Bounce Back with Skill (Day 24 of 30 Days of Getting Results)



“Life is not about how fast you run, or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.” – Anonymous

Your Outcome: Bounce back with skill and roll with the punches.  Learn to draw from multiple sources of strength and energy, including your mind, body, emotions, and spirit.

Welcome to day 24 of 30 Days of Getting Results, based on my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.  In day 23, you learned how to design your week with skill to get a fresh start, establish routines that support and renew you, and spend more time on the things that count for you.   Today, we learn how to bounce back with skill.  Bouncing back with skill helps us roll with the punches, refuel our bodies, and keep our spark alive.  It’s how we keep our engine going when the rest of us says “we can’t” and it’s how we “shut down” or “turn it off” so we can bounce back stronger.

Remember that in life, it’s not how many times you get knocked down … it’s how many times you get back up.

If you combine a firm foundation with your ability to bounce back with skill, while leveraging the cycles of things, including your own personal patterns of “ups” and “downs,” you not only make the most of what you’ve got, but you truly write your story forward, focusing on the things you control, while letting the rest go.

Key Principles for Bouncing Back with Skill
Here are some core principles for bouncing back with skill:

  1. Drive from what you want your life to be about.    Focus on who you want to be, what experiences you want to create, and what you want your life to be about.   Water seeks its own level.  You have to set the level starting with your own mental model or the way you want to write your story forward.  When life doesn’t play out the way we expect, it’s up to us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and make the most of what we’ve got, from that point forward … Rise again, Little Fighter.
  2. Draw your strength and energy from multiple sources.  Your energy comes from multiple sources – mind, body, emotions, and spirit.  You can get a synergy by combing these sources, and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
  3. Spending the right energy creates more energy.  Thinking the thoughts that serve you, spending more time in your strengths, and growing your limits can come back to you tenfold.  You grow faster in your strengths than you do in your weaknesses.  A key to bouncing back further, is pushing you back stronger.  As Tony Robbins puts is, “Resistance makes you stronger.”
  4. Know the cycles of things. You can swim upstream or you can ride the wave.  Respect the cycles and go with the flow.  Growing and resting are a cycle.  Whether it’s the ebb and flow or the cycles of up and down, you can get the cycles on your side, if you work with them, instead of against them.  When you know the cycle of things or how the process works, you can allow time for the process, whether it’s resetting your expectations or simply adjusting or accounting for where you are in the cycle.
  5. Keep your expectations in check.  Don’t let crossed-expectations bring you down or keep you down.  Sometimes one of the best ways to leap the hurdles in your life is to lower your expectations.  Sometimes it means raising the bar.   A key here is testing your assumptions and using the feedback as a learning loop to set your expectations accordingly.

At the end of the day, your ability to bounce back is up to you.  Even if you use a coach, a therapist or anybody else, you still have to pair with them for your best results.   Knowing how to draw from your multiple strengths is crucial to your success.

4×4 Sources of Strength
Here is a simple model I put together to help you multiply your ability to bounce back in any situation:


I wasn’t sure whether to call my model a 4×4 Force Multiplier Frame or 4×4 Sources of Strength.  Either way, I tried to keep the model as simple as possible and easy to remember, while giving you a variety of sources of strength and energy to draw from.  I wanted this frame to serve as an “at a glance” reminder of how you are a force of one, from the inside out, as well as from the outside in.  Change your frame to change your game 😉

The Quantity, the Quality, the Focus, and the Force of Your Energy
You can better focus, shape, and amplify your energy when you know where it comes from.  You can think of your sources of energy in a simple but effective way:  body is quantity, emotions are quality, mind is focus, and spirit is force.

You energy is the combination of your mind, body, emotions, and spirit.  Rather than doing nothing, sometimes the answer is doing something to improve your energy and refuel.  For example, it might mean spending more time in your strengths or doing more of the things you enjoy, or simply less of the things you don’t.   Sometimes the best way to bounce back is to really give yourself some downtime.  Sometimes it’s about reducing your expectations and giving yourself the time and space to recover, or play out the process.

