Flex Your Resilience with Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal

The bestselling author has spent over two decades studying what people do in the face of adversity. Here’s what she’s discovered.

Staff Writer
Staff Writer
 min read
August 18, 2023

Dr. Taryn Marie might be an expert on resilience, but she didn’t get there overnight. 

Like many of us, she has faced challenges throughout her life, including an undiagnosed learning disability and “some traumatic experiences pretty early on” that left her with two decades of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

“Looking back, that was really the catalyst for me to try to figure out how I could effectively face what I call The 3 Cs: Challenge, Change, and Complexity,” the bestselling author tells Headlines Over Sidelines. 

“Struggling so early in life with those experiences, I was trying to find out for myself how I could effectively face those challenges,” Marie explains, outlining the beginnings of what would eventually become two decades of research, a best-selling book, and a career dedicated to being a top rated keynote speaker and executive coach focused on helping others harness and amplify their resilience, mental health, and wellbeing. 

When she first began to interview people about how they effectively faced their greatest challenges, Marie says, “I think that interest for myself has really blossomed into wondering about if there are commonalities amongst all of us as humans around how we effectively face challenges. And it turns out there are commonalities,” she says. 

Turning her challenges into curiosity, Marie then invested over 20 years researching how people from all walks of life handle their challenges in a way that enhances them, not diminishes them. From executive directors and Fortune 500 CEOs to athletes and artists, she immersed herself in two decades of compiling data to create the framework entitled, The Five Practices of Highly Resilient People, essentially a handbook on how we can learn to be more resilient in the face of challenges and “bounce forward,” rather than backward. 

The 5 Practices that Marie uncovered that increase resilience, mental health, and wellbeing are: Vulnerability, Productive Perseverance, Connection, Grati-osity (a combination of gratitude for the opportunity to learn, and generosity in sharing one’s resilience story), and Possibility. 

Image courtesy of Dr. Taryn Marie

Considered to be the #1 international expert on resilience, mental health, and well-being in leadership and life, Marie’s findings can easily are applied to business, and they can also be applied to health and fitness. After all, coaches, athletes, and those of us who have embarked on fitness journeys are quite familiar with challenges, struggles, and setbacks. 

“When I was at Nike, I was brought onboard to lead executive leadership development and talent strategy, and to bring the work that I was doing on The 5 Practices of Highly Resilient People, to work directly with our C-suite, our top 400 executives, and our athlete partners on their mindset and their resilience,” Marie shares when asked how she applied her findings to both a corporate setting along with the world of health and fitness. “There’s not a single thing that our body can achieve if we don’t first believe in our mind that we can do it. So mindset is absolutely key, and it’s really about engaging our mind in the most productive way possible.” She points out.

While believing is easy – at first – sometimes that discipline and faith begin to wane as our journey continues and our goals seem to sit out of reach. 

“A lot of times, I think whether you’re a professional athlete or someone who is on their own personal health and wellness journey, we have really lofty standards. And we think we’re going to get to our goals a lot more quickly than we actually do,” Marie says of this common challenge. 

When it comes to applying what she’s learned to athletics, Marie says that “First and foremost, attempt to set realistic expectations and check in with other people around you who have been on this journey to see if your expectations are realistic. There’s nothing more defeating than thinking that you’re going to get to a certain destination, and then realizing that it’s going to take a lot longer than you thought and be a lot harder than you imagined.”

Dr. Taryn Marie says that one of the most common expectations that people on a fitness journey set for themselves is a number on the scale, as it can provide concrete, quantifiable measurements for people to track, but those numbers can be deceiving. 

“I think a lot of people go to the scale to track their progress and see how well they’re doing,” she says, “but those numbers don’t always tell the full story.” 

“People can be making a lot of progress on their health and wellness journey, and not see scale-related gains for an extended period of time, so thinking about setting goals that are non-scale related is important to stay motivated and not ignore important areas where you’re making progress. Whether that’s being able to do cardio at a higher intensity or for a longer period of time, to build muscle and reduce fat, to gain strength or flexibility, or to simply appreciate that you are eating a clean consistent diet that you set out for yourself,” Marie says, listing other goals to prioritize besides just seeing a shrinking number on the scale as the only measure of success. 

“I think a lot of people go to the scale to track their progress and see how well they’re doing,” she says, “but those numbers don’t always tell the full story.” 

“I think a lot of times we don’t put enough stock in those types of gains and are simply looking at a number,” she says. “We can fundamentally change our body composition and the number on the scale can not move. You can gain 20 pounds of muscle and lose 20 pounds of fat – it’s the exact same number and yet a person will look completely different from a physicality standpoint.”

When it comes to your fitness journey, getting healthy is a pretty great metaphor for life. You’ll face setbacks. You’ll have to make sacrifices. You won’t reach your goals as quickly as you want – and as soon as you do, you may want to set new goals for yourself, which will begin this journey all over again!

In 20 years of researching highly resilient people, Marie has come to learn that it’s “not if you’re going to struggle. We all struggle. Struggle is part of the process, not an exception to the rule. Expect to struggle and learn to struggle well.” 

The goal is to learn how to take those struggles and challenges – whether they be in the gym, on the court, or in the office – and turn them into opportunities to grow. After all, our resilience is just like a muscle: it grows from being worked, broken down, and built back up even stronger than before. 

Want more from Dr. Taryn Marie? You can get your hands on her book here, or check out her courses and coaching opportunities here.  Headlines readers can take 20% off a meditation course with code HEADLINES20.

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