Both of my parents come to mind. They did not have the ideal upbringing. And it was because of their lived experiences that they did everything in their power to ensure my brother and I had every advantage available to us. My parents met in college, married, and moved away from friends and family to start the type of family they wanted to have, not continue with what they experienced. Because of their determination and dedication to excellence, regardless of less than perfect childhood circumstances, I am the woman and business owner I am today.

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 Dr. Anita Polite-Wilson.

Dr. Anita Polite-Wilson, Founder & CEO of Dr. Anita Enterprises, Inc., is someone helping everyone collaborate with anyone. She helps leaders and teams in high stress situations successfully navigate complexity and change together. Her mission includes advising and coaching leaders at all organizational levels on their journey toward accepting and adapting to the unique needs of today’s workforce which reflects more diverse individuals, spanning five generations, requiring dynamic teams that constantly evolve. Working with leaders for more than 20 years, Dr. Anita has been successful at shifting the paradigm of change management from “check-the-box-initiatives” having little or no impact, to “change-the-culture-behaviors” that will noticeably improve collaborations. She has studied workforce trends for over ten years and creates programs that increase employee engagement, retention, and productivity for corporate, government, and nonprofit entities of all sizes across various industries.

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?

Becoming an entrepreneur was not a planned undertaking. My entire team had been laid off in November of 2017 and after more than 30 years in corporate America, I realized that I no longer wanted to be on that path. So, I began the journey from the “no longer” where I was as an employee, to the “not yet” where I want to be as an entrepreneur.

My mother saw it as being courageous, but I saw myself as being choosy. I chose the path of least resistance… for my soul. It was easier for me to believe in my value than to convince a system to believe in my value. It was easier to become equally yoked with others who lived for purpose rather than to become assimilated within an organization that existed for profit. Of course, I realize that if businesses aren’t profitable, no one wins. Especially in my new role as a consultant. But I chose to be intentional about partnering with businesses that value the synergy which results from leveraging individual strengths to accelerate organizational performance.

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?

Prior to establishing my practice, I spent the last 14 years as a government contractor for a federally funded research & development center (FFRDC) supporting the US Air Force in El Segundo, California. My background up until that point had been in learning and development across several different industries, with a focus on organizational leadership and organizational effectiveness. In my role as a government contractor, I was hired for what I brought to the table in terms of effective meeting facilitation skills and my ability to coach leaders.

Having found myself among a workforce of rocket scientists, engineers, and military professionals, despite not having an engineering degree or background, I was regularly invited to attend and eventually facilitate, technical meetings because I asked good questions and I had the foresight to take a systems-thinking course that helped me express what I knew about organizational effectiveness in terms that engineers could relate to.

The takeaway was that because of my willingness to be curious and to adapt to my environment, I became the “go-to” facilitator for 2-day, cross-functional, technical strategic sessions for which I earned several awards and letters of commendation from Air Force Colonels, which is a big deal in the military community.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My company understands that Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (DIB) will be critical to workforce sustainability. I help leaders and teams navigate complexity and change and businesses that have decided to focus on DIB need to prepare themselves for the complexity and change that comes with that commitment. People are complex. Change is hard. Moving forward requires the ability to first listen to understand, then listen to solve challenges together.

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’m truly grateful for every single mentor, coach, and leader who invested time in my personal and professional growth as an early career professional. I still remember my very first mentor telling me to always be the first person to smile and say hello to someone else in the hallways at work because I usually looked pretty tense. She said that I had a reputation for intimidating people which I certainly didn’t realize. And because of her advice, I was able to change that perception. When we are approachable, we can prevent the stories people tell themselves about us before they meet us. We all make snap judgments, so we may as well give people something to base that judgment on by being kind right away.

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?

The topic of resilience is something that has been turning over in my mind for the last year. Like most people, 2020 was a challenge for me. And it was in 2020 that I discovered just how resilient I was based on a 30-day art journal I created in 2019 as part of a women entrepreneurs mastermind group.

What I discovered about myself in those 30 days was so powerful that I’ve taken my experience and published a new tool called, “Everyday Resiliency: A 30-day Reflective Art Journal” and it’s designed to share my lived experiences with the owner of the journal as they draw and write for 30 days straight. I titled it “Everyday Resiliency” because every day our level of resilience can be different. Not only is that okay, but it should also be expected.

It’s been said that we are human BEINGS, not human DOINGS. As such, we need to extend grace to ourselves on those days we aren’t able to BE at our 100% best. And it’s ok on the days we are only able to BE at our 10% best. Using my journal, what is revealed to someone about their resilience in just 30 days will be insightful and affirming.

Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?

