Date posted: 05/08/2021 5 min read

7 ways to build personal resilience

Former CFO Darren Box shares tips to build personal resilience that he learned as an ultrarunner.

In Brief

  • Techniques used in sports psychology can be adapted to meet to other challenges.
  • Breaking down a big challenge into the next steps makes it more achievable.
  • Asking for help, and helping others, can build your resilience.

By Abigail Murison

Professional coach and consultant Darren Box is the former CFO and COO of the Australian Federal Police. Box is also an ultrarunner, running distances far greater than the standard 42.2km marathon. He suggests the following ways to build your personal resilience.

1. Set a goal

“I didn’t set out to become an ultrarunner and to become more resilient. I just set a goal – a really hard, almost impossible goal. Ask yourself what excites you; something that if you achieved it would make you feel proud of yourself. Then, ask people how to do it. Use the community and resources around you.”

2. Break it down

“Don’t worry about achieving the final objective: break it down and just focus on the next few steps because you can certainly do the next few steps.”

3. Use positive self-talk

“You can’t change how you feel, but you can change what you say. So don’t say negative things about yourself or about anyone else. If someone asks how you are and you’re feeling rubbish, tell them you’re feeling pretty good. Actively focus on a positive mindset.”

4. Be present in the moment

“You can use this mindfulness in daily life. Sometimes if I’m heading into a challenging meeting, I might take a moment to stop and simply be aware of the warm sun on my shoulders; to be present in the moment.”

5. Ask for help

“Can you be vulnerable and ask people for help? That’s a real skill, and people are generally very willing to help you. For instance, sometimes at an aid station I need to ask someone to fill up my water bottle, or take five seconds on the chair alone to cry a little. Being able to ask the community or the team at work for help is a big part of resilience.”

“Being able to ask the community or the team at work for help is a big part of resilience.”
Darren Box

6. Be grateful

“Gratitude is really powerful and can lift you out of the difficulty or challenge you’re experiencing. For example, if you are out running and it’s hard, you might choose to feel grateful that you are fit and healthy enough to participate; that you have people who love you and support you and that you’re doing something lots of people would love to be able to do.”

7. Pay it forward

“As ultrarunners, we have a rule that you never run past someone who’s injured. If you see someone struggling, ask if you can help. That builds your own resilience, too.”

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