Close your eyes and imagine a 17-year-old girl standing with 299 young girls on a dark stage staring into an empty theatre with only a few heads staring back. Yes, you'll need a little more information than that. This young girl went to the high school of performing arts in New York City and had decided that she wants to be a performer.
She had heard of an opportunity to be an understudy for one of the main characters in the original Broadway show Oliver based on the book Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. One of the more famous actors in the show was Davy Jones of the group "The Monkeys."
This girl's name is Renée.
From six in the morning until nine at night Renée and 299 other girls sang the same song over and over, read the same lines over and over and did the same dance routine over and over.
One by one they were eliminated until there were only three. Three young exhausted and hopeful girls stood on stage waiting for the producer to read the name of the next elimated person. He read... Renée.
You can only imagine what this must have felt like. To want something so bad, to have tried so hard, to have gone so far and end up with absolutely nothing, is tough. But I think we all know that Renée did end up with something from the experience. In fact in the not-too-distant future she landed a role in "Best Foot Forward" with a young Liza Minelli and Christopher Walken.
Although this is an extreme example of effort and disappointment jammed into one day, life is full of ups and downs. If you get the opportunity to speak to very successful people you should always take the opportunity to ask them about the defeats and disappointments they have endured in their life and how they were able to bounce back. I have found that one of the cornerstones of success in life is, resiliency.
The darker side of this topic is that young adults today seem to be less resilient than ever which is causing some very important issues for our society: teenage suicide, mental illness, anxiety and depression to name a few. A larger group of people are finding it difficult to deal with the bumps and bruises of every day life. This recent New York Times article addresses the issue very well, a must read for parents but applies to all of us.
In the end, the moral of the story is simple. Resiliency is key to being successful but a minimum amount of it is required to even enjoy the basics of life.
How do you build resiliency? Well, from my experience it is all about gathering experiences. Throughout your life getting the opportunity to try new things is vital. Sometimes you will succeed and sometimes you will fail but when things don't work out, when life gives you a punch in the gut and you fall to the ground, these are the moments of truth when you get to exercise the muscle of resiliency. You need to get up off the canvas, take the learning and try again. Eventually you learn that when you get knocked down you have the strength to get back up. If you keep learning and you keep getting back up you will persevere and success will come your way.
Oh, one more thing, you must be wondering who Renée is... I am fortunate to have a mom who has dealt with many challenges in her career and in her life but has shown me what resiliency looks like. Renée is my mother. I love you mom!
p.s. For good measure, watch this two-minute video if you want to get excited about resiliency.