We all have blind spots when it comes to realize just how resilient and courageous we are. You demonstrate courage by being transparent with others. You demonstrate courage when you decide to be “all in” every day, in every way, with everyone. You demonstrate courage when you encourage someone else to stretch in ways they never imagined for themselves. You demonstrate courage when you tell yourself “I got this” before you see results. You demonstrate courage when you decide to be committed to discovering, developing, and deploying the best that you have to offer of yourself.

The journey required to become the best we can be every day takes resilience to accept the 10% days alongside the 100% days. Because on the 10% days, you have to be okay with the possibility that tomorrow could be another 10% day, or at 50% day or a 100% day. But you have to have the resilience to get up the next day and find out.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

Both of my parents come to mind. They did not have the ideal upbringing. And it was because of their lived experiences that they did everything in their power to ensure my brother and I had every advantage available to us. My parents met in college, married, and moved away from friends and family to start the type of family they wanted to have, not continue with what they experienced. Because of their determination and dedication to excellence, regardless of less than perfect childhood circumstances, I am the woman and business owner I am today.

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?

People tried to tell me that I couldn’t deliver a quality dissertation on my chosen topic in less than 300 pages in under 5 years. They were wrong on both counts. What got me there was belief in myself, and the support of my sponsor, Dr. Carol Parker-Walsh, my dissertation chair, Dr. Mary McCall, my family, and my support system of friends and colleagues who participated in my research and enabled me to integrate my studies with my professional goals.

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?

I will never forget the time I had just signed my first deal with a major corporation on my own, and just as I was completing the statement of work, I dropped my laptop.I was devastated. I thought that over 20 years of work had been lost forever. I was so beside myself I could hardly think straight. It was an ordeal that still causes me to cringe when I relieve it. But I did bounce back stronger than ever because it was an opportunity to let go of the self-limiting belief that my best work was lost and embrace the possibility of creating even better work. I did go through the expense of having my hard drive restored, and quite a significant expense. And to my surprise, I rarely look at that work. There are a few lessons here: 1) let go of what makes you comfortable and grow the discomfort, 2) resist the temptation to place yourself in a box of limited beliefs, and 3) always remember that “what got you here won’t get you there,” which is the title of a wonderful book by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter.

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?

Cultivating resilience requires a mindset. A story that has been passed down through the years about our family, which is documented in a local Brunswick, Georgia history book, is what has given me strength over the years when faced with challenges. My great, great grandfather was a formerly enslaved man. The tradition at that time when an enslaved person became free was to take the last name of his former slave owner. The story goes that because of the way he carried himself, he had been given the nickname of Polite by people who knew him. When he became free, he chose the last name of Polite for himself. When I married, I hyphenated my married name to Polite-Wilson as a reminder that regardless of my circumstances, I don’t have to be defined by what I face. On the lighter side, as a child up until the age of four years old, we were known as the Polite family who lived on Pleasant Street. And that’s true!

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.

Recently, I self-published my 7th book. It’s a journal entitled, “Everyday Resiliency: A 30-day Reflective Art Journal.” It’s based on 30 days in my life when I drew pictures, wrote captions of my pictures, and wrote a journal entry description of my work. Not one to consider myself an artist, I began to love my artwork. Not because it got better. But because it became more meaningful day by day. At the end of the 30 days, the time I spent reflecting on my work revealed that every day, no matter what I had experienced, I had become more resilient whether I felt that way or not.

In terms of 5 steps, I wrote another book in 2020 entitled, “Make SHIFT Happen: 5 Steps to Move Yourself Forward When You Find Yourself Stuck….. Again.” This book is a deeper dive into the process I created as a result of my dissertation work. At the time, I had established a non-profit organization called “Fruition Circle” in which young women and seasoned professionals were paired with each other for a summer of mentoring and goal setting. The result of that summer project was my SHIFT reflective learning model which is an acronym for Self-Assess, Hone-in, Investigate, Fix, and Team. It was a very therapeutic project for me to complete and a wonderful self-coaching tool for those who chose to stretch themselves.

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. 🙂

I have recently established a second non-profit to help people “figure it out.” I know that’s rather cryptic, but I’m not yet ready to reveal everything associated with this project other than to say that it will pick up where that summer of paired coaching and mentoring left off. I’m very excited about it!

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 🙂

Jill Scott. Her song, Golden, really speaks to me. It’s simple, powerful, and I’ve adopted it as my empowerment anthem. It was especially meaningful when a dear mentor gave me a birthday card with pretty much the same sentiments. And Jill’s portrayal of Sheila in Tyler Perry’s movie, “Why Did I Get Married?” spoke volumes about faith, friendship, and the future. I would love to have lunch with her. She seems like a real sista-girl that I’d enjoy having in my life!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My website is and to have access to my weekly podcast, you can find it by clicking this link which will take you to my website and several podcast player options from which to listen to the broadcasts:

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.