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Keys to Success: Be Resilient

Posted On  October 4, 2012

While there are many important traits of successful people — you better be really smart, most are quite likable, creativity helps, great interpersonal skills are frequently important, good luck sure helps — no trait is probably more important than resiliency and its cousin, tenacity. As my partner, Arnie, used to frequently say, “Lots of people can succeed during good times. The key is being able to endure the tough times and navigate your way through them, so you have a chance to succeed in the good times.”

Did you know that R.H. Macy failed at four stores before ultimately succeeding at what became known as Macy’s Department Stores? I recently heard it said, Fail + Fail + Fail = Success. Shawn Achor described it in The Happiness Advantage as “failing up.” Successful people learn from their mistakes and use them to help them succeed, rather than dwell on them and allow the mistakes to bring them down. Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never give up.” This attitude was critical to England in WW2.

Did you know that George Washington was thisclose to losing the Revolutionary War? Without his ability to bounce back from defeats and his determination to help ensure a free and independent United States of America, we might be a completely different country today. The same was true for Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant at the time of the Civil War.

I saw a great movie, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel that summed it up well … “Everything will be OK in the end. And if it’s not, it’s not the end.”

Lastly, I leave you with a thought from my youngest daughter, Erin, who passed this on during a challenging time for me. She said, “Dad, at any given moment, you have the power to say, ‘This is not how the story will end.’” If I am resilient enough … and determined enough … I can create whatever ending I want. More shall be revealed.

– Dave


Editor’s Note: This is Dave Sackman, LRW’s CEO, fourth post in a series on the topic of success. You can read the first post in the series on the definition of success, the second on being curious, and the third on living life to the fullest.

Written by Dave Sackman
Dave joined LRW, a Material Company, more than 30 years ago and has since built a reputation as an expert strategist with a passion for innovation and nurturing talent. As Material’s chief executive, he oversees the company’s mission to provide modern marketing services that seamlessly combine insights, consulting, and activation into one integrated offering. Dave is an avid tennis player and lives in Los Angeles with his wife of nearly 40 years. You can follow him on LinkedIn (@DavidSackman).


  1. This is so true and maybe something we may all know but can never be reminded enough. How many attempts did it take to invent the light bulb? And what if Edison saw failure as an end point instead of a new way not to create a light bulb?
    Sometimes we feel like we do not have control over the situations presented to us but we are the ones who choose what to focus on, what meaning to assign to the situation and the behaviors subsequent.
    Check out Shawn Achor on Ted talks:

    Our physiology plays a big part on how we are perceived and how we feel about ourselves and situtations.
    Check our Amy Cuddy’s talk on how body language can tranform your life:

  2. Wow…quite an amazingly powerful blog! Especially during this difficult time in our country, with the economy, employment, politics, and the state of our world. I feel all of these attributes can be applied to accomplishing goals at home, in our work, in our world, and in our heart. Thanks for sharing and reminding me how rewarding it can be to Never Give Up! One attribute I would add, my favorite, Integrity. 🙂


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