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Nine stories of resilience

I recall running cross country races when I was young (Wow, that was a while ago!).    One of the routes was around Lion’s head. One had to learn to pace yourself; to practice to build tenacity and to realize this was not a short race.

There are a few parallels to the “race” we face in 2020. A theme I hear often is that of the need of resilience.

Research is indicating that resilience is essentially composed of 3 things:-

  1. A firm acceptance of reality
  2. Strong values about life’s meaning
  3. A rather bizarre ability to invent or improvise.

Nonetheless having one of the three qualities would suffice, having all three would ensure you have reached the most genuine form of resilience.


I wanted to share 8 short stories of this resilience, and a further expanded story about Gloria Estafan.

I hope you will see the 3 factors above in their stories.

  • Henry Ford went broke 5 different times and failed with multiple businesses before founding Ford Motors and becoming one of the 10 wealthiest men throughout all history
  • Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and started the failed business Traf-O-Data before founding Microsoft with his partner Paul Allen
  • Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken had his secret chicken recipe rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it
  • Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas” Later he failed in multiple businesses and went bankrupt before Disney.
  • Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4 and did not write until age 7. He was considered mentally handicap by his parents and teachers.
  • Thomas Edison‘s teacher once said he was “too stupid to learn anything” He was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough and later after 1000 failed attempts created the lightbulb.
  • Winston Churchill a nobel price winning, twice elected Prime Minister, struggled in School and was defeated in every election for public office until he became Prime Minister at age 62.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from the high school basketball team for not being good enough…


Multi award-winning singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan started her early life as a refugee.    As a toddler, she fled from Cuba with her parents to the United States (US) in 1960 after the Cuban Revolution. Estefan’s father, Jose, was part of the 2506 Brigade, a band of Cuban refugees who were involved in the unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion to overthrow Fidel Castro.

He managed to return to his family in the US, where he joined the US Army and was sent to serve two years in the Vietnam War. He came back diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

As a child, Gloria had to care for her father and younger sister while her mother worked during the day and attended school at night.

“When my father was ill, music was my escape,” Estefan revealed in an interview with the Washington Post. As a little girl, whenever she was sad and overwhelmed by the weight of the world she would hide in her room and sing, rather than cry.

She would turn this form of emotional release into a career, starting out as the lead singer with the Miami Sound Machine before embarking on a successful solo career.

Her rising stardom and life was threatened in 1990. Estefan was critically injured in an accident when a truck ran into her band’s tour bus on a snow-covered highway in the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania.

This occurred as she was returning from a meeting with then, US president, George H. W. Bush regarding her participation for an anti-drug campaign. Estefan suffered a broken vertebra and required surgery to implant two titanium rods to fix her spine. She went through painful physical rehabilitation for almost a year before going back to performing.

Very aptly, she sang her song, Coming Out of the Dark for the first time at the American Music Awards in 1991 where the audience gave her a standing ovation.

The little refugee girl from an impoverished family whom we know as Gloria Estefan today has also brought us beloved hits over the decades like Rhythm is Gonna Get YouWords Get in the WayHere We Are and more.


While our life’s journey may not be as dramatic as Estefan’s, learning how to deal with stress and pain in an empowering manner; be it singing, exercising or talking with a trusted friend, can help us cope better in dealing with work and personal challenges.      To date, Gloria Estefan has sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide and won three Grammy Awards.


“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.”    Gever Tulley.



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