How to Win in Life: 6 Tips on Building Resilience

What do you think makes the difference between winners and losers? We all want to win in life, so it’s important that we know the answer.

I recently learned an answer to that question that I’d like to share with you. In a sermon, Pastor Rick Warren said that what makes the difference between winners and losers is resilience. It’s not that winners never fail; it’s that they always bounce back from failures.

I couldn’t agree more. From my own experiences and observing the experiences of others, resilience is indeed a key ingredient for success. An example in my life (which I already wrote about in my article on not losing hope) is when I failed my Master’s degree at a local university. It was a disappointing experience, but I bounced back from it and eventually earned my degree at a much better university abroad.

So resilience is important. But the question is: how can we build it?

Here are six tips on building resilience:

1. Have a mission you believe in.

Failure is like a force that pulls you down. In order to counter it, you need a force that pulls you up. Having a mission that you believe in is such a force. In the face of failure, remembering your mission will once again ignite the fire within you. Why? Because you don’t do this just for yourself; you have a greater purpose in mind. That’s why you can’t let this one failure stop you. You must keep moving forward.

So identify a mission that you believe in. Even better, make a one-liner out of it so that you can remember it easily.

What if you don’t have a mission? Well, then take time to find one. You might find this article on finding your life purpose useful.

2. Have the right perspective toward failure.

To be resilient, you must view failure in a positive way. Rather than seeing it as an obstacle, see it as a stepping stone to success. See it as a way to get the learning experiences you need.

The fact is, having setbacks means that you have taken action. That’s a much better position to be in than doing nothing or, even worse, criticizing those who are trying to do something.

Remember: your goal is to win the war, not the battle. So it’s okay to lose some battles. You can still win the war.

3. Get around positive people.

Though it’s not impossible, it’s difficult to bounce back from failures if everyone around you is negative. That’s why you need to surround yourself with positive people. Be around those who can lift you up rather than drag you down.

But don’t forget to also do your part. Be positive toward others. Give encouragement to those who need it.

4. Take time to recover.

After experiencing a failure, don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself some time to recover. Use the time to reflect on what lessons you can learn and how you can do better next time.

Taking the time helps you stay in the game for the long term. It helps you avoid getting burned out.

5. Be a fighter.

To be resilient, you must have the attitude of a fighter. Be determined to fight a good fight. Be fierce. Don’t let your “opponent” go away without knowing what a good fighter you are.

6. Read the stories of great people.

If you have followed this blog for some time, you might know that I love to read stories about great people. They all have something in common: they have succeeded in spite of adversity, not in lack of it. They are good fighters. They are resilient. Reading their stories will inspire you.


These tips can help you build resilience and thereby win in life. But I’m sure there are still other ways. So let me ask you:

How do you build resilience?

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Photo by Bigstock


  1. Anders Hasselstrøm
    Anders Hasselstrøm

    Hello Donald.

    Once again a pleasure reading your thoughts. I have a few comments I would like to post. I believe the first point is of significant importance as well. Having a purpose in life and a passion is what drives us and the reason we want get back up when it hurts. You wanted a Masters Degree and got one because the passion to have one was bigger than the risk of failure.

    Your second point is also important and most people have a bad attitude towards failure. However, we do not learn to much from success. I say never regret your failure. Rather, embrace it as the teacher that it is.

    What I find most important is that we establish an attitude of a winner after we fall down. Promise yourself that if a road closes, you go and look for another road. If that one also gets closed, you look for a third road. You look for 200 roads if you have to but you refuse to accept defeat and you promise yourself that you will never give up. If you commit to that you will sure win again after you fell.

    Thanks Donald,
    Anders Hasselstrøm

    • Well said, Anders! Your comment reminds me of something Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s founder) said: “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details…. We don’t give up on things easily.”

  2. Adding onto #1, it’s about wanting it more than anything. Make your goals things you can’t help but succeed in because failure is not an option. Creating that drive carries you through the storms.