Whether you think of your body as your temple or your fortress or your machine, you need to take care of it, so it can take care of you.  There is a strong mind-body connection and your body is a strong multiplier when it comes to bouncing back with skill.  Pay attention to your own patterns.  For example, a friend of mine told me he slept better when he cut down his caffeine after 6pm.   I tested this and found I slept faster, easier, and deeper too.   One of the guidelines for your body is to push yourself past your limits to grow, rest and recover for your best growth, respect your cycles of “on” and “off” or “up” and “down”, and feed your needs (whether that’s nutrition, hydration, rest, etc.)

Here are some ways to bounce back with your body:

  1. Allow for recovery.
  2. Take action.  Sometimes you have to take action first and then energy and motivation follow.  You can think of this as “fake it until you make it.”  This is especially true for me when I run.
  3. Play like a kid, sleep like a baby.   I heard Deepak Chopra say in an interview that children sleep like a baby because of their dynamic activity throughout the day. To know great rest, we need to know great activity and vice-versa.  I know for myself that if I don’t get my downtime, I go into a slump. I’m a fan of giving my all while I’m driving a project, and then taking a break after I ship.
  4. Avoid spiking your blood sugar.   Spiking your blood sugar is one of the worst ways to work against your body.  It creates higher highs, and lower lows.  You can reduce the roller-coaster effect by limiting your intake of things that have a high-glycemic index.  Another approach is to balance your ratios of fat, carbs, and protein, such as in the Zone Diet.
  5. Swap out starchy carbs for more fibrous ones.  This seems to be a pattern that helps a lot of people find more energy in a consistent way.
  6. Eat more frequent and smaller meals.   This is another way to balance your body’s needs throughout the day.   One pattern is to aim for having a small meal or snack throughout the day, such as every three hours.
  7. Respect your cycles.  We all have our up times and our downtimes, even throughout the day.   If you find you need more sleep, test giving yourself more sleep.   Know your peak energy cycles throughout the day and leverage those.
  8. Don’t bake bad habits in.  When Bruce Lee was “off” or he couldn’t practice a technique properly, he stopped.  The last thing he wanted to do was burn in a habit or practice that was ineffective.

Emotional ups and downs can be tough, especially if you have exceptional emotional lows, or exceptional emotional highs.     One of the most important things to do here is to avoid “learned helplessness.”  Martin Seligman teaches us that the worst thing we can do is make things permanent, personal, or pervasive.  The way to stay optimistic is to make the bad things in life not personal, not permanent, and not pervasive.  This simple little change to your explanatory style can make a crucial difference in your ability to bounce back in the worst situations.

Here are some ways to better balance and bounce back with your emotions:

  1. Think the thoughts that serve you.  Your thoughts create your energy.
  2. Pull yourself forward by what you really want to do.
  3. Grow your compassion.  Keep your heart open.  One of the worst ways to kill your lust for life is to grow callous and cold.
  4. Hold yourself high.  Your physiology affects your emotions in a strong way.  Sometimes you need to smile before you feel happy.
  5. Believe in yourself.  This might mean as simple as deciding that you’ll “give it all you’ve got” and “whatever happens happens.”  You don’t have to put your focus on your ability.  You can put your focus on your effort or your determination.  Where you put your focus will change how you feel.
  6. Find your “why.”  This is how you light your fire from the inside out.  Don’t depend on external things to keep you going.  Root yourself firmly in your own foundation.
  7. Leverage your relationships and network.  There is strength in numbers or even just somebody who wants to listen.

Your mind is how you frame and focus.   It’s how you choose what to focus on and what lens to look through.  The same glass can be half empty, or half full.  Your mind is your source of self-talk that can be inspiring or deflating.   You mind can hold the pictures that lift you up or break you down.  The scenes you see, the stories you tell, and your beliefs can all limit or enable you.

