Identify the challenges that will be a part of your life, and stay determined to succeed. Most of those challenges will fall into one or more of the following categories: health, wealth, and relationships. Fighting an illness, dealing with depression, learning how to budget, and getting along with co-workers are examples of typical battles we all face. The skills needed to manage challenges in these categories aren’t always interchangeable, but they do have one common denominator. You will only succeed when you decide to.
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 Daniel Kilburn.
Daniel Kilburn is an experienced leader, consultant, author, and coach. His vision is to protect our children from the emergencies and disasters that will come crashing into their lives, and his mission is to provide parents with the tools they need to be prepared. Daniel’s goals include instilling transformational leadership, efficient communication, and resiliency skills as the foundation of a family legacy.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. 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?
One of my most interesting stories was, many years ago while serving as a Junior Drill Sergeant, my platoon was tasked with assisting another military unit in conducting a live-fire range. The weapon in use that day was the M203 grenade launcher.
My command initially appointed me as the Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC) for the range, but because of mission and transportation issues, I was reassigned. Another Junior Drill Sergeant was left in charge, and judging by the anxiety written all over his face, the young man felt out of his league. He approached me before they boarded their transport and asked me for advice. Based on prior experience, I described an event that would undoubtedly happen and how he needed to handle it.
This particular event is a failure to fire, and there’s a specific procedure to be followed when it occurs. Again, it’s a delicate situation, because this is a 40mm Grenade that could have been triggered and it’s still in your hand.
This is a common occurrence on the M203 range. It isn’t because of a weapon or ammunition failure — it’s an operator error. The young man or woman firing this weapon system is afraid to use the amount of force necessary to close the breach of the M203, which ultimately prevents the weapon from firing the round. If the weapon were to fire with the breach improperly closed, it would be catastrophic.
The sister unit we were working with commended the Junior Drill Sergeant for his leadership and quick action when this situation arose and made it known that they would be happy to work with our unit in the future.
The takeaway from this is to set your team up for success. Trust your intuition and share your knowledge with your teammates to build a strong foundation.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I have yet to find any government agency, an institution of higher learning, or third-party trainer that provides the type of training I do.
If you were to use your favorite search engine to look for disaster or emergency preparedness training recommendations, you would find an endless number of checklists that will give you a minimal rundown of what to do. For example, my first experience seeking earthquake preparedness training was in Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. I received a checklist on card stock only a third of a page-wide from the local chapter of the American Red Cross. The directions provided were to find food and water, duck and cover, and protect your head. These recommendations haven’t changed in the last 40 years.
Four hurricanes hit Florida in 2004, where I was living with my two teenage daughters. I was out of state providing instruction at a U.S. Army Non-Commissioned Officers Academy, and one afternoon, I received a phone call from my oldest daughter. She had witnessed two men fighting over gallons of water in the local grocery store before a storm, and I recall wondering if these two men know they live in a state known for hurricanes! Why hadn’t they prepared their families before the need became urgent?
I then concluded that it’s me if anyone can train people to prepare for emergencies and disasters. With a background as a Senior Infantry Drill Sergeant and instructor in the U.S. Army Non-Commissioned Officers Academy and multiple training certifications from FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Center for Disease Control, and the American Fire Association, I am uniquely qualified.
Our Emergency Action Planning and EAP Workshop are unique because we follow what is known as the “Tell Show Do” training model.
Provide the client with essential information related to the subject. Facts, tactics, techniques, and procedures are explained at the beginning of each lesson. Yes, you will still get a checklist.
During this portion of the learning process, the coach will demonstrate the actions and techniques used in implementing the procedures given in the current module.
After completing the two previous steps, the client will create their own plan for reaching their desired outcome. Next, the coach will review the process the client has designed, then offer feedback. This provides the client with the opportunity to adjust and put the finishing touches on it. Then we add an additional step:
In this step, the client will apply what they have learned to their personal emergency action plan. To ensure the client follows through, they are not allowed to move forward to additional training modules until this step is complete. I’ve learned that leaving them to do this in their own time results in them never accomplishing the task.
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?