    • “Failure is not an option.” That pretty much sums up the attitude we need to have for our missions. I like it 🙂
      (Of course, I believe what you mean with “failure” here is losing the war, not losing some battles)

  3. thanks for asking, here is what I know. success is an energy, like money. It comes to those who are in the position to manage it i.e. have developed ability to listen to the signal and eliminate the noise. I too was inspired and read books of famouse, successful fighters but in the end I realised that their success helped me figure out what I must do. Not follow their recipe but develop my own from within. Success can not be gained by external stimulation, it can only be realized from within. Truth is that each person is already successful in life but not everyone sees it that way. If you want others to see you as a successful person you must first realise that you already are and when that happens recognition from others will follow but it will never happaned the other way around, it is impossible! In order to realize you are already successful, you already have everything you need and want in life you must accept who you are. In order to that, you must first know who you are. Many people misidentify themself their true self for identities that we have been given by social conditioning. For example, most people think that they are a male or a female, white or black, american or japanese, liberal or conservative, gay or streight, doctor or an engeneer but all of these are fasle identities. These are ilussions. We are not our body or nationality or a skin color, these things come and go therefore they can not mean out true self. What we are is a point of energy that surves a purpose, identifying that purpose is the key solution to all human problems. Not knowing who you are and misidentifying is the cause of all human suffering. Because I see a lot in you that I have also had in my past I can tell you that meditation can help you. Find out if there is a Brahma Kumaris Spiritual Center near were you live and pay them a visit, they can help you find the truth but you must be willing to say no to old habits and way of thinking. Only when we loose or give up everything including our desire to be successful can we truly get the glimps of what success really is. Good Luck, keep looking and stay thursty…

  4. Many thanks for this article, Donald.

    Resilience is an important subject to me, because with all the change that’s happening in the world, we all need to be resilient. Being resilient enables us to grasp the opportunities that change brings rather than become a victim of it.

    From my work on this subject, being resilient can be summarised by the following 5 characteristics:

    1. Having a sense of purpose/meaning (which you cover in 1)
    2. Being realistic (which you cover in 2)
    3. Being part of a community (which you touch on in 3), because no (wo)man is an island – it’s our friends and family and the communities that we belong to that help us bounce back
    4. Being adaptable, because doing what you’ve always done will get you what you’ve always gotten, and
    5. Being confident, because without confidence we can’t face (and fight) change head on.

    As you can tell, I’m pretty passionate about this subject to the extent that I’ve ended using your blog as a soapbox. Sorry about that, Donald!

    • There is nothing to apologize for, Jehangir, I enjoy reading your thoughts 🙂

      I especially like #4: “because doing what you’ve always done will get you what you’ve always gotten.” Very true! That’s an important thing to keep in mind.

  5. Great article Donald.

    I have never thought of it in terms of “resilience” but it is a great point and a great word for it.

    Everyone fails at some point or time, the only real failure is in letting failure beat you.

    As you pointed out, all successful people can gain some nuggets of “what not to do”, use them as teaching points and as a springboard to future success.

    Of course it sucks to fail, but when you can use it for future success, it is well worth it!


  6. Wow… thats probably the best article i’ve ever read. Many great messages in your words. Very inspirational. Thank you

  7. Nice article…..having good points for those who are facing struggle for success after failure….but it lacks that how one should initiate after a failure.

  8. The society has put a negative meaning to failure. But successful people are successful because they failed many times. Failure is actually necessary in the pursue of success. However, too many people fail to recognised it.

  9. Ashu Taku James
    Ashu Taku James

    success consist of going after one thing without relent of efforts. PASTOR ASHU TAKU JAMES, Author of the books: yes the church can and the journey to greatness

  10. “When doubt seeps in you got two roads you can take either road. You can go to the left or you can go to the right and believe me, they’ll tell you failure is not an option. That is ridiculous. Failure is always an option. Failure is the most readily available option at all times, but it’s a choice. You can choose to fail or you can choose to succeed. And if we can plant seeds and let him know, ‘Move your feet, keep your hands up, stay off the bottom.’ That is the road to victory, or self-doubt and negative talk, and that is the road to failure. But failure is always there, and it’s okay to recognize that.” This is a quote from Chael Sonnen during TUF season 17 to a fighter who was struggling with confidence. This is what helps me.

  11. I love this! We’re such a success-driven society that we tend to view failure as the worst thing that could possibly happen. I always tell myself that there is a reason why something hasn’t worked out the way I wanted…and I’m always right. Failure is so often just a nudge from the Universe to push us into a place that is more beneficial for us-we just have to keep remembering this!

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