Here are some ways to bounce back with your mind:

  1. Focus on what you control and let the rest go.
  2. Like a rubber ball … Having the right mental model or metaphor is where it starts.  You can be like a rubber ball and bounce back from anything.
  3. Set limits on things.   If you let your body go until it crashes or runs out of steam, it can be too late.  You have to set limits either in terms of buffers or boundaries or timeboxes.
  4. Ask yourself, “What do you want your life to be about?”
  5. Turn resistance into your sparring partner.  Resistance is the enemy.  Respect it, but don’t let it wear you down.
  6. Visualize the prize.  If it works for Olympic athletes, it might just work for you.  Picture it, then make it so.
  7. Improve your self-talk.
  8. Change your beliefs.   Find a model or learn from others what some more empowering or useful beliefs might be.
  9. Change your focus.   You can change your focus by changing the question.
  10. Focus on what you control and let the rest go.
  11. Change your state.
  12. Know how to psyche yourself up.
  13. Don’t keep solving the same problems.  Burnout isn’t caused by working hard or working long hours.  It’s caused by working on the same problems or not making progress.
  14. Mentally prepare for it.   Simply resetting your own expectations can help you prepare for anything.  Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
  15. Choose to act strong
  16. Turn a setback into a defining moment.
  17. Take breaks.   Even little breaks interspersed can help you mentally, emotionally, or physically.
  18. Use your renewal patterns.   Maybe this means taking an afternoon siesta.  Find what works for you.
  19. Shake things up.   Sometimes the best way to break out of a rut is to shake things up.
  20. Shift to the future.
  21. Ask yourself, “Who’s in your corner?”
  22. Know that resistance is the enemy.
  23. Brace yourself and pace yourself.  You might have to chip away at the stone.
  24. Remember your heroes.
  25. Remember your shining moment.
  26. Play the right “head movies.”  If you keep playing the wrong scenes in your head, you wear yourself down.  Find a new scene or movie to play in your head that inspires you.

You can practice your spiritual intelligence as a way to fully engage and lift your spirit when you need it most.   The most useful way I found to think about spiritual intelligence is living your values, finding your unique contribution, and shaping a better version of yourself.

  1. Make it bigger than yourself.   Find a cause where you can put your focus on something you think is great.  Having a cause is a great way to get back on your horse or back up to bat.
  2. Do what you love or do what you were born to do.  Either way, you win.  If you can’t find your calling, then look for your unique contribution.
  3. Connect to your values.
  4. Immerse yourself in great literature or music.
  5. Find the synergy.  According to Stephen Covey, we unleash our spiritual intelligence when we combine meaning, integrity and contribution – by serving and lifting all stakeholders: customers, suppliers, employees and their families, communities, society — to make a difference in the world.

Stories, Metaphors, Sayings, and Songs
Keep a collection of stories, sayings, and songs that you can use to lift yourself up when you need it most.  Here are a few stories, sayings, and songs that help me bounce back or stand strong:

Category Items
  1. The Little Engine That Could
  2. The Wizard of Oz
  3. Rocky
  4. The Karate Kid
  1. Back on the saddle again.
  2. Like a rock
  3. Like a rubber ball …
  4. Roll with the punches
  5. You 2.0
  1. Make like a duck and let it roll off your back.
  2. Finish strong.
  3. Live strong.
  4. Go down swinging.
  5. Don’t go down without a fight.
  6. Take the bull by the horns.
  7. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
  8. Where there’s a will there’s a way.
  9. I’ve not yet begun to fight.
  10. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
  11. Stand strong when tested.
  12. No pain, no gain.
  13. There’s no failure, only feedback.
  14. It’s not over until you give up.
  15. I’m down, but not out.
  16. I’ll be back.
  17. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
  1. Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger “
  2. Ozzy’s “Crazy Train “
  3. Lincoln Park’s “Faint “
  4. Steppen Wolf’s “Born to Be Wild “
  5. Queen’s “We are the Champions“
  6. Chumbawamba’s “Tub Thumping“
  7. INXS “The Devil Inside“
  8. Van Halen’s “Jump“
  9. T-Pain’s “Apple Bottom Jeans“
  10. Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing“
  11. While Lion’s “Little Fighter”

Whatever works for you is what counts.  The stories, metaphors, sayings or songs don’t have to make sense or be the “right” choice.  All they have to do is get you going when you need it most.  The art of bouncing back with skill is shifting from what “should” work to what “does” work for you, and changing your approach until you find your key.