I participated in transformational leadership training in the past and was assigned coaches and mentors during different phases. Their care, concern, and support for me and my vision were apparent in everything they did, not unlike my feelings as a father and Senior Drill Sergeant. They didn’t allow me to doubt my worth, tell stories of why I wasn’t capable, or fall into other patterns of victimization. Instead, they instilled ways of thinking that gave me the confidence needed to complete my goals. Because of their commitment to me, I am now sharing what I have to offer with those who will put it to good use.
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 a learned trait based on culture and formal or informal training. The three factors that most commonly create the need for resilience in people’s lives are mental/physical health, finances, and relationships.
Resilient individuals can recover quickly after exposure to various physical, emotional, or intellectual stressors. They have strong situational awareness, emotional awareness, and behavioral awareness that enables them to react appropriately to difficulties that may arise. They also can act courageously in the face of adversity and do the right thing regardless of what others think.
They observe the world around them, learn from mistakes, and make changes moving forward. They don’t become the victim and avoid blaming others for what is happening.
People who face challenges regularly in real life or through training are much more resilient than those who live in bubbles of isolation and overprotection. They are better equipped to bounce back from events they have never experienced before because they’ve already developed the tools to bounce back. They refuse to give up!
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Courage and resilience are two different types of behavior, but you cannot have one without another.
We humans have resilience built into our genes, which is why we’re still walking the face of this earth. History is filled with people who have faced extreme adversity and persevered when it seemed like all hope was lost. The courage to step up and do the right thing, take a chance, and think outside of the box to ensure survival, is a complementary trait to resilience.
People without courage also tend to lack resilience. They will generally accept what is handed to them emotionally, financially, or psychologically without fighting to improve their existence.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
My oldest daughter comes to mind when thinking about a person with resilience. She’s a single mother and unfortunately, our society does not support single mothers very well. It seems these women typically have the odds stacked against them, and I experienced this myself since a single mother raised me.
When I think of a person full of resilience, I think of my daughter and all of the single mothers in this world doing the best they can to make a life for the children they love.
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?
Back in 1982 I started my first business RES-TEMPS, which was short for “Restaurant Temporaries”. The business concept was modeled after Kelly Girl and Manpower but specialized in the restaurant industry in Monterey, California.
Many naysayers thought the business concept was ridiculous and would never work. However, within six months after conceptualization, I opened an office on Cannery Row, and The Lodge at Pebble Beach was my primary client. Shortly after that, we contracted with a premier nightclub and opened the Foggy Bottom Grill serving pub food to their customers. With the realization that I had a staff of 60+ excellent employees to draw on and a place to prepare food, we next opened the Classic Touch catering company.
Unfortunately, these businesses eventually failed because I had no education on how to run them profitably, but it was a valuable lesson about following my passions.
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?
Post 9/11 as an active Army Reservist, my qualifications as an Infantryman, Senior Drill Sergeant, and Non-Commissioned Officers Academy Instructor gave me many opportunities for unique mission deployments. I searched and applied for temporary duty positions that fit my qualifications regularly, around the Continental United States and overseas. After returning from a post-Southwest Asia deployment, I took a cut in pay of 87.5%
I had saved up some money but was also supporting my daughter, a single mother in California. I became depressed and started drinking too much, which led to being arrested for DUI. I lost my driver’s license for a year, paid very costly lawyers fees, fines, and other costs, and my opportunities of getting a job were practically nonexistent.
I chose to use this time to finish my bachelor’s degree and complete an MBA. Before I knew it, a year was up, I could drive again, and life was mostly back to normal. Shortly after that, I accepted a position that compensated me quite well. I also used this time to evaluate my lifestyle and reignited my desire to live life to the fullest.
I was able to get my Emergency Action Planning business started. I have since published a book on the subject, launched a learning management system, and am on track to enroll thousands of parents who want to make a difference in their lives and the lives of their children.
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?
My mother was mostly single while raising my sister and me, and as a child, we moved to a new city and changed school districts every year. Periodically, my sister’s father/my stepfather Gene, would show up and be in the picture for a while. His presence was always punctuated by stress, discord, trauma, and violence in our home. I recall asking him for something on a particular occasion when I was very young. He scolded me and said to never to ask him for anything again because I wouldn’t get it. This encounter played a huge role in establishing my diminished sense of self-worth.
