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The 7 “Muscles” of Resilience Building

Updated: May 9, 2023

Exercise these 7 “muscles” to prepare for job/life stressors and develop your ability to recover from challenges


Use your A, B, Cs to maintain balance and a positive outlook

1. Attitude – “ it is not the thing but the view we take of it ” - Epictetus

2. Breathing – practice active breathing : 4 seconds in – hold for 4- exhale for 4 – hold for 4

chest is still / belly moves

chest breathing is for gearing up and belly breathing is for slowing down

3. Centered – physically center yourself. Relax the shoulders, feet flat on the floor and shoulder width, bring ‘everything' into your center


Do the work in advance so that when SHTF, you have the confidence to make decisions and take the right action (or inaction).

Train, drill, read, listen, watch, try it and learn


Multi-tasking is a misnomer. You only have so much time and so much focus. When you divide a pie, it does not get bigger.

In the words of Jocko, “prioritize and execute”. What needs to be done, in what order.

Moreover, sometimes “I can’t do it” is the answer. Some things you just don’t have the time or resources for.


Open-minded and prepared to go to new and uncharted territories. Apply your critical thinking skills to new concepts and ideas.

These skills are;

- Curious – keen to see, hear and search out new ideas

- Questioning – take nothing for granted and ask the hard questions to ensure you are on the right path

- Humble – be willing to admit when you were wrong and ready to adopt the ‘better way’


Foster a good support system with people from on, and off, the Job.

Be a part of other’s support network, as well.


Structure is necessary for stability.

Goals are great but they are pretty much nothing without a 'system' to make it happen.

Systems used consistently will cement the structure.

Develop the discipline necessary to keep the structure solid.


This ties in well with ‘creativity’. You have to get okay with getting outside the familiar and comfortable. Growth almost always comes for some initial discomfort.

Give yourself permission to be ‘bad’ so that you can get ‘good’. Don’t be afraid to give something a try.

Bonus Muscle!....Diversify your Identity

I know a number of the Brothers ( not so much Sisters, to their credit ) who identify almost 100% as Firefighters. It's pretty much where they start and where they finish. This is a recipe for disaster. What happens when the firefighter path changes, due to injury or retirement? It's like the floor disappears underneath you.

You need to establish who you are in an onion...or a parfait ( Shrek reference 😉 )

For example, I am a husband, a leather worker, a dad, a firefighter, a chainsaw carver, a rugby guy, a grandad, a guitar player, etc.

The strength of 'diversification of identity' is that if one goes away, for whatever reason, I have so many other "legs" to stand on.

My world does not implode if one layer is going through challenges.

The first step is to realize it; the second is to identify your layers; and the third is to develop them.

All of the above is a system to achieve the next level of resilience, and resilience is the ability to return to base, despite the level of challenge. Exercise these "muscles" and you will only improve this ability. And much like the development of your physical muscle, it won't happen overnight but with perseverance and discipline, you will become stronger.

Get after it.

See Ya On The Road,


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