategies from a wide repertoire of options. One contributing factor is that they have a quality common to many peak performers. Such people embrace what appear to be seeming paradoxes.

They are able to see the big picture and the small details, to be focused and flexible, to be serious and playful. This means they are able to see a wider number of options than people who have been trained to behave in one way.

They have life-competence
that helps them in emergencies

Survivors are life-long learners. They love to explore and make sense of experiences. They prefer to take initiatives, rather than become institutionalised.

Such people tend to be savvy rather than having lived a sheltered life. This enables them to read situations, call on their experience and make decisions.

Moving into action, they observe what is happening – what is working and what isn’t – and are prepared to change direction. This is a great advantage when tackling problems or emergencies.

They totally commit
to doing their best

Survivors make their decision and throw themselves into pursuing their chosen strategy. They employ every ounce of energy to reach the goal. Al described this in the following way.

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

Such people often grow from the experience. They continue to expand their resilience and repertoire, but they also develop a sense of perspective about life. Al described them in the following way.

Resilient adults are happy rather than hostile. They forgive instead of holding grudges and are more playful than serious. 

They get better and better every decade because they have a child-like curiosity. They ask questions, explore, want to know how things work, and learn valuable lessons in the school of life.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking at your own and other people’s experience, what do you believe are the key lessons for being resourceful when tackling difficult challenges?

If you wish try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to describe the specific things you want to do to be resourceful when managing challenges in the future. You can then do your best to deliver the desired results.

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