When I was seven years old, I was in the Cub Scouts since my mom had me join the local Den in every city we lived in. I never earned a single merit badge, despite wanting one badly. I was in a new pack this time, and all the other Scouts had at least three merit badges. Some had as many as five or six, but my pocket was empty. Sitting in my room one day after Scouts, I read through my Scout Book, looking at all the wonderful possibilities. I realized I would need some help if I wanted to start earning badges of my own. I knew that I would never get the help I needed to achieve a badge if I asked my mom or Gene, and I felt defeated. I quit the Cub Scouts the next week, and no one bothered to ask me why.
Contemplating how to answer this question about my experiences has brought up a lot of deep emotions that I wouldn’t wish on any child. Yet, I sit here feeling precisely like that despondent seven-year-old boy all over again, filled with despair and a certainty that no one would ever, ever be there for me.
My mother told me Gene wasn’t my father when I was 11, and the following year I met and went to live with my biological father. After just six months, I quickly learned that he and Gene were cut from the same cloth and moved back in with my mom.
My coping mechanism as a child was to disappear. Don’t be seen, don’t be unique, don’t ask for anything, and you won’t be punished. It wasn’t until I joined the U.S. Army at 17 years old that I developed resiliency skills and understood how necessary they are for survival. The military taught me to have a plan B and C because you need to count on plan A failing. I learned that it’s OK to ask for help because success is the only option and you are not alone.
The U.S. Army taught me to stand up for myself and my team. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted out of life, my motivations for it, and how to go about achieving those goals. I realized I had to take an active role in reaching them, because no one was going to hand me what I wanted.
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.
- Identify the challenges that will be a part of your life, and stay determined to succeed. Most of those challenges will fall into one or more of the following categories: health, wealth, and relationships. Fighting an illness, dealing with depression, learning how to budget, and getting along with co-workers are examples of typical battles we all face. The skills needed to manage challenges in these categories aren’t always interchangeable, but they do have one common denominator. You will only succeed when you decide to.
- Identify your weaknesses and determine the actions necessary to improve them. We all know what is holding us back, even though we don’t like to admit it. So write them down, develop a plan of action, and get out of your own way.
- Seek coaching by identifying and connecting with people who are qualified to assist you with your planning. Life coaches, therapists, or even people you know who have worked through similar situations will have tips on getting started and maintaining your progress. There are people out there who want you to succeed. Declare your intent to find them, and you will.
- Develop and implement your plan of action. It’s essential to be prepared, so make plans A and B. When plan A fails, learn from it and carry on with plan B. When plan B fails, find more lessons to take away that and carry on with a plan C. Don’t stop, keep moving, and you will reach your goal. Take bold action, and don’t settle for being average.
- Help others. You have skills, talents, and abilities that someone else needs, so step up and raise your hand. Reach out to those who-you used to be. Offer your knowledge and assistance to help them succeed along with you.
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. 🙂
If not you, who? If not now, when?
My vision is to protect our children from the disasters and emergencies that will come into their lives. My mission is to help parents learn ways of preparing their children for these hardships and teach them the skills they’ll need to succeed.
If today’s science is correct in its predictions, the Florida Everglades will be underwater by the time my 15-year-old granddaughter is my age.
If today’s science is correct in its predictions, the beautiful sandy beaches we love to vacation on today will be underwater.
If today’s science is correct in their predictions, the wildfires in California will be twice as destructive as they are now.
I can’t fix the world that past generations have given my daughter and my granddaughter to live in.
I’m not a scientist. I’m a soldier, and what I can do is use every skill I have to protect our children. They’re the future and our hope for a better world.
Develop leadership in your children now. Maintain clear communications, and leave a legacy to be carried into the future long after we no longer walk the earth.
We’re saving our children, one parent at a time.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the U.S. 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 🙂
It would be impossible to pick just one!
Michelle Obama is a woman admired by millions of American women. As a strong supporter of education and health, Michelle’s influence would inspire millions of mothers to seek out the resources needed to empower their children to live a fulfilled life.
Joe Rogan is forward-thinking in his attitude of a light-hearted Burbon to seek out the truth in various matters. However, his demographic is predominantly male, and they are at the age where they will be the leading financial and political players 10–15 years from now.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!