Faith. You have to have Faith in the commitments you are making and the direction you are heading. As soon as you meet any resistance, if you don’t have Faith, it will be very easy to question yourself and ultimately quit on yourself. My Faith in Jesus and his plan for my life has always been the strength I have leaned in my life. The work and effort I put in each day is in support of his plan for my life, and it is my responsibility to give my best effort everyday.
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 Patrick Donlan.
Patrick is a Father, Husband, Athlete, Coach, Philanthropist and Independent Financial Advisor. Patrick was a dual sport college athlete that continues to pursue various physical challenges while serving his clients throughout his career in Finance. Patrick was born and raised in the Boston area and now lives in St. Louis with his family.
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?
Sure! I was born and raised in the Boston area and was a competitive athlete starting at a young age. I pursued my passion for athletics and played both Ice Hockey and Lacrosse while in college. Following college, I was introduced to the financial industry where I started in a sales role that led me to move to St. Louis. After spending 11 years as a Salesperson, I felt called to serve individuals and families as a Financial Advisor, which I continue to do professionally to date. I enjoy finding opportunities to serve others and am a board member at two local hospitals, and intimately involved with a charity, Mission 3:18, providing surgical care to underserved areas around the world. I have been on 3 Mission trips to Ghana and once to Haiti with their teams. I would love for your readers to check them out at Mission3:18.com, if interested. I never lost my passion for athletics and physical pursuits. I was deep into CrossFit for a while and help coach at the affiliate in our town, I have done two Half Ironman’s to date, and recently started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu just over a year ago.
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?
I fell into my career in finance rather than it being an area that I sought out and pursued. I was introduced to it from a college teammate of mine and have been on the ride ever since. I was in the industry during the Great recession of 2008 and vividly remember being on the phone with the best man from my wedding the day Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and wondering where the industry was headed. The biggest step and learning experience I had in my career was when I decided to step away from the sales position I was in, in order to start my own business as a Financial Advisor with an income of $0. I was very successful from an income standpoint and was secure in my position at the time I left. The company I was at during that time completed a round of layoffs 2 days before I stepped away, I was still going to keep my job, but was to help a friend at the company keep his job that otherwise would have been let go, by taking mine. Nobody understood why I would leave and start from zero, and many thought I was crazy, but I was burnt out and wasn’t being fulfilled. I was beholden to the paycheck and felt as though I wasn’t serving anyone other than myself at that time. Every month the sales were set back to zero and it was time to go find new ones. At the end of the month, it was either a good month and a big paycheck, or a slow month and still a good paycheck. The problem for me was that my life was built upon transactions and my name was just a statistic on a piece of paper. My value was tied to my income and my sales numbers. What I learned through this experience was, the greatest joy you can find in life is the relationships you can build and your ability to serve others. If you can focus on the quality of your relationships, worldly success will find you. And definitely find a supportive partner. I thank God for my wife everyday that she was supportive of me making the leap and walking away from a great income for our family.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
There are a lot of great firms and people in the financial industry that do a good job helping their clients, what makes us different is our focus on helping people do two things- Live Well and Plan Well. Regardless of who we get to interact with, they will never be more capable and able to do the things they want in life than they are right now. So much of what our industry helps people do is prepare for their future and doesn’t focus on today. In our planning process, we help the clients we get to serve, identify the areas they want to focus on in their lives today, while balancing the financial goals of your future. Our planning philosophy changed following a conversation I had with somebody that had retired and was working part time at a local hardware store. He previously was a business owner and kept his head down to row his company in order to sell it and retire early. His goal was to live outside of the US and pursue his passion for surfing. The problem was he hadn’t surfed other than one time and never lived outside of the US. After being out of the country and trying to surf for 2 weeks he realized, he didn’t enjoy it and missed home. He ended up moving back and asking, what was it all for? After this conversation I have shifted the focus of our conversations with helping people maximize their lives now while balancing their goals of the future.
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 wife Rachel. I’m extremely blessed that I have her in my life. It takes a tremendous amount of belief and patience to be willing to support me both in the transition of my career and starting over with a 2 year old at home, and remaining supportive of all the physical pursuits I have chosen to undertake as well. She has consistently had two messages for me throughout our marriage that has worked well for us. One, “Your number one job in life is to be happy, no matter where that takes you,” and 2, “We work so that we can have a life, we don’t live so that we can work,” As long as we hold each other accountable to those two rules I believe together we will achieve great things. She lives this out too, it nerve racking brining up the idea of leaving a stable high paying job to your spouse, and she was supportive and willing to sacrifice to make it happen. And trust me, I’m not that good of a salesperson.
