• Dr. Maureen Orey

Building Resilience: Keep calm and paddle on!

Ducks are known for appearing calm on top of the water, yet they are paddling their feet vigorously under the water to get across the pond… they make hard work look easy!



People can learn a lot from these natural duck behaviors. In order to achieve our goals and build resilience, we need to be willing to put in the necessary effort and hard work. Or in other words, paddle your feet like you want to get somewhere!


Angela Duckworth, a well-known researcher on GRIT and perseverance, identifies self-control as an excellent predictor of success in life. One’s ability to self-regulate their behavior, emotions and impulses improves a person’s follow through on certain types of difficult tasks.



Building on the work of Catherine Morris Cox from the 1920’s, Duckworth highlights the qualities of perseverance, tenacity and doggedness that some people have is really the tendency not to abandon tasks in the face of obstacles.


I have a good friend who started losing her sight as a young adult and is now legally blind. She is one of the most self-disciplined and determined people I know, and I admire her greatly. The average unemployment rate of visually impaired individuals is roughly 80%, and clearly there are several obstacles that can get in her way.


Yet, she is the first blind person to successful complete the exam and certification as a Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM). She works full time as a contract analyst and pre-pandemic commuted 2 hours to AND FROM work every day, yes that’s 4 hours every day!


As if that weren’t enough, she is active in Toastmasters, her professional association, and is working on her master’s degree in Contract Management. I am amazed at her determination and discipline to achieve her goals. I often wish I had as much perseverance as she does!


In a speech at the University of Miami in 1946, Winston Churchill is quoted to have said:

…no boy or girl should ever be disheartened by lack or success in their youth but should diligently and faithfully continue to persevere and make up for lost time.

There is no perfect person, family, church or organization, there is only people who, with dogged determination, strive for better. There are so many stories, both in humanity and in nature that can inspire us to persevere amidst the challenges that come.


What stories inspire you to persevere? Seek out more!



What can you do to be more disciplined in developing the behaviors that build your personal or career resilience?


If you find these little tips useful, make sure you check out the new StayAfloat! program! We are working hard to develop a comprehensive, well researched new version of this training to help you develop your resilience and to:

✔ Be prepared to deal with uncertainty

✔ Be mindful of new realities and know what tools to use to cope with them

✔ Have professional survival skills

✔ Have new connections and a community that you can rely on

More details coming soon!

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