Resilience is built not born — You will never know if you’re resilient until you’re asked to be. I never really thought I was resilient until my whole life fell apart. This was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It allowed me to build a life that gave me purpose and a mission.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brett Turley.
Brett is the founder of Minimalism Fitness, a start up that specializes in helping busy professionals think less and move more. Using the experience gained in special operations with two deployments to Afghanistan and fast growth tech startups he knows a thing or two about resilience, high performance and most importantly how to shape the habits to get you there.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
I’ve been on one hell of a journey. After joining the Army at the age of 17, I completed two tours of Afghanistan as an Explosive Detection Dog Handler. After my second tour with Australian Special Operations I left the military in search of something more in 2013. Between now and then I have spent time as a gym owner, recruiter and product manager for a fast growth tech startup.
Now I’m on the journey of building a product that helps people improve their mental health, fitness and habits because I’ve seen first hand what happens to busy professionals in fast paced environments.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
If I had to narrow down on one single story it would be the day I was blown up in an IED strike in 2009. It was an eerie morning and we were in a rush to search and clear a route to get troops in position for another patrol. We didn’t pay attention to a particular part of the route and failed to search a pretty obvious area where the Taliban would potentially lay an IED.
Also, for the first time in six months I wore a seatbelt inside the vehicle that morning. As we were about to drive through the area I looked out the windscreen and thought “something isn’t right.” and lifted my legs up off the floor. A second later we were engulfed in an explosion with dust and smoke pouring through where the windscreen used to be with the front of the vehicle blown up into the air.
Once we came down and realised no one was seriously injured (luckily), I was the first person out of the vehicle searching for secondary devices, my dog was injured so he stayed in the car. My big takeaways from that day were:
- Trust your instincts, they’re usually right
- You only know what you’re truly capable of when you’re thrown in the deep end
- In times of high stress, it’s the training, drills and repetition that gets you out the other side. Train hard and have relentlessly high standards
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We use a data driven and user led approach to improve health, resilience and fitness. Everyone is uniquely different and giving people the ability to choose their own path empowers them and increases their chances of success.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My Father would be a big source of my inspiration and resilience. He passed away in 2014 but before he did he left me with a single quote that drives me to this very day.
“It’s easy to quit, but it’s not hard to keep going.”
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is the ability to stay the course regardless of setbacks, obstacles and failures.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
I explain courage to my 5 year old son as the ability to give something a go regardless of how scared you might be. I’ve worked with some fantastic and courageous individuals which at some point, were asked to go above and beyond in a time of need. Even if they were scared, they took the leap. That’s courage to me.
Resilience is the ability to rebound back after a setback. You may have been courageous enough to give it a go but you still failed. Regardless of the outcome, resilience is the ability to dust yourself off and keep going.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
I meet resilient people everyday. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with some of the toughest and most resilient people the world has to offer.
But the people that impress me most are the people from average backgrounds that have to go through a baptism of fire and when all odds point in the other direction, they come out the other side. It’s the parents that lose children or the people that have horrible setbacks like cancer and can still manage to come out positive and stronger than before.
In the military we were trained to be resilient but I’m more impressed with people that don’t have that formal training and have to fight for it, every step of the way.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
I’ve lived my whole life with people telling me things aren’t possible. I’m a small guy yet I’ve managed to work with the best soldiers in the world in the special forces. They were the ones following me up dark alley ways in Afghanistan.
It’s never the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog. I was taught that at a young age playing contact sports with kids twice my size.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
2014–15 was the darkest time in my life by far. And that’s saying something coming from someone that used to look for bombs and get shot at for a living. In the space of 12 months or so, I lost my father and my daughter at birth. The next morning after my daughter passed, a good friend was stabbed to death and three days after that, my grandfather died of cancer.
All the while I was trying to run a small business, keep a marriage together and deal with PTSD from the military. In 2017, my life and marriage fell apart. Shortly after, I made the promise to never give in.
Since then I’ve bounced back from being completely broke to having a small startup that helps change people’s lives. It’s helped 2500 people this year and I’m well on my way to making it a million.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
I’ve already mentioned a few but my resilience was challenged at an early age through team sports like rugby union. Being small in stature I had to learn to dust myself off when things didn’t go to plan. Add my military experiences and personal story on top, and I’m very fortunate to have lived a life that’s required a lot of it.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Firstly, resilience is built not born
You will never know if you’re resilient until you’re asked to be. I never really thought I was resilient until my whole life fell apart. This was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It allowed me to build a life that gave me purpose and a mission.
2. Hold yourself to high standards
By having high standards you will always be faced with the decision of taking the easy option or doing the work. Resilience is like a muscle, every choice you make to do the work, it forges a higher level of resilience.
3. Physical training is the quickest way to improve learned resilience
Put your body through hard things in order to gradually increase your ability to deal with stress. If you know you need to improve resilience, pick a fitness goal and take daily consistent action towards it. The health benefits are also an added bonus.
4. Do hard things before hard things find you
Your comfort zone isn’t where resilience is forged and if you wait until you are asked, the chances are you might not be up to the challenge. When most people choose to sleep in, get up and train. When most people stay up late binge watching TV, learn a skill, read a book or go to bed to get a good night’s rest.
A good rule that has served me well is when things aren’t going well in life and everyone is going one way, go the other. Don’t be afraid to be unpopular and take a different approach. Amazing things are never built by following the crowd.
5. Finally, it’s easy to quit but it’s not hard to keep going.
When you’re in the middle of it, cherish the fact that you are there and just take that next step. One foot in front of the other. Don’t worry about the finish line, it is the journey that matters.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
We spend too much time thinking and we usually forget to take action. The fact is, we no longer have an information issue in this modern world, we have an execution issue. Combine this with instant gratification that’s forced upon us and this is why most people end up lost, unhappy and unfulfilled.
Life gets tough so narrow down on your values, choose a worthy goal and get up every morning ready to go after it. Remember, it’s easy to quit but it’s not hard to keep going.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I’m really inspired by people like Peter Thiel, Brian Balfour and James Clear. I’ve learned so much from their books, content and journeys but most importantly they have built amazing products in the fields I hope to emulate some day.
I admire people who build beautiful things. It takes a level of persistence, mastery and resilience not many of us ever unlock.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
My website has all my articles, social links and products. I give away all my fitness, habits and mindset content for free on YouTube also.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!