“Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed” is not the typical “cheer up and things will look better” kind of book.
The inspiration behind this book comes from Navy Seals, people who undergo constant pressure to maintain high standards of excellence. “Stronger” doesn’t seek to showcase how the common reader isn’t like a Navy SEAL, however.
The goal is to understand the psychology behind a Navy SEAL’s tenacity with excellence when everything seems hopeless.
In other words, “Stronger” seeks to help you go beyond surviving obstacles to excel because of them.
The basic concept of “Stronger” is “psychological body armor,” a five-factor concept developed by the authors to explain how people are thrive in the face of horrifying situations (like war or death). Those five factors are:
- Active optimism
- Decisive action
- Moral compass
- Relentless tenacity
- Interpersonal support
Most of us, at some level, understand resilience require these factors, but how many of us truly practice them? “Stronger” asks us to compare the resilience we think we have with the resilience we actually have.
In the book, you’ll read detailed stories about people who have faced homelessness, war, job loss, and near-death experiences, sometimes repeatedly. Through these stories, the authors confront readers face-to-face with the definition of true resilience.
Repeated stressful situations, something that we all face, damage our “psychological body armor,” and weaken our ability to deal with stress in the future. Our focus is on the immediate crisis, not on learning and growing from the situation at hand.
As a result, we miss an opportunity to thrive – rather than just survive the future.
The solution, the authors suggest, is to build up the resources that make up your “psychological body armor” now before the crisis happens. The best way to build up that armor is to assess your current resources and enhance them.
Understand how you reacted to crises in the past. Did you move too slowly? Did you compromise your ethics? Do you have a support team and a mentor? Use any available resources and tools (such as the self-assessments in the book) to help you grow from the past behind you and the future that lies ahead of you.
Dr. George Everly, Jr.is a professor, expert in disaster mental health, U.N. representative,and founder of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation. Dr. Douglas Strouse is an executive of Wesley Consulting and expert on organizational and business management. Dr. Dennis K. McCommack is a former Army psychologist and pioneer in stress management. He also happens to be one of the first original Navy Seals.
The best part of “Stronger” is its core concept, “psychological body armor”. Psychological body armor is a useful concrete model compared to the rather murky and abstract models used in other self-help books. that can. Instead of “just cheer up”, the advice is “you can do this because these people utilized these research-backed factors to do it”. It is a much more targeted solution to understanding and overcoming obstacles.
The downside to reading a book by three psychologists with a PhD is their approach to content. As you might expect, the book is filled to the brim with research references, long chapters, and extended case studies.
“Stronger” is more lecture, than the typical self-help book that depends on pop psychology. It does offer some assistance in the form of prescriptions and homework assignments, but these could be refined a little more to reach the everyday reader.
“Stronger” is best geared for the “Type A” individual, (particularly executives), who want a take-charge approach to resilience.
The book’s inspiration is Navy SEALS, who favor a direct and tenacious approach to problem solving, so people who agree with that will enjoy it. “Stronger” provides a realistic and energetic model that encourages and inspires these kind of people to be resilient.
Be warned, however. “Stronger” requires much more focused reading than a self-help book from a local bookstore or Amazon. If you decide to read it, you want to be armed with a few hours and notebook.