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 staying consistent in the pursuit of a goal or staying true to a commitment you have made, regardless of the obstacle or setbacks that you face along the way. Resilient people are those that are dedicated to the process that achievement takes, rather than the achievement itself. Any goal, success or commitment that an individual or team makes is going to happen over time. As human beings, we are so emotional that it is easy to get tripped up when our emotions get involved, both positive and negative, and it’s the resilient people that will stay consistent regardless of outcome or emotion everyday until the job is done.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Courage and resilience go hand and hand. It is impossible to be resilient without being courageous. Resilience is the pursuit over a period of time and each step along the way is going to take courage. Regardless of where someone is on their journey, be it a high point, or low point it takes courage to take the next step and take the next action. Nothing in life happens in a linear fashion, other than aging, and every next step is going to take courage.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
I’ve always felt that the most resilient people around are kids. Regardless of being sick or injured they are constantly active in pursuit of their own happiness and rarely if ever get deterred. On one of our trips to Ghana their was a young boy that came into the hospital having seizures and the team of physicians and nurses I was with weren’t sure if he would make it through the night. He made it and a few months later was walking again and came back to the ICU to hug and greet the providers that helped him. This is an even greater story of resilience when you consider the conditions. The area of Ghana that Mission 3:18 serves is in Yendi, in the North East region, the hospital has no running water and the concrete walkways from one ward of the hospital to the next are also the waiting room and where families will sleep and wait to be cared for by the one physician in the area to provide care to a population of around 300,000. If the team of physicians and nurses I was with weren’t there at the time, I’m doubtful the boy would have made it through that difficult evening, but without his resilience in his recovery, recovering in the children’s ward, we affection refer to as “the prison,” there is no way he would have recovered to be the young boy he is today. I think of him and the people I have been fortunate enough to serve in Ghana often, each trip I have made there has had a profound impact on my life and helped build my personal resilience. For anyone that has ever consider a Mission trip or something else similar, Just Go! Don’t overthink it, Just Go!
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 been very fortunate that I have been surrounded by friends and family that are very supportive and don’t consider anything to be impossible. In order to become more resilient I believe you need a group of people surrounding you that will be supportive and give you the help you need when in pursuit of personal passions.
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 have cultivated resilience through consistently challenging myself physically. That has always come more naturally to me as an athlete and spills over into all the areas of my life. I always have a race, competition, or experience on the calendar that I look forward to and forces me to prepare for. It helps breed consistency through any ups and downs that face day to day. Once you sign up or the trip is scheduled you are committed and there is no going back. I had a close friend share with me once that there is a big difference between a goal and a commitment. Think of this example. You are headed out of town and you say to your spouse, “I have a goal of not cheating on you this weekend,” then compare that to, “I’m committed to you and our marriage,” as you walked out the door. I have now focused on commitments to myself and others rather than goals. Goals are malleable, commitments are concrete.
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.
- Faith- You have to Faith in the commitments you are making and the direction you are heading. As soon as you meet any resistance, if you don’t have Faith, it will be very easy to question yourself and ultimately quit on yourself. My Faith in Jesus and his plan for my life has always been the strength I have leaned in my life. The work and effort I put in each day is in support of his plan for my life, and it is my responsibility to give my best effort everyday.
- Gratitude- Nothing will provide you more fuel for your pursuits that Gratitude. Even at the darkest and most difficult moments there is always something to be grateful for. It may not always be something grandiose, and some days it may be really difficult to find even the smallest thing, but if you are reading this, you are educated, have internet access, and are alive with the possibility that the next phone call (probably text!), email, or introduction could put your life on the exact trajectory that you want to be on.
- Service- Nothing is more rewarding than doing something for someone else with no expectation of them to give anything in return. In the 4 Mission trips I have been on, to some of the poorest, most difficult areas of our world, I have gained so much more than I have given. The way these trips have impacted my perspective and the realize of the impact that you can have just by offering your presence to someone else, are experiences I draw on daily.
- Relationships- We will give up on ourselves far before we would ever on someone else. One of my favorite quotes is, “If you want to go fast go alone, If you want to go far go together.”
- Consistency- Anything worth doing in life is going to take time. In order to achieve your desired result, it is going to be a process. So, don’t focus on the end result and how much farther you still have left to go, focus on the next action, and take it one step at a time. We all want, and celebrate results, but falling in love with the process and moving forward each day is how success is achieved.
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. 🙂
Start living today! Too often I find that people struggle with today, because they are concerned with tomorrow. You will never be more physically able to do the things you want to do, or try, in life than you are right now. So, don’t wait. Get out and get started. Schedule the trip, start the diet, volunteer at the charity, whatever it is, Commit to yourself and get started. There will never be a perfect time or conditions, and our shared biggest enemy is the clock, so get started now. When you meet resistance along the way, I’m sure you will be able to lean on some of the thoughts about Resiliency that Savio has compiled.
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 🙂
Jesse Itzler! I would love to have Breakfast or Lunch with him because there would certainly some type of adventure involved. I imagine we would head out for a long run or bike ride and wash it down with a Vegan smoothie. He has been impactful in my life in the way he encourages people to cultivate new experiences and challenges, and that our biggest competition in life is the clock.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I can be found on Instagram @pdonlan13 and Facebook- Patrick Donlan
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!