Today’s Assignment

  1. Find one of your past victories in life and add that to your mental flip book of scenes to draw from when you need it most.
  2. Find one metaphor to help you to represent how you bounce back in life.
  3. Find one song or one saying to have in your mind that you can use as a one-liner reminder to take the right actions when it counts.  For example, one that some people like is “Stand strong when tested.”

My Related Posts

Photo by JB London.


  1. My mom’s Dad, grandpa I never saw – he died before I was born, used to say “he who has a stronger nerves wins” or something like that. I tested this theory lately pretty tightly. It works. You develop Teflon-like skin and just keep moving forward, no matter what set back you hit.
    And I loved 4X4 sources of strengths a lot too.

  2. It’s neat that our strengths grow faster than our weaknesses, super-neat, in fact, and very empowering to realize.

    Also about taking care of our bodies so they will take care of us is gold in action. I’d like to be 90 and able to do what I do now. And why can’t I!?

    Really getting a lot out of this series, J.D.


  3. J.D. Great post and I really like the concept of bouncing back with skill. I thought that tip you shared about making sure you are including the right type of energy was a great point and probably something tat is relatively easy to overlook. However, once you are focusing on the type of energy, you really can make some great improvements and most importantly … bounce back with sill. Thanks for all the great information.

  4. @ Alik — I like your grandpa’s saying, and there is a lot to be said for persistence, whether it’s sustained thinking, or sustained action. It’s how breakthroughs happen.

    @ Jannie — You’ll be making music and making fun until you’re at least 99. I’ve seen people age in reverse by finding new things they love and playing at life.

    @ Sibyl — Thank you. I think that’s the heart of it — drawing from the multiple sources and knowing where to look.

  5. Hi JD .. one of them is ‘Move On’ … getting away from the negatives .. life is a roller coaster – move to the upside as soon as you can ..

    & I’ll be back to go through properly .. you’ve put some great thoughts up there and simplified them down into understandable bytes ..

    I think that’s what I like about your blog .. it’s comprehensible!
    & do-able .. thanks so much .. Hilary

  6. I picked up “go put your Strengths To Work” from the library yesterday. I will read it over the weekend and pick up useful concepts and ideas to try.

    There are two songs that melt stress away and put me in a good mood…
    Ayur – I miss you

    DJ. Okawari – Flower Dance

    I like your “4×4 Sources of Strength” summary and your take on “energizing habits to pull me through rather than push my way through.” When I have a strong pull in one of the 4 sources of strength, other areas benefits lineally or exponentially… When I read it for the first time 30 days ago, it didn’t make sense. But It has become ‘a fact’ once I experienced emotional and physical growth through meditation, which is mental and spiritual practice. It works…

    The quotes of day are…
    “Knowledge is awareness, and to it are many paths, not all of them paved with logic. But sometimes one is guided through the maze by intuition. One is led by something felt on the wind, something seen in the stars, something that calls from the wastelands to the spirit.”
    “For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.”
    Those are by Louis L’Amour. Today, 3/22 is his birthday.

    • It’s amazing how much things can sink in with time, or when we revisit them.

      We often seem to get things better, the second, or third time around. That’s why I’m a fan of revisiting things now, that don’t sink in at first.

      I try to find a small, sticky idea that acts as the hook. For example, when I read books, I try to turn the ideas into little one-liner reminders.

      Then, periodically, lightening strikes. All of a sudden, something that I didn’t quite get the first time, or didn’t get it as deeply as I could, suddenly rings true, loud and clear.

      Effectively, I create a constellation or a web of little ideas that connect together and connect deeper over time.

      My greatest learning about learning itself is when I finally realized how we learn things intellectually, emotionally, and physically, and how it takes time to burn things in at different levels.

      For example, it takes a while when you learn something new to burn it into your muscle memory and basal ganglia, but after a while, it’s just automatic.

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