I was listening to an interview with a woman who is a wildly successful speaker and thought leader. During the interview she told a story: "I woke up one morning, I was 40, I was completely broke, I was a failure and I didn't even want to get out of bed." As she said those words I felt an unexpected twinge of envy.

She had such a great story of struggle.

Later that evening I lamented to my husband about my lack of a struggle-story. "Why couldn't I have ever been broke?!" He stared at me blankly. When I didn't respond he said, "Um, you were very broke."

Suddenly, it all started coming back to me. The tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. The thousands of dollars worth of IKEA furniture I already sold on craigslist but was still paying for on my credit card. The time I cried after the girl at the salon sold me shampoo and I overdrew my bank account. The time I sat on the bed, crying on the phone to Netflix, because I didn't cancel my DVD subscription in time and the $7.00 charge overdrew my checking account. The many times I begged Wells Fargo to forgive my overdraft fees...

"Wait," I paused. "Was I broke?"

"Yes," he said. "Very, very broke."

That is when it occurred to me, the dark side of resilience.

The problem with resilience.

The Harvard Business Review recently posted an article about the dark side of resilience. The research revealed that too much resilience could lead to unfavorable outcomes including being "overly persistent with unattainable goals." Whether trying to launch a ridiculous startup or pursuing someone who is clearly out of their league, you likely know someone who is unphased by constant rejection. This excessive resilience actually prevents them from re-calibrating and pursuing a goal that is actually attainable.

Another problem with resilience is it might encourage individuals to tolerate unacceptable adversity. Those who are highly resilient stay longer and tolerate more than they actually should.

Lastly, the article points to resilience as an inhibitor to self-awareness. Leaders who are too resilient run the risk of overestimating their capabilities which leads to problems within the groups they are charged with leading.

However, there is one aspect of resilience the article didn't mention; one that I faced that day I forgot I had been broke.

The story you tell yourself is the most important one.

Yes. You are conditioned for resilience. To focus on the future, to see mistakes as lessons and hard times as opportunities.

Daily you tell yourself the stories that are proof you can do this.
You can overcome the obstacles.
You can face rejection.
You can rise from the ashes of failure.


Call it a strategy, call it a defense mechanism, whatever you call it, these stories of resilience are the lifeblood of your success.

However, the dark side of this type of resilience is: When you're always looking ahead, it's easy to forget how far you've come. You forget to celebrate your success.You miss opportunities to fuel your motivation. And most importantly, you deprive others of the honor of seeing what the journey to success really looks like.

The night I remembered I had been broke was a turning point for me. I'd been frantically trying to grow and expand and reach new levels of success and feeling like I wasn't making progress fast enough when in fact, my journey from broke to not broke happened quite quickly.

After reminding myself of my own story, a deeper sense of confidence and meaning emerged. Now, if ever I feel the twinge of fear that maybe I can't make it happen, I simply tell myself the story of how far I've come.