Developing Personal Resilience

Updated: Feb 26


1- springing back; rebounding.

2- returning to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched.

3- recovering readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyant.


Abe Pollin was the owner of the Washington Capitals during my first four years in the NHL. He and his management team had selected me early in the first round of the 1978 NHL entry draft, and made me team captain in my second season with the Caps. A few years ago I spoke with Abe in a phone call that, unbeknownst to me, happened to coincide with an important event in his life. He was to speak to 800 people that evening, while accepting the Entrepreneur of the Year Award at a posh hotel in Washington, D.C.

Abe told me the story that he intended to share with his audience that night. As a 16-year-old in high school, he had been a pretty good athlete. He wanted to try out for the high school basketball team, but at the last minute he “chickened out” because he was afraid of being cut! That whole season he watched every game from the stands, knowing that he could have been there.

Abe told me he decided at that moment that he would never again let the fear of failure prevent him from trying anything. “I promised myself that I would never sit on the sidelines watching other people go ahead and do what I could have been doing.”

“In my life, Ryan,” he added, “51 percent of the time things have turned out all right, but I have failed at the other 49 percent, and some of those failures have really stung.”

At the time, he had just sold his portion of the Washington Capitals and a portion of the Washington Wizards for 85 million dollars! The point that Abe Pollin and I talked about on the phone that day was simply this: you miss 100 percent of the shots that you do not take.

Imagine Abe Pollin as a 16-year-old, just before he was about to try out for the high school basketball team. He allowed his mind to rehearse his not making the team! He made the suggestion to his subconscious mind that “maybe you shouldn’t be doing this. You may get cut, so why bother trying?” This has happened to everyone at some point. Most of the time we implode! We allow the mental rehearsal of the possibility of failure to overpower our ambition to accomplish a goal in an area in which we are likely to succeed.


1- We can choose to have a pity party with rehearsal scripts like: "How can this be happening to me?" or "Why do I always fail?"

2- We can allow difficult times to teach us new lessons, to shift our thinking, and to play new scripts. We can choose to practice differently.

People choosing to practice differently catch themselves when their minds begin to rehearse failure. They refocus their thinking to rehearse the solutions, actions or attitudes that will bring about their desired outcomes. People who are continually